Things are getting wild and woolly in the New Orleans Botanical Gardens in City Park, where artist Bella Legault will lead a workshop Feb. 23 on decorating vases with wool.
Legault doesn't use just any wool: These vases are wrapped with rich, handspun alpaca wool from Vermont.
“It's from my friend's alpaca farm, dyed with naturally occurring dyes,” Legault said. “Alpaca are wonderful animals, so we start the workshop by talking about them and watching a quick video of them. As a longtime artist, I know how important it is to know where your materials are coming from.”
“My husband Jake and I moved to New Orleans from Vermont just last year, 2018, though we have been visiting since 1990,” Legault explained. “The wool is a little bit of home I brought with me.”
There are two techniques for making wool vases, Legault said. One of them, “wet felting,” is an elaborate process of layering sheets of wool.
But the process that Legault uses is easy, affordable and helps build confidence in those who may be unsure of their creative abilities, she said.
In this process, the alpaca wool is wrapped around glass vases, using a high-quality artist’s medium to make it stick together and hold the form, Legault said. Some people go for a single color, and others mix dyes for a vivid watercolor look.
After the fiber is wrapped around the vase, another coat of medium is applied to the outside.
“That isn't the end of it, though, unless you want a simple, uncluttered look,” she said. “But, hey! This is New Orleans! People gotta decorate.”
Over the past year, Legault has collected scraps of fabric and colorful decorations to affix to the surface of the wool-wrapped vases. Imagine encrusting a gold vase with precious jewels.
The Botanical Garden wool vase workshop is just one item on a menu of artistic events Legault offers through her art-for-all enterprise, “Art a la Carte with Bella.”
“I go to people’s houses or galleries or stores, wherever, and do workshops for small groups. I like a minimum of five or six and a maximum of 15 or 16. I love working with children and grownups,” she said.
Although the wool vase workshop seems to be a favorite, there are also workshops that yield batik silk scarves, block-printed paper note cards, mosaics and more. To learn more, go to artalacartebella.com
Legault is a big fan of New Orleans and its embrace of offbeat things — and people.
“I could go to the grocery store in pajamas and a tiara, and no one would even look at me twice,” she said. “Moving to New Orleans feels like coming home.”
The City Park workshop begins at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 23. As with all of Legault's workshops, supplies are provided. Tickets are $35 and can be found on eventbrite.com.
Advance registration is required. For information call (504) 483-9473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.