Sculptural felt update

After the success (or lack of success!) with my last attempt to insert wire within my felt I decided to try a small sample as before but insert the wire as soon as I removed the laminate underlay resists.  It worked!!  I laid out a small landscape in Bheda wool using the mountains and fields surrounding me as inspiration.  I inserted the wire, finished the felting and fulling process and voila.  It was possible to manipulate the wire to create interesting shapes within the finished felted piece.  I can’t wait to try this out on a much more ambitious project but will have to wait until my work for the Green Energy Fair is over. 

Experimenting with sculptural pieces

Over the last few days I have been thinking of ways to add an extra dimension to my work.  Yesterday I created a sample piece that incorporated some strips of laminate underlay as resists.  For those of you who have never felted before a resist is just a piece of something (eg. supple plastic, laminate floor underlay or oilcloth) that the wool fibres will not adhere to during the felting process.  This means that where ever you position the resist a pocket within the finished piece will be created.  I decided yesterday to make a two tiered piece of felt with a darker background and a light wool and linen foreground.  Within the top layer I also incorporated three strips of resist, the idea being that when I removed them at the end I wanted to insert either wire or some other thin items.  My intention had been to play around with the final insertion and possibly try twisting the wire into some interesting combinations.  Even though I thought that my piece was fully shrunk and felted before I removed these strips, the ends of these hollow tubes bonded together slightly when I did the final rinse and throwing.  Today I am going to try to open up the tubes but I actually think that next time I will insert the wire or whatever as soon as I remove the laminite resist.  Will update you on progress as soon as I get the next piece finished.

Amazing Alpaca

Delving through the goodies in my delivery from Germany has sparked so many creative projects it is almost hard to concentrate!  I decided to work my first piece in Alpaca without adding any other fibres and see how it reacted to felting.  The fibres looked absolutely amazing laid out on the bubble wrap, exactly like a long hank of beautiful chestnut hair.  They were really quick to felt and surprisingly I found that they felted particularly well in the opposite direction to how I had laid them out.  Because I wanted to make a long supple scarf I had just laid one layer, almost as fine as cobweb feling.  Anyway, pretty soon I had a really soft but pretty narrow scarf, really luxurious, but a bit plain.  I do like some items to be very unadorned but next time I am going to add a little of the finest merino wook and a few silk strands to see what the difference is.

Love affair with felt continues!

My love affair with felt continues.  Yesterday my delivery of fibres and equipment arrived from Germany, seventh Heaven!  Already I have managed to create 2 new scarves and tonight I will be tutoring again, probably do some really light and supple marino creations.  Have now attended the Artlinks morning on blogging for beginners, I hope I can put it into practice.

Carmen lent me her sander (yes a Black and Decker sander) and I have been playing around with it at the early stages of the felt making process.  You need to be careful to have a light sheet of plastic between you and the fibres, otherwise the holes in the plate of the sander will suck up the wool or silk.  Last night I made a Nuno felt scarf and also tried to use some prefelt cutouts on top of Bheda wool, a course wool that felts really well.  The prefelts were not make from 100% wool and the sander definitely helped to secure them into the feltmaking process.  Will keep you updated.

Exciting times!

Wow, so much has been happening of late that I don’t know where to start.  I’ll try to get this in some sort of order but guess it might just become one big long ramble.

My addiction to felt continues!  Last weekend Carmen (my friend who is responsible for getting me started) and I travelled to Dublin for the agm of the Feltmakers Federation.  Such a nice group of talanted and sharing people is a rare thing to come accross.  After the nitty gritty of the meeting was dispensed with we had an interesting presentation from Una Parsons, the CEO of the Craft’s Council followed by an excellent discussion by Sheila Smith.  Sheila is a master at the art of felt and has written to my mind the definitive book on felting called ‘Felt to Stitch’.  We oogled her wonderful creations and I am really looking forward to her next book, watch out for it in the late summer.  Today, Carmen and another friend Jean came to my studio and I showed them how to create cobweb scarfs, they made very beautiful creations.

As a result of the encouragement and advice received to date I have decided to offer workshops at Clasheen titled ‘Fleece to Felt’.  Aimed primarily at the beginner, these days will offer an ideal chance for stressed out individuals to get in touch with their creative side amidst the beautifull surroundings of the Blackstairs Mountains.  Browse my books, gain inspiration from the landscape and leave at the end of the day with a masterpiece that you have created over the course of the day. 

The purchase of the land surrounding my old farmhouse has been completed a couple of weeks ago so I guess you could say that I am a small holder now!  Brilliant if a bit scarey, at present I have the land rented out to a friendly local farmer so now I can gaze out on horses and young cattle every day.  This week I had an appointment with Chris, our brilliant local forrester to discuss my plans about planting several acres with broad leaved trees in the next dormant season.  Chris has gone home armed with my wish list, natural looking planting, indiginous trees, damson, crab apple and other wild fruit trees mingled in etc. etc. and he will be preparing a plan for me, almost like the floor plan of a house!  I am really looking forward to seeing what he will come up with, we are also exploring the different possibilities of applying for a grant to cover some of the expenses.  My vision is to have a really special amenity area, woodland walks planned from the start and a spring at the top of the land will be included in the ‘floor plan’ as an area of special interest and bio-diversity.

A big note of thanks to Artlinks for the wonderful service they offer.  Last week I attended two of their professional development courses, ‘Business Mentoring for your Creative Practice’ and ‘Marketing your Creative Work’.  This week I am booked into ‘Photographing/Documenting your Creative Work’ and ‘Blogging for Beginners’, guess that is the one I really could do with tonight!

Better go now, my job as competition secretary at Borris Golf Club steps up another gear in the morning, the President’s Prize to the ladies beckons!