Workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA and questions answered about how to order your book!

I am just about to update everyone on my workshops in California but before I do that let me give you a little info re ordering our book, Chrissie and I are getting a lot of questions about where and when it will be available to purchase.  We are self publishing through Blurb, this means that the book will be available to buy online as soon as we have the final projects uploaded and edited!!!  Because of the extremely tight time schedual I am under at the moment the book will be available to order sometime from the middle of next week but it may be that I have to do a little revision to text, images etc. from US if I discover any small errors when I get the hard copy.  This means that if you are really keen to get your hands on nyour own buy it next week, if you want to wait another couple of weeks and get a revised edition (if it needs revision) please do so!  I am going to be ordering my own first copies and having them sent directly to Loomis as there won’t be time to get them posted here before I leave on my travels, I can’t wait for both the book and the travels!  If you live in US and are participating in any of the workshops and order a copy prior to my arrival ,of course I would be delighted to write a personal dedication in the book for you!!!  I believe the books will take approx 7 to 10 days to arrive from the time of purchase, hope this answers all those questions.  Now on to the CA workshop update …..

You may remember that I was to be joining other teachers for a wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat in Downieville but this has been changed to two workshops with me in house at The Tin Thimble in Loomis because finances were preventing people booking a longer extended stay with accomodation.  Emma has posted all the details to their website but I have also cut and copied the main info from there and included it here at the end of this post.  If you live anywhere within striking distance of Loomis do please come along, we are going to be having SUCH FUN!!!  Last year was brilliant and I have to say that I am really looking forward to spending some extra time myself with Sharon.  I have so many ideas in my head and Sharon (Emma’s mum) is the master of adding a few judicious stitches into almost finished felt, I am hoping she will help me translate some of my ideas into gorgeous, simple, wearable clothing!  Anyway, enough writing for the moment, scroll down to read the info and if you would like to book your place please email Emma asap.

Felted Accessories – Friday, May 13 10:30-5:00
Fun and funky or subtle and sophisticated, let your imagination run wild when designing and creating gorgeous felted accessories to adorn the body!
During this one day workshop participants will experiment incorporating glass nuggets, stones, fabric, leather, beads, buttons and found objects with wool creating unique wearable accessories. Each person will felt a collection of pieces which may include a combination of rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, scarbes, simple belts, small purses (or one large one), neckwraps, sleeveless mittens, flowers or whatever else takes their fancy.
Nicola will bring a selection of unusual fabrics with her from Ireland including metallic meshes and sequin or glitter studded polyester in addition to some of the ‘mohair waste’ fiber which she is currently experimenting with in her work. Participants will be free to use these as accent materials but are also encouraged to bring alongany old bits and bobs they like from their stash, incorporating these into the felt lead to truly personal one off pieces of wearable art. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $150
Special 2-Day Nuno Mosaic Workshop – Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 10:30-5:00 

Discover the possibilities of creating your own wonderful multi hued and textured fabric using the mosaic nuno technique. Working over two days participants will have the time and opportunity to plan, design and felt either a beautiful piece of wearable art or else a stunning decorative or functional textile for the home. Suggestions for wearable projects include a large ruffled wrap, mini skirt, folded oragami style top or complex panel perfect for inclusion in any one off piece of clothing, ideas for interior design include a beautiful wall hanging or an unusual and stylish table runner. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $250

Fish skin and felt, a perfect combination!

Yesterday I spent the whole day stitching and finishing the fish skin and felt bag I have been working on, it’s one of my favourite projects from the new book because as well as being created from colours I love I just know how handy it is going to be when travelling!  Amazingly I added a zip to the inner pocket, I don’t want any disasters with my passport and tickets so the safer I can keep them all the better.  The stitching actually took six hours, I couldn’t believe it but at least I am happy with the final result and hopefully the book should be finished by the end of this week (tomorrow is our deadline!) so I will be able to reveal it in all its glory then!!!  My thumb and one other finger feel a bit strange today, slightly tingly but nothing to worry about, now that I know what a thimble is for maybe I need to invest in one, what do you think?

Carmen is here today and we are working away together.  I have been writing and editing this morning upstairs but I am heading down now for a bowl of goulash and then it’s back to the needle, need to stitch some simple pieces of jewellery together!

Earth Day pics and Deirdre’s beautiful first felt bag

Carmen and I had a wonderful afternoon on Friday for Earth Day!  I had been intending on teaching a simple way of making and assembling a mobile out of felt and recycled items, instead I ended up making a mobile purely from laminated bubble wrap and seed beads as I loved the shine of the light on the plastic, it swirls beautifully in the wind!

Earth Day mobile swirling in the breeze

I actually have a new idea now for a similar shaped one made entirely from felt, I think I might need to stiffen the felt to make sure it is light enough but holds its shape, watch this space.  For the one I made on Friday I placed bubble wrap between a sheet of laminating plastic and then ironed it between two sheets of baking paper, if I hadn’t used the baking paper the iron would have stuck to the plastic.  Once the bubbles started to heat up and melt I was able to run the whole thing through the laminating machine but if I hadn’t had the laminator I could just have continued ironing until everything was bonded together well.  I cut one large disc from the plastic and then cut into it in a circular shape working towards the centre.  I’m not explaining this very well but probably you know what I mean, once the disc was cut into a swirly shape I could hold up the centre and the rest would fall down as in the picture of the completed mobile!  Next I cut out quite a few circles and strung them together using fishing line and little seed beads as spacers.  I had the biggest gap between the smaller discs at the top of the mobile (19 seed beads) and graduated the discs so that the larger ones were at the bottom with the shortest string of beads (9 beads at the bottom).

Amazing skies on our walk down from the summit of Mount Leinster!

In the evening I participated in a wonderful walk up Mount Leinster followed by a great party at friends Cathy and Martin’s house, check out this picture of the amazing skies we encountered, this is EXACTLY what it looked like!!!

Yesterday I felted an iPad cover (it was a commission) while working with Deirdre as she designed and felted her first bag.  Working from charcoal Icelandic wool sandwiched between two layers of black merino Deirdre embellished the flap and inclusion of her bag with sky blue fabric, yarn and fibre.  There is still about an hour or two of fulling and shaping to go but I am sure you can see how wonderful this bag is from the photo, isn’t it GORGEOUS???

Deirdre with her beautiful first bag

Felt and recycled material mobile for Earth Day and beautiful nuno mosaic!

Happy Earth Day!  Today is Earth Day and to celebrate I am throwing open my studio this afternoon and sharing a simple way of making a beautiful waste felt and recycled material mobile.  This pledge ticks the ‘recycling and waste reduction’ box and is my way of joining others aiming to achieve ‘A billion acts of green’.  In the evening I will be joining Cathy, Martin and other green friends for a walk to the summit of Mount Leinster followed by a party and some great music, Kiwi with an Irish twist!!!  Check out this event here on Facebook and do come and join us if you are free.  Places are limited to 6 for the mobile workshop but because I only made the pledge on Wednesday I am not actually sure if anyone will be joining me.  If not never fear, I am going to make my own mobiles anyway and take some pictures of the finished pieces so you can all share the process online tomorrow!

Sharon's beautiful nuno mosaic wrap

Due to circumstances beyond our control plans have changed for my workshops with Sharon and Emma of  The Tin Thimble, Loomis, CA.  Instead of us heading off for the fibre retreat as planned, we now have 3 days of workshops happening at the wonderful studio in Loomis instead, a special two day nuno mosaic workshop and a one day felted accessories workshop.  Details of both workshops as well as a full materials list will be posted here and to The Tin Thimble’s website later today or early tomorrow but for now I am going to share two pictures of Sharon’s amazing nuno mosaic wrap from last year.

Stunning textures in Sharon's wrap

This stunning piece of wearable art was felted during one highly intense day, imagine the possibilities for a designing and creating a beautiful origami style jacket, wrap around skirt or large wall hanging when having the opportunity to play around with this technique over two days???

A few pictures of my samples and Horst visit update!

Unfortunately I was so engrossed in trying out different techniques that I don’t have images of any actual finished items to share with you from the weekend jewellery making workshop, I don’t really have any finished items!  OK, to be strictly truthful I do have one paper yarn ‘nest’ which I completed and it is now hanging from a tree but it’s not my favourite piece so I’m not showing it, sorry!  Here however are a couple of pictures of two pieces I am happy with, the jewellery back is probably my favourite individual item but Angela did have to help me finish it!!!  The other point to note is that while I don’t like my own paper yarn ‘nest’ I do see the potential of the technique, more to follow when I return from US, I have plans for a ring and some other items using this as a starting point.  Now for the pics …..

Paper yarn and felt brooch with stainless steel brooch back

Fake gold leaf gilding on merino felt

McSweeney media have sent out extensive coverage to the press this morning of my participation at the Irish and International Sheep and Wool Festival including a big write up about Horst’s upcoming trip to Clasheen and the first ever display of his couture garments outside the US!!!  There are three spaces that still need to be confirmed for his ‘Large Felt Garment’ workshop which we will be facilitating together from 17th to 19th June at The Studio in Bennetsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.  If you have been waiting until the last minute to either confirm your booking for Horst’s workshop or make a descision now is the moment, everything needs to be totally finished and all monies collected before I head off to California at the beginning of May!  Please email me asap if you have any questions or forward me on the balance of your course fee if you have not already done so, thanks to all of you who already have.  Martin and Jill, owners of The Studio have kindly offered excellent B & B accomodation on site and I have emailed all actual and potential participants with the details.  In case I have missed anyone out please let me know if you never got the message, with all my recent computer woes I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have made a couple of errors!

New ideas learnt at the weekend jewellery making workshop I attended!

This weekend I was really lucky to be able to participate in an Angela O’Kelly jewellery workshop organised by the committe of Feltmakers Ireland, it was wonderful!

Colourful and tactile bracelet formed from fabric paper, paper, plastic, felt

Angela is great fun and such an inspirational jewellery designer, I’ve stolen an image from her website to give you an idea of the designs she explores but head on over there to check out some of her amazing textile, fibre, semi and precious metal pieces, just beautiful.  Obviously it’s not going to be possible to give you a blow by blow account here of all the techniques we covered, there were many!  Instead I’m going to share with you the most important lessons I took away from the weekend so here goes ……

  • How to make some of your own jewellery findings
  • A simple way of making a stiff ‘nest’ from yarn and glue which can then be used as a starting point for further embellishment
  • The beauty and versatility of paper yarn
  • How to ‘spin’ your own paper yarn
  • How to work with gold and silver leaf

….. and the most important thing I learnt and really must try hard to remember, I need to use felt as the starting point of a design sometimes and not as the end point!

Oh so soft merino scarf

Sent this really soft scarf with organic edges and dreadlocks off to a secret swap partner this week, felted from 16 micron merino and using the storm clouds overhead as my inspiration.  Unless you live in Ireland it’s quite impossible to describe how an otherwise sunny and warm day can have this stormy looking sky too!!!  Speaking of swaps, many apologies for being so behind with the Clasheen Crafty Swap on Flickr, hope to pick up the reins on Monday but been just so tied up with computer and the book, sorry.

Stormy skies over Clasheen

Workshop at Clasheen on Saturday 23rd and Agnieszka’s wonderful felt bag revealed at last!

You may remember recently, I posted an image of the wonderful ladies who came to Clasheen for a ‘Not so Simple, Not so Complex’ felt bag workshop.  I just love the way how given the same information and shown the same samples workshop participants always manage to end up stamping their own individuality and talent on the felt they create, no two pieces are ever even remotely alike.  This workshop was no exception, four ladies, four bags, four amazing pieces of wearable art!

Glass and bead detail from Agnieszka's bag!

I’ve stolen this beautiful picture from Agnieszka’s blog this morning, check out the gleaming glass she embedded in her felt and the wonderful way the beading adds to the final surface detail.  If you head on over to read her whole post there are some amazing pictures of the completed bag, I know you will all agree it was well worth the wait to see the finished bag in all its glory!!!

I also just wanted to announce a full day felting workshop at Clasheen on Easter Saturday, 23rd April.  Because of my recent computer woes I haven’t had time to write up a workshop description and post it to the relevent page but for anyone interested this is the perfect day for improving felters to come here and learn some new skills!  Possibly a good title would be ‘Expanding your Felting Skills’ but for now it is enough to say that this workshop will help participants expand their felting repoirtoire and skills learnt will depend on the previous experience of each individual felter.  I have two spots left for this workshop, we will work from 10 am until approx 4.30pm (please arrive at about 9.45), the cost for the day is E75 incl. materials, tea, coffee and soft drinks, participants are asked to bring their own packed lunch.  If you are interested in joining us please email me asap to book your spot!

In love with Zwartbles!

I recieved some wonderful Zwartbles fibre from Chrissie to experiment with as part of our collaboration, I am IN LOVE with this wool!  What I got was a beautiful dark brown fibre and it just felt wonderful to lay it out and work with.  Amazingly it did not have anything like the usual shrinkage rate of approx 30% but it did felt down into a beautifully strong and fine piece of fabric and was not spongy at all.  This had been a worry for me initially when I realised it was not shrinking much but no fear, it felted brilliantly!  I’m not going to post pictures up here yet about what I actually made (keeping that for the book, almost there!) but if you are interested in reading up about this breed and marvelling over some great photos check out the Zwartbles Sheep Association’s website.  Off for another spot of writing now, please bear with these sporadic posts with few pictures until at last this collaboration is finished and ready to print!

Michigan workshops and a short felt book update!

I was thrilled this morning to be able to switch on my laptop, connect to the internet without any difficulty and discover that the wonderful Dawn of Felt so Right fame has started a blog, welcome to a whole new world Dawn!  What made it even more exciting was to see what Dawn’s first post was about and revisit my memories of the wonderful ladies who participated in our ‘felted accessories’ workshop at the KIA in Kalamazoo last Fall!!!  I had a total blast facilitating both workshops in Michigan (the earlier two day workshop was complex felt bags) and I am absolutely sure participants I meet at our workshops on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May will be every bit as warm, friendly, enthusaistic and artist as the ladies who made my first visit so special.  I am SOOOO excited to be in this beautiful part of US one more, thank you Dawn for being my friend and making this trip possible again!!!  If you would like to join us and are interested in what we will be felting who not check out the workshop page and then please email Dawn to book your place.

Rounding the point and heading back along the shore line

Yesterday I took an unexpected break from felting and any lingering computer woes.  Alan and I took full advantage of the beautiful  hot weather by escaping for a long walk at ‘The Raven’, a nature reserve right on the Wexford coastline and about an hours drive from Clasheen.  We walked for 6 miles totally, 3 miles through forested dunes and slob land and the return trip right beside the shore line.  I love taking pictures on these walks, everything falls under my eye and may be used as inspiration for a new felt piece in the future!

Writing our book together has made me even more conscious that Chrissie sketches and makes notes about work in progress far more than I do.  Sometimes I wonder if it is because I document so much online that I just don’t write everything down literally, other times I wonder if it is just that I lack discipline, hmm.  Now that my computer is on top form I am starting to enjoy sitting down and writing my part of our collaboration, the whole process has just been SO stressful over the last 4 weeks I was beginning to wonder would we ever get sorted!  Light is at the end of the tunnel however and now that my flights are booked I can really set myself some deadlines and make sure we put it to bed sometime before the end of this month.  I really want to have some copies to bring with me to US and I know we have editors chomping at the bit waiting to review it for some of the textile and craft magazines, we are getting there!

Footprints in the sand