I had this idea for a felt hat, and for many weeks that was all it was — an idea. I wanted to embed purple silk pieces into a multi-hued wool, crisscrossing four layers of roving to make a sturdy felt. I also wanted to add a stretched out silk “hankie” and a twirl of yarn with an orange speck. Especially, I wanted to make five spikes of wool which would emerge from the top of the hat like grass, or snakes, or curlicues. I expected making the spikes would be hardest to achieve, take more planning and be trickier in execution.
I set aside a whole afternoon, and a couple hours later I had a felt hat at the soft clay stage. Now was the time to attach the spikes. I had left dry wool ends on the spikes and this I fanned out and placed on the wet felt and pressed until the dry wool was wet and flat and beginning to attach. Then I used bubble wrap to massage the fibers together. After the third spike was attached I decided that three spikes on my hat would be sufficient.
And still there was the fulling to do. I massaged and rolled and pinched and pressed until the hat was in a form I could manipulate and shape to my desire, or the hat’s own needs. Sometimes I just have to wait, and listen to what the hat itself “wants.” I have to be flexible to end up with a finished product we are both happy with.
I feel like this process is somewhat like the Gathering Place project. We go in with the grandest of ideas. We want this, we’d like that. The main endeavor may be this, but maybe not. As with any grand project, flexibility is the key element.
If we cannot raise the full amount of money, certain desires will have to take a back seat. The main thing is to have spaces for the Abington Area Community Classroom classes, a comfortable gathering place downtown, a studio for Verve Vertu and its programs, and a self-sustaining art gallery.
Maybe we cannot afford the kitchen we would like for our cooking classes (which are still fully registered after five years). Perhaps we can continue to use First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit’s kitchen a while longer, if it means we can renovate the fire hall and occupy the space. Perhaps the art gallery as a source of income will be part of Phase II. As with the felt hat, we proceed with the ultimate concept in mind, all the while responding to the resources we have on hand, and needs and wants of our community.
Our community center can become a beacon of hope, an innovative but intimate place dedicated to arts and education, and to pursuing new venues only waiting to be thought of. The Gathering Place will evolve, certainly, by way of those who become involved. But without support and movement ( the “fulling,” if you will) no idea, no project — no matter how wonderful — can ever be realized.
My hat is still awaiting its final finish. It needs a final rubbing and sculpting. And the form the spikes will take I’m unsure of, but I do know it will be a fabulous hat to those who discern the inspiration and hard work that went into it.
Likewise for The Gathering Place. It needs its tweaks; it needs more involvement, movement, and dedication to its creative mission.
The Gathering Place renovation will begin very soon. Get on board! Please help us make this Gathering Place a fabulous reality. Give to The Gathering Place, PO Box 171, Clarks Summit, PA 18411.
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