Portugal – some end of week pictures!

I’ve been promising you these pictures for ages now, it’s really lashing outside now (raining heavily for all you non Irish out there!) but looking at these again brings a smile to my face and reminds me of the wonderful time we all had together in sunny Portugal!

Carla, Nienke and Heather

I loved the huge selection of high quality and diverse work produced during the week, these photo’s really only give you a little idea of what we were up to!!! This was the first time that I had facilitated such a long workshop and I found it very interesting to see that as the week developed everyone settled down into the felting with gusto. Being together at a workshop over a longer than usual period of time was very relaxing and inspiring, staying in such a beautiful rural setting and being served delicious food and drink every day added wonderfully to the experience!

More happy faces, thanks Fernanda for looking after our cooking needs so well!
(from left to right Karin, Fernanda, Heather, Terriea and Annemarie)

Our group all gathered together for the last time!

Relax, unwind and recharge your felting mojo!

FELTING RETREAT AT CLASHEEN

Relax, unwind and recharge your felting mojo!

Come and join me at Clasheen from 7th – 10th August for a fun filled felting extravaganza. This recession busting mid-week break is the ideal opportunity to tackle new projects or work towards perfecting techniques in a fun and creative atmosphere. The emphasis during the retreat will be on participants having fun, extending their felting practice and sharing techniques, for those wanting a structured experience I will demonstrate and share my method of incorporating raw fleece into bags and rugs as well as share how I use the tumble dryer to felt larger nuno projects. I will be on hand to guide and answer any questions for the less experienced felter; I’ll also be felting myself and am really looking forward to working on a new jumper/dress idea! Participants are free to use my studio from early morning until 11pm and there’s a wealth of interesting plant material and old rusty bits of iron around for anyone wanting to try out a little bit of eco bundling or rust dyeing!

The total fee for this residential retreat is E220 incl comfortable shared accommodation on site, DIY breakfast and lunch (from a well stocked kitchen) plus a catered evening meal with wine to help us unwind in the evenings, vegetarians are welcome!

Felting equipment and materials are not included in the fee but I will have a good selection of short fibred merino, silk, raw fleece and other natural undyed wool available for participants to purchase for individual projects as well as bubble wrap and laminate floor underlay available by the metre.

This retreat is suitable for participants with all levels of felting experience, the emphasis for the retreat will be fun, fibre, felt, food and friends!

TIMETABLE

Tuesday 7th – Participants arrive from 11 am to check into the accommodation, welcome snack at 12.30, felting starts at 2pm and continues until 6pm, dinner at 7pm, felting until late if desired

Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th – Felting officially starts at 10pm and continues until 5pm, dinner at 6.30pm, felting until late if desired

Friday 10th Check out is by 10am – Borris Country Market takes place on Friday morning and Cushendale Woollen Mill is just 6 miles away at Graiguenamanagh, this is a wonderful spot to visit, gorgeous locally produced and dyed yarns as well as weaving!

Please email me asap if you would like to reserve a place, confirmation of booking will be on receipt of the full fee via PayPal or cheque.

Felting retreat alert at Clasheen and workshops, current and past!

Final pictures of more finished work from Portugal on their way I promise, there’s just so much catching up to do and I don’t want to forget to advertise upcoming workshops too!

I had a really fun weekend felting and teaching for the first time at Duckett’s Grove, congratulations Maya and Valerie, you both felted wonderful pieces for your first time felting. Head on over to my FB page  to see pictures of the beautiful flat felt and fun flowers they created, please like the page too if it appeals to you and you haven’t already done so!

A few of my own flowers from the weekend

Next Saturday I’m running another full day ‘Simple, Stylish and Colourful Flat Felt’ workshop for beginners and improvers, details over on the workshop page and if you’d like to reserve your place please email me asap. On Sunday felt flowers are the theme again. From 2 until 4pm I’ll be hosting my normal workshop costing E25 (incl materials) where you learn the basics for a variety of flowers with and without stems. Integrating stamens and/or ring backs are also options for more experienced felters and everyone will felt at least two or three complete flowers using the special short fibre merino I love to work with for jewellery. To celebrate Duckett’s Grove hosting Carlow Garden Festival on Sunday afternoon I’m also going to offer short 15 – 20 minute taster sessions costing E10 per flower throughout the day. At these sessions I won’t be doing any actual teaching but rather have the lay out done in advance (simple flowers with no stems) and participants will just have the felting to do, I will of course supervise this and think it could be fun!

I’d now like to alert you all to an exciting bit of news, I’ve decided to host an intensive but relaxing residential felting retreat (hopefully not too late in the day!) at Clasheen. I’ll confirm it next post with all the fibre related details but for now put 7th – 10th August in your diaries, the idea is for this to be an affordable and creative mid week break!!! Participants will stay in ‘Tom’s House’ (the adjoining rental property), felt in my studio and be wined and dined in the evenings, watch this space!

Descriptions for my September workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA are now online and I’m sure Emma won’t mind that I’ve copied and pasted her text here for you to review (please be advised though that I won’t be teaching anyone how to make a skrit, that should of course read skirt!). Please email Emma asap if you are interested in coming along and joining us, these classes are almost full now I think and it’s always such a fun place to teach and meet fibre friends.

  • Three Days of Felting with Nicola Brown! – Friday, September 28 – Sunday, September 30 10:30-5:00

    We have had the honor of hosting Nicola Brown from Clasheen in Ireland the last two years and we are thrilled to announce that she’ll be back for a third workshop this Fall! Here are some of the projects that she has suggested you can make with her:

    Large Nuno Felt Wrap/Skrit, Shrug or Simple Vest (will start on Friday and continue work through Saturday and Sunday along with joining in on the other projects and demos)

    This workshop will share with participants a stress free way of creating a large nuno felt wrap/skirt, shrug or vest using the tumble dryer method. Because there is no rubbing or rolling involved in this workshop participants are free to concentrate on the design process and spend time enjoying laying out ultra fine layers of merino, colonial, polwarth or other fibre suitable for their pieces. Wraps will be multifunctional and entail no stitching, simple shrugs or vests will have minimal stitching but Nicola will have all the necessary needles and thread on hand so that participants can leave at the end of the day with a fully wearable garment! EMMA’S NOTE: IF THIS IS THE KIND OF PROJECT THAT YOU WANT TO TACKLE WITH NICOLA I HIGHLY RECOMMEND SIGNING UP FOR ALL THREE DAYS – IT’S A LARGE PROJECT

    Funky Felt Vessel or Purse(Saturday)

    This one day workshop will share with participants the skills needed to felt a wonderful vessel or large purse with integrated shoulder strap. Depending on felting previous experience participants will have the opportunity to experiement with adding inclusions such as stones, glass nuggets or other found objects into their felt. Vessels will be strong and sculptural, purses may include internal pockets and interesting flaps and closures.

    Fun and Funky Felt Accessories (Sunday)

    This one day workshop will encourage participants to explore and experiment with a variety of wet felt techniques and discover ways in which they may be combined to create unique felt jewelry and accessories. During the day participants will be able to felt a selection of buttons, belts, brooches, bracelets, necklaces, purses, closures or other small three dimensional items and all the techniques discussed and learnt may be translated into larger three dimensional felt or clothing. Found objects and treasured bits and bobs may all be incorporated into the felt so participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favourite stash items and Nicola will help them design one off pieces using these as a starting point.

    Instructor: Nicola Brown
    Class Fee: $150/day or $400 for all three days

Short little felting update…..

I think that I’m going to settle into a nice rhythm after a couple of weeks, experimental felting and large nuno wraps while I’m not at Duckett’s Grove or Borris Food and Craft Market followed by easy smaller projects plus teaching over the weekends.

My new hanging basket will provide some live as opposed to felt flowers at the door of the studio!

I still have a lot of my personal pieces of felt on display in the new studio but with time I hope to have a lot more new felt for sale as well as interesting supplies to tempt the fancy, more in another post. For now I need to load up some chairs into the truck, walk Rex, change my clothes then organise everything for tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a picture of the vessel I was working on yesterday using the open resist method (the smaller one), I enjoyed felting some new fun felt flowers this afternoon! Longer post on Monday…..

Yesterday’s vessel beside the larger one I felted at Dagmar’s workshop

Sleeveless felt vest, days five and six of Dagmar’s wonderful workshop

While not all the participants decided to felt a sleeveless vest I really wanted to get to grips with creating a custom-made template and felt one under Dagmar’s expert supervision. Being accurate with measurements etc. is just not my favourite thing but learning tips from Dagmar about how best to scale up ones body measurements and create personalised templates was a really good exercise for me. I prepared this on Friday evening and weighed out my wool so that on Saturday morning I was ready to start laying out my vest right from the get go.

Wet silk hankies stretched around my resist

Once again I choose to work with short fibred merino as opposed to one layer of fine needle felt followed by two fine layers of merino tops. This meant that I needed to lay 4 fine layers of wool, for an outdoor vest in my size we reckoned an approximate weight of 360g excluding any optional attachments I might choose to add. I also had the idea to make my jacket reversible and had a clear idea of how I wanted the colour to be achieved, black on one side (with silk hankies from the wonderful Roo Kline of Moonwood Farm for surface interest) and a complex green with a darker green border on the other ‘main’ side. This I intended to achieve by laying the first layer in black, the second in my favourite green with a black border around the armhole, neck and perimeter areas and the third and fourth layers all in green, I have to say that I’m thrilled with the resultant colour!

Working on the front left hand side

I liked one of Dagmar’s sample vests, it had a cross over front which I thought would be warm for Borris market and Duckett’s Grove in the winter so aside for making it quite a bit longer (to cover my kidneys) the only other design choice I needed to make was what sort of 3D attachments to add. Being someone who likes strong shape and form I opted for a simple detail down the front opening panels continuing around the neckline. I did toy with the idea of pockets but leaving these out meant a totally reversible jacket that doesn’t have bulk at the sides, the final descision was easy, no pockets or frills for me. I’m not going to ramble on about the actual laying out and felting of the vest, suffice to say that while it did take me two full days to felt it properly I loved the whole process and am so pleased with the result, the vest actually feels a little like soft suede! Each of my crossway measurements ended up the exact size I had wanted (to the mm!), neck, shoulders, armhole, waist and hips, strangely enough the length didn’t shrink quite so much so I’m thinking that must be something to do with the fibre, alternatively maybe I needed to roll it a little more in this direction. I actually love the longer length anyway, when I make another vest (I’ve already had a commission, thanks Mary!) I’ll just need to take this into account when calculating the dimensions of a new template.

I’d really like to thank my local Arts Office and Carlow Co Council for awarding me an Arts Act Grant to go towards funding the cost of this masterclass. It was a wonderful experience, I feel that I learnt a lot and really have a far greater understanding of how I can translate some of my sculptural ideas into practice! I’ll leave you with two pictures of the almost finished vest, although it does fit well now I just want to try it on with a light woollen polo neck and tighten up around the armholes a little.

The back of the vest, black side out

The front of the vest, green side out

Blog playing si…

Aside

Blog playing silly games, lost everything that I’d written. I’m having an exciting but busy weekend teaching and working from Duckett’s Grove, I’ll post from the computer tonight or first thing tomorrow. 

Wall hanging and felt vessel on days three and four of Dagmar’s workshop

Being inspired by Dagmar’s fine art wall hangings on exhibition in Odense, Denmark during ‘Felt in Focus’ 2009 I swore then that I’d take a workshop of hers when this was one of the projects that would be offered for participants to explore.

Working on the back of my natural white wall hanging with ‘The Modest’ felting roller from ‘niki & niki’

Thanks to US friend Susan (who didn’t manage to get into Dagmar’s 2 day Irish workshop!) who alerted me to the 6 day masterclass at Big Cat Textiles, I booked asap and in turn alerted our mutual US friend Merridee, the die was cast and the three of us all had a marvellous time!!! I knew before I headed to Scotland that I wanted to make my wall hanging in natural white with various undyed fibres for the surface decoration, this left me free to make decisions about what attachments to add and how I wanted the piece to appear structurally after I had time to mull over all the different options. The soya, silk, linen, milk protein and sea cell fibres that I used on the surface gave a nice tone on tone effect and opting for a simple style meant that I was free to try a complimentary vessel with a spiral attachment on day four.

The almost finished wall hanging, sorry about the poor quality photo

Working with an open rather than a closed resist for my vessel was a eureka moment for me!!! Strange isn’t it? Dawn uses this method almost always for her beautiful hats and it never once occurred to me to do so for a vessel. It’s a hang over from reading somewhere (a beginners felting book I think, early in the days) that it was always preferrable to totally cover the template, something to do with the pressure the edges are put under during the felting process. Well anyway, chatting to Dagmar and actually trying an open sided resist has totally changed my perspective on how I’ll felt vessels in the future, I loved the way I could manipulate the shape and the quality of the open edges was very uniform and smooth! I’m not saying that I’ll always use this method but I can now see my way clearly to felting some vessels that I’ve been itching to try but to date have only existed in my imagination, watch this space. Finishing my vessel by the time day four’s advertised time was up meant that I had several hours free that evening to measure myself (with help obviously!) and work out how large I needed my template to be for the sleeveless vest with attachments that were scheduled to be felted during the fifth and sixth days of this marvelous workshop. I’ll leave you with a picture of the finished vessel, note the subtle colour and texture from soya fibre inside the neck. Next time, the vest.

My large felt vessel with spiral