Felt, fibres and findings

Yesterday I had a great day at the Knitting and Stitching Show at the RDS in Dublin.  Carmen and I left at 7 o’clock to beat the worst of the traffic and we arrived at the RDS by about 9.30am.  Because we were both doing a stint helping and demonstrating on the Feltmakers Ireland stand we were lucky enough to get in free!  It was a great day.  I had never actually been to any big fibre event before being so new to felting but Carmen had prepared me well!!  What surprised me the most was that I did not go too mad buying things, I have a habit of jumping in like there is no tomorrow and I could have ended up with a truck load of bits and bobs that never would have been used had I not restrained myself.  The absolute best stands for me to pick up more unusual items were Art Van Go and Twisted Fibres, both had BEAUTIFUL fibres for felting (or any other type of textile art) and I was smitten.  It was great to see Stephanie from the Yarn Room in Co. Wicklow absolutely snowed under with customers, I really didn’t get any time to chat to her properly as obviously sales take priority over everything else!  So, what did I buy?  Pink Pig notebooks to embellish with felt for Christmas presents, handmade paper to make gift tags and cards, 2 beautiful wooden stamps, gorgeous hand dyed silk roving, seed beads, 2 huge buttons, a piece of coarse scrim to felt into a wall hanging, some findings for jewellery making, wire for using with beads and finally some more Pink Pig notebooks!  The Feltmakers Ireland stand was totally mobbed for all of the day.  If people have never seen felt being made before the attraction is usually instantaneous, many new people joined up and many old friends visited the stand.  I was delighted to meet some people local to the South East and I think that all the upcoming courses on the workshop page are going to be totally full before long judging by the interest at the show.  It was lovely to met some people who are following my activities on this blog, I hope that you all had a great day in Dublin!

Felted beads, exhibition and Christmas Craft Swap

I have been making a series of felted beads to incorporate into some new necklaces that I am making for another exhibition that I will be participating in.  Yesterday I was contacted by Tunde from KOZO studio and gallery to say that my submission had been successful for the Winter/Christmas exhibition that she is organising so I was very excited.  Twelve selected artists have been chose for this well organised event which is running at the KOZO Gallery in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny from 19th November until 31st January.  This means that both this exhibition and ‘Breaking Out’ run at the same time which is brilliant for me, hopefully it will also mean that more people may be interested in learning the fascinating craft of felting!

Christmas Craft Swap and Autumn Swap update  Everyone should have posted and received their Autumn Swap packages by now, please can you make sure to photograph your goodies and post them to our group pool on Flickr?  It is really important that everyone’s effort is aknowledged and it is brilliant seeing how many talented members we make friends with around the world.

Our new swap is the Christmas Craft Swap and to make sign ups a simpler process for me to organise and monitor from now on please sign up through Clasheen Crafty Swaps.  If you are not a member of Flickr it is really simple to join up (follow the instructions) and you will also be able to express your likes and dislikes in the discussion section of the group.  Our swap will consist of either a hand made Christmas ornament OR a handmade Christmas gift, a seasonal receipe and a small little extra.  Please say whether you would like an ornament or a gift when signing up to the swap and make sure to sign up before the closing date of Saturday November 15th.  Swap partners will be assigned on Sunday 16th and packages need to be posted out by Friday 5th December, this gives everyone 3 weeks to come up with the goodies!

Drum carding machine is magic!

I finally succumbed to the lure of Carmen’s new drum carding machine!  To date I have been more than happy with the variety and quality of commercial fibres on offer but finally I have tried mixing my own and have to confess that I could become hooked!!  The carder has been left in my possession for 2 days and I am live a devil possessed, my favourite mixture of fibres is merino and mulberry silk and I am frantically carding as much as possible before I give the machine back.  I also carded some of the beautiful Jacobs wool that I got a present of, still not sure that all the work is for me but it will be nice to make something with wool that I have washed, picked over and carded myself.  The biggest problem I find is that it is very tough on my back and although I love the idea of preparing all my own fibres it is not really the best option for me.

What can  I say about the beautiful woven bag that I recieved from Martina in the swap??  Pictures to go up as soon as the weather permits me to take a good image.  The colours are perfect for me, a rich russet with black highlights, really beautiful with an organic hemp and cotton outfit I have from Blue Fish in Taos, New Mexico.  thanks a million Martina!

Felted rug workshop and beginners feltmaking course

The dates for the 2 felted rug workshops with master Turkish feltmaker Mehmet Girgic have now been set.  The first dates are Friday 16th to Sunday 18th January and the second workshop takes place from Tuesday 20th to Thursday 22nd January inclusive.  Places are limited to 10 participants per course so if you are interested please contact me as soon as possible.   Check out the workshops page for information re costs and venue.

Please also note that the 5 week beginners felting course that I am teaching will now start on the first Thursday of November.  Apologies for any confusion caused, I forgot that I would be working on the Feltmakers Ireland stand at the Knitting and Stitching show at the RDS next Thurdsday!

Felt necklaces, Autumn Swap and Flickr

I ended last night and started this morning by stringing a few more simple but stylish felt necklaces.  Some of them were made entirely from felt beads or balls, some were felt and vintage buttons and one was felt with a beautiful hand painted African button as the feature piece.  Probably I am putting off starting to tidy my studio but unfortunately (or fortunately as the case may be) I am going to have to get stuck into it in the next half an hour or so.  Carmen is arriving just after lunch and I want to do a serious afternoons work, nuno scarves call, so really I need to clear the long table soon if I want to lay the fibres out on it!

I also spent some time setting up a new Flickr group called ‘Clasheen Crafty Swaps’ this morning, check it out and if you have been participating in our Autumn Swap please take the time to join Flickr (if you are not already a member) and upload photos of your swap packages.  My image of the amazing painting and other goodies I received from Anna is already there, it is really great fun to see what everybody has sent and received, it just adds another dimension to the swap.  For friends who would like to join in the discussions that we will have through the group please feel free to join even if you are not intending getting involved in the swaps.  I know that not everybody has the time to engage in the swaps, my only request is that members only post images of their current work if they actually do join the varaious swaps and this way I can moniter the group content without too much difficulty.

Finishing some felting items and swap news

Yesterday I put the last finishing touch to some of the items that I have sent out in the Autumn swap.  These necessary but fiddly touches really defeat me sometimes so it was really good to have a deadline to work towards, things like putting poppers on bags and sewing pin backs to brooches, all the little SEWING details!  Anyway it inspired me to get out those bowls of felt beads that I have just waiting to be put to use.  In the afternoon Carmen arrived and we spent the time happily sewing beads around the edge of a hand dyed silk scarf (Carmen) and stringing several simple but attractive necklaces (me).  Today I actually have a couple of things to do outside the house but intend on spending some time tidying out the studio, or at least starting it in preparation for a marathon day tomorrow.  I have organised a neighbouring farmer to help me for a couple of days before next Thursday, he has some fiddly but essential outdoor tasks and I have those essential but horrible indoor tidying tasks to complete before the first of my evening classes starts next week.  I am also going to be finalising Mehmet Girgic’s workshop dates today so keep your eye on the blog, they will go up as soon as they are organised.

By now all of out Autumn swaps should be in the post.  I have a small confession to make, I missed the post yesterday so appologies to my partners, they are posted now but you will be getting your parcels one day late and I really have no excuse except confusion and distraction!  Next time for the swap I may set up a group on Flickr to run everything through.  Things were a bit confusing here and I actually am involved in a couple of swaps (really enjoying them!) but operating through my Flickr account would mean that I would have less chance to miss anyone out or have any errors. 

My swap package arrived from Anna, thanks SO much Anna for the fantastic painting and the great cards.  I actually admired the painting on Anna’s painting blog at the weekend so was absolutely amazed when it arrived in the post yesterday!!  I am also looking forward to making the delicious sounding bread, it should tase great made in the Rayburn.  Please email me images of your swap packages as they arrive if you want to and I will set up a page on the blog so others can see them as well.

First time getting ‘Tagged’!

Hi everyone, I have just been tagged for the first time and had to do a little bit of research to see what this actually involved!  Thanks so much for the tag Joni.

Here are the rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Share six (6) non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.  I think that you can share things that you love!
Tag at least 3 people at the end of your post and link to their blogs.
Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Six Things About Me:

1 I am exceptionally messy although people who have never been to my house assume that I am very tidy!  I drive poor Alan mad with my messiness!!

2 I love country life and am inspired by the mountains surrounding me

3 I love meeting up with friends and family and really enjoy entertaining

4 I love time to myself

5 I absolutely hate when someone puts butter in the marmalade or marmalade on the butter – please use a butter knife and a jam spoon!

6 My studio is so untidy that all I ever seem to do is move things around, where oh where do I start to get it in order??

The people that I would like to tag are Cathy, Holly, Anna and Micky.  I hope that you all accept the challenge!

An Autumn Scene

An Autumn Scene

Here is an image of the landscape that I made yesterday, it was inspired by the mountains around Clasheen and measures 35cm X 49cm.

Felt vessels and Autumn swap reminder

Yesterday I made two more felt vessels, one tall and one a kind of funky shape, it was inspired by a pumpkin!  I took a few photos of them and hopefully will upload them here tomorrow if the uploading tool decides to work OK.  The fibre that I used was Bheda wool from De Witte Engel and both of them were decorated with silk, the tall one with mulberry silk and the pumpkin one with tussah silk.  I think that I definitely have an Autumn theme going colourwise at the moment with these new vessels as you will see when the images are posted!

Today I shaved the vessels from yesterday and then I made a felt picture/small wall hanging using the mountains outside as inspiration.  A friend had said that she would love a felt picture with mountains hence the trial run for her Christmas present!  I used a backdrop of green prefelt (which I had made a couple of weeks ago) and laid out merino, bheda wool and torn up prefelt over the top in a design of sky, mountains and fields.  Wanting  texture and an uneveness of the piece to play an integral part of the picture I decided not to actually felt and full the work as much as normal.  Firstly I sanded the design as laid out (could I becoming addicted to the sander, by the way thanks Joni for the interesting tip via the comments section and welcome back to blogging!) and then I cut up some scraps of wool and prefelts and sprinkled them on top of the mountains and fields to add depth.  I think that this worked although I will reserve judgment until the morning.  The picture is now drying on top of the Rayburn and tomorrow I shall get the camera out and take some shots weather permitting.

SWAP REMINDER The deadline for posting our Autumn Swap packages is 21st October, only 3 days away!  Mine are just about ready to go but if you are having any problems meeting the deadline you need to let me know and also your swap buddy.  I really want this to work and it needs everyone to pull together to have a bit of fun, enjoy the last few days and wait ’till your swap arrives for you!!  Remember we are sending one item made by you, one seasonal receipe and one little extra.

Funky felt neckpieces, button magic, interesting poll

Enjoyed a busy but fun couple of days and still only 15.53 Irish time!  Carmen and I drove to Dublin yesterday morning to join in the Feltmakers Ireland Wednesday session, my first time actually managing to attend.  It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new like-minded people who all love their felting.  Because we were helping with some paperwork in preparation for our stand at the 2008 Knitting and Stitching Show not much actual felting was created.  Elenor did make a beautiful bowl to demonstrate what we might be asked to do on the stand, why not come along between Thursday 30th October and Sunday 2nd November to check out the Feltmakers stand and stock up on all the goodies on offer at the show?  It takes place at the RDS in Dublin and if you click here you can get all the details and information about the wonderful demos and workshops that are on offer.  I will be doing my bit on the stand from 12.30 until 3 o’clock on Thursday and would love if you called over to introduce yourselves!

Once we said our goodbyes to the rest of the gang Carmen and I had a wander around a few of the shops in Blanchardstown.  Coming from the country I have to say that although I prefer shopping locally in a more boutique type setting it is nice once in a while to catch a few of the larger chains.  We browsed a couple of the bigger stores, had a bite to eat and then hit Borders book shop!  First we had an after dinner coffee upstairs in Starbucks, then we headed downstairs to look at the magazines and explore the craft and textile sections.  Carmen bought a book with some crocheting patterns and I found an absolute darling book called ‘A Passion for Buttons’!!  One of my biggest problems with felting is that although I enjoy looking at other peoples embellished work I find that for me it is the felt that counts.  Obviously other people might want a bit more embellishment and I do have a great stash of beautiful vintage buttons so I am going to do my best adding a few to some select pieces for Christmas.  Visit my Flickr account to see the necklace I made last night copied from an idea in the book, for some reason I am having problems uploading images directly to the blog this afternoon. 

Today I got up early and I had the whole morning to work on some funky new styles of neckpieces and also to make two vessels.  I actually made 4 neckpieces, 2 lattice type and 2 from an idea that I saw in a book recently, any of them would make very nice presents for a friend or even yourselves!  This weekend I intend putting a new page up on this blog showing images of work for sale or else linking to the same work on my Flickr account.  Because I am still waiting for my Etsy shop to be operational I think that this is the simplest way of allowing everyone to see what I have for sale at any given time and if you then see an item that you like but would prefer another colour scheme than all you have to do is ask!  If I have the fibre available then I will be able to make a commissioned piece for the same price.

Vessels and seamless bags are my absolute favourite items to make along with anything in nuno felt.   Why not take the poll below and let me know what you are most interested in?

Evening classes and using an electric sander when felting!

Started today with a big clean up around the Rayburn, maybe it didn’t like me putting my felted coils in it or something but on Friday the range decided that enough was enough!  Anyway, I had just got a delivery of oil so maybe the last dregs were a bit dirty or something but it cut out on Friday afternoon just when the new oil had arrived.  To be honest it was a good opportunity not to relight it and take the opportunity to give it a good ‘Spring’ clean.  Right now it is recieving a service and by this evening it will be as good as new, hot food and water at last. 

Anyway, once I had cleaned the range I was able to start felting.  I had already decided that today was going to be the day when I tried my big floor sander out on a trellis scarf.  Carmen lent me a small mouse sander previously but although it did work the experience today was a 100 times better!  I laid out my wool on the smooth side of bubble wrap, wet it out as usual with warm water and olive oil soap (making sure not to over wet) and then laid a piece of laminate floor underlay on top of it.  The main thing to remember when using a sander is that electricity and water don’t mix so you must be CAREFUL.  I then placed the sander on top of the underlay and turned it on at the full setting, WOW, the fibres almost blended together instantly.  The sander just replaces the need to rub your hands over the bubble wrap loads of times before you start rolling, it doesn’t replace the rolling or the hand made nature of the felt when you are felting and fulling.  It also wouldn’t be suitable for every item you wanted to make but for the trellis scarf it was brilliant at getting the sections where the wool crossed to felt together.  In the morning I am going to take a few pictures, weather permitting and I will post them to the blog.

Several friends have asked me about running evening classes so I am happy to say that I have decided to run a 5 week beginners course starting on Thursday 30th October at 8pm.  Give me a call on 087-2789740 or email me if you are interested in attending the course.  All materials to make at least one item each evening are included in the price, tea and coffee will be on tap and each class will cost E25.  I can guarantee that they will be fun!  You might even get inspired to create all your own Christmas presents or a few special ornaments to hang on your tree.  Other times and days by arrangement.