Innovation in New Zealand Part 2

The Textile and Design Lab, which is where the FeltLOOM is housed, also hosted two 1-day felting workshops in April that were taught by Lanette and Don and attended by staff, students. and experienced felters from the private sector. Participants were given an explanation of the machine’s capabilities and operating procedures before creating their own experimental pieces of felted materials.

Lanette teaching at AUT workshop.

Don and Lanette were especially interested in the technical textile work at AUT. Donna Cleveland, a doctoral student at AUT, had visited Don and Lanette in Kentucky in the fall of 2014, tried the machine with recycled, shredded fabric that she had brought, and discussed her experiments in electrical conductivity through fiber. She inspired the purchase of the FeltLOOM by AUT, hoping that the needles would not damage the wire they planned to embed in fabric. In the AUT lab Don and Lanette were able to see how Donna and a group of students, are working with various fibers and testing electrical conductivity through fabrics built on the FeltLOOM. Not only did the embedded knitted copper wire conduct electricity, but so did the stainless steel fibers, which were not woven. The soft, flexible stainless steel wire was so fine that the group was able to create the delicate ruffles shown here. Don said, “We had never seen that done before and were very impressed with the design aesthetics.”

This flowing material is embedded with stainless steel wires that are capable of conducting electricity

Donna Cleveland is shown here with one of her wire embedded textiles.

As full as their trip was, Lanette and Don were able to enjoy some time with FeltLOOM owners. Lanette is shown here with owner and alpaca breeder Faye Christie in Faye’s beautiful garden, which is extensive and inspired Lanette. “She’s a great gardener, and her garden just touched me because I felt like I was in the Garden of Eden….She had everything in there that she needed to live on.”

They also were able to spend several days with owners Christine and Ross Edwards, shown here. Besides being owners, the Edwards act as agents for FeltLOOM in New Zealand and can be reached through their website.

The entire trip was a delight. Not only did Don and Lanette help introduce the FeltLOOM to the public, they also saw that it was being used in new ways as a tool for the sustainable use of materials, and they experienced the open friendliness of the people of New Zealand. Lanette expressed that experience, “Everyplace we went people helped us. They were wonderful… and treated us like we were their friends.”