Felting Workshop Recap: Making Ruana Shawls in the HeartFelt Silks Studio

As many of you know, the HeartFelt Silks studio hosts a wide range of one-on-one and small group feltmaking and dyeing workshops throughout the year. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at a recent Ruana Shawl wet felting workshop. Not only were gorgeous shawls made by all of the participants but a fabulous time was had by all!

To find out about upcoming workshops with Robbin Firth, visit our website, or get in touch with us directly to inquire about private and group classes. We also invite you to join our mailing list to receive updates about future events.

Ruana Shawl designed and made by Robbin Firth – Hand-dyed silk, wet felted.


Ruana Shawl designed and made by Robbin Firth – Hand-dyed silk, wet felted


My hand-dyed silk fabrics formed the base for the Ruana Shawls.The Ruana Shawl workshop is one of the longest classes I offer — the latest class took place over a 3-day weekend in February.  Several lovely ladies gathered in the cozy HeartFelt Silks studio, and we were off to step #1 — the layout.

Hand-dyed silk by artist Robbin Firth

Each of the students gets to select a color palette for their Ruana Shawl in consultation with me.

Ruana Shawl feltmaking workshop with artist Robbin Firth

Ruana Shawl Feltmaking Workshop with artist Robbin Firth

Now we are ready to create a unique design with more hand-dyed silks (from HeartFelt Silks) and other color-coordinated luxurious embellishing fibers. The layout for this large-scale garment is time-consuming and labor-intensive but the results will be very rewarding!

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

No two shawls will be alike — each student gets to put her own creative touches on their Ruana Shawl, as we talk about color, drape, and texture.

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

Once in a while, we stop to admire our progress, take a break, and catch a little afternoon sun.

We take our time and make our layout as intricate and beautiful as we like. Before long, we’ll roll up our sleeves and move on to felting these beauties!

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

When it’s time to add hot water and soap, our trusty Palm Washboard felting tools come out!

Wet Felting with Palm Washboard felting tools during a Ruana Shawl workshop

The Palm Washboards speed up the felting process and make it easier on our bodies.

Ruana Shawl Felting Workshop — using Palm Washboard Felting tools

Here we are, not far from the finish line, working on our edges, making sure things are even, uniform, and gorgeous.

Feltmaking Workshop – Ruana Shawl – in the HeartfeltSilks Studio

Ta-da! All four Ruana Shawls are finished, and it’s time for a modeling session! A great weekend was had by all, each of these ladies completed a stunning wool & silk garment, strengthening their feltmaking and design skills in the process! Thank you, Linda, Nancy, Silvana, and Susan, for joining me!

Finished Ruana Shawls in feltmaking workshop with instructor Robbin Firth

To find out about upcoming workshops in wet felting, nuno-felting, and textile dyeing, with Robbin Firth, visit our website, or get in touch with us directly to inquire about private and group classes. Palm Washboard felting tools (original, patent-pending designs handcrafted by Harry Firth for HeartFelt Silks) are available HERE.
Join the Robbin Firth / HeartFelt Silks MAILING LIST.

Top 10 Reasons to Come to Hudson, WI for FABULOUS FIBRE MONTH October 2014

Fabulous Fibre Month is weeks away, and here are our Top 10 Reasons to come to Hudson, WI for Felting Workshops in October 2014!

Some classes are almost full, and registration for all classes is closing on September 15, 2014. If you haven’t registered yet, please email Robbin@HeartFeltSilks.com today. Go HERE for the full felting workshops schedule and complete details on each class and instructor.

See you in October!

Fabulous Fibre Month October 2014 is hosted by HeartFelt Silks and Seasons on St. Croix Gallery. Additional sponsor: Textile Center of Minnesota.

Top 10 Reasons to Come to Hudson, WI for Fabulous Fibre Month October 2014

1. Hudson, WI is located on the beautiful St. Croix River, designated a National Scenic Riverway.

2. October is peak foliage season in Hudson — the area will look breathtakingly beautiful. 

3. Learn the Art of Felting from artist instructors with a regional and national reputation in fiber arts.
4. All Felting workshops are held at the award-winning Seasons on St. Croix Gallery of art and fine craft.

5. Delicious meals at area restaurants – Barkers, Knoke’s Chocolates, San Pedro’s, Smilin’ Moose, Pier 500, Mama Maria’s. 

6. Many cultural & historic attractions, including Octagon House Museum, The Phipps Center for the Arts.

7. Fiber arts classes for every level, from beginner to advanced. Make one-of-a-kind fashion accessories to wear — felted hats, shawls, bags. Home decor too! Learn the fascinating art of felting in a friendly, relaxed, and inspiring atmosphere.

8. Ride kayaks, canoes, or a take a narrated scenic boat tour down St. Croix River. 

9. Learn the trendy eco-printing technique or learn how to “paint” a landscape in felt.
10. Meet the HeartFelt Silks family – fiber artist Robbin, woodturner Harry, their daughter/model Kirsten, plus pets and Internet celebrities, Mick and Wally.



October 4-5, 2014 — Eco-Printed Fantastic Felt Hats Workshop with Dawn Edwards (all levels)
October 10, 2014 — Felt Birdhouse Workshop with Becky Utecht (all levels)
October 11, 2014 — Raw Felted Locks Throw Pillow Workshop with Becky Utecht (all levels)
October 14-15, 2014 — Felted Wool Locks Shawl Workshop with Robbin Firth (some felting experience necessary)
October 17-19, 2014 — Seamless Nuno Felted Vest Workshop with Beth Marx  (some felting experience necessary)
October 24-25, 2014 — Felted Landscape Workshop with Jan Waller (all levels)
October 27-28, 2014 — Bag on a Ball Workshop with Ruth Walker (all levels)

October 29, 2014 — Hat on a Ball Workshop with Ruth Walker (all levels


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!