Triton’s Horn, American update again, developing a working title and starting to sample or fine tune our first pieces

Thanks Dawn for giving me permission to publish your image here and I know that everyone will join me in saying congratulations.  Triton’s Horn is a wonderful piece of felt and I am so looking forward to seeing it in reality when I visit Michigan this October! 

Triton's Horn by Dawn Edwards

For those of you wondering why I have not been advertising dates as promised for my American workshops in September/October I have been having a few (read panicing here!) blips with finding out the correct info for my Visa application.  At last I have the relevant data as of Friday morning and have been told I may travel under the Visa Waiver Programme providing I have some relevant letters with me to produce in case of questioning.  Whew, that is a HUGE load off my mind and now I am going to contact all my great friends and co-organisers during this week to re-open talks about potential workshops and venues.  You WILL be the first to read confirmed details here and as a little taster I can reveal that I will be facilitating a ‘Complex Felt Bag’ workshop on 25th and 26th September at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA and a ‘Nuno Mosaic’ workshop on 27th September, also in The Tin Thimble, another ‘Complex Felt Bag’ workshop on 11th and 12th October in Kalamazoo, Michigan and a ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop on 13th October, also in Michigan.  San Fransisco and hopefully Berkeley workshops will take place between 29th September and approx 8th October with something special in the pipeline for World Felt Day on 2nd October, watch this space!!!

Continuing on from yesterday, the next thing participants at Jeanette’s workshop did was sit down quietly for about 20 minutes to write down the thoughts and feelings evoked by talking about our objects and memories.  At this stage we were also looking for a working title, this was not set in stone but could be ammended and adjusted through out the course of the process.  Initially I jotted down ‘Isabella on my mind’ as a provisional title and by the end of the weekend decided to run with ‘In search of Isabella’ which I now hope to develop further into a body of work inspired by my grandmother and possibly other relatives in both Scotland and Ireland.

Natalie holding one of granny's beautiful silk scarves

Although I had brought quite a selection of granny’s silk scarves with me the one pictured here being held by Natalie is the most evocative for me colourwise, therefore this is scarf that I choose to cut up and rework into a new piece.  It was a very nervous moment for me cutting into the beautiful hand rolled silk but once Jeanette had encouraged me to wield the sissors all was well and I got stuck in with a good will.  Because I had such strong memories of my grandmother and a clear idea of where I wanted to go it was not difficult to select a bag as the project I wanted to felt basing the shape on the little suede jewellery pouch of hers I had brought with me.  I know that sampling can be a very important part of any project but because I have been working a lot recently on bags and inclusions I decided to jump straight in and cut out the template having already planned where I was going to use the various cut outs from the silk scarf.

I wanted to use the largest flower motif intact in the inside of the bag and then nestle various pieces of silk within the wool before adding surface detail with more silk flowers and strips of the rolled edges.  My idea was that the bag would be equally beautiful inside and outside, seen and unseen, and I was further going to embellish the surface with both raw and dyed flax (linen) fibres.  To be cont …..

Preliminary report from an outstanding ‘Felt and Nostalgia’ workshop and congratulations Dawn!

Over the next few days I am going to blog about the wonderful experience I had this weekend attending Jeanette Sendler’s ‘Felt and Nostalgia’ workshop in Dublin.  Primarily I am going to be talking about the pieces I made myself and explain a little bit about the thoughts and emotions that went into selecting the shapes and inclusions that I worked with.  To fully appreciate how thought provoking this experience was one would need to attend Jeanette’s workshop oneself and although I don’t want to give the impression that you will be learning here what I learnt over the last two days I do want to share with you how this experience will carry forward into my feltmaking in the future.

Suzanne displaying one of Jeanette's pieces

We started our first day by talking about and examining how Jeanette incorporates items from the past into her felt and reworks them for others to enjoy in the future.  We oohed and aahed over some of her beautiful work before sitting in a circle and brainstorming about putting our working concepts together.  The items I finally selected to bring with me as a starting point for my work all related to my father’s mother Isabella Whitecross-Urquhart, a Scottish lady who ultimately moved with my Irish grandfather to Jersey via Ireland.  They included some beautiful silk scarves, a brooch she often wore, the little suede pouch she stored a bracelet in and some dyed and undyed flax fibres.  These fibres were relevant to me because Ella’s (her pet name although ‘pet’ is a relative term!!!) father was a linen merchant and I wanted to include reference to the linen business in both Ireland and Scotland.  Everyone who wanted to spoke about their chosen items and the memories that they invoked, listened to and sharing stories was very moving and not something to share outside the group without express permission from the individuals.  It did become clear to me however how much of my past is present in my every day life here in Ireland and that this is not necessarily the case with everybody, I am lucky.  Maybe this is one explanation for the fact that members of my immediate family are very unemotional.  Possibly it is because we carry the past around with us wherever we go and we don’t feel it necessary to talk about it or discuss it ever, it just is.

Yesterday evening when I returned from the workshop (I had been intending to stay another night in Dublin but the Monday felting session I wanted to attend elsewhere had been cancelled) imagine my delight to discover on page 9 of the latest edition of ‘Felt Matters’ a beautiful picture and an article titled ‘Triton’s Horn’.  This seemed to tie totally in to the idea of felt and nostalgia because  Dawn had felted a wonderful conch (pronounced conk!) shaped hat inspired by memories of her uncle Tom and aunt Dot and actually felted initially around a conch shell which had belonged to her aunt!  With Dawn’s permission I will post a picture of the beautiful creation here tomorrow but for those of you with access to the IFA’s magazine, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Some exciting ‘felting’ time ahead this weekend!

I have been fortunate enough to be one of the names drawn out of the hat to attend a Jeanette Sendler felting workshop this weekend!  Organised by Feltmakers Ireland this is an exciting opportunity to learn how Jeannette works and explore the topic ‘Fibre, felt and nostalgia’  To grasp an idea of what we will be covering you can check out this post on the Feltmakers Ireland blog.  I promise to report back about how the weekend went on Monday afternoon, no computer coverage until I get back to Carlow!  This afternoon I am going to try and ‘tame’ my kitchen and get a few loads of washing dry before assembling all my materials in preparation for travelling tomorrow.  Not sure yet what memory filled item I am going to bring with me to the workshop but hopefully it will hit me as I start to put all my pieces together.

PS In case any of you are wondering Rex will be very well looked after by his old owner’s niece who here on a holiday for approx 10 days, perfect timing!!

Whew ………………………

Since Saturday I have  enjoyed a very successful Lady Captain’s Day at Borris Golf Club, uninstalled my work from the Blueprint exhibition, played 18 holes in Castlecomer as practice for Wednesday’s golf match, delivered my work for the final round of judging in the National Craft Competition and attended a ‘Lease and Legal’ meeting at the golf club!  Whew, I am making myself tired so off to bed now in prep for my match tomorrow, felting resumes on Thursday!!

Short felt and golf update update with a little bit of knitting thrown in for good measure!

I have been really busy this week catching up with all the jobs left undone over the last while and preparing for my Lady Captain’s Day at Borris Golf Club which is taking place tomorrow!  On Wednesday I had an interview at the Crafts Council which might lead to me being on a panel of makers called on if residencies or projects are looking for textile artists in this area although because I have already participated in a project last year they have said that new makers will get preference.  Today Carmen and I are giving a felting demo at our local country market in the morning and this afternoon I am invigilating at the Blueprint show in Carlow.  Yesterday night I as I followed the latest matches of the World Cup I cast on for Jane Thornley’s stunning Feather and Fan organic wrap because I wanted something to do while I was sitting in the exhibition space minding the work.  Yes, this is knitting I know and I never thought that I would be enjoying getting stuck into any knitting project except something chunky worked with recycled fabric or plarn!  Purely by chance as I was searching the internet seeking patterns for torn fabric worked on huge needles I managed to stumble into Jane’s site and info re. a knitting retreat in Taos, one of my all time favourite places in the world!!!  I became totally hooked instantly.  The organic mix of yarn and fibres which Jane champions really appeals to me and the freestyle shapes she has designed look a perfect match for some of my Blue Fish linen and hemp!  Still no word from the American Embassy re. my vias requirements so I am planning on trying to actually see someone when I am in Dublin next week delivering my piece for the final round of the National Crafts Competition judging.  Ordering the wool today for the rug that I have been comissioned to felt, should have probably ordered it a week or so ago but just don’t seem to have had the time to settle down and deal with the ordering process!

Opening photo, unwinding a bit, stunning package in the post …..

Unfortunately the photos I took of my work on Friday evening as the Blueprint opening got underway are not good quality. 

Blueprint Exhibition for Eigse

I thought you might like to see a shot of my set up however and when I am in Carlow during the week invigilating I am going to bring my bigger camera and try to take some better more detailed shots.  The two larger wall hangings and a small framed piece are hung on the wall to the right and overall I was happy enough with how the felt looked on the night.  I don’t think from this photo that you can get any idea what the inside of the grey pod (on the plinth) is like but I felted some ovals of black sequined fabric into the light grey inside and these pick up the colours in the large grey wall hanging and the small grey textured piece on the front of the other plinth.  Thanks to my friends who made the effort to attend the opening, it was much appreciated!

Today I am unwinding a bit, answering a few emails, uploading a few images to Flickr, hoping and waiting for a call from the American Embassy re. what exact visa I need to travel on this Fall and since the postman came (or woman as it was today) drooling over the most AMAZING package I received from Jayne as part of the Ravelry Colour Swap number 7.  Head on over to Flickr if you would like to see the full package and to Clasheen Uncut to see a close up of the most LUSCIOUS fibre and hand made button but for now be prepared to admire the amazing ‘Ishbel’ that Jayne dyed and knitted especially for me ! 

Ishbel - dyed and knitted for me by Jayne!

Opening tonight, short American update at last and advance notice of special felt sale!

Just about to hop into the bath before heading to Carlow for the opening of both the Eigse Carlow Arts Festival and more specifically to finish hanging (or draping!) my pieces for the Blueprint exhibition, one of the fringe events.  I did bring most of my felt in on Wednesday but took it home in the evening (didn’t want the undyed pieces to get filthy until all the tidying up was finished) and also the plinths that friend and sculptor Eileen McDonagh was kind enough to lend me for the show.  Once I saw the space I had been allocated it became obvious that I would only be able to hang two wall hangings and not three as planned but instead I have been allowed to drape one on the ground (this particular piece is actually a rug anyway!) beside my plinths and I actually think that this livens up the space nicely and provides a splash of colour in the centre of the room.  My worry about this had been that some of the members of Blueprint might consider it craft (as obviously it is, the criteria for this group is non functional items) but anyway all’s well that ends well and the rug stays on the ground!  I gave both plinths a fresh lick of white emulsion and overall was happy enough with the lay out of my space, will take photos today hopefully and let you all be the final judges!!  Because this is a non-curated event participants are free to show what they want within the confines of their own area.   The art work on display is therefore both interesting and varied.  Although not everything is to my taste it will never be at any exhibition, this is part of the excitement and I do feel that the group will have a positive response from the public when we open tonight at 6pm!

A VERY short American update, everything will be sorted next week I hope ……. Michigan dates 9th, 10th and 11th October, Loomis probably 25th, 26th and 27th September and San Fransisco and Berkeley between 29th September and 7th October!!!  I can’t wait!!!!!!!!!

Next week I am going to put up quite a few items in my new online shop and have a very special sale.   I will be donating a large percentage of every purchase to a really good cause so please tell your friends as soon as I have all the info announced!