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!


  1. Barbara your classes sound wonderful!

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