“You know when you get up in the morning and you’ve got bed head?” Art teacher Mary Bena asked a Kindergarten class at Medina Elementary. “That is massive entanglement.”

The day’s lesson was on created felted art pieces, which gave students a new and interesting way to apply art concepts and skills they learned during weekly art times throughout the year.

“Felt is massive, irreversible entanglement,” visiting artist Marilyn Romatka further explained.

Piles of colored wool awaited students during a recent art class at Medina Elementary. Kindergarten and first grade students learned how to create original fiber art out of wool through the felting process.

“I really like to make my own creation,” one student said.

The special project was made possible by a grant from the Bellevue Schools Foundation and support from the Medina PTA. Bena, who rotates between Medina and Phantom Lake, said that she alternates between writing grants for wet felting and glass fusing, which enables each student at the schools she works with to participate in each project by the time they go to middle school.

The lesson began with an explanation of wet felting and Romatka showed students different uses for felt, including as clothes, shoes, umbrellas and blankets. Students also viewed pieces of contemporary and multicultural art.

Students started with an undyed square of wool and placed colored wisps of felt on top to create their picture – everything from basketballs to flowers, suns, and smiley faces. The next step involved placing their piece of felt-to-be in a plastic baggy and adding soapy water. Students then squished their bag, creating the tangles that would hold their picture together, using physical action to create their art.

Medina Wet Felting Projects

“They are making the physical agitation happen,” Romatka said.

After the squishing and mashing students flatten their piece, compressing the layers.

“Then it looks like felt and feels like felt,” Bena explained.

The felting project coincides with a Kindergarten science unit about fabric. The goal, Bena said, is to bring art and science together and make connections between subjects.

“It’s nice because I can help students make these connections,” Bena said. “Bellevue Schools Foundation has really been so supportive and it’s material the kids never would otherwise have experience with.”

Their felt entangled and flattened, students hung their projects to dry and chattered with excited anticipation about their projects.

“It’s about giving the kids new experiences and introducing them to new materials,” Bena said.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.