I recently had a defining pivotal moment where I experienced a monumental shift in how I feel about my work. This happened while spenting several days with Polly Stirling. I found myself imersed in the emotion, spirit and history of working with fibers and felt.
For months I had been anticipating Polly’s arrival in Ashland, Oregon. I actually have been waiting several years for her to come to the states to teach. When I learned that she would be coming this year, I signed up to take one of her nuno felting classes in New York and was thrilled when she agreed to come to Oregon to teach an introduction to nuno felting class at Ashland Art Center. All I could think of was how my technical knowledge and skill level would improve. I wasn’t prepared for the strong emotional connection I would feel as I watched Polly work.
The first day of class, Polly went over the basics of nuno felting and we got to work on our individual projects. Throughout the day, I saw Polly interact with each student, explaining the “next steps” in felting their projects. I could not take my eyes off of her hands. I watched the way they glided over the felt like a mother caressing her newborn baby. There was an innate quality to her touch, and as I watched I felt a connectedness to earth and ancestors. It was magical and it reminded me of the way I feel about knitting and the warmth I feel when I walk into a knitting shop to pick out yarns for a new project. The feelings come from having my mother and grandmothers teach me to knit and the bonds we developed around this craft.
Over the course of a week, I got to spend some one on one time with Polly and learned more about her lifestyle and beliefs about how she works with fibers and dyes in a natural way. I was sad to see her leave, but anticipate an exciting workshop with her next month.