Busy preparing for last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions

This morning I have had to cancel my proposed training with Failte Ireland in order to concentrate on preparing for my last sessions in the ‘Craft in the Classroom’ project and to finish designing the race card for our Green Party fundraiser this Thursday night.  Because I was so shattered the last time that I drove up to Drumlea early in the morning I have decided to travel up at my leisure this afternoon, spend some time with friends (thanks a million Nigel and Jackie for giving me a bed!) and be bright and bushy tailed tomorrow morning ready for our big session rolling the wall hanging.  My plan is to arrive a couple of hours before I am due to start working with the pupils, wet out the hanging myself and give it a good working over with my sander BEFORE letting the pupils loose rolling, felting and fulling.  The problem is that I always use an electric sander (carefully) not a cordless but obviously would not be able to let the kids use it as it could be constituted as an electrical hazard.  Knowing how much a design can shift if not worked carefully I really want to make sure that the text is fully secure before the pupils start to stamp and kick the rolled up package.  I also need to find some thin but strong cotton cord today that I can use to tie up the large plastic mat that we will be enclosing the wall hanging in, hopefully I can pick some up in a hardware along the way as I travel to Carrick-on-Shannon this afternoon.  I am off now to start packing the truck and hope I will have some great images on Wednesday to post here showing some of the completed projects from our last two sessions including the finished wall hanging.

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Success from disaster! My fulled (felted) jumper saga, South East Textile Group …..

I had a very enjoyable time yesterday at the monthly get together of the South East Textile Group.  We meet on the last Saturday of every month at the Demanse Yard in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny for inspiration, textile related tutorials and workshops, good food and a bit of fun!  Stephanie was teaching members how to needle felt a doll so making my apologies (needle felting really aggravates my back and I am NOT a doll person!) I settled in for a relaxing session of wet felting.  I felted a selection of glamorous flowers using some sparkly merino for the top layer and now just need to sew pins onto the backs and upload them to my Etsy shop.  I also felted three new rings and showed everyone how you can also use them as a ‘clasp’ with a scarf, really multi functional and fun items.  After a great lunch in the cafe I gathered a twisted stick and felted a flower onto the branch, part of my experimental work before I submit my proposal for ‘Sculpture in Context’ which is taking place at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin this September. 

When I arrived home from Castlecomer I was faced with my previously beautiful cerise mohair and wool jumper after I had made a mistake with the controls of my washing machine.  Previously I had washed this soft and beautiful jumper on a 30 degree wool wash but for some alsolutely crazy reason this time I had a rush of blood to my head and lumped it in at an active 40 degrees, disaster!  Although it was not totally ‘fulled’ it was getting there so nothing ventured nothing gained, I decided to bung it in on a 90 degree wash and take my chances with the resultant fabric.  Happily it worked a treat (obviously I would have preferred not to have shrunk it but once the process had started there was no going back) and this morning I cut up the jumper into various useful sections.  The piece that I am most pleased about is the neck, it now makes a really beautiful and warm headband with the addition of a crochet and felt green and pink corsage!  The sleeves are now fingerless mittens awaiting some embellishment and the body looks like it may be redesigned into a soft and comfortable cowl!

Felt hat, group photo from Annette’s first workshop, blogs …..

I have had some really busy days in a row (what’s new) and another five days of madness to follow before I can settle down to a couple of exhibition proposals that I need to get written before the middle of April.  Last week I participated in two different workshops relating to blogging and social media one of which was organised by my friend Cathy, the director of ArtL!nks.  I know that I have mentioned ArtL!nks before but if you live anywhere in counties Carlow, Wexford, Waterford, Wicklow or Kilkenny I urge you yet again to register as a practitioner, the service is brilliant, the support on offer is great and everything is FREE or in the case of workshops heavily subsidised!  The intermediate blogging course was brilliantly facilitated as usual by Ken McGuire and hopefully I now have discovered even more ways to have fun whilst blogging!  Now off my hobbyhorse and on with the felting …..

Working the hat inside out once the resist was removed

Working the hat inside out once the resist was removed

Continuing on with my felt hat, once the ‘envelope’ of fibres started to curl up and I could feel everything coming together nicely I cut open the bottom edge of the package and removed the resist.  After this it was just like working and fulling a vessel, sealing the cut edges, working the section where the fibres had encircled the resist, shaping and shrinking.

Clare modelling my hat!

Clare modelling my hat!

I now need to just full it a little more on my head in order to get a perfect fit.  Probably I am either a week too late or nearly a year too early because it strikes me now that it would have been perfect for our local St. Patrick’s Day parade, ah well, there is always next year! 

Happy felters at the end of Annette Quentin-Stoll's first workshop!

Happy felters at the end of Annette Quentin-Stoll's first workshop!

The completed tactile felt play mat

Felt attachments on my tactile play mat

Felt attachments on my tactile play mat

We started the felting process by gently wetting and working the fibres around the edges of the various components before wetting out the whole piece and rolling, rubbing and working the felt as normal.  The biggest difference in the way that Annette works compared to how all of us had learnt was that she lays out all her fibre and works everything on a towel instead of a piece of bubble wrap or a bamboo blind.  This is one of the most interesting aspects of any workshop, seeing how every visiting tutor preferrs to work and then adapting aspects of their practice to suit your own.  I did start all my work on my towel but then changed to work with the bamboo blind as soon as my fibres were holding together well.  Because I had no chair at Alan’s house (a long story!) I worked the piece for a couple more hours on Wednesday evening, pulling at the sides to get a sharp edge, rolling and throwing, here is the result. 

Finished at last!

Finished at last!

Putting what we had learnt on day one to the test everyone had the oportunity of making either a felt bag or a hat incorporating bumps, tubes, points or flowers.  Obviously I decided to go down the hat route, a great opportunity to have a successful experience after all my previous failed attempts!!  Green being one of my favourite colours I planned out a simple beanie style with loads of felt dreadlocks emerging from the top of the crown.  Here is an image of the hat being laid out, more details to follow in my next post. 

Adding dreadlocks when laying out my hat

Adding dreadlocks when laying out my hat

First images from Annette’s workshops

Ready to get inventive!

Ready to get inventive!

As promised here are the first images from the workshop that I did with Annette Quentin-Stoll.  Our first project was to create attachments that we would incorporate into a tactile play mat for a child (or child like adult!) and after a brief demonstration Annette got us started on designing and making a mat of our choice. 

Felt tube with ball on end and moveable rings

Felt tube with ball on end and moveable rings

Once we had all our components made we then laid out two rectangles of merino, three alternating layers to each rectangle.  Slits were cut in the top piece (after both had been dry felted slightly to firm them up) and then the ends of the various attachments were inserted through the slits and the dry fibres fanned out between the two wads of merino.  Each individual attachment was then felted by seperately to start the felting process and ensure that they would stay in place before the whole package was wet out fully and the heavy rolling and rubbing got properly underway.  To be cont ….

Bugs and slugs!

Just home from helping at the last day of Annette’s workshops in Dublin.  It was fascinating seeing all the weird, wonderful and fun creatures created, bugs, slugs, chameleons, birds and much more.  I got some brilliant images of the felted creatures in the garden of the Phoenix Park so just wait ’till I get them uploaded over the next few days!

Wonderful, wonderful workshop!

The two day workshop that I attended with Annette Quentin-Stoll was wonderful!  We learnt some amazing simple and obvious new techniques (more to follow in Monday’s post) and how to build up on the knowledge that we already had in a different way to create marvellous tactile play mats, bags and hats.  At last I have made my first successful hat and thanks to Holly for emailing me images of my work in progress!  Unfortunately for some reason I can’t download them as jpegs so will have to wait until Monday to upload images to the blog and write a longer post.  Today I was tutoring at another GREAT fibre day in Tinahely and tomorrow I travel to Dublin to help at the final day of Annette’s second workshop.  Detailed info and images from both the workshops and Tinahely will be forthcoming next week!!