Cultural Centre News tutorials

Fall felting: Pumpkin Workshop

These photos and instructions are from Nadine Papp’s wet felting workshop at the Cultural Centre. On Saturday October 24, she led us through the step by step process of creating a miniature felted pumpkin. Hopefully this write up will inspire you to try a bit of felting at home!

– Shannon Quigley

Make a mini pumpkin


  • Wool for felting – Corriedale wool tops work well. Others like merino are better for wet felting. Here is a guide to different wools. Search etsy for corriedale tops or roving (you can filter by country if you want to find a Canadian seller).
  • Felting needle (optional) – spiral gauge 38 is a good medium sized needle for quick felting
  • Fabric
  • Needle, thread and scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • A baking tray
  • Hot water and soap in a bowl
  • Dog hair brush (optional)

Step 1: Make a ball of fabric

  • Ball up a small piece of fabric and stitch it to create a ball.
  • You will use fabric ball as a base to felt around. When wet felting, it’s helpful to start with a shape. You can also do wet felting around a rock or bar of soap.

Step 2: Create layers of wool

  • Pull apart very thin wisps of wool. Lay them flat to create your first layer, with all the fibers going in one direction.
  • Keep building layers, with each layer going in the opposite direction, until you have 6-8 layers of wool.
  • Make your orange layers about two thirds larger than your fabric ball.

Step 3: Start felting the pumpkin

  • Wet felting binds wispy wool fibers together with hot, soapy water and friction.
  • Start by mixing together hot water with a bit of soap in a bowl. Natural soaps with olive oil work well.
  • Put your orange wool layers on a plate or baking tray and use a spoon to pour hot water into the centre. Leave the edges dry if you can.
  • Put a layer of plastic wrap on top of your wool. Rub the centre of the wool in circles to bind the layers together. Again, leave the edges dry and ‘unfelted’ if you can.
  • Put the fabric ball in the centre of your orange felt. Twist the extra wool together at the end to make a little parcel.
  • Wrap your pumpkin in plastic wrap and roll in between your hands to felt it together. Dip it in hot water every once in a while.
  • Rub the ball between your hands to create friction and bind the fibers together. You can keep the ball wrapped in plastic if you like – it can help create a smoother finish.
  • When most of your pumpkin has been felted – remove the excess wool by tearing it off very gently or use a dog’s hair brush if you have one.
  • Use a dog hair brush or pull at the extra felt to remove excess wool.
  • Once the extra felt at the ends has been removed, keep rubbing the ball (wrapped in plastic wrap) between your hands until you can’t see the rough edges anymore and you have a finished pumpkin shape.

Step 4: Create felt for leaves and stem

  • Repeat the process of layering small amounts of wool with green.
  • Create two piles – one for your leaves, and one for your stem
  • For the leaves – pour hot soapy water over the entire pile of felt, cover with plastic wrap and rub with your hands to create a layer of felt that you will use to make your leaves.
  • For the stem – only wet half of the pile of wool. Roll the wet half together to create a stem. Try to keep half of it dry. The dry end will be used to attach the stem to the pumpkin. (I got mine whole stem wet because there were puddles on the plate).

Step 5: Add the stem & rinse

  • Attach the frayed edge of the stem to the top of your pumpkin. Use hot soapy water and friction to bind them together. Use a needle felting needle or a regular needle and thread to do touch ups at the end if your stem needs help staying on.
  • Rinse off your pumpkin once you’re finished felting – this gets all the soap out

Step 6: Add the leaves

  • Cut out leaves our of your green felt and stitch them on to your pumpkin.

Step 7: Leave to dry!

  • Leave your pumpkin to dry out in the sun or on a window sill. Enjoy!

Cultural Centre News tutorials

Fall Felting Tutorial: Make a needle felted leaf brooch

This is a write up from our fall needle felting workshop on Saturday October 17, 2020. Nadine Papp led us through the step by step process of creating a felt brooch using a leaf shaped cookie cutter. I had the pleasure of following along and took notes as we went. We know there are a few folks out there who would have liked to join this workshop. Hopefully this tutorial will inspire you to pick up a needle and try it at home. Please note that this craft is best for ages 12 and up – the felting needles are quite sharp!

– Shannon Quigley

Make a felt brooch

Make a needle felted brooch with a cookie cutter!


  • Wool for felting – Corriedale wool tops work well. Others like merino are better for wet felting. Here is a guide to different wools. Search etsy for corriedale tops or roving (you can filter by country if you want to find a Canadian seller).
  • Foam – Etsy also sells felting foam and needles
  • Felting needle – spiral gauge 38 is a good medium sized needle for quick felting
  • Leaf shaped cookie cutter
  • Brooch back pin
  • Needle and thread

Step 1: create thin layers of wool

  • Pull apart a very small amount of wool. Almost like a spider’s web.
  • Lay each piece down one by one to create your first layer.
  • Put the next layer down with the felt going in another direction.
  • Mix as many colours as you like.
  • Keep layering, with very thin layers going in different directions until you have a little bed that bounces when you press lightly on it.

Step 2: Start felting

  • Felting is the process of binding all your layers of wool together. Wet felting uses hot water and soap, needle felting uses a barbed needle.
  • *safety first* The needle is incredibly sharp and has barbs. Position your hands away from the needle at all times. Keep your needle somewhere safe – like tucked inside the foam – so it doesn’t prick anyone when it’s not in use.
  • Put your cookie cutter, cutter side down, on the foam pad and get your needle ready.
  • Lift your layers of wool and place them on top of the cookie cutter.
  • Start felting by pressing your needle into the wool over and over again. Start around the edges of the cookie cutter then work your way in.
  • The extra felt with gradually get drawn into the main cookie cutter shape as you work.

Step 3: Flip it over and felt again

  • When you’ve felted one side for a little while, remove the cookie cutter and peel the wool away from the foam.
  • Flip over your leaf, put it back inside the cookie cutter and repeat.
  • Start felting around the edges first each time you flip the leaf.
  • Repeat until the back that you’ve just peeled off isn’t as fuzzy anymore

Step 4: Neaten the edges

  • When you’ve finished needle felting, you can neaten it up by rubbing it in between your hands quickly. The warmth and friction will help finish the felt.
  • You can also put a little bit of warm water and natural soap on your hands to do a quick wet felt if you like.

Step 5: Add details

  • Add veins to your leaf by stitching or rolling and needle felting bits of wool in a contrasting colour

Step 6: Add a brooch back

  • When your leaf is finished – add a brooch to the back with a needle and thread. It helps if you keep the brooch back open as you stitch.

Step 7: Enjoy!

  • Wear your beautiful brooches around town or give them as gifts!

Agnes Jamieson Gallery Cultural Centre News In The News

In The News: ‘Navigations of Iron’ at AJG

Iron ore mining between Kinmount and Tory Hills never really got off the ground between 1870 and 1900, but it’s test holes and mine sites have provided artistic fodder for Gary Blundell, who’ll launch an exhibition at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery in Minden Aug. 12.

“It’s a show based on some patterning that I found in the woods mostly last year around the Irondale area,” Blundell said in an interview. “It’s things left behind.”

Lisa Gervais

Lisa Gervais interviewed artist Gary Blundell in this feature about current exhibit ‘Navigations of Iron’. Read the full article here, on page 20.

Cultural Centre News In The News Museum & Heritage Village

In The News: Great Historic Bake Off

“Travel back in time with The Great Historic Bake Off. Connect with history, have fun and win prizes with Minden Hills Cultural Centre and Heritage Village’s Great Historic Bake Off… Taking the baking to the virtual realm was part of the new way of doing things during the pandemic, which allows the continuation of the museum’s cooking demonstrations.”

Darren Lum

The Great Historic Bake Off was profiled in the Minden Times! Read the full article here.

Cultural Centre News In The News Museum & Heritage Village

In The News: Visual Arts, the Great Depression and COVID-19

This article was originally published in the Minden Times, written by gallery curator Laurie Carmount.

An odd combination of words for a title, I will grant you, but consider the following.

As you are probably aware, during the 1930s, the world ground to an economic halt due to the Great Depression. Canada was one country that experienced some of the worst economic hardships. This was mostly due to the drastic decline in global exports, something Canada was dependent on. It was a social and economic shock. Thirty per cent of the workforce was out of employment, and one in five Canadians needed government relief for survival.

Some interesting results of this economic downturn were that even though most were out of work, homeless and in dire straits, the rich were getting richer. Another was the reversed momentum of the urban centres as many Canadians moved to rural areas. For many unemployed “going back to the land, and growing food” was preferable to existing on government relief.
What you may not know about this time, however, is the work camps that were setup in Haliburton County to build highways – specifically Highway 35.

At this time, there was mounting concern for many with the growing number of restless men without work and “loitering around.” Major-General McNaughton proposed work camps throughout the country to “deter the radical storm troopers of the revolution into communism.” The camps were controversial, some with seriously bad conditions that resulted in the Regina Riot and Bloody Sunday.

The Haliburton County camps, however, located at Hunter Creek Road, Sun Valley, Twelve Mile Lake, Halls Lake and Saskatchewan Lake – rows of buildings laid out like military encampments – were not as horrendous as some. According to Michael Shirley’s article titled “The Building of Highway 35,” where he interviews Dick Kirkwood, a former worker at the camps, there were “three well cooked meals daily, clothes and board.” The camp comprised of: bunkhouses, office, stable, blacksmith shop and living quarters for the “keyman.” The bunkhouses were 16 by 16 feet constructed of rough lumber, covered with tarpaper. The roofs were canvas. Eight men were housed in each bunkhouse, which were not insulated, and in the winter were heated by a constantly fed woodstove.

Generally, work camps were used to build airfields, clear land, build highways, construction and plant trees. This work was voluntary. These workers became known as the “Royal Twenty Centers” because that is how much they were paid each day.

While this was occurring, there was a well-known Canadian, born Russian, artist who was trekking up and down the Highland roads. He periodically resided in Minden, staying at the Hamilton farm on South Lake Road, where his wife was convalescing. Dr. Jamieson would pick him up, while doing her medical calls, and drop him off to sketch.
He carried with him sketchbook, paints and canvases, which he used to record the work of these camps. This artist, Andre Lapine, was considered the best illustrator of horses in North America. His work has been in numerous public collections and has represented Canada in a number of international exhibitions. And he was in Minden, creating sketches that revealed horses doing hard laborious work alongside men as they cut into granite, hauled gravel and moved timber.

It’s interesting to note that the work camps in Haliburton were only using teams of horses. According to Shirley’s article, teams were rotated through from local farms to disperse the hard work.
Included in this article are sketches by Lapine, from the Agnes Jamieson Gallery collection. Also included are images from the Minden Hills Museum collection of men at work on Highway 35.

The Great Depression was a time of major suffering, of economic downturn, and need for government aid. Can we relate to this on some levels today? Will artists capture this time? Artists often fill the important role of real time documenters during historical moments. It goes without saying this gives society a point of reference, meaning and reflection. If you consider what is happening at this very moment in time, the images that are emerging, especially from the United States, are powerful and poignant. Is this “downtime” allowing for one to express their grievances like those who expressed theirs during the Great Depression?
In Quebec, in Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, there was a different project put forward to the unemployed during the Great Depression.  It began with Médard Bourgault (1897-1967). Finding himself unemployed, Médard went back home to work in his father’s carpentry and woodworking shop.

In his leisure time, this self-taught sculptor created woodcarvings which he exhibited in front of his house. Seeing this as a good pastime, Médard and his brothers revived the hobby to give their out-of-work neighbours something to do with their idle hands. The Great Depression gave the craft, which had diminished as a pastime with the demands of farm life, new meaning.
The project was successful and renowned ethnologist Marius Barbeau recognized this talent and encouraged them to continue. He even urged him, along with his brothers and fellow sculptors Jean‑ Julien and André, to establish a school – the “École de sculpture de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli,” in 1940. The school was soon supported by the Quebec government, which helped to further the sculpting industry in Quebec. Recognition then came from the National Gallery of Canada and the École du meuble.
These people were acting on an ideological school of thought, advocating the preservation of ancestral traditions and protecting the French Canadian identity from the effects of industrialization. Today the school still exists with 200 sculptors.

Another image included is a wood relief sculpture by Bourgault that resides in the Agnes Jamieson Gallery, one of its most treasured objects. Like its counterpart at the Algonquin Highlands township, the piece (donated by the Irwin family) is not only an example of talent, but also how community and government support led to a successful school, a town’s survival and prosperity, and an important cultural heritage.  

Through these past six months of self-isolation and distancing, we have witnessed shifts in social, political and economic forces. For those who had to step away from their work, this form of “unemployment” leads to those “idle hands.” When, for many, work is their life and it no longer exists, they find they are lost, bored and, in some instances, experiencing depression. It gives one pause as to what the role of our lives is, what is fulfilling and satisfying – what can be tangible accomplishments that give a sense of well being. We have some time now to consider many things. Have you wished recently you had something to creatively make, and enjoy?
When the time comes, and soon it shall, join us again at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre, in the town of Minden, and view the many important pieces of history we have preserved for your enjoyment and learning experience.