Personalised felting tools now available, HELP PLEASE and turmeric update!!!

I’ve been attached to my computer since 7am this morning but I’m happy to say that the  ‘niki & niki’ range of felting tools are finally available to buy online!!!

'The Prodder', 'The Minimalist', 'The Modest' and 'The Big One'

Niki Collier and I are also really excited to offer an optional personalisation service whereby customers may have their own name (or maybe that of a friend!) branded on any tool, this service will cost E6 per item and up to 10 digits (including spaces) may be inscribed. I always label my own tools with a marker when I head off on my travels so this strikes me as a perfect but much more stylish solution, now it will be easier to keep track of all my equipment on the go!!!

The final names that we have selected for the tools are ‘The Big One’, ‘The Modest’, The Minimalist’, the ‘Mini Minimalist’ (all various lengths of rollers) and ‘The Prodder’ (shaper), thanks to everyone who had suggestions about naming the prodder!!! Head over to my Etsy store to see what we currently have in stock, I’m trying to add an ordering option for ‘The Prodder’ and ‘The Mini Minimalist’ because they’re already sold out, I was sure I should be able to do this on Etsy but maybe my brain is just too tired now! I’ll have another go again tomorrow but for now if you are interested in either of these tools email me and I’ll add you to the waiting list. I promise not to lose your details, see the next paragraph below!

The Prodder

HELP PLEASE The internet connection has been horrendous today so it’s taken almost 12 hours to get there, in the meantime I’ve been getting messages via email and Facebook from interested felters and that’s where I’m calling out to you. Since I first blogged that the tools were almost ready to launch (just over a week ago) I wrote down pre-orders on a piece of paper, but where on earth has that bit of paper gone??? If I haven’t already emailed you a request for payment this afternoon via PayPal please email me immediately, followers of this blog will already know that I’m disasterous when it comes to paperwork, sorry but unfortunately that’s the truth so if you want your order posted on Monday I will need your details again please. I did think that all the ‘prodders’ were already ordered but now I can’t remember all the names so apologies, Kim you may be in luck yet! Anyway, thanks in advance to anyone who does contact me again, I’m really sorry about this but I can’t do anything other than ask.

Finally for today, I’m getting a lot of people asking me about the staying power of the turmeric dyeing I did, the answer is that I just don’t know yet! I did research things a bit on the internet first, most people seemed to have no problems and I’m hoping that the vinegar I added as a mordant will be sufficient to help the colour remain fast. If not however, I’ll just re-dip again to bring back that lovely rich yellow!

Our ‘niki & niki’ felting tools are branded now and ready to go out in the post on Monday!!!

I’m thrilled with the new brand logo that Niki Collier has been painstakingly marking on all our new felting tools, tomorrow I’m going to post properly about them and share our final names but for now here’s a pic!!!

Image

They’ll be ready to go out in the post on Monday to those of you who have placed your orders already, we’ll just invoice you via PayPal over the weekend and send them as soon as we have addresses and know that the payment has gone through. Have a great weekend everybody!

Dyeing felt with turmeric, a Clasheen style diy project!

Amongst everything else I got up to yesterday I had the strongest urge to felt one of Chrissie’s new designs from our upcoming book and then decided to dye it using turmeric from my larder!

Lovely yellow as I dip the felt into the liquid

At the time I should have been preparing 35 starter felting kits (yes, my 26 students multiplied magically) for our first CRAFTed session but I justified the felting by telling myself I could edit the relevant section of the book better if I actually had made the piece myself!!! For this piece I worked with a combination of white ponge silk and white needle punched felt from my stash and used a few torn strips of black silk chiffon for embellishment. Before I started the dyeing process I quickly checked a couple of good blog posts that I pinned recently to my ‘textile techniques to remember’ board, the posts I pinned were from red2white, Art Threads and PAGES FROM MY moleskine. I’m not going to spoil Chrissie’s surprise by revealing the garment design but here are the steps that I used to achieve a gorgeous warm yellow colour!

NB, I just dyed my nuno felt when it had finished felting but prior to drying but if you wanted to dye an already dry piece you would need to make sure it was totally wet through first. Now for my step by step process….

  • Mix approx 30g turmeric into a couple litres of hot water and stir, I use turmeric in Indian dishes so had it in my larder already!
  • Add a good glug of vinegar, I only had malt vinegar (the brown kind) but I added it anyway
  • Plunge your wet felt into the pot and submerge properly, use a wooden spoon to push it down
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Place the pot on top of the stove and allow the liquid to get hotter but not boiling, 15 minutes is what I did
  • Remove from the heat and leave to sit for about 30 minutes
  • Rinse in water that is the same temperature that you are removing the felt from, rinse until the water runs clear
  • Spin (not rinse and spin) your felt in a washing machine to remove excess water or roll it in a towel
  • Dry and enjoy!

Pushing the whole piece under the liquid

I love the final bright yellow colour!

A lightweight nuno scarf for me!

On Friday afternoon I felted two ultra lightweight nuno scarves, one for me and one to sell! The ponge silk that I used for both was a beautiful lettuce colour and I combined this with a very fine open layer of my favourite apple green short fibred merino from Wollknoll. I wanted to wear my scarf the following day at the Crafts Council training I was attending and have it match the bag I was bringing so added quite a lot of apple green and turquoise mulberry silk as well as plenty of hand dyed silk throwsters waste. The second scarf I added apple green mulberry silk and plenty of high sheen firestar, it’s lovely to be working with spring shades and I must say it was nice to make myself something for a change! I will be bringing the second scarf to Borris Food and Craft Market on Friday but on the off chance that anyone here is interested it is priced at E40 plus a couple of euros P&P so please just email me if you would like to reserve it and I can invoice via PayPal!

The two sides of my new nuno felt scarf

Quick update and thanks

My neck is really tingling now (from an old injury) so I know it’s time to call it a day and stop felting and/or using the computer! Thankfully I’ve had a full day working, the market in the morning (very quiet today, no sales but definite workshop bookings), felted 2 nuno scarves this afternoon, a bit of catching up on the computer and a nice pot roast in the oven for later when Alan arrives. I promise some pics in the next post but for now I’m off to gather a few samples of my work and catch up on a bit of reading. I’ve been lucky enough to be selected as one of the artist/makers for the Crafts Council’s CRAFTed programme 2012 so I want to show a representative selection of my felt to the teacher of the class that I’ve been paired up with.
Thanks to everyone who has been suggesting names for the new felting tools and to everyone who has been ordering them, I’ll let you know the final descision next week!!!

‘Niki & Niki’ felting tools are on the way plus plenty of other felting news!

Well, everything definitely seems to be happening at once here. The first batch of felting tools that designer Niki Collier and I are having made to our specifications has arrived now and will be available for sale sometime over the next few days! We just need to burn our name on them, measure and weigh everything properly and then work out the postage costs, all the pieces are hand made so measurements will be as accurate as possible. You might remember recently I used the large textured roller to full my sister’s rug (you can find a picture in this post), it is 56cm long with a rolling surface of 38cm and a diameter of 4.5cm, it will be retailing for €45 excluding P&P. We also have a shorter version with an approx rolling surface of 25cm at €35, a handleless version measuring 20cm at €30 (I like this on my hands!) and a kind of ‘poker’ or ‘prodder’ for using when fulling vessels and sculptural pieces retailing at €8.

Niki & Niki's new little felting 'prodder'

Last night I was felting a little nuno inspired vessel with a lot of textured detail and the prodder was great for stretching and shaping whilst in the final stages of the fulling process. Obviously we need to come up with a better name for it so have a look at the first image and if anyone has any suggestions please pass them along!!! P&P costs will be kept to a minimum for all the tools, basically just what it costs up to wrap them up securely and get them sent to the various destinations, if you want to make an advance order please just email me asap, numbers are limited for this our first delivery! I should also mention that Niki is in the process of setting up her new design website and I’m honoured to be the first invited guest that she has interviewed, thanks Niki. If you want to read a little bit of Irish banter head on over to have a look at the interview!

This morning I ordered all the materials for Dawn’s ‘Fantastic Felt Hatsworkshops, please remember if you are one of the participants and have not already done so that the deadline for the balance of the workshop fee is on or before this Friday 23rd March.

Today I’ve felted a small nuno flap which I will be attaching (or hopefully attaching knowing my sewing skills!) to a leather pouch, this will be the prototype for a new design intended to be a phone, iPod or camera case and I’m hoping that all will work out well. The leather is from a large batch I bought the first time that I visited Dawn in Plainwell, we spent a great day visiting Saugatauk and Lake Michigan stopping en route at an office depot outlet where I picked the leather up for a song compared to what it would cost in Ireland. I love the combination of leather and felt but to date I’ve been too chicken to actually cut the pieces up and decide definitively what I’m going to do with them, wish me luck!

Speaking of luck, I’m thrilled to have received a letter confirming that Carlow County Council through the Arts Office have awarded me €550 to go towards the cost of attending Dagmar Binder’s masterclass in Scotland this summer, to say I’m delighted in an understatement!!!

Finally I’ll leave you with a better picture of my latest vessel, I’m not 100% happy with it as I wanted a more all over nuno effect but at least it’s a starting point so all is not lost. I laid it out using the design inside method and possibly needed to rub for a bit longer prior to rolling as some of the fabric needed to be snipped once I opened up the package. I also needed to pay more attention to the fact that the fabric would be reversed, obviously I needed to work from the outside in (or inside out) but even knowing what I should have been doing I laid some of the fabric back to front, ah well, I’ve lived and learnt!

Little textured nuno style vessel

U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse