Scrambled brain ………

So many ideas, thoughts, impressions, happenings, exhibitions, commissions (promise to felt your sleeveless top tomorrow Patricia, just getting new bubble wrap this afternoon for the job), meetings etc. at the moment and although my brain is not actually scrambled I just can’t seem to write quickly enough to document everything as I would like to.  Apologies yet again for all those unsent emails over the weekend, I have just been totally tied up with American visitors and catching up with jobs delayed last week because of the golf matches that I absloutely had to attend in my position as Lady Captain.  Unfortunately for the golf club (but fortunately from my work perspective!) the club got knocked out of everything we played in last week so I am looking forward to a slightly quiter time on that side of things, now I hope to have time to finish some felt as I really need to earn some money quickly!! 

Jacob's fleece with Mehmet's rug base and Icelandic wool

A few pictures from my scrambled weekend …….

Raw unscoured Jacob’s fleece which I combined with Icelandic wool and a rug base (base prepared at Mehmet Girgic’s workshop in Turkey) to be sewn into a new laptop case/satchel for me!

Wool and mohair 'yarn', a by-product of the weaving process at Cushendale Woolen Mills

Funky ‘yarn’ picked up at Cushendale Woolen Mills over the weekend, the mohair on the right is now knitted into one of my new style crazy cowls and is available for sale throught Clasheen Uncut!  I am delighted to have found a fun project that I can work on in the evenings when taking a break from felting and fulling and hope to build a collection of funky knitted cowls as a simple way of supplementing my felting income.

Chair pad incorporating Icelandic wool, rug base and strips of woven waste

This week is going to be a busy felting week once I get awful paperwork and bank stuff out of the way today.  Tomorrow I am going to be spending all day felting a sleeveless jacket for a client in the States and on Wednesday one of my closest relations arrives in the morning to discuss a rug which I will be felting her as a comission, exciting times ahead!  This seat pad is a small experiment to see how much clarity is lost in the blue shades of Icelandic wool when combined with a natural white rug base from Mehmet and I also included some strips of the woven waste picked up at Cushendale just for the heck of it.

Don’t forget you need to get your entries off pdq to Chrissie if you want to enter her Waterfall jacket competition and if you are thinking of subscribing to a new felting magazing why not give the Australian publication ‘Felt’ a go?  Talking of things from the other side of the world I recommend keeping an eye on the Convergence blog to really get you in the festive mood!

Sneak preview ……..

I was thrilled to get a letter yesterday evening saying that the complex felt bag that I entered has made it through to the final round of judging in the RDS National Crafts Competition

Close up of glass nugget and seed beads

Obviously I can’t post a picture of the completed piece to the internet yet but here is a sneak preview of one of the glass nuggets surrounding with seed beads peeking out from the front of the bag, check out my reflection as I try to get the best photo!  One of the other pieces that I entered was a fun chunky necklace and although it didn’t get through to the final round of judging it does take the pressure off me somewhat as now it can be one of my three pieces to show for the upcoming South East Textile group exhibition.

Short post today, will be in touch with everyone who is waiting for emails etc. over the weekend I hope!

Aquilegia vessel, gorgeous gotland/merino and leicester/merino combinations a dream to felt with

Inspired by the flowers in my herbaceous border and being extremely short of time this week I suddenly realised on Monday that I had the perfect coloured batts in my studio coupled with just enough time to felt a simple cylindrical vessel. 

Detail from aquilegia felt vessel

Last summer at Felt in Focus there were some wonderful suppliers from which participants could purchase fibres, yarn and fabrics from.  One of the smaller Danish producers Henrik Hjelholts had the most amazing coloured leicester/merino and gotland/merino batts, I couldn’t help but drool over them each day and just before he closed up shop at the end of the symposium I succumbed to the lure of the fibre!  This wool was a little bit more expensive that I had been used to buying hence my unusual hesitation but as I have discovered it is absolutely gorgeous to felt with I now consider it totally worth the extra cost.  Since then I have been gazing periodically at the wine and raspberry gotland/merino batts that I bought (most of the green leicester/merino has already been put to good use in a bag!) and once I decided to felt the vessel on Monday everything just seemed to come together in my mind pretty quickly.  

Back of aquilegia felt vessel

For the inner layer of green I used the leicester/merino mix and the outer layer of wine is the gotland/merino cross, combining these two blends of fibre has created a very stable felt vessel.  I wanted to expose an ‘eye’ of colour at the front of the piece so after laying out the green I positioned an oval shaped plastic resist near the top of the vessel.  This I covered with two layers of gotland/merino, colour ‘Karry’, before adding another slightly smaller oval resist and completing the vessel in the wine.  When I had everything almost completly felted and fulled I exposed the two ‘eyes’, originally I had thought about beading one of the layers but on reflection I like the felt just as it is!

Felting inspiration from nature and reminder re. Chrissie’s nuno felt jacket competition!

As I contemplate the never ending inspiration nature provides I am sipping an uplifting mug of Pukka three ginger tea, one of the gorgeous goodies I recieved from Jasmine as part of the Clasheen Crafty Swap.  I keep checking back to the group pool every day, the packages are totally amazing and this morning I am in love with the pebble earrings Kirstin received from Dawn, even though I don’t have pierced ears myself I am drooling!!! 

Aquilegia and geranium

The weather has been FABULOUS here for the last five days, a slight breeze, temperatures ranging between 18C and 25C every day, perfect for any type of outdoor activity especially gardening, walking and golf.  I totally succumbed to the weeding bug yesterday after promising myself I wouldn’t do any gardening until after my golf match this coming Wednesday and until a couple of current felting projects are put to bed!  I adore all types of herbaceous plants and I think that this chaotic riot of pinks and purples from one of my boarders shows colour combining to perfection.  The acidic green/yellow colour at the centre of the aquilegia (more acidic in reality) is just the perfect shot of colour to contrast with the deep purple, what better reminder do I need to add a contrasting colour to my next piece of felt?  Yesterday evening Carmen, Cathy and Martin called over for food and a glass of wine.  Thanks Cathy for the champagne, we were able to really enjoy the late afternoon weather eating and drinking outside under the shade of a large parasol and casually contemplating the now weed free border!!!

Left to herself nature provides stunning colour combinations, how about these sparkling and cool blues and white set off perfectly by the freshest of green shoots?  These flowers are just one of the many bursts of colour all the way down my entrance lane at the moment. 

Bluebells and spring flowers on the lane

I also don’t want anyone to forget Chrissie’s wonderful competition over on her blog, check it out if you want to win a ‘specially felted ‘waterfall’ nuno felt jacket!  All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is email Chrissie with some photos of your choice of a minimum of 4 colour combinations.  Why not have a look around your own garden or in the hedges and get some inspiration from nature as I have done this weekend? 

 

First time felting with fifth year students

On Wednesday morning I had a very enjoyable session working with 20 fifth year Enniscorthy VEC students helping them complete their first flat felting project.  My good friend Shaz is their regular art teacher and had invited me several weeks ago to speak about feltmaking and give a short demonstration explaining the process further.  Because there is no funding for this type of activity at fifth year level parents contributed a small fee per student to cover my time and costs while I provided all the materials necessary for everyone to create a beautiful piece of flat felt to take home for themselves at the end of the morning. 

Students with their beautiful felt pictures - please excuse the quality of my images today

This workshop was optional for the students and as a result everyone who attended wanted to be there although as always some people found the actual felting and fulling harder than initially anticipated!  

I started the morning by asking everyone to choose just two main colours, less choice is MUCH simpler I find at the beginning and weighed out 60g Icelandic wool per person.  They laid out the wool in several overlapping layers and when all the wool was used then came the fun part deciding what colours and fibres to use for the decorative top layer.  Many of the students were quite adventurous with their selection enjoying a range of fibres including a coarse bamboo, silky corn, fluffy angora (from a friends bunny!), shiny acrylic yarn, painted sliver, merino and more Icelandic wool, there was also some silk chiffon and cotton muslin which a couple of the students choose.  I was very impressed with how everyone concentrated on their own work and nobody seemed to copy their friends which sometimes happens when you get a large group working together.  Quite a few of the students had started with the same two colour combinations but everyone was amazed at the end of the morning to see how totally unique each of the felt pictures ended up when finished!  One of the students incorporated a lock of his own hair in his felt, a modern take on a Victorian idea? 

Close up of various fibres and textures

Detail including human hair in the centre of the top right piece of felt

A moment of calm, beautiful new scarf and some fun felting photos!

Surprisingly I am ahead of myself time wise this morning.  Both letters of acceptance for the Arts Act Grant and ArtL!nks Bursary completed, one wash finished and another ready to go into the washing machine, paperwork underway to sign off on the work completed with the Borris Active Retirement Group, washing up done and some pictures uploaded to Flickr, amazing considering it is still only 10.18 here in the land of the leprechaun’s!  EDITED TO SAY that obviously this time saving was too good to be true!!!  For some reason WordPress is behaving very strangely this morning and I can’t seem to get the images where I want them and the captions in the right place.  Forgive the odd lay out of this post but hopefully you get the meaning!

My beautiful woven silk scarf from Tisserande

I promised you yesterday I would post about the wonderful swap package I recieved from Gill aka tisserande as part of the Spring Clasheen Crafty Swap on Flickr.  The colours of the stunning silk scarf Gill wove for me look absolutely amazing when pictured beside the dark purple aquilegias and fresh spring greens of the honeysuckle.  Until I read the little enclosed note I wasn’t sure what the fibre was but am happy to confirm it is woven from spun silk, bourette silk and sari silk, so soft against the skin and it drapes beautifully!!!  The other goodies included some yummy fibres, amazing walnut dyed tussah silk, alpaca tops, bamboo tops and a nice creamy soya fibre.   Gill also included citron flavoured organic chocolate, wooden buttons, a great French cookery magazine (yes, I can understand 90%!) and a lovely hand made card.  Thanks so much Gill, I love it all!!!  If any of you are interested in checking out Gill’s textiles you can visit her Etsy shop, you won’t be disappointed! 

Over the course of the last 5 weeks I have been having great fun felting with the ladies of the Borris Active Retirement Group.  We have covered topics including flat felting, ‘cords, balls and flowers’, simple felt bags using the resist method and nuno felt scarves. 

Mary working the stem of her flower

For our last session today participants are going to be selecting from my stash of beads and buttons to complete the jewellery and other projects they have been working on over the last while and everyone will have the opportunity to felt one last flower or other small item as a wrap up to the course. 

Dorothy and Betty rolling their scarves in harmony

I have had such fun sharing the joys of felting with the women (no men from the group decided to participate!) and considering none of them had ever felted before the work produced has been absolutely amazing!!!  We have decided to have an exhibition and a ‘show and tell’ of all the completed work a little later in the summer.  This will give members who were not able to attend an idea of what they were missing and our plan is to have another session of workshops later in the year as all the participants would like to take their new craft further! 

Una working her beautiful silk chiffon and merino nuno felt scarf

These pictures of some of the women felting are from our session last week (thanks Michael from taking the shots) and hopefully I will have more to share with you tomorrow if I remember to bring my camera with me later today! 

Anne felting her flower

Rushing ……

Got my 3 entries off to the craft competition over the weekend but totally out of time for any felting or blogging until tomorrow morning at the earliest but it is more likely to be Thursday afternoon if I were to be quite realistic!  The start of my week looks like this …..golf match today, running LATE, last session with Borris Active Retirement group tomorrow, pictures to follow later in the week, teaching 24 teenagers flat felting on Wednesday morning, managing golf match in Enniscorthy on Wednesday afternoon, sending in the  paperwork to accept my bursary by tomorrow afternoon (the deadline for receipt is Thursday, tight time line) …….. the list goes on and on!!!

Another wonderful package and incredible news in the post!!!

I had intended blogging about the wonderful package I recieved yesterday from Gill aka tisserande for my second bite at the Clasheen Crafty Swap but as I have not been able to take photos today (totally tied up finishing pieces for the RDS National Craft Competition) I promise to post everything tomorrow and reveal the AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL woven silk scarf.  Thanks so much Gill, everything is fabulous and I really feel lucky to have some more gorgeous fibres to experiment with as well, just wait until I have some time next week to play, my head is full of ideas!

This morning I felted a sea shore inspired nuno neckpiece using some gorgeous hand dyed silk from Lyda Rump and combining it with short fibred merino and white bamboo tops.  I had intended on felting a white closure adding some fish skin, a piece of abalone and some mohair locks as embellishment but for some reason I just can’t seem to get it finished to my satisfication so I decided to leave it for the moment and take a quick break, walking up to the top of the lane with Rex to collect my post. 

I am SO excited as guess what was waiting in the post box to brighten up my day???  A letter saying that I had been awarded the 1000 Euro ArtL!nks bursary that I applied for recently, the news is still just sinking in!!!  Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now  will know that ArtL!nks is a 5 counties initiative that has been instrumental in helping me build my felting practice since taking up the craft almost 3 years ago.  I am really honoured that the independent panel assessing the applications thought my work was of sufficient merit to recieve a bursary and will blog about what the funds will be used for next week when I get my RDS submission out of the way!!!

Now, I have a message direct to you all from Cathy Fitzgerald, director of ArtL!nks and would really appreciate if those of you who the message is relevant to take the time to fill out the survey, I have already done it!

Attention all those involved in the Arts in the South East:

In the last few years ArtLinks have organised the first local arts training opportunities in the South East. ArtLinks is now 3 years old with close to 1500 members. ArtLinks is now currently reviewing its programme and is be conducting the online Survey from Mon 10 -26 May 2010, to all its members. We would invite all  who are passionate about the development of the Arts in the South East region to contribute to the future direction of this programme by taking 5 mins to complete this survey at http://tinyurl.com/25h2cy9 (there is a 100 euro book voucher to be won too!)

I am still swooning at this wonderful box full of surprises!!!!

My fantastic swap package

I discovered to my horror over the weekend that I only have until the end of this week to finish three sculptural pieces ready for a joint exhibition in June (need to get to the venue beforehand) and complete my submission for the RDS and Crafts Council of Ireland National Crafts Competition.  This has really put me under tremendous pressure especially as yesterday the large piece that I was working on turned into a total disaster and eventually I just cut it up in frustration.  Imaging then my delight with this beautiful upcycled box of gifts from Jasmine aka Natures Whispers that I recieved as part of the Spring Clasheen Crafty Swap, it really made my day seem brighter!  It is hard to describe how perfectly Jasmine captured my personality and likes and dislikes when preparing this amazing swap package to post to me so I am just going to let some pictures do the talking and will blog properly about the AMAZING and unusual fibres (vicuna, possum, cashmere and angora!!!!!) as soon as I get a chance to try them out!  

I love this text and the hearts!

It is also incredible to think that Jasmine only started starting felting her amazing nuno scarves earlier in the year having followed my tutorial here on the blog and to say that what she sent me blew me away is an understatement.  The wonderful scarf is felted from merino, bamboo, silk tussah and angora; the silk, angora and bamboo were dyed with daffodils and the merino with lilac twigs from Jasmine’s garden.  Each end of the scarf has beautiful embroidery and shisha mirror work (instructions enclosed so I can try it myself!), I really, really must try stitching again as this extra detail totally finishes the scarf beautifully.  I don’t know if Jasmine has ever seen a picture of me in one of my Blue Fish linen pieces but I have collected a whole collection of pieces in combinations of straw and green and this scarf compliments them perfectly!  Check out my Flickr photos to see more pictures of this fantastic bundle of gifts and see what else was enclosed in the beautiful upcycled box but for now I leave you with a couple of images of my amazing new scarf!!! 

Beautifully felted and embellished scarf from Jasmine

Stunning detail

Exciting nuno felt jacket competition and a couple of pictures at last!

Over on Clasheen Uncut I posted last week about an exciting competition Chrissie is having to win one of her stylish ‘Waterfall’ nuno felt jackets!  The rules are simple and it is a wonderful opportunity to win a unique piece of wearable art in colours that are personal to you, check it out!!!

Light shining through pink silk chiffon nuno felt scarf

The weather has been a lot better this afternoon, still a bit windy and not too warm but at least I was able to take a couple of pictures in the garden!  Here is an arty shot of my latest nuno felt scarf, now available for $50 from my new online boutique.  For this piece I felted the stylised flowers very well but didn’t throw the  scarf too much meaning that the finished scarf is actually not much shorter than when I started to lay out the wool.  I also cut the leaves out of some short fibred merino which I had covered in silk before dry felting for a couple of seconds with my hands.  Working the wool and silk combination dry for a couple of seconds compacted the fibres enough to allow me cut out the shapes, pretty cool using the short fibred merino but not so easy with long tops. 

Summer nuno felt scarf

Here is another shot of the scarf, the pale pink is really very pretty, the darker pinks and purple of the flowers contrast with the green leaves and really make the pale pink ‘pop’!