Communication professor performs ‘magic act’ at Imagine RIT

Hinda Mandell to demonstrate how wool becomes fabric

Follow Vienna McGrain on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

Matthew White

Hinda Mandell, assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts, will engage visitors to her Imagine RIT booth in the ancient art of felting—or transforming wool into fabric. Mandell creates cute, quirky vessels for a variety of uses from felting.

If innovation is on the minds of many Imagine RIT exhibitors, then creativity is certainly on the mind of Hinda Mandell. And that comes as no surprise to those who know her.

Mandell, assistant professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts, is introducing the ancient technique of felting to this year’s festival-goers.

“Felted Vessels,” which will be located on the first floor of the Gordon Field House and Activities Center, is a hands-on demonstration designed to show visitors how tufts of wool magically transform into fabric. With the help of warm water and soap, this process—called felting—changes colorful wool into smooth felt. All day long, Mandell will work her “magic” to make lightweight and durable wool-turned-felt vessels designed to hold car keys or office supplies, become decorative elements in any setting or simply serve as conversation starters. Twenty lucky visitors to Mandell’s booth will be able to take a felted vessel home.

“This is something you have to see to believe,” Mandell says. “Because felt-making is so tactile, it’s almost an addictive experience. It’s fun to touch the tufts of wool before they become felt and it’s fun working with soapy wool when it’s in the ‘pre-felt’ stage. But what’s really neat is seeing an idea come to life.”

And the colors?

“They’re bright and fabulous,” she adds.

Mandell hopes her visitors will see wool in a whole new light and gain an appreciation for creating something that is, in essence, low-tech.

“I love the digital world, but there’s something to say for creating objects with our own hands. Felting is about the process of creation.”