Felt bowl, room to improve!

I should have started a commission yesterday but after a long morning trying to sort something out on the phone (getting passed from pillar to post then just when I was getting somewhere being cut off accidentally!) I decided to call it a day and shelve the start of the project until today.

Gathering my materials, goodies from Merridee!

Instead, I decided to felt a little open topped bowl using some grey and rust coloured needle felt which was a gift from Merridee and combine this with some light chocolate coloured French landsheep wool and an unusual shiny metallic woven net knitting tape (at least I think that’s what it is), also a gift from Merridee! It was quite interesting working in colours that I wouldn’t usually put together, initially I decided to felt a wide topped bowl using the open resist method and I wanted to include a piece of my eco printed silk as detail on the silvery grey inside. I’m guessing that I need a lot more practice with this method determining the size and shape of my template because the finished bowl is not as wide at the top as I expeced and I also think that I should have used fewer layers of wool but started out with a much bigger resist. In addition to these issues, the eco printed silk didn’t combine well with the prefelt so I pulled it off mid way through the fulling process and the metallic mesh didn’t gleam as much as I expected once the bowl was fully felted.

The outside is now the inside

I think that this is primarily because the French wool is 28 micron and therefore quite hairy, I do like the texture of it however and as I was working and shaping the bowl I decided to turn it inside out and have the design on the inside and the simple brown edged grey on the outside. The French wool felted really easily and was gorgeous to lay out, I think it would be wonderful for large totes or weekend bags so if you’re interested in ordering any it’s code numbet 1464 from Wollknoll!

Anyway, enough for now as I really have to get the sleeveless jacket started, here’s a picture of the finished bowl, it’s much better this way out even if it does look a lot like a flower pot.

The finished bowl, not quite what I expected so plenty to work on

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Reflections on our open evening at Duckett’s Grove and workshops next weekend

The sun finally shone yesterday evening so after a long day preparing and tidying up it was very pleasant for us artist makers to relax, have a chat to visitors and explain what we’re up to in the courtyard at Duckett’s Grove. Thanks to all my friends old and new who travelled to help us celebrate our new venture and thanks Marion Byrne for the wonderful gift of some Jacob’s fleece, much appreciated!!! The evening was actually quieter than I expected but the bonus was that as makers we were able to have a proper conversation with our visitors and not be dashing around like headless chickens all the time. I’d also set up a few laid out but unfelted flowers on one of my tables. This proved a good idea because no matter how many times I explain to people what wet felting entails it’s only when they can see and touch the raw materials beside the finished piece that the process becomes a little easier to understand and visualise.

Next Saturday I’ve a beginners and improvers full day workshop taking place between 10am and 4pm and on Sunday there are 2 places left in the afternoon for a fun felt flower workshop. Please email me if you are interest in attending and having some fun creative time!

Everyone’s welcome to Duckett’s Grove tomorrow night!

I’ve been busy today, the market in the morning, buying refreshments, tidying up the studio and preparing for tomorrow’s celebratory open evening at Duckett’s Grove! Do please come along between 5 and 7pm on 25th to browse, chat and have a drink in the various studios with me, Emma Jane, Jackie and Michael then enjoy some complimentary tasty treats from Madeline in the tea rooms! Who knows, you might even get to meet Fionn, a really gorgeous Irish Wolfhound!!!

Fionn and his master

Creating my own eco prints to use for nuno felt

I had intended to blog today and share pictures of todays nuno felt scarves but the internet connection has been poor, the weather deteriorated and I didn’t get them photographed so instead I’ll share a couple of pics of my latest eco bundling experiment.

Starting to unroll the silk encased eucalyptus

Thanks to Emma Jane Champley I had a small collection of dried eucalyptus windfalls, I also had some onion skins, tea leaves and cotinus leaves which I had discovered starting to turn colour out in my garden this morning. Yesterday I’d left some silk fabric steeping in a vinegar and water solution so proceeded to create four bundles usingĀ  a variety of my raw materials. I steamed these for 30 minutes and then a further 20 minutes in the microwave (it’s 700 watts for anyone who is interested!). Probably I should have let them all sit nicely wrapped up until tomorrow morning but I couldn’t wait so opened two of the pieces late this afternoon. The eucalyptus leaves left a really beautiful print, I just LOVE the effect and now need to get my hand on tonnes of these leaves. If you’re coming to our open evening at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday night for a browse, chat and glass of wine please bring some with you if you have any spare!!! I also liked the soft but subtler effect of the onion skin, cotinus, tea package that I opened up, tomorrow will tell another tale as I’ll open the second batch and see if the prints are stronger.

My intention is to do some more experimentation with this method and incorporate some of these current samples into a larger nuno felt project. To date I’ve also being doing some over printing/dyeing with some of the samples, I also need to try more printing on my hand rolled prefelt and I’d also like to design a larger piece as a stand alone silk hanging! Anyway, if you’d like to see a few more pictures of this latest effort just head on over to Nicola Brown – Clasheen on Facebook.

New felt jewellery designs

I’ve been taking some time both last weekend and this to work on new (to me) jewellery designs while I’ve been in the studio at Duckett’s Grove. Almost by happy accident I came up with an idea for a flower bolo, already two of these have sold so I think this is a step in the right direction. I’ve also felted two bangles and four rings in strong modern shapes yesterday and today, these are in strong sharp colours with clear defining lines where the colours meet, no blending of shades. Finally I felted some flowers with stylised petals, some for brooches the rest for the bolos and the smallest for rings. I’m going to try uploading a couple of pics in a minute, this new WordPress app is proving a godsend since I’ve been away from the computer almost all of the past week.

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‘Helping Herd’ collaged wrap and you’re invited to a studio and tea rooms open night at Duckett’s Grove

Yesterday I spent time felting a large nuno collage wrap, this was my contribution to the Helping Herd fundraiser which actually took place earlier in the summer.

Nuno collage ready to felt

The winning bidder (thanks Janet for being so patient!) likes purples, pinks, blues and cool based tones so I gathered a selection of plain and printed silks (recognise one of the patterns Dawn?) and laid out my design on a base of purple cotton gauze and purple and pink short fibred merino. I included some gold printed crinkled silk, it was actually from a very expensive skirt I bought myself a couple of years before I started felting but never wore, I just love the fact that it’s possible to rework fabrics and create something totally new that hopefully will be appreciated and used for years to come.

Leiko modelling the finished wrap

These large wraps may also be hung on the wall or draped on the table and used as a decorative runner. I’ve actually started hanging some up in Duckett’s Grove and they really add a splash of colour to the whitewashed walls. Speaking of Duckett’s Grove, Emma, Michael and Jackie, Madeleine and I will all be staying open until 7pm on Saturday 25th of August to celebrate our first few weeks successfully operating from the ‘Courtyard at Duckett’s Grove‘! From 5pm onwards each of the studios will offer a complimentary glass of wine or something similar to set the tone and we’re all hoping to have special offers on the night and let everyone know that both studios and tea rooms are well and truly open for business!!! Do come along and please feel free to bring your friends, an official event page will be up on facebook as soon as I get a minute to actually get it organised.

Felting retreat pictures and beyond!

Wow, I enjoyed an amazing few days at Clasheen during the felting retreat last week, it was even better fun than I had imagined and we had such an inspirational sharing of ideas and techniques.

Merridee with her amazing raw fleece bag

Everything came together in an organic kind of way, US friends Merridee and Keith arrived on Monday, Michelle drove down from Donegal on Tuesday, unfortunately Maya wasn’t able to make it at the last minute (check out her amazing first nuno project which she felted at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday instead!) but Japanese friend Leiko arrived back in Ireland just in time to join us and Carmen called over a couple of times just to say hi and check out what we were making! I don’t have enough hours in the day to go over everything that we were doing but at the start of the retreat I checked which techniques both Merridee and Michelle especially wanted to experiment with and made sure that they were happy with what they had achieved at the end of our time together.

Michelle’s wonderful first nuno felt scarf!

Keith proved a wonderful chef as always, gorgeous cuisine and wine plus HOME MADE yeast bread in the evenings, bliss!!! On Friday morning Leiko helped me set up at Borris Food and Craft Market then everyone else arrived and we headed off to Cushendale Woollen Mill. Our arrival coincided with Suzanna Crampton plus sister and friends delivering Zwartbles fleece so again everything worked out beautifully as Merridee, Keith and Michelle were able to join them as Philip gave everyone a proper tour of the mill in action. It’s obviously not going to be possible to upload all the pictures we took over the course of the retreat to the blog, I will be adding more though to both my personal facebook page and Nicola Brown – Clasheen, do check there over the course of the next few days and hopefully there’ll be loads to whet your appetite! Thanks Merridee, Keith, Michelle and Leiko for being such good fun and relaxing company to have around, you were all wonderful!!! I’ll leave you with a picture I love, all of us together at Borris on Friday morning.

Leiko, Keith, Merridee, me and Michelle at Borris Food and Craft Market