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.
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.