When you think of a felt flower, a simple design that you made in grade school probably pops into your head. However, for Geri Forkner, textile artist, there is a lot of meaning in creating many versions of something simple. I’ve been following her work ever since we enjoyed a workshop with Leah Buechley to learn about soft circuits. Geri has perfected the flower, and it actually is the foundation for her latest show Making Multiples: The Journey to Becoming an Expert at Rangsit University, Thailand.
I set out to make 100 wet felted flowers while contemplating production work and how one becomes an expert. During the three and a half days it took to make the flowers, I concentrated on the process and the idea of variations on a theme. In the end, one hundred seemed just the starting place in a journey toward becoming an expert on the simple task of making felt flowers.
As part of her show, she also offered a workshop for students. At first glance a table looks as though a storm brought a flurry of petals, but this is the art of felting, with colors so rich and fuzzy that you might imagine the smell of lilies. With a simple LED and battery, the flowers are transformed into illuminated beauties that students have fun assembling.
Geri’s exploration with flowers is a great reminder that in teaching it is good to keep the number of new techniques to a minimum. I think that is why this project is so successful for STEAM. The felting and simple circuit are great starting points for youth to explore art and tech, and there’s also the joy in making. If you are a teacher and would like to explore using LED sequins for flowers, take a look at our tutorial for this bouquet. It’s always the right time to give flowers.
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