by Ashley Lodato, Arts Education Director, Methow Arts
For the second year in a row, fourth graders at East Omak Elementary School combined fiber arts with their perspectives on winter in a felted wool residency, through Methow Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program.
Working with teaching artists Annie Venable and Brooke Lucy, 120 students explored the process of wet felting. First, students spent time observing and reflecting on the colors, traditions, and themes of winter. Next, they composed pieces of writing describing their observations. Some wrote poems about making snowmen and going sledding, others described family customs, while still others focused strictly on Santa Claus. Several students described the way the sky looks in Omak in winter–gunmetal grey on cloudy days, a brilliant blue when it’s clear.
Finally, they experimented with color combinations using different dyed felts and created scenes that reflected their winter experiences. When the students had their colored wool placed on the white wool backgrounds, they then learned to felt using soap, hot water, and bubble wrap. They agitated their woolen scenes until the barbs in the wool hooked together and joined the colored wool to the white wool. A rinse and squeeze got the soap and water out, then the pieces were laid flat to dry overnight before being strung onto fruit tree twigs.
This art residency was brought to students by Methow Arts’ Okanogan Region Arts Education Partnership. The partnership serves more than 5,200 students and 370 teachers across Okanogan County with arts programs in classrooms in the Omak, Okanogan, Brewster, Pateros, and Methow School Districts, and in the Paschal Sherman Indian School. Project sponsors include the the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Omak School District, Confluence Health, Okanogan-Omak Rotary, Omak Kiwanis, and ArtsWA. THANK YOU!