Early 2015 Happenings at HeartFelt Silks Studio

Can you believe that it’s already April? Early 2015 has been a very busy time at our HeartFelt Silks studio! There have been group felting classes and private lessons at our retail/teaching space in Hudson, WI, and workshops at The Textile Center. Lots of new projects on the work table, from new styles of felted garments, to experimenting with new techniques, to eco-dyeing. Many uniquely dyed scarves and felted accessories went home to collectors of Robbin Firth originals this season. Plus, lots of new Palm Washboard felting tools are being made by Harry in the woodshop, to be shipped all over the world.

And if that’s not busy enough, I have been incredibly busy with preparations for a month+ of traveling and teaching all around the United Kingdom, and Ireland too!  And, for those who have been waiting — announcement of upcoming workshops in Florida and Canada is coming soon!

If you are in the area, come see us at Shepherd’s Harvest Festival, May 15-17, 2015, in Lake Elmo, MN. We will be doing felting demos, and the entire lineup of Palm Washboards will be for sale at the festival.

Here’s what we have been up to recently. Follow us on Facebook for daily updates from the studio, as well as felting tips and techniques.

Some of the most popular classes lately are the Felted Raw Wool Locks Wrap workshops. What could be better than playing with gorgeous wool locks and watching them transform into dramatic and organic-looking showstopper wraps!

Felted Wool Locks Wrap Class with Artist Robbin Firth


Felted Wool Locks Wrap Class with Artist Robbin Firth
Felted Wool Locks Wrap Class with Artist Robbin Firth

Interested in a group or a private class with Robbin Firth at the HeartFelt Silks Studio? Get in touch!

When I am not teaching, you will find me in the studio, creating luxurious garments and accessories out of the finest silks and wools. I love combining silk I hand-dye myself with beautiful merino wool to make stunning fiber art pieces for beautiful women.

Select hand-dyed silks and felting kits are available from the HeartFelt Silks online shop.

Felted garments in the making in Robbin Firth’s HeartFelt Silks Studio


Wearable fiber art by Robbin Firth


Wearable fiber art by Robbin Firth

Here are just a few of the gorgeous women modeling their new HeartFelt Silks garments.

Happy customers wearing original fiber art garments by artist Robbin Firth


Happy customers wearing original fiber art garments by artist Robbin Firth


Happy customers wearing original fiber art garments by artist Robbin Firth

Interested in owning a HeartFelt Silks original? Please get in touch to inquire about current inventory or to order a custom piece.

This season, I am offering classes on the UPWOLFING felting technique for the first time. If you haven’t experimented with this technique yet, you are in for a real treat. Just look at all the fun possibilities, from adding extraordinary detail to handbags, vessels, or other felt objects, to creating felted jewelry, UPWOLFING takes your felting pursuits to a new level. HeartFelt Silks is proud to be a US distributor of select UPWOLFING products, and you can find them in our online shops.

Fun with UPWOLFING felting materials – in the HeartFelt Silks Studio


Fun with UPWOLFING felting materials – in the HeartFelt Silks Studio


Using Palm Washboard felting tools to create vessels that incorporate UPWOLFING elements


Felted rings made with UPWOLFING supplies by Robbin Firth

Every day, there is something new happening at the HeartFelt Silks Studio. My eco-dyed scarves have been in high demand this season, and the studio has been frequently infused with the beautiful scent of eucalyptus (used in my eco-dyeing!) Unwrapping the bundles to reveal the beauty within is always magical!

Eco-dyeing with Felt Artist Robbin Firth


Original Eco-dyed designs on Silk by Fiber Artist Robbin Firth

I also hosted a pop-up eco-dyeing class that was a great success with my fantastic students.

Eco-dyeing class in progress at HeartFelt Silks Studio

In the meantime, Harry has been busy making not only Palm Washboards but also custom hat blocks. The hat blocks Harry creates are always made-to-order. Each one is lovingly and carefully handcrafted out of a combination of beautiful woods. Not only are the hat blocks of great use to beginner and advanced millinery artists and feltmakers, but on their own they are sculptural art objects.

Wood Artisan Harry Firth in his woodshop

Let us know if you are interested in custom-ordering a handcrafted wood hat block by Harry Firth.

Handcrafted bespoke hat blocks by wood artisan Harry Firth
And no day is complete in the HeartFelt Silks adventure without a visit and some help from one of our many beloved animals! Here’s Mr. Moose doing quality control while I work.
Mr. Moose helping in the felting studio


Sandra Struck-Germann and her magnificent felt art

We are excited to welcome a very special guest to the blog — the talented felt artist extraordinaire, Sandra Struck-Germann. One of the earliest fans of HeartFelt Silks and one of the earliest Palm Washboard users, Sandra has become our dear friend. We are thankful to her for her support, and we are grateful to know her as well as her truly extraordinary felt art.

Based in Dusseldorf, Germany, Sandra teaches workshops on the craft of felting, and she also exhibits her work widely. She is well known for her magnificent 3D artworks and for her large scale felted canvases too. Sandra was kind to share the following words and stories with us, and to tell us how she uses the Palm Washboard felting tools in her daily work. We are pleased to share Sandra’s impressive work with you, along with her words.

“Portraits have fascinated me since my childhood. For years, my three children determined my life, and it was inevitable that I expressed myself in my felt art with children’s faces, their portraits. I love to work in large format because it gives me freedom and space in which to create.

“As is the case for many feltmakers, my hands suffer from the constant contact with soapy water. On my large scale pieces, I often work with rough-textured gauze and rough and rugged mountain sheep’s wool, and rubbing these materials with my hands for long periods of time is hard on my hands and skin. Working with gloves is uncomfortable for me. Some time ago, through Facebook, I discovered HeartFelt Silks and the Palm Washboard felting tools. When I ordered one for myself and held the Palm Washboard in my hands a short time later, I was amazed. The Palm Washboard was so very different from other conventional felting tools that I had previously used! It has a smooth and flat, yet textured, surface, ideal for gliding across the delicate felt surface and creating friction. 

This photo illustrates the enormous scale of Sandra’s large format pieces. Note how small Sandra’s Palm Washboard is!
A Blues Brothers wall-hanging by Sandra Struck-Germann

“I have used the Palm Washboard directly on wool in large format artworks. It hardens the surface much more quickly and consistently than I was able to accomplish with my hands. Even my elaborate layout arrangements and embellishments do not move or shift while working them with the Palm Washboard. Thanks to the large knob handle, the Palm Washboard fits comfortably in my hand, and I have the sense that I can feel the wool surface underneath the Palm Washboard through my hand and fingers.

Work in progress — a multi-layered felted piece being worked with a Palm Washboard from HeartFelt Silks.
Sandra’s work on the felted portraits of Gandhi.


And now the portraits are complete!

“Another great passion of mine is the felting of faces with three-dimensional elements. Most of these are animals portraits with parts of the animals’ bodies protruding from the flat surface. The making of the transition from the flat surface to the 3D element is particularly tricky, delicate, and important. The transition must be smooth, firm, solid, and strong. For this task, I especially like to work with the EDGE Palm Washboard. This felting tool has a smooth surface and a convenient shape that creates good felting results when working 3D elements.

An example of Sandra’s fascinating 3D animal portraits in felt.


Here, Sandra is working the 3D face of the fox with the EDGE Palm Washboard. The fox’s body comes alive in Sandra’s skilled hands!
Sandra utilizes the entire family of Palm Washboard tools in her work – clockwise from the bottom: Jumbo Palm Washboard, Regular Palm Washboard, Rounded Palm Washboard, Edge Palm Washboard.
Another stunning 3D animal wall hanging by Sandra Struck-Germann


You can see the donkey’s head  so well at this angle.

“I regularly work with seniors with dementia. Many are also limited in their motor skills. Knowing how comfortable the large handle of the Palm Washboard feels in your hands gave me the idea that this tool would be great for use by seniors. Indeed, it was a great success! During a felting lesson, the seniors enjoyed using their Palm Washboards to felt — they got quick results, which gave them a great sense of accomplishment and boosted their self-esteem and mood.

Sandra teaches felting to seniors. The Palm Washboards help to make the felting process enjoyable and quick.

“I recently felted with a sander. I had heard people talk about felting with sanders so much that I wanted to give it a try myself. In fact, the sander felted the wool very quickly. But it also felted so quickly and powerfully that my fine and elaborate details all but disappeared! With the Palm Washboard, this has never happened to me. For me, using the Palm Washboard is a gentler, more controlled method of producing strong and solid felt. I’ll stay with the Palm Washboard!

The Rounded Palm Washboard at work on a pair of adorable felted booties.


Sandra finds so many different uses for the Palm Washboards — here, she’s making a handful of felted balls.
Kids love using the Palm Washboards too, and Sandra loves the help!


Sandra Struck-Germann wearing one of her felted creations

For more of Sandra’s beautiful felt art, visit her website and see our earlier blogpost featuring her work. Thank you for dropping by for a virtual visit, Sandra!