Teacher Spotlight: Mel Broome
Have you been wondering what felting is all about and thinking you should give it a try? We have the perfect teacher to help you! This week we virtually sat down with our wonderful felting teacher, local fibre artist Mel Broome, to learn all about her felting journey, what draws her to felting and what you can expect when you take a class with her.
Meet Mel Broome, local felting artist and felting teacher at Baaad Anna’s.
In a nutshell, needle felting involves taking loose wool fibre and using a small needle with barbs on the end to help bond the wool fibres together into any shape you can imagine. If you’ve spent time in the store you might have seen some of Mel’s intricate felted art pieces, like the giant felt octopus.
Felted gnomes, just like the ones you can learn to make in Mel’s upcoming Learn to Felt class on December 6th!
Mel started teaching at Baaad Anna’s after meeting Paula (Baaad Anna’s owner) when their children were at the same school and they realized that they were both in the fibre arts world. Mel teaches all the felting classes at Baaad Anna’s as well as doing felting classes for local schools and fibre events, like the annual sheep shearing at Maplewood Farm. In fact, even during the pandemic, Mel has taken to Zoom to teach kids in schools how to felt and will soon be doing a session with a class on how to felt a snowman. You can learn more about our school programs here.
Journey to Felting
When Mel was young she was both a knitter and crocheter and after wanting to make a very specific hair clip about 10 years ago she started felting. In fact, she couldn’t put down her felting once she started and became obsessed with perfecting that hair clip. After that first experience she didn’t stop and has been felting ever since. She says that her younger self would have loved felting and it’s really where she found her niche in making art. Mel is a self-described mega wool enthusiast known at her local thrift stores as ‘the wool lady’ (a point of pride for her). She adores everything about it – finding it, repurposing it, playing with it and seeing what it can become.
Mel is a natural ambassador for felting, touting portability as one of its greatest assets, as well as the fact that it’s suitable for broad ranges of age and ability. She takes her felting with her wherever she goes and finds it an easy conversation starter and way to connect with people. She’s taken her felting on planes (and given out ladybugs to the flight crew!) and pretty much anywhere you can think of. Mel said she also finds it meditative and relaxing. During our chat she made a great point about how forgiving felting is a fibre art noting that while the process of knitting, weaving or spinning are often linear, felting has the unique quality of being revisited. You can go back to projects weeks and years later and change or improve them as your skills grow and change. Pieces are only done when they feel done rather than being done at that last cast off stitch. How freeing!
Teaching Approach and a Pro Tip!
Imagination and creativity are really at the crux of what draws Mel to felting and it’s also the approach she brings to her teaching and students. She says that “felting allows you to make whatever your mind wants, it’s a means of expressing yourself” and she enjoys seeing people tap into their creative instincts when they start to felt. Mel has a knack for making felting sound easy, explaining that felting can be boiled down to making basic shapes and pushing them together with your needles.
When students take a class with Mel they can expect to not only learn the basic skills of felting but to also learn about some practical ways to using felting, like mending clothing. She is excited to share knowledge with her students, to assist them in realizing their ideas and to pass along lots of useful tips. For example, did you know that you can use a dog or cat brush to brush out wool in your stash and felt with it?! As long as it’s 80% wool and non-superwash it will work.
We carry all the felting materials you need to get started, check them out here.
Take a Class with Mel!
Ready to start your felting journey? Sign up for Mel’s upcoming Learn to Needle Felt class where you will make a small felted gnome and learn the basics of needle felting, including tricks to create a fine finish and how to mix and shape wool like a pro. The 3hr class takes place on December 6th via Zoom and includes all materials. Suitable for ages 7 and up.
What’s on Mel’s felting block right now? She’s been working away on some holiday pieces, felted puzzles, wreaths and other projects. You can follow along with Mel’s felting work on Instagram @lovesfelt. We love seeing what she creates!