Loyce Ericson and her fuzzy crayons

Felter Loyce Ericson attended SOAR (Spin-Off Auturmn Retreat) last year as a scholarship recipient. This year she will return as a first-time SOAR mentor! Join her for Strips of Color, Strips of Texture, Together for a Vest that's the Best and Nuno Spiral Scarf in St. Charles, IL, on October 20-26, 2013. What are fuzzy crayons? Loyce is here to tell us more. ~Kate

Loyce wearing one of her colorful felted garments. Photo courtesy of Loyce Ericson.

Fiber art is so fun for me! My inner critic is quiet when I play with fibers. For some reason, all the inner angst I have when I pick up a paint brush or drawing pencil falls away when I'm facing a pile of colorful wool and silk. I'm like a kid with a new box of crayonsfuzzy crayons. Woolyum!I love all its textures and colors. Dyed or natural, coarse or fine, I even love its smell when it is wet. I guess I was born to be a felt maker and all around fiber geek, eh goddess. I spin pretty well, I knit slowly, I weave a little, but I make felt like a house on fire. I love that there are no hard rules that have to be rigidly adhered to while making felt. It helps that many projects can go from loose wool to fabric in a few hours, because I have the attention span of a gnat.

Felt is such a fascinating fabric to work with; you can make it in any color, texture, or density you desire. So when I was asked to design a felted garment class for GGFI (Golden Gate Fiber Institute) in 2009, I choose to make an easy and fast vest using a wide variety of textures and colors. It's made in strips so my students can choose to make it using a single felting technique or try several different ones that I present during the class. I called it my Strips of Color Vest and I am so excited to be teaching it at SOAR this year. 

Wearable art can't just hang on the wall looking good, it has to fit and flatter the wearer. This vest is made to each student's measurements and style preference. Breaking the garment into strips makes it a cinch to modify for a wide variety of shapes. I am a curvy, plus-size woman, and it takes a lot of fabric to cover me. Breaking it into strips makes that less intimidating. I'm also very picky about the fit and texture of my clothing, so this class focuses on making lightweight, drapeable felt. Fit is another big concern for me. If it doesn't fit well, especially around the arms or across my bust or belly, I'm not going to wear it. The strips are easy to size and can be tapered to adjust for a wide range of shapes. When I taught it at GGFI, I was totally amazed at all the beautiful vests that came out of that class. I took a lot of pictures but sadly my camera and computer were stolen and I lost all of them. I was happy when I found a blog that one of students, Lori Lawson, posted that has pictures.

I especially love sharing my fuzzy crayons with my students. For this class I hand-dye each individual kit of fine wools, silk fibers, and fabrics. I get to watch their eyes widen as they open their kits. After minimal instruction, they are off and runningcoloring outside the lines and letting their imaginations run amok. I love listening to them discuss their designs, share opinions, and laugh as the fabric takes shape under their hands. Everyone should have a box of fuzzy crayons. 



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