Stiffening felt and exchanging handmade items.

Many thanks to Nancy in San Francisco who suggested using either dissolvable interfacing or cellulose paste as a stiffener for felt.  It is great to be able to pose a question on this blog and get an answer almost immediately from the other side of the world! 

Speaking of the other side of the world, would anyone be interested in signing up to a craft swap if I organised it, exchanging something simple and hand made possibly with a festive theme?  I thought that we might get a group of us together and make an item or two for a swap buddy (think I am becomming obsessed with swapping) and possibly include a recepie, obviously the idea would be to receive something nice in exchange!  Please reply to this post if you think that it would be a good idea and I will put a challenge together if at least 10 people want to swap.

Continuing the handmade theme, check this out, I have just signed the pledge. I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

On the felt side of things I have been doing a few experimental pieces incorporating either cords or tails and will post a couple of images here tomorrow or on Tuesday.  I really need to knuckle down to the felting as Alan and I will be going away for a couple of days soon and I need to complete my work for ‘Breaking Out’.  It is still not sure if my work will be in the exhibition yet and I must say that I am a little worried in case I do not make something that the curator is happy with.  Anyway, I am delighted to have got so far in the process but have to admit that I will be really disappointed if my work is not included. 

Sylvia, my swap buddy from ‘Bag Lady Swaps’ has now received my package and thankfully seems to be happy with the colours and bag, this is despite my dreadful sewing.  Click here to view the images that she has posted to the group forum.

Spiky wet felted neck piece!

'Green Grass"I am just about to set in to 2 full days felting, heaven for me!!  Before I start I just wanted to share this image of a new design that I am playing with, basically a cross between a necklace and a scarf that I am calling a neck piece.  Today I will be expanding on this idea and also making some long cords to use for some necklaces and collars.  Have any of you used a fabric stiffener when shaping felt and if so what is it called?  I would be very grateful to learn the name and also hear what kind of success or otherwise you have found when using it.  Thanks!   Please just leave me a comment or send a personal email.

Waterlily felt for Bag Lady Swaps

Bag Lady Swaps taster

Bag Lady Swaps taster

This collage of images is a taster for Sylvia, my swap buddy from Bag Lady Swaps to show some of the raw materials and the colour scheme that I used to create the felt for the bag I made her.  If you look closely at the various images you can see pale pink and blue merino, a small section of green and pink silk fibres, pink prefelt and some of the finished water coloured blue felt.  The movement and watery colour in the felt was achieved from a couple of base layers of dark blue wool, a mixture of lighter blue merino laid on top and then quite a bit of light blue silk to finish off with.  I got the parcel posted today and included a couple of little extras one of which was a matching key ring.  The key ring I was especially happy with because I added a little fish cut out from dyed fish skin and I thought that it looked great!!  Because Sylvia has obviously got a few days to wait until the parcel arrives I am not going to post an image of the finished bag until I know she has received it.

Bag lady swap and podcast news!

Back from a couple of days R & R in Austria I have just finished lining the bag that I have been working on for my first swap as part of an online Flickr group ‘Bag Lady Swaps’.   The challenge was to create a bag using any technique that you had not previously used or something that you felt uncomfortable doing or lacked confidence in trying.  As I have mentioned before sewing is just not me but I hope my partner will be happy that I took on the challenge!  Firstly I created a nice piece of felt with her favourite colour blue as the background.  I tried to make the blue look watery and the surface design of white and pale pink waterlillies was added using some hand made lustrous silk and merino wool pre-felts, the lining is a striking rich blue silk.  I really enjoyed creating the felt for this bag and intend making a larger wallhanging in the same theme, as soon as the package is posted and I know that Sylvia (she lives in Denmark) has recieved it I will post some images here on the blog.

Tomorrow morning I will be recording an interview about my experiences with blogging, this will be published later this month in an on-line Podcast.  To be honest I really need to update my knowledge about all things relating to social networking and am really excited to have booked in to Podcamp, an ‘unconference’ taking place in Kilkenny on 27th September.  Why not check it out and see if you would like to join us!

Fun afternoon Felting!

I have just finished a fun afternoon felting and chatting with Carmen!  I needed to complete some pieces to show the curator how I am progressing towards my work for ‘Breaking Out’, an exhibition with the Crafts Council and really had to get stuck into things this weekend.  Because of being totally tied up with the organisation of the Irish Green Gathering recently and having had that accident with the glass I have really not been actively creating as much as usual.  It was great to get stuck in and work towards a couple of pieces that I have had in mind for some time.  When I was up in Enniscrone recently I collected shells, stones, seaweed and driftwood from the beach.  I also managed to find a great piece of polished horn which takes pride of place in a chunky necklace that I finished this afternoon.  Hopefully tomorrow I will get a couple of pictures of the work up on the blog, fingers crossed that my photography will be passable after the beautiful images that Bernie McCoy took not so long ago!

Felt making at the Irish Green Gathering

A big thank you to Joan Casey, Mary Scott and Nicola Henley, the inspiring felt makers who helped make last weekends Irish Green Gathering such a big success.  We had a great long weekend and for once the weather Gods seemed to smile on us for most of the time.  Joan demonstrated felt making in the walled garden as part of the CELT group, these are a wonderful collection of people who demonstrate traditional crafts and teach people how to develop skills in  self sufficiency.  Mary showed examples of her work and gave felt making demos in the Lower Barn and Nicola hosted a very successful felt making workshop on Sunday in the childrens area.  Nicola is actually participating in an exhibition at Grennan Craft Mill which is currently running in association with the Kilkenny Arts Festival, why not pop along and check it out.

This afternoon I am going to be helped by my friend Joan FitzGerald to try and do a major ‘Spring Clean’ on my studio and ground floor at Clasheen, not an easy task!!  I hope to really get to grips with sorting things out now that the Gathering is over and this will enable me to get my felting classes up and running before the end of the month.  Main tasks that need to be done (excluding the actual cleaning!) include tidying up the outside of the house, painting the studio, clearing the utility room to enable more fibre storage and weighing and repackaging some of the beautiful merino and other fibres that I have here from Wollknoll.  My intention is to offer participants at my workshops the oppportunity to purchase these products at a very realistic price before they head home.  I was bitten by the felting bug the first time that I tried it and was delighted to be able to buy wool and silk from Carmen to practice and experiment with so I am sure that others will appreciate the same service.  Wish me luck as I head off to clean and tidy!

Nuno Felt

Sari Loom ends and Merino

Sari Loom ends and Merino

It is very interesting keeping tabs on the different searches people do to get to this blog and something that comes up time and time again is nuno felting.  Obviously there is great interest in this technique so I am just going to post a picture of a piece I made recently for everyone to see.  The silk fabric that I used was from the sari loom ends I had ordered from Essential Textile Art in Australia a little while ago and I must say that it was a pleasure to work with.  I have been debating whether to add a few beads or embellishments as highlights but have not actually made my mind up yet as the  end piece is beautiful just as it is!  Sewing is one of my all time pet hates (even adding a few beads!) and I am really trying to get over myself on this issiue.  Recently I joined several groups on Flickr and have just signed up to make a bag on ‘bag ladies swap’ , check out the discussions on this group and maybe some of you will want to join, if seems GREAT FUN!!  sorry that this post is really short, I will be back in full swing next week as soon as the Irish Green Gathering is wrapped up.