Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 1, 2022

Sharing the Art of Making Art

Once again the Village Theater Gallery at Cherry Hill (Canton, MI) invited the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild to create a members exhibit. “Exploration in Fiber” ran the month of November. It was a great show filled with a wide range of the fiber arts.

I had 3 felt pieces in the exhibit:
Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Fire & Flood Summer 2022 and my Back-to-Back Jacket.


Besides a monthly exhibit the Village Theater Gallery also offers evening sessions presented by different artists so people in the community can try their hand at different ways of creating art.

When the guild exhibited last summer one of our members gave an introduction to weaving class and for this exhibit I offered to give a 2 1/2 hour introduction to wet felting class.

It took quite a bit of planning to organize materials for 17 participants. The trickiest thing was figuring out how to have easy access to water in a carpeted room with no sink or facet. The solution – use 1 liter bottles with sprinkler screw tops already filled with soapy water as well as few small Halloween Trick or Treat buckets (reduced to 20¢ each now that it’s November). I like to bring a broad color palette of wool fiber to work from plus a variety of felt items as examples to show the diversity of felt – from light weight flowing garments to thick rugs. Getting everything in my Yaris is a 3D game of Tetris!

Each participant was asked to bring a picture for inspiration. After an explanation of the how and why wool felts they were off!

I was very impressed with the wide range of images created – some were VERY abstract and others more detailed.

With 1 hour left – we moved onto wetting down the fibers and rolling…..rolling….rolling…rolling…rolling…rolling…rolling…

This is where the real work of felting (agitation) and patience come into play because nothing seems to be happening for the longest time, then suddenly it’s felted and is 30-40% smaller than it was at the start! As our time together was winding down I had everyone rinse their pieces and then ironed them. Everyone was amazed at how their pieces had changed from the dry layout start to the now felted end result and even again after ironing.

What a great evening of sharing the art of making art!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | November 1, 2022

Autumn and Falling Leaves

September was filled with preparations for events
that would keep October VERY busy!

The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild was back in the lobby of the Power Center for the Performing Arts September 14-October 23. Hanging the exhibit is always an adventure with curved concrete walls and fixed hanging peg locations set every 24″.

I had 3 pieces accepted – Fire on the Horizon, Meander, and Hiking the Coastal Path.

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Next came presenting another program for Elderwise of Ann Arbor in mid October. When Beaver Was King is an eclectic mix of factual information and stories, plus the process of how beaver tall hats were made.

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It was a pleasure to share the virtual stage telling stories for adults from the dark and gruesome side of the Brothers Grimm presented by Stories with Spirit. I’ve added new story to my repertoire The Castle of Murder found in the first edition of the Brothers Grimm.

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I answered the call for volunteers to help with the hands-on activities ‘Crafternoons’ offered in conjunction with the exhibit Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. Once a month during the exhibit visitors have the opportunity to explore a different type of fiber art – embroidery, weaving, design, sewing and knitting, – watch demonstrations and meet artists. The focus for the October session was sewing, both by hand sewing on buttons with plastic mesh and tapestry needles, and using a machine to make a crazy quilt. It was fun afternoon and the exhibit is fabulous!

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The 27th Annual Weaving History Conference sponsored by the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton, NY was held virtually October 24-26. I presented Tales from the Weaving Room exploring the connection between the skill, tools and often magical looking processes developed to make cloth and how they are reflected in the stories women told each other as they worked throughout the year to clothe their families and communities.

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With October winding down I finally caught up on some projects: making a tall broom after taking the hearth broom workshop at the Michigan Fiber Festival in August and making a dye bath using red onion skins I’d been saving since May.

Mordants can in many cases produce different colors and red onion skin can produce a green color. I used tin, iron and alum which produced a lovely range of browns but no green.

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Halloween finishes the month with the annual gathering of some interesting characters at my house!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 1, 2022

Summer comes to an end….

August brought one last round of workshops for me at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan. I’m rather sporadic in my attendance [see blogs August 2016 City Mouse…Country Mouse pt2 and August 2018 Big Looms…Little Looms…and a bit of color] but each time I am able to be there it’s been fabulous and seeing once again the giant rooster at the county fairgrounds gate always makes me smile!

This year I signed up for Naalbinding Mittens with Heidi Bukoski, Felted Vessel: Sculpting with Nicole Gillies, and Appalachian Hearth Broom (Besom) Making with Robin Goatey. Two of the three workshops were in the open air pavilion which was nice as the weather was fabulous.

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Wednesday – Naalbinding Mittens
Naalbinding/Nålebinding is the oldest form of looped garment construction. A Neolithic technique that predates knitting and crochet using short lengths of yarn and a single-eyed needle to loop and knot the yarn through previously created loops, gradually building up row upon row.

Several years ago I tried to learn naalbinding but had no success. Heidi’s explanation and handouts were wonderful and it all clicked….after several tries of course! I did not get a full mitten made but I did complete a very nice wrist warmer by the end of the day!

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Thursday – Felted Vessel: Sculpting
Felt vessels are always a welcome surprise. Most people don’t realize that they are wool until they pick them up, feeling the almost weightlessness and beauty of these pieces of art.

I’ve been felting for at least 25 years but have not done much in the way of making larger vessels. The smaller vessels I’ve done were made using the Merino wool so the vessel is softer and not as stiff. In this workshop we used Finn wool which is a heavier fiber and makes a much firmer felt than the Merino wool which is excellent for larger vessels.

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Friday afternoon – Appalachian Hearth Broom (Besom) Making
The original brooms were not flat nor made with wire but crafted with twine, a stick, Broom Corn & basket making reed.

This workshop was one of the most interesting I’ve ever taken! Robin Goatey is a woodcarver, woodturner, broom maker, coppersmith, folkways instructor and has taught at the John C Campbell Folk School. His depth, wealth and style of presenting the craft, history and lore of broom/besom (the Scottish word for broom) making is amazing.

Mine did now come out nearly as nice as his example but I purchased materials to take home to try my hand at making another.

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Checking out some of the other classes during lunch break….

…the spindle spinning class certainly looked like it could be part of an Ann Arbor Sword Club display.

Chatting with vendors as they set up…

…and watching the livestock get glammed up for the judging over the weekend…

…rounded out my days at the fairgrounds.

In previous years I’ve camped at the fairground. This year I stayed just down the road in the town of Plainwell and had a chance to checkout some of the local eating establishments in town. Having just finished several summer presentations of my program ‘When Beaver Was King’ (about beavers and their impact on Michigan’s past and present), it was fitting I should partake in a Crazy Beaver Cream Ale with a meal at the Old Mill Brewpub & Grill (built in 1869, the four story building was once the largest buckwheat flour mill in the country and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places) and of course I HAD to stop at the Plainwell Ice Cream Company for something cold and delicious at the end each day!

All this added up to three great days at the Michigan Fiber Festival
and a wonderful way to finish out the summer!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | July 31, 2022

Ability Weavers – Lowell, MI

When the Michigan League of Handweavers 2022 Biennial Fiber Exhibit at the LowellArts Gallery [see May 2022 blog] came to an end I volunteered to help with the take down. Once we finished packing things up I wandered down the street and discovered a wonderful shop – Ability Weavers.

As I walked in the door I was greeted by an array of colorful handwoven home decor items: towels, blankets, table runners, purses & totes as well as gorgeous rag rugs in wide range of sizes.

The shop is filled with the looms that are used to weave all the items right there in the store.

They also have the largest non-mechanized floor loom I’ve ever seen! The weaving width is 8 feet [2.4 meters] and requires 2 weavers working in tandem.

Owner Beryl Bartkus, the parent of a young woman with autism, explained that many of the employees have autism or other special needs. The purpose and philosophy for the store is to provide an integrated work setting in which those with and without disability work side by side.

“We believe that every individual is worthy of having meaningful employment. Weavers with and without disability are offered the same hourly wage, above minimum wage. Some weavers may create a large rug, or several towels during their work day. Other weavers may only make a few mug rugs.
We encourage everyone to do their very best and to work to their highest potential.
Everyone is equally important, equally appreciated and fairly paid.”

Besides home decor items they also offer ‘Weave Your Own’ classes (no experience necessary!) as well as weaving yarn & supplies, have added an online store and sponsor of the Lowell Weaving & Fiber Arts Fair.

Ability Weavers is well worth a visit – either in person or online!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 30, 2022

Kicking off Summer

June kicked off with a fabulous “Yeah! We are back in person!”
weekend of workshops from the Michigan League of Handweavers.

Because life is still slowly moving past the infamous Covid-19 hiatus, the course selection was smaller than in the past with 6 offerings.

Fabulous Felt Sampler Workshop – 3 Wet Felted 3-D Projects in 3-Days with Dawn Edwards
—Come and learn the basics of wet-felting, or expand your knowledge, in this fun-filled three- day workshop.

Contemporary Embroidery: From Surface Design to the Stitched Mark with Jennifer Gould
—This workshop will strive to have students look at stitching on fabric, not as decorative, but as an expression of themselves—pulling something new and different from inside onto the cloth.

Weaving in a Parallel Universe on 8 or more Shafts with Linda Hartshorn
—Parallel threadings are incredibly versatile and can be used to weave a variety of structures including echo weave twills and jin (polychrome turned taquete).

ONE WARP, FOUR FABRICS: Weaving with 60/2 Silk on 4 or 8 shafts with Denise Kovnat
—Take the fear out of weaving with fine silk, using plain weave and turned twill along with a variety of weft yarns to achieve surprisingly different results.

Project Colorway – for Weavers Who Would Rather Die than Dye with Ruby Leslie
—Learning how to blend color while working with already dyed yarn is a different beast than learning how to dye specific hues.

SPLIT-SHED WEAVING on 4 Shafts with Deborah Silver
—Weave curves and blend colors using continuous wefts on a 4-shaft loom with no special equipment.



I’ve taken several simple dyeing workshops to know that dyeing is not ‘my thing’ so I chose Project Colorway – For Weavers Who Would Rather Die Than Dye!
Ruby brought lots of samples for us to see and touch…


Several PowerPoint presentations to discuss color theory and blending…


We played with grouping colors into different combinations…

I had a lot of “Oh…. I get it now!!” moments.

On Saturday we all had a chance to see what the other workshops were doing.
As always…. my interest has been peaked for other workshops to take!

Some of the “Oh… that’s a good idea!” I gleaned over the weekend are:

Turning the warping board 90° (tall vs wide) is easier on one’s shoulder because your arm & shoulder move up and down instead of having to stay at the same level.
Use ponytail bands to mark the width of your warp
on the back beam
Use embroidery floss card to wind samples of the yarns in my stash makes it easier to play with design.

This last idea motivated me to take stock of my stash.
Time to start planning some projects!!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | May 31, 2022

Show & Tell…Tell & Shows

May has been a busy month filled with Show & Tell adventures!

The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit “The Many Faces of Fiber Art” runs from May 3-June 29, 2022 in the gallery space at Silver Maples Senior Living, Chelsea Michigan. The exhibit includes work from 17 guild members representing a wide range of techniques: weaving, surface design, tapestry, paper making, marbling, rug hooking, 3D sculptural, stitch work and embroidery. I have 3 pieces in the show – Hiking the Coastal Path, Meander, and Surround Sound Vest.



When the speaker scheduled for the May 7th meeting of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild had to cancel I offered to present the PowerPoint portion of ‘Tales from the Weaving Room’.

It was a pleasure to share a timeline and brief history of textile technology spanning 50,000 years, and stories whose imagery is rooted in the making of cord and cloth with modern ‘fiber folk’ because we are part of a long history as we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We are the stuff of stories when we spin ‘straw into gold‘ (flax into linen) and carry ‘magic wands‘ (spindles and knitting needles).



The full 2 hour presentation of ‘Tales from the Weaving Room’ was on May 12th for Elderwise Learning in Ann Arbor. After 2 years on Zoom they have started meeting once again in person with limited class sizes. Starting with the PowerPoint and moving on to the hands-on portion, everyone tried spinning wool using a drop spindle….

and a chance to try weaving on different types of looms.


The final event this month was the artist reception for the Michigan League of Handweavers 2022 Biennial Fiber Exhibit at the LowellArts Gallery, Lowell Michigan on May 26th. I had 2 pieces accepted into the show Secret Forest and Fire on the Horizon. Here are just a few of the amazing entries.

For more pictures and the list of award winners go to MLH’s FaceBook page.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | April 23, 2022

Diving Deeper than Demos

Demos provide a taste
but sometimes it’s nice to have a meal!

I love demonstrating the fiber arts. (see Doin’ Demos April 2015). It’s a wonderful way to give people a quick taste of the different processes that have been used for tens of thousands of years to create cloth and share the wonderful myths and folktales told as a way to pass time while working before the days of radio or podcasts. Where demos are short and sweet, a workshop gives time to delve into more detail. This year I’ve been asked to present 2 workshops.

The first workshop will be in May for Elderwise Learning, a nonprofit, independent, lifelong learning organization dedicated to offering continuing education to learners of all ages, in Ann Arbor Michigan. This will be a combination of lecture, demonstration and hands-on experience.

Ever wonder HOW Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold? WHAT exactly is the spindle in Sleeping Beauty? WHY did those Three Aunts have unusually large feet, arms, and teeth? CAN you really poison someone through clothing like in the Greek myths? WHERE did these ideas come from?

The answers to these questions and more will be revealed as we take a look at the textile images and metaphors that make up the fabric of folktales and myths from around the world. Over the centuries these stories were shaped by and told to women who were primary makers of cloth. For 50,000 years the skill, tools and often magical looking processes needed to make cloth have been part of women’s lives and have been reflected in the stories they told each other as they worked throughout the year to clothe their families and communities.

Through lecture, demonstration and the opportunity to try your hand at spinning, weaving, and dyeing together we will examine the skill, time and even strength necessary to create cloth.





The second will be a completely hands-on experience in conjunction with the November 2022 Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit in the lobby of the Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton Michigan.

Felt is a non-woven material and one of the oldest methods of making fabric dating back to the Neolithic period. Nomadic peoples around the world use it to make shelters, rugs, clothing, hats, footwear, even saddles and armor. Contemporary feltmakers have expanded on this ancient method to create lightweight fabrics, vessels, sculptural works of art and wall hangings.

Using colorful wool fibers, compression, moist heat and agitation, you will create a miniature work of art to take home. No experience necessary. Bring a picture for inspiration and an old towel to the workshop.

Let the adventure begin!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 22, 2022

Felt Flowers That Bloom In The Spring


Winter – Fool’s Spring – Second Winter – Spring of Deception – Third Winter

Mud Season Actual Spring

In Michigan the months of February and March are a roller coaster when it comes to weather as Winter grudgingly gives way to Spring in 7 stages filled with snow, rain, ice, back to snow, more rain, another ice storm… until finally the green buds of snowdrops made their appearance signaling Spring just might actually arrive!

The February workshop “A Posy of Felted Flowers” with Patricia M Greaves for the OnLine Guild of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was just the ticket to withstand the rollercoaster of weather outside my window as I learned new felting techniques to create a bouquet of flowers.

“In this workshop we will explore a variety of ways of making flowers through hand felting – mainly traditional wet felt making, but needle felting can be used for further embellishment when the pieces are dry. We will be exploring ‘real’ flowers and their structure and colours, with the aim of producing a naturalistic or ‘fantastic’ bunch of flowers by the end of the workshop.” –PMGreaves

The workshop was done completely via written instructions and photos. Patricia’s explanations were clear, her photos provided detailed images for reference and I was pleased with my first attempt.

For my next pass I wanted to try getting the stems thinner which I succeed in doing but these were too flimsy to support their blossoms. With stems being too thick, then too thin, hopefully my next ones will be ‘just right’!

The blossoms were also a combination of success and needs some more work. My pansy/morning glory blossom came out pretty good but my daffodil and rose bud not so much. There wasn’t much I could do change the rose bud but if I added a brown center to my daffodil it becomes a Brown-eyed Susan.

With the snowdrops beginning to peak through the melting snow I was inspired to give them a try.

My final flower was an experiment felting wool fibers around florist wire to give thin stems the strength to support the blossom yet still allow the stem to be felted to the blossom, AND to make a double blossom. This one was very successful!!

Now it was time to think about how display my fanciful flowers
as I await the arrival of Actual Spring!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 26, 2022

The Thrill of Twills – part 2

Having finished my first gamp (see January’s blog The Thrill of Twills) I now had 4 weeks to weave 4 more – each using a different tie-up. A ‘tie-up’ is how the treadles are attached to the shafts.

By changing which shafts are attached to any given treadle (outlined in red) new patterns can be woven even though the yarn threading (yellow highlight) and the sequence for pressing down the treadles (blue highlight) stays the same.

Sample A
Sample B

Seeing each new pattern emerge as I continued weaving my 5 gamps using different tie-ups was magical.

Both sides of the fabric look the same with some of the tie-ups.

But others have an obvious difference – especially if light and dark yarns were used.

Seeing and feeling the woven cloth is very different from looking at the patterns with the computer program.

Our group met one more time via Zoom at the end of February to share our gamp photos. It was inspiring to see the creativity and variety. All in all I have 320 samples to choose from for future projects and plan to weave several more gamps using the 10 other threadings we were given but I did not use this time.
PLUS if I use different yarns…..the combinations are endless!!!

Thank you Michigan League of Handweavers
and Martha Town for this workshop.
I am Thrilled with Twills!!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 28, 2022

The Thrill of Twills

Since Covid-19 continues to be the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ the Michigan League of Handweavers is offering another set of virtual talks and workshops. I signed up for the workshop Exploring Twills with Martha Town. For those who are not weavers, twill is a simple weave whose distinguishing characteristic is a diagonal line.

“Understanding Twill Weave structure is basic to understanding many other weave structures, making this workshop useful for beginning and advanced weavers on 4 or 8 Shaft Looms. Weavers will work at their own loom to weave several twill samplers called ‘gamps’. These gamps will show how threadings and treadlings interact to create many twill structures and how the tie up changes the structures. During the sessions, you will get to see how the weaving design software, Fiberworks PCW, is used, so you will get a tutorial of sorts that may help you decide if it is something you want to purchase.”

I’ve used twill threadings from pattern books but don’t have an understanding as to how they are created. The workshop involved meeting once a week via Zoom for 3 weeks in January. After each presentation we had a week to complete a given assignment and the month of February to weave 3-4 different gamps. I am not a fast weaver plus I’ve never used weaving design software so this format was very appealing. Not having to drive to a location in Michigan’s winter weather and having folks in the workshop from other states and even countries (one of our members is joining us from Singapore) are added bonuses!

Martha’s lectures and handouts were excellent and I now have a much better understanding of how to create a twill threading. Technology and I do not usually get along very well but using Fiberworks to create my starting gamp was fun. Being able to move things around, have a sense as to what the visual pattern might be BEFORE starting a project, plus getting a heddle count for each shaft is wonderful!

I made a serious mistake while winding out and grouping the warp threads by NOT paying attention to ergonomics. This caused me to totally mess up my neck muscles. I then painfully strained my shoulder girdle muscles as I threaded 8 very different sequences. All of this caused me to loose several days of weaving time while my body recovered. Lesson learned = PROPER POSTURE IS IMPORTANT!

For those of us who tie the warp to the apron rod Martha suggested we try lashing on because with a gamp there is no need for the extra warp to twist into fringe. I gave this a try. I’ll have to do this several more times before I can do it as quickly as tying on but it eliminates wasting several inches of warp.

All our gamps are to have a section that’s a basic twill to make sure our tension is good and our weaving is balanced.

As I wove through my gamp sequence I found myself stopping to just gaze at the patterns as they slowly appeared!

One gamp down….. 2-3 more to go!

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