Fabric and felt neckpieces, craft fair preparations

At the end of last week I made two fabric and felt neckpieces, basically a cross between a necklace and a scarf!  These were inspired by a piece of Lyda Rump’s that I saw in Denmark this summer and consisted of a long scarf of silk and linen pulled through large felt beads.  The two ends of the scarf were sewn together and a felt bead covers them and the whole ensembale may be worn wrapped once, twice or three times (if you have a small head!) around your head.  I used my short fibred merino to make the beads so they are exceptionally soft but even if you were actually allergic to wool it would be possible to enjoy the neckpieces as only the silk/linen mix scarf would sit at the back of your neck.   As soon as I get a chance I will upload some photos and you can see how simple but effective these are, a perfect present and a great way of combining some artificial fabrics with felt as well!

This week it is all about preparation for the craft fair that I am attending on Sunday.  I did mention before that I am only doing the one this year, Carmen is organising it and I really want to support the cause.  I have boxed up LOADS of books in my quest to tidy up the house and I am going to bring theses along as well (having of course asked permission) and sell them from beside my stand, hopefully I can make a little extra cash and sort the house out a bit more at the same time!  Here are a few details about the event …….

RAHEEN FAMILY RESOURCE CENTE

IS HOLDING OUR 2ND CHRISTMAS FAIR ON SUNDAY

DEC 6 FROM 10 AM TO 16 PM.

Venue: Raheen Community Hall, Raheen,

 Clonroche Enniscorthy

 

This year’s event promises to be bigger and better that last year’s craft fair. The diverse range of stalls include:

  • Handcrafted jewellery
  • Hand made felt
  • Festive Home made products
  • Festive Décor
  • Christmas trees
  • Clothing
  • Pottery and wood turning
  • Hot Drink and food
  • Hair wrap and face painting

The first snow of 2009 and a brilliant felt vessel!

My view this morning!

It’s really unusual to have snow this early in the year on the ridge opposite the front of my farmhouse.  Sometimes, the larger peak Mount Leinster does have a dusting in mid November but normally we only have it on the whole range in the thick of winter (if at all) so I was delighted to wake up to this pretty picture first thing this morning!

Hilary joined me just before half past ten to felt for the first time, our project was a simple felt vessel.  We had a chat about the basics of felting over a warming freshly ground coffee (part of a Going Green swap package from Chaimama via Ravelry) and then got stuck in selecting and weighing fibre.  The Icelandic wool batts (available from my Etsy store) are excellent for sculptural felt and it is important to have roughly the same amount of fibre on each side of your resist hence the weighing!  Hilary decided to make a round vessel with the main colours being my favourite apple green in combination with a gorgeous turquoise.  We sub-divided the wool into four equal piles giving us two layers to lay out for each side prior to any surface embellishment.  Once the two layers were laid and wet out lightly Hilary then added some turquoise mulberry silk and some swirls of wool in another complimentary turquoise/greeny shade.  As I have mentioned before using more soap than usually advised coupled with a lot less water seems to work really well with the Icelandic wool. 

Hilary sealing the edges

Once Hilary’s vessel passed the pinch test I cut out a very small hole to release the resist.  As you seal and work the cut edges the opening will always widen so a good tip is never to make the initial cut too big!  When sealing the edges use a lot of soap on your hands, this helps you to make a nice clean edge.   Now the vessel was worked by hand both on the bamboo blind (we had started with bubble wrap and progressed to the blind as the fibres started felting together) and in very hot  soapy water in the sink.  Hilary also threw the felt onto the table to help shock and full it, then kept stretching it to form the final shape and help the wool form the memory.  Finally all the soap was rinsed totally out of the felt, the vessel was reshaped, the texture and form admired and all that was needed were a few images to mark a great mornings felting!

Hilary with her stunning first piece of felt!

 

 

For some reason the image uploader is playing up this evening so check out my Flickr images for a larger shot of the finished vessel, the texture is beautiful!

Happy Thanksgiving, completed pieces from last Saturday’s workshop, size of my new hearth rug

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  It is brilliant to have readers all around the world and really nice to discover whenever any of you have special days that you like to celebrate, to those of you Stateside I hope that you have a wonderful day. 

I promised you pictures of the completed work from last Saturday’s workshop at Clasheen as soon as I recieved them by email so here are Ann’s and Alisons, I think that Lindsay is still embellishing hers so you will just have to wait another while! 

Ann with her beautiful finished felt

If you look closely at Ann’s work some of the smaller leaves are actually three dimensional and stitched in place after the rest was felted.  This picture probably dosen’t do the colours full justice, the leaves really have loads of silk fibres and silk chiffon as surface decoration which gives a beautiful depth to the felt and the background is a warm creamy white.

Alison's amazing felt landscape

Alison’s landscape really came together as the day progressed.   There is a palpable feeling of motion about the wall hanging, I can just imagine the tree swaying in our local mountain breeze!  The colours really remind me of the Blackstairs mountains which surround my house, at the moment they are a beautiful heathery purple (from the heather!) and a rich golden brown from the dying heather.

In response to some queries about the size of my hearth rug, it  measures just over 1m by just under 1m.  This probably translates to about 4′ X 3′ but I don’t have an imperial tape measure that I can lay my hand on at the moment!

Tactile felt hearth rug!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did weigh the Icelandic wool and divided it into two piles.  There was just over 400g per layer and interestingly enough not much shrinkage overall by the time the rug was complete, possibly even less than 20%. 

Starting to lay out the Jacobs fleece

Cotton fabric between the layers of wool

I should also have said that I used green silk hankies both within the fleece and at several points near the edge of the rug but that the white silk tops around the outside might not be silk at all but is more likely to be tencel.   It felt quite different in the hand but as I don’t know where I got it from so this is just an uneducated guess!

Initially I worked the rug hard (several hours) by hand and sander on the reverse and eventually was brave enough to turn it over and work directly on the top.  It took ages for the fibres to start coming together, possibly if I had laid two layers of wool on top of the fleece and then the fabric as the last layer it would actually have been a lot quicker.  Whatever, another couple of hours later and things were beginning to hang together nicely.  When I was absolutely sure that the fleece was not going to come apart I chanced wrapping the rug inside a piece of cotton and putting it through a wool wash in my washing machine!  With the exception of rinsing Osman technique rugs or making beads from waste felt I never use my machine for felting, I prefer to do everything by hand.  This time however since I was in an experimental mood and the Jacobs is extremely slow to felt I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained.  After it came successfully out of the machine I worked it by hand again without any soap.  Another while later I put it through a 40 degree wash and again worked directly on the surface by hand for approx another 45 minutes. 

My finished hearth rug!

The finished rug is extremely tactile and will make a great fireside rug or else something to keep my toes warm during those cold Irish mornings!  More detailed images of the final result are available in my Flickr photos.

Combining raw fleece with Icelandic wool and last call for winter workshops

As promised yesterday I am going to post about the rug I made on Sunday from raw fleece and Icelandic wool but before I kick things off just a quick reminder.  There is now only one adult and child place left in either the morning or the afternoon workshop here at Clasheen on Saturday 5th December and if you want to join me this coming Saturday and learn how to make a felt vessel using a resist please email me asap

Now for the low down about the hearth-rug that I made on Sunday.  Basically I was trying to experiment combining raw fleece with carded wool using the ‘Heart Rug’ project in Dutch Felt as my guideline.  It was a little bit like following a cookery recipe because author Ria van Els-Dubelaar recommends using a long fibred fleece but I really wanted to experiment with the Icelandic batts which are now available from my new Etsy store!  In the rug from her book she uses merino to back the fleece and silk fabric as a stabiliser for the final layer on the back.  I decided to use my beautiful Jacobs fleece (a present from a kind neighbour), Icelandic wool for the base and a middle layer of some cotton fabric that Mehmet Girgic packaged my Turkish rug bases in, waste not want not! 

Firstly I needed to decide which colour batts to compliment the cream and dark chocolate brown fleece, I went for my favourite apple green although I did have a bit of a toss-up with turquoise as well!  The deciding factor was that I didn’t know exactly how much wool I would need and I knew I had plenty of the green but not so much of the turquoise, oh what an exact science I make of things!  Selecting which parts of the fleece I would use was fun, I had about 4 different bags with some gorgeous sections of Jacobs and some dirty dags mixed in as well.  Once my choice was made the raw wool was laid on bubblewrap with the shorn side uppermost, sections were pulled apart by hand a little and silk tops and silk hankies inserted in these gaps.  I also laid some silk around the outside edges of the fleece and then covered the whole thing with a one layer of Icelandic wool.  At this stage I lightly wet out the entire and pressed the soapy water through the wool.  Anywhere I saw the colour of the raw fleece through the green wool batts I topped up the green wool before laying my cotton on top of the bundle.  The second layer of Icelandic wool went on next and then I wet the whole package and started the felting process. 

Pictures of work in progress and completion the rug to follow tomorrow!

Fantastic workshop, a picture paints 1000 words …..

Lindsay, Ann and Alison joined me here at Clasheen for a full days workshop on Saturday.  Even without bearing in mind that everyone had only felted once before the work produced was truly amazing!

A flock of sheep waiting to be felted!

I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves today, check out more images from the workshop on Flickr

Tomorrow I will post about the rug I made following Ria’s instructions in Dutch Felt, a lot of hard work but an interesting result.  Till then ……..

Wild weather and today’s workshop

I am still tidying the studio in preparation for today’s workshop, just taking a quick break (aka escaping from the clutter) to write this quick post.  Three ladies who attended one of the recent starter sessions have booked for the day to make large wall hangings or framed flat felt.  We will be calculating how much wool we need in relation to their finished size and experimenting with different types of fibre for embellishment.  One participant is bringing along her retrievers hair and I also have horse hair, more dogs hair, raw fleece and some raw alpaca in my stash. 

It is great to finally start to see some light around my long work table in the studio!  Following on from my mentoring sessions on Wednesday I am really making an effort to put my paperwork in order and start 2010 with a clean slate.  One piece of advice that has stuck in my mind from the Business mentor was to pay myself a wage every week without feeling guilty.  In this way he explained it is easier to set work related targets and stick to them, if I have a poor week financially I am still to take the payment and just organise a bit more work for the following week!  Let’s see how this goes, I like the sound of it and have decided to get someone in to help me clean the house and studio two or three times a month.  That will be a big incentive!!