Felted book cover

This week I have only been able to make one felt project, a tea party inspired piece of flat felt which is now on it’s way to the USA for an Alice in Wonderland Flickr swap. It was great to be felting again and create even such a small piece, tea cup and saucer complete with fairy cake cut out of prefelt and wool bats, all laid out on merino roving. I wrote my swap buddies name in knitting wool and had intended to stick the felt to a gorgeous ‘Pink Pig’ sketch book and create a personalised item for her. Once the felt had dried I decided to send them both individually in case she doesn’t like to sketch at all. Anyway, only a week and a day to the local elections so I promise to tire you all with posts as soon as things get back to normal here!

Please bear with me through internet problems!

Sorry about the lack of posts over the last few days, I seem to be having internet problems coupled with almost no time to investigate the cause!  For some reason my gmail is up the creek so I am having problems with comments and this morning I had problems accessing WordPress.  Anyway, if you want to have a look at an experimental piece that I made recently check out my Flickr images, it is a small ‘rug’ made using the Osman technique but emphasing the bumps and ridges formed where I laid out less wool.  I like the effect and am planning a much larger scale piece, this one was designed using swirling water as inspiration and for the larger rug I am debating creating a mountain inspired abstract landscape.  Hopefully tomorrow morning I will get time to write a proper post, off to get ready for another day on the road!

Finishing the nuno felt tunic and Art@work

Thanks so much to all my inspirational ‘fibre friends’ who left comments on the blog and Flickr, as well as those of you who emailed me directly with advice and inspiration about finishing the sides of my nuno felted tunic. It is truly amazing to think how small the world is when you ask a question one day and within a couple of minutes of asking replies start to come in from the other side of the world! I wish that I could have some of you right here in my studio, I guess if that were the case I wouldn’t have to keep asking the questions!!  Hopefully I will get a bit of time next weekend between canvassing (for Alan’s campaign of course) and actually put needle to fabric, this is the bit I dread the most but needs must and I am determined to finish the tunic and get it to the wearable stage.

Alan is off to a meeting shortly and I am going to take the opportunity while he is out to sit down and prepare my submission for Art@work. To quote Philip Delamere (Arts Officer at Roscommon County Council) “the Art@work residency programme has continued as a significiant outlet for contemporary arts practise to be integrated into the fabric of the community throughout County Roscommon.” You may remember recently that I paid a site visit to the participating businesses for 2009, now I need to put my thoughts to paper and decide which images to send and support my submission. The collaborative project from 2008 has just won the ‘Best Sponsorship by Small to Medium Enterprises’ section in the Allianz Business to Arts Awards so congratulations to the Arts Office of Roscommon County Council and participating businesses Arigna Fuels, Bank of Ireland, FDK Engineering, Feelystone, Gleeson’s Guesthouse and Molloy’s Bakery. The artists involved in 2008 were Michelle Browne, David McCarthy, Catherine Donnelly, Carl Giffney, Cathal Roche and Rebecca Walter, well done to everyone.

Why didn’t I use a resist for my nuno felted tunic?

Usually I love making anything with a resist but for the nuno felted tunic I decided to work with one of Lizzie Houghton’s designs and stitch up the sides at the prefelt stage.  By doing this I would be able to create a 3 dimensional tunic with invisible seams without having to fiddle with cutting out a plastic resist (I am short of time at the moment).  As with a lot of my work I changed my mind as the piece evolved!  I loved the organic shaped edges down the sides as the felt progressed so decided to continue felting and make these a feature once the tunic was shrunk fully.  Now my problem is that because sewing is really not my forte I need to make the decision exactly where to stitch, how to cut or sew the sleeves so that they are deeper and what exactly to do with the sides!  One of my ideas is instead of stitching I might punch small grommets along the two sides and lace them up with thin felt cords.  Anyone think that is a good idea??  I kind of like the thought that I could wear the top with a little cool section down the sides, not too much flesh exposed but enough of a gap to make it cooler if we ever got a warm summers day here in Ireland!

Pictures of nuno felt tunic in progress and great news re. Sculpture in context

Here are a couple of images of my nuno felt tunic in progress.  I laid out the Filzrausch wool very finely on a base of light cotton fabric making sure to keep the brightly coloured circles and stripes large enough to be visable in the felted article.

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

Unfortunately the images don’t do the felt justice as the weather outside is very dull and the light inside was against me!  I am very happy with the texture on this side of the top, it is nice and crinkly with straight but wavy edges, hope you can understand what I mean!  You know from previous posts how much I hate sewing (although I really admire and appreciate others work!!) so I am just trying to think of the best way to stitch up the sides and elongate the armholes a little. 
The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

I used a template from Felting Fashion as a guideline and feel that for my shape, being above average height, I could have cut out the armhole section about 3 inches deeper and longer.  Ah well, I will just have to experiment and eventually will get a template to fit me a bit better, isn’t that half the fun of felting, the experimental kind of stuff!

Great news on my ‘Sculpture in Context’ submission.  The large felt hanging  ‘Cascade’ that I submitted has been accepted for the exhibition so now all I have to do is make hundreds of flowers to go towards the work.

Experimenting with nuno felting

Felting time is very precious at the moment as almost every waking hour is spent helping Alan in his local election campaign.  This morning he had an appointment to officially register with the returning officer so I was thrilled to get started on a nuno felt sleveless tunic that I have been planning ever since I got Lizzie Houghton’s new book, is it really only 3 days ago that it arrived??  Anyway, yesterday I did a very small sample piece using cotton and the short fibred merino from Filzrausch before felting a nuno scarf using ponge silk.  I was amazed how easily the Filzrausch wool migrated through the fabric, if I had been asked to guess I think that I would have thought that it would felt too quickly and therefore not be a good fibre to use for nuno.  This morning I laid out a very simple design on natural coloured cotton and after a bit of stopping and starting (to go out and drive the canvassers) I managed to finish the prep work and start the felting process.  Because of the large size, at least 50% bigger than I want the finished top to be, I laid out everything on one of the plastic mats that I bought from Mehmet Girgic.  At the moment my felt is lamost fully shrunk and I am just letting it dry out on top of the Rayburn.  In the morning, time permitting, I will sew up the sides and then finish the felting process.  Watch this space for some photos of the finished item, I hope that it will be reversable!

Brilliant new felting book, wonderful swap package and new Clasheen swap news!!

Wow, I got some GREAT packages in the post last night!!  Check out Lizzie Houghton’s new book ‘Felting Fashion’, it is brilliant but especially if you are interested in creating wonderful nuno felt wearables!

Felting Fashion by Lizzie Houghton

Felting Fashion by Lizzie Houghton

I first read about this book approximately a month ago (it was pre-publication at that stage) and then members of Feltmakers Ireland who attended the International Feltmakers Association AGM raved about it when they saw a copy.  I was delighted to see that it was available through the English Amazon site although I think that it might be October before our American counterparts get it on the other side of the world.  Anyway, do try and get your hands on a copy if you are at all interested in felting clothes, the images alone make it worth the small investment, my copy cost less than E20 incl p & p from ‘The Book Depository’. 

Nuno felt berets and hats

Nuno felt berets and hats

Just a quick tip re Amazon, I always check out the used books first.  Although it sounds strange they are nearly always new and a fraction of the price of the actual ‘new’ ones!!  Two other textile related books that I had ordered arrived yesterday as well as did my amazing ‘Felted Purse (Bag) Exchange’ swap package from Darlene.  This exchange was organised through Ravelry and using my colour preferences my swap buddy Darlene (Ktoggal on Ravelry) made me a gorgeous knitted bag in reds, orange and plum which was then fulled in the washing machine. 

My gorgeous bag from Darlene

My gorgeous bag from Darlene

I LOVE the bag thanks Darlene and all the extra little goodies are gorgeous, I particularly love the scent of the blackcurrant mineral bath soak!!  Would you like to participate in the new Clasheen swap???

NEW CLASHEEN SWAP  For this next swap I thought that it would be a nice idea to exchange something small, handmade and wearable such as a corsage, piece of jewellery, scarf or a clutch bag.  Please sign up via the Clasheen Crafty Swap group on Flickr, it would be great to have participants again from all around the world!!

Fantastic felting workshop taught, crippled with my back!

Yesterday I tutored the felting workshop at the 3rd ‘Pick up your needles’ day at the Arts Centre in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow and we had another fantastic and creative time.  Several of the participants were returning felters and it is great to see them as they progress and learn new skills, yesterday they were working with resists and all made either gorgeous bags or in one case an amazing felt vessel.  The beginners started with flat felt in the morning and in the afternoon worked on flowers and cords which seemed to go down really well.  The improvers joined in on the flower or cord sessions depending on how they wanted to finish their seamless piece and altogether a lot of good quality felt was produced, satisfying for the participants and also for me too!

My big problem today is that I hurt my back on Friday (recurrance of an old lower back injury) and I really need to be fully fit to get some felting done and help Alan in his election campaign.  We have had a busy week starting the canvassing process and getting the election posters up and out, I don’t want to be too crippled to felt in any down time I have, submissions need to be in this week for 3 projects that I am interested in so off to get myself into gear and live to fight another day!

Where to buy the hollow punches that I use on my felt

This is just a quick post to clarify details of the hollow punches that I use to cut out my thick felt beads.  The punches are often sold for use with leather and a good place to check out if you are looking to buy one is eBay, here is the link for our neck of the woods.  I bought my set at a motor factors but Carmen got hers in Spain and they were much more expensive than mine but they do punch much better!

Green punched necklace

Green punched necklace

The edges seem to be very sharp and definitely cut out a nice crisp circle, the thick felt can be difficult to cut through and you need to have a piece of hardwood as a backing to lay the felt on as you work.  Carmen’s set also has punches with a wider diameter than mine, if you do order a set try and go for one with sizes up to 30mm.  When making the felt pad to punch for beads I like to lay out several different colours of wool and it is a good idea to have either a white or a yellow layer somewhere to provide a bit of contrast.  I’m not sure why this image of a necklace I made before Christmas has been inserted so small but if you want to have a proper look at it check out my necklace set at Flickr.  This green necklace is an example of a thinner pad punched in small beads and strung with sreen seed beads for contrast.

Felting mouse, punched felt beads and a nuno felt wrap

Punched felt beads

Punched felt beads

Before I write about the felting I did over the long weekend just let me answer a question that a lot of you have been asking via email.  The ridged wooden object pictured beside the washboard in my last post is called a ‘felting mouse’.  This is a wonderful hand held tool which I bought from Wollknoll and I find it fantastic for spot fulling all types of felt and great for shaping felt vessels.  They sell this hand held style which is so comfortable to use and also a bigger paddle like version with a long wooden handle, I recommend this one!! 

Although I didn’t get to felt for as long as I would have liked to over the weekend (things are hotting up for Alan’s local election campaign!) I do have images of a couple of works in progress to show you.  One of the pieces that I worked on was the thick felt pad pictured above, I had actually made it at the beginning of last week but only started punching it yesterday evening.  I borrowed Carmen’s hollow punch set as it has much bigger punches and so far I have stamped out beads in various different sizes.

Nuno felt wrap
Nuno felt wrap

These beads will be used in a variety of jewellery projects that I have in mind, unfortunately I need to buy more seed beads as both the yellow and the blue that I have in stock just don’t cut the mustard with the colours of the discs!  My main felting project over the weekend was this nuno felted wrap made from some of the gorgeous hand dyed silk chiffon and merino friends from Feltmakers Ireland gave me as a present.  The colours are wonderfully subtle, hand dyed graduating shades of golden olive, now I just need to felt a contrasting flower or button to use as a closure.  I KNOW that I will wear this a lot!  If you check out my Flickr images you can see how textured and subtle this nuno is if you examine the close up image of the wrap.