Festive Felt

Learn needle-felting skills with Willamalane

Leslie Seese’s needle felting class is Dec. 5 at Springfield’s Dorris Ranch
Leslie Seese’s needle felting class is Dec. 5 at Springfield’s Dorris Ranch

Unless explicitly discussed beforehand, EW doesn’t recommend giving pets as gifts. Too often, holiday puppies and kittens grow up to become shelter dogs and cats.

We do, however, endorse checking out the cute critters made by needle-felt artist Leslie Seese or, better yet, you can learn to make them yourself at her class in December.

Needle felting is a craft that involves poking wool with very sharp needles to tangle the wool fibers so that they take on a desired shape — a heart, snowflake or reindeer, for example.

Seese, a volunteer at Fair Trade on Main in Springfield, says she first started needle felting hearts to give as gifts to victims of domestic violence. From there, she says, she started making more complex shapes.

“It’s a medium that I just fell in love with,” Seese says. “I’m a very tactile person, and I like when I can use one thing to make two- and three-dimensional things.”

Seese says she’s made bags, table covers, eyeglasses cases and other practical objects out of wool, but she’s also crafted gnomes, turkeys, pumpkins and Christmas tree ornaments.

“You can basically make whatever shape you feel like making,” she says. “They can be as detailed or as rough as you want. It’s amazing what you can do with wool, and it’s a renewable resource.”

Needle felting also produces very little waste, Seese says, because often the colorful scraps of wool can blend into other projects, and it’s all very portable. She takes her needle felting with her on trips to pass time while traveling.

Seese recommends Eugene Textile Center on Jacobs Drive in Eugene for all felting needs. “They’re a wealth of knowledge,” she says.

In her Dec. 5 class at the cozy Tomseth House at Dorris Ranch in Springfield, Seese will teach beginning felters how to craft adorable figures to give as gifts or use as ornaments. The class is part of a “DIY” series provided by Willamalane Park and Recreation District and created by Kerry Jack, Willamalane’s recreation coordinator.

“Needle felting is really easy and fun,” says Jack, who started the craft a year ago. “Once I realized how easy it was, I went crazy with it and started making my own birds and gnomes and mushrooms. It’s inexpensive and you don’t have to be super creative to make something really cute.”

The class is 9 am to noon Saturday, Dec. 5, at Dorris Ranch’s Tomseth House, 205 Dorris Street in Springfield; $13 for in-district residents of Springfield and $15 for those out of district. Register at willamalane.org.