Monday, January 11, 2010

Missing Esthers Place Fibers, Needle Felting, Art Education

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When I lived in Northern Illinois, one of my favorite things was going to Donna and Natasha's fiber arts studio ( named after their first ewe Esther. This is where I learned to needle-felt, wet felt, nuno felt and so on. It was always incredibly warm and welcoming, most of the time they'd feed you or at least make you delicious teas in wonderful old thrift store china depending on how busy the store or classes were. People were always dropping in asking for advice or showing off what they'd just made in this beautiful old Victorian in the middle of farming country and I would walk around ooohing and aahing, touching all the different colored and textured wools, locks and rovings and feeling blissed.

Donna and Natasha came and visited my classes at NIU where we got to teach future art teachers and future elementary teachers about sustainability and the magic of making art from organic wool. We made future sustainable animals (I'll post some in the future) that were imaginative creations of how farm animals and farming might evolve in the future. Natasha and Donna also demonstrated how to make felted soap bar loofahs for younger kids and talked about the difficulties of farming for small farmers. Many of my students said that it was their favorite project. I got to visit their organic farm with some of my students and meet the sheep whose wool has sustained me creatively through many projects. It was quite a magical time and I was so happy to see farm animals living a good life. They were free range with a lovely big barn to come into. These are some of the pictures I took of the farm. I have been searching for something similar to the fiber arts studio in Northern California but have yet to find anywhere with the warmth and generosity and wonderful sense of community. I still get roving from Donna and Natasha by mail but I sure miss the place. If anyone knows of a place like this here - please let me know.

1 comment:

em-j staples said...

Hello there! my name is em-j staples, i'm a reporter for the mother nature network news and student at the university of illinois, I recently wrote an article for my blog on Esther's Place. I talked to Natasha and she gave me permission to use photos from the website, but all of them are too small. I googled "photo's of esther's place" and your blog came up. May I credit your name and use a photo of yours of one of the lambs for my story? Let me know, thanks so much! peace, love joy