Just a quick post tonight after an excellent day, taught all morning and won my golf match this afternoon! I have finally found out how to save images that have been emailed to me as jpegs, for some reason a lot of them converted to btmps and I have not been able to post them here or to Flickr. Anyway, here is the image of my felt collar that was exhibited in ‘Breaking Out’ at the National Craft Gallery, photo by one of the Crafts Council photographers.
I am really exhausted this evening as I have had another training session for my tourism course and have been trying to tidy my house in preparation for tomorrow morning’s workshop, obviously it is the tidying up that has worn me out!! The weather has been really unsettled as well making it difficult to take photos so I thought that I would share my recently made tote bag as I hope the reciepient has recieved it in the post by now. This bag is the one that I made as part of an exchange organised through Ravelry, a great forum for meeting other fibre minded friends. I knew the type of bag that my swap buddy would like and also some of her favourite colours. She also said that she was a casual kind of person but could be persuaded to be funky, hence the felt corsage! I followed a pattern from one of my books (can’t think of the name at the moment but will add it later) cutting out a resist and a silk lining then laying 6 really fine layers of merino on top of the silk encased plastic. The surface was then decorated with loads of cut/torn pieces of silk chiffon and I also used quite a bit of gold mulberry silk to add some depth. With this method there was about 35% shrinkage so you can imagine that I started out with a pretty big package. I LOVED the result, so much so that I would actually like to have kept the bag for myself if I hadn’t already designed it for my buddy!! The nuno felted corsage adds a fun touch (I think) and I definitely will make a few of these again and put them up on my Etsy shop.
My arms ache this evening after a long rolling session which seemed to go on forever! I was delighted to get a free day to felt, especially as it was unexpected because I had been meant to play a golf match this morning but my opposition couldn’t make it. Over the last couple of days I have been away attending residential workshops as part of the toursim course I am attending and it was great to get a mental break and back into the creative swing of things! I started the day by ironing and working on the edges of a nuno felt project and then got stuck in to laying out a really thick pad of fibres ‘a la’ Sigrid Bannier. I have spent absolutely hours rolling, heating and rolling again to make sure that the felt is fulled and strong enough to punch into more striped felt beads which I will string over the weekend to make some more fun jewellery. Over the last while I seem never to stay still for very long and I really need to make myself some new accessories that I can wear at all the events that I appear to be going to every week. In the run up to the local elections I only expect this to get more hectic (my partner Alan is running for the Green Party in our local elections which take place at the beginning of June and I am his campaign manager!!) so I better concentrate over the next week or so and get them underway! It is lashing rain at the moment here so hopefully I will get to take some pictures of recent work tomorrow and promise to upload them as soon as I get a minute.
Recently I submitted my interest in participating in a particular exhibition this summer but was not actually sure if ‘felt’ would be an acceptable medium for the event in question. I did give the organisers my blog address and links to my Flickr photos, yesterday I got their response; I am welcome to exhibit ‘art’ as opposed to ‘craft’, their definition of craft as being something functional. Now some of you might be a bit annoyed not to be free to exhibit whatever you like but in fact I did find their definition of craft as very interesting and by extension helpful. Time and time again I feel that ‘craft’ takes a second place to ‘art’ yet textiles in some form or other may be on display in a fine art exhibition and I am never sure where the boarders cross. Thanks to Brandon and Mary for making the distinction clear as far as their show is concerned, I now know exactly the direction to take when preparing my work for submission!
Thanks everyone for your comments and emails in relation to my last post, it has been really interesting studying your replies so please keep them coming! Not having a tumble dryer myself I didn’t even know that there was a ‘fluff or air only’ option but this definitely sounds like an interesting avenue to explore, thanks Dawn for that tip. I also emphathise with Liz when she says that she feels guilty if fulling in a machine. This is something that I ask myself many times every week, is an item handmade if one uses electronic equipment in the process, ie. a sander or in this instance the tumble dryer? The answer I keep coming up with is that other artists and craftspeople use tools so why should we not?? Looking at things from this angle seems reasonable but I STILL have that niggling doubt in my mind! Any thoughts? As you all know I do use my washing machine for part of the process when making felt rugs, this is as a result of Mehmet’s advice and I don’t feel a bit guilty here since he gave me the go ahead.
Now to respond to Deb’s two comments ……. I didn’t use a dryer for the felted seascape, the white fibres that crinkled nicely were either spun wool or mohair (suitable for knitting) and I just laid them on top of my wool and felted by hand as normal. If anything I didn’t roll for quite as long as normal as I wanted to keep a lot of texture in the finished piece. I also used some very fine white mohair (thanks Dawn, it was some of the great yarn from our destash swap!) in an extremely light piece of cobweb felt last week and it felted in beautifully but I did do a LOT of rolling between thin plastic sheeting to deep the felt very smooth and fine. In relation to rolling in a bamboo blind, I find them great. Usually I place my bubble wrap on the blind (bubbles facing up) and lay out my work as normal, wet out and cover with more wrap (bubbles down) and start the rubbing and rolling process. I then roll the whole lot up together as in the image below (have used laminate underlay in this piece but I am sure you get the picture) until the felt is
starting to hold together. At this stage I remove the bubble wrap and roll the felt directly in the blind, everything starts to come together much more quickly at this stage as the friction is greater with the bamboo than with the bubble wrap. I have also tried laying out the fibres directly on the blind as many people actually prefer but I find that using this method I need to unroll the package much more often. For me I find that the fibres have a habit of migrating through the rolled up layers and sticking together a bit before a surface skin has formed on the felt which is really annoying so this is why I prefer starting on plastic and then changing to the blind. Hope this makes sense! You do need to roll the blind quite firmly but once the felt starts to shrink it happens much faster than with bubble wrap alone.
I don’t have a tumble dryer but Carmen does! People sometimes post on the internet about zapping felt in a tumble dryer for a short while but this is not something that I have ever done myself. Anyway, Carmen was telling me that she tried it out for the first time the other day and put a rug in her dryer for approx 10 minutes and it worked out amazingly well. I would be really interested to get any comments and feedback from those of you who have tried this out before, did it work, was it a disaster, would you do it again???
On Saturday I went for a site visit to the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. This beautiful space, free for the public to enjoy (safe parking 2 Euro) is going to be the venue for ‘Sculpture in Context’, a site specific exhibition that takes place throughout September and part of October this year. Proposals need to be in by Friday of this week at the latest and at this stage I am really not sure if I will be finished in time. I hate being late with anything but with Craft in the Classroom and a few other projects that I have been trying to put to bed I really could do with another week to get things together. Yesterday I spent the day felting at Carmen’s again and this morning worked on another sample piece which I had wanted to take photos of today. Just my luck, the wind was SO strong that I couldn’t photograph outside at all and the light inside was NOT what I needed.
Tomorrow morning I am going to have another go at things but if I am not successful then I will have to re-evaluate as the submission really needs to be in the post by the afternoon. Off now to do a bit of housework (Yeuck) in order to free my time up somewhat tomorrow!
One of the ideas that I have been playing around in my mind with for Sculpture in Context is a really large felt cobweb sparkling with dew and catching the early morning sunlight. To this end I have been thinking of ways to make the cobweb strong but not too thick, it needs to be strong enough to withstand the weather but fragile looking enough to suggest delicacy and light. Tomorrow I am going for a site visit to the National Botanic Gardens and hope to find a likely spot to place the cobweb when designing my submission, stretched between some trees or draped over a suitable shrub in a slightly sheltered space would be ideal. I would love to work on a much larger scale than I usually do so yesterday I decided to utilise one of Mehmet’s rug bases as a sample piece and see how it would felt into a finished form. My reasoning was that the cotton backing would add strength to the strands of the web and I think that I have proved the point pretty successfully. Check out this image of the sample piece hanging from one of the trees at the entrance to my front field.
The cotton backing from the rug base meant that the felt when fulled is strong and surprisingly flexible. In the photo I have just draped the piece over some branches of the tree, for a bigger piece my intention would be to secure the edges of the cobweb with either wire or strong fishing gut allowing a little bit of leeway for swaying in the wind. I also would like to string some clear glass beads and add them to the felt, these would add to the suggestion of sunlight falling on dewdrops.
My other bit of news today is that yesterday I got confirmation from the Arts Office in Carlow Co Council that I was awarded a grant of E200 to go towards my trip in July to the international felting symposium ‘Felt in Focus’. This takes place in Denmark and I am very excited as I have also been notified by the organisers that I have secured places on both the top two workshops from my wish list! Will post more info during the next couple of weeks about the symposium.
I am finding it hard at the moment to clarify my ideas and get my thoughts on paper for several proposals and submissions that I need to get sorted out before the end of next week. In addition I am making a submission for a big 6 month project, deadline mid May and also making several entries for the RDS National Craft Competition, deadline also during May! Possibly if I had a formal art education this is the type of thing that I would be schooled in but as I haven’t it is something that I just have to wing myself. For me the problem is not my lack of ideas at the moment, rather the reverse. Ideas seem to be floating around my head in ever increasing circles and I really need to clarify and work on just a couple of themes in order to get my submissions/proposals finished in time. Today I am going to have to knuckle down and do some serious work towards my proposal for Sculpture in Context, I do have some clear thoughts for this one but need to see if I can make a mock up of the sculpture that I would like to submit just to make sure that I am not talking on too big a project (as if!) Carmen has a couple of days off for Easter so I think that I will call in to her this afternoon and we can get some work done together, tomorrow I will probably work myself at home and try and get some paperwork done as well as a lot of felting time permitting.
Horrah! At last I had an uninterupted day’s felting with Carmen and it was really great to get back in the saddle at last!! I seem to have been on the road almost constantly over the last 5 or 6 weeks and now I need to get a couple of proposals together before the middle of next week, do the deadlines never finish? Carmen was working on some punched felt necklaces and once I had made handles for a gorgeous silk and merino tote (destined for an American swap partner) I was able to try out the beautiful merino from Treetop Colour Harmonies that I got as a gift from friends and members of Feltmakers Ireland. Thanks again Sheila, Holly, Elizabeth and Maureen for my fantastic pressie, I made a beautiful cobweb scarf and tried out an experimental piece in ‘blimey limey’, one of my new all time favourite colours! Carmen had prepared some amazing sushi and we gorged ourselves at lunchtime before heading back to her new studio to continue felting for the afternoon.
This evening I have uploaded a few finished items to my Etsy shop including this unusual coloured corsage and over the next few weeks my goal is to have at least 50 items uploaded to the store. What I would really like to do is offer a selection of interesting and funky gift ideas with a large percentage of items costing under $20 (approx 15 Euro). I have also started posting about my last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions on the Drumlea blog so check it out if you are interested in seeing how the wall hanging actually progressed. The pupils love getting comments especially from far away places so if any of you feel the urge please leave them a message, it means a lot to them!