Since Friday night I have been having MASSIVE internet connection problems which is an absolute nightmare as I am trying to put up all the info for Sigrid Bannier’s series of workshops for August. If you check out the workshop page you will see that I have given the dates and topics but I will need to reconnect tonight and add in the costs and other relevant information. For some reason the internet has now decided to work just when I am heading out to a golf competition (a team event so I can’t get out of it even if I wanted to!) and I am not really sure whether I am coming or going! Connection permitting I will edit and complete this post tonight as well as getting up all the proper info for Sigrid’s workshops, many apologies to those of you who rung over the last few days looking for more info but it SHOULD be there tonight.
I can’t believe that it is a few days since I wrote my last post. Time seems to be absloutely flying here and I really need to get a couple of things finished today before preparing my ‘fashion’ item for the fashion show at the ‘Felt in Focus’ symposium that I will be attending in Denmark at the beginning of July. Over the last few days I have decamped each morning to Carmen’s studio for a full days felting as here is still not totally tidied up after Alan’s election thank you party on Sunday. I made two wallhangings and one large vessel that was pretty difficult to felt as I used my rubbish bin lid for the template (but obviously drew it in the plastic underlay) and it was hard to get the felting process started for such a big piece and roll the package gently. Because of this it took a LOT of rubbing before I could start rolling, in fact the first time that I started rolling I thought the edges might come apart and I had a major panic as it had taken so long to lay out the fibres! Anyway, all’s well that ends well and eventually I had everything holding together well and was able to get on with the rolling and shaping. The bowl is drying now and tomorrow I hope to deliver my work to the gallery in preparation for hanging and positioning on Friday afternoon/evening.
Now I really need to start advertising Sigrid Bannier’s workshops here at Clasheen, they will be taking place during the first week in August and should be great fun. At least two days will be taken up with felt lampshade making and this is something that I am really looking forward to myself.
Sigrid is great at being inventive and I especially like her work incorporating grasses and sticks, mounting or finishing items is not my strong point so I will be on the look out for any tips and tricks to make this job easier!
You are invited to an exhibition at the Norman Gallery. If any of you are in the area please come to the opening on Saturday 27th June and make yourselves known to me!
I have now uploaded some images of the felt vessels that I made for the Blueprint exhibition to my Flickr account. With the exception of one bowl I decided to use all undyed fibres and keep the theme simple and stylish. Probably the vessel that I am most satisfied with is a grey and white bowl with three oval pebbles stitched on as embellishment.
Carmen gave me some raw linen thread to use for the stitching and I must say it does lend to the overall effect. It really reinforces the thought that I have to get a bit more comfortable with a needle, judicious stitching can really enhance the style and feel of an item particularly when the thread has been chosen with care to complement or contrast.
The Clasheen Crafty Swap for Summer is well underway now, currently we have 98 members in our group and the numbers are growing weekly! Swapping is a brilliant way to make friends and swap goodies with partners from all around the world, my most recent and wonderful swap package arrived on Monday afternoon from krobin in the Ravelry Cowl Swap. In this secret swap we had to knit or crochet a cowl for our partner, send yarn and another cowl pattern and also include a few little extras taking into account the likes and dislikes of our swap buddy.
My brilliant package included the hand knitted cowl, 3 crochet hooks, chocolate, yarn, pattern, pretzels, incense, my favourite ginger and orange bath lotion, ginger soap and some tasty chai tea!!! Need I say more, EVERYTHING is me to a tee!
Saturday was a fun day even if I was on the road from 5am until 11pm! The closure for ‘Craft in the Classroom’ was very interesting, it was great to hear from other artist/makers and the teachers that they worked with as well as getting the opportunity to view a small selection of the work that they had made with their pupils. All of it was good but some of it was AMAZING!! Polly Minnet (director of the project from the Crafts Council) actually said that one collaboration achieved work of post grad standard and indeed it was absolutely mind blowing to see what these particular pupils had created and realise that they were only 7 to 9 years old. For this particular work they had explored the idea of mapping and combined this with local historical buildings. The pupils had each been given a grid on an ordenance survey map (they painted these on a wooden background) and then they made either an historic building or a local landmark to position on their square. These buildings and landmarks were made to scale in pottery and I still find it hard to believe how accurate and detailed they looked and how the total piece all came together like a jigsaw when the various squares were assembled for display. Other pupils made a life sized willow and paper boat and still others worked in wire and fibre to create colourful fish which now have pride of place hanging over their heads from a large fishing net in their games hall. Overall there were almost 20 schools represented on Saturday and I was thrilled that some of my pupils and parents arrived early in the afternoon and were able to accept their certificate in person and it was interesting to note how QUIET they seemed out of the normal setting of their school environment!! Photographer Bernie McCoy was there to document the day and the Crafts Council are hoping to assemble the pictures into large posters which may go on to tour Ireland, this is a nice idea as it might not be practical to tour all the work but it would be lovely to have a permanent reminder of how the project evolved. The ‘Leitrim Design House’ will also be curating an exhibition in late September/early October of selected works so all in all the project will live on for another while at least. Thanks to Alan who travelled down from his parent’s house to attend with me. I had to rush home as soon as proceedings were over to try and catch the end of the Blueprint opening in Carlow so we didn’t get a chance for a meal or anything but hopefully he will be back in Clasheen towards the end of the week and we will have a lot more time to do things together now he is not in the Council.
By the time I arrived in Carlow on Saturday night the opening was actually starting to wind down! Aparantly there had been a good crowd (over 100) and everyone who had lingered on was in good spirits so I just got my instructions for invigilation on Sunday and after a quick half glass of wine headed off home.
My stint minding the space was from 11.30am until 5pm on Sunday and I must say that although I got pretty cold due to the cement floor and high ceilings the time passed very quickly indeed. There are 10 participating artists and interestingly enough although the works were not curated (there was a definite guideline of art not functional craft) everything seems to pull together well and I think that the space lent itself to an exhibition of this type. It was interesting to talk with some of the people who dropped by over the course of the day and I had a long chat with Paul from the Carysfort Gallery who was taking a day off in Carlow but couldn’t resist spotting for talent at the various fringe exhibitions around the town. Apologies for the quality of the image, I just wanted you to get a bit of an idea of how the show looks and feels, possibly I may get back during the week and get another opportunity to take pictures but realisticaly with my tight time schedual at the moment that seems unlikely!!
As promised here is an image of one of the simple felt corsages that I made the other day at Carmen’s. Without giving a total blow by blow account of the process I laid out a thin circle of merino fibres and added a piece of silk chiffon to the centre, felted the bundle until it was holding together and then cut out a wedge shaped piece a bit like cutting a slice from a cake or a pizza! I also snipped a few holes in the felt and then continued to felt and stretch the holes to create a nice shape. When I was happy with the shrinkage achieved I manipulated the felt into a spiral and left it to dry in this shape. I love the finished result and now have to decide will I get out the dreaded needle to add a few seed beads or leave well alone, decisions, decisions, decisions!
Wow, I had hoped that things would calm down a bit this week but what with getting election posters down, making work for Blueprint and preparing for my ‘Craft in the Classroom’ presentation on Saturday it has been action on all fronts. I actually decamped to Carmen’s studio on Tuesday and Wednesday rather than working here at home and this turned out to be a pretty good decision. Because I limited myself primarily to bringing undyed fibres with me I was able to concentrate on the vessels that I wanted to make and there were no outside distractions calling claim on my time. Carmen cooked some wonderful food both days so really all I had to do was enjoy the creative process and get stuck into my felting. Things worked out really well and by Wednesday afternoon I had finished 5 vessels before attempting a simple felt corsage as described in Lizzie Houghton’s new book ‘Felting Fashion’. These were a joy to make and would make a gorgeous present for a favourite friend! Unfortunately my camera’s battery ran out this evening just as I was in the middle of setting up the photo shoot but check out my next blog post for images of the flowers and written instructions on how you too can make them.
My main task today was going with Martin and setting up our work for Blueprint, a joint exhibition that we are participating in as part of the fringe section at Eigse, Carlow town’s large annual art festival. If you are interested in seeing the show the address is Unit 2, Castle Gate, Kennedy St. Carlow and we will be open from 13.00 – 19.00 every day from June 13th – June 21st and longer at the weekends. Although we didn’t need to have our work in place until tomorrow evening I wanted to be sure and get organised today as tomorrow I will be preparing my presentation for Saturday and need all the time I can get to get it finished! It was really a case of being in the right place at the right time since good friend Eileen MacDonagh was just finalising the lay out of her major show in St. Patrick’s College and had a long thin plinth going begging which was absolutely perfect for my vessels! If you can visit Eigse at all I urge you to do so, you MUST visit the college to see Eileen’s work. She has many pieces of her beautiful Icosahedrons Series on display and other abstract geometric sculpture which has just arrived back in Ireland from her recent show in Paris. Not since Sophie Ryder’s show several years ago has work so perfectly filled the exhibition space, both inside and outside. Anyway, that tip is my tip of the year, I promise you will not be disapointed if you make the effort to attend!
Unfortunately we have had a stressful weekend because Alan did not get elected to the local council and it was not until 23.30 on Saturday night that we knew the result for sure. Thanks to all of you who sent good luck messages to us over the last week, they were much appreciated. For those of you in tune with Irish politics, the Green Party has had a disasterous time of it and now has only 3 (one count still goes on) sitting local councillors instead of the 22 before the weekend. Anyway, we are obviously very upset that Alan is now out of his seat but at least we can now actually plan some time off once all the wrap up jobs are concluded.
On a livelier note I made my first felted vessel in what seems like ages this morning and it was great to get felting again! I am trying to prepare my work to deliver to the venue for the ‘Blueprint Exhibition’ before Thursday and time is ticking away at a rate of knots. By this evening I hope to have another vessel felted and promise to take some pictures in the morning weather permitting. I have also uploaded the Clasheen Summer Swap partners to our group on Flickr, please check it out and if you think that I have left you out apologies and please get back to me asap!!
Only one more day of canvassing and then the electorate vote in the local elections from 7am – 10pm tomorrow. Felting has really taken a back seat over the last couple of weeks but as soon as the weekend and the count are over I will be fully up to speed again, hurrah!! My biggest concern then will be preparing work for 2 upcoming exhibitions (one to be hung next Thursday!) and sorting out my wrap up presentation about my Craft in the Classroom project which takes place on Saturday 13th June. Although I ususally work pretty well to a deadline I definitely will need to prioritise over the next week and don’t want to feel rushed when creating the work for either show. My plan is to create some small and medium sized felt pods which I will suspend in a cluster and I also need to make a large rug/wall hanging expanding the concept of ridges and bumps as with the swirling water sample piece. Off now to get on the campaign trail again, I look forward to properly continuing with this blog next week!!