Yesterday morning I worked with 70 four and five year olds then in the evening I started a course of four sessions with an art group in Myshall, a busy day you might say. I'll be posting before and after pictures of all the wonderful felt pictures to FB later this afternoon but here's a little taster for you to enjoy now!
I think that the participants did amazing work, none had ever felted or handled wool batts before, it was a wonderful night!
Although is was FREEZING at Duckett's Grove yesterday I had a lovely afternoon facilitating a 'fun felt flower' workshop. Next Saturday is a beginners and improvers full day workshop, we'll be working on flat felt pictures so if you'd like to join us please email me ASAP! Check out these beautiful flowers from yesterday, I love the different colour combinations!
Check out this yummy box of fibre I received from Roo Kline this week complete with beautiful handmade shawl pin!!! Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions are the amazing sponsors for my nuno felt neckpiece workshop at this years' Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, we are going to have a ball!
I can't wait to dive in but I so want to felt something special with this, I'll be bringing the samples along with me to all my upcoming US workshops.
Alpaca of this quality is a total pleasure to work with, it's not a fibre easily accessed here but once you know a good supplier…..keep them!
On the everyday side of things my current project is coming along really nicely at the Gaelscoil in Carlow, to date I've worked with 300 pupils and by next Monday afternoon another 150 will have had their first experience felting! As a result I've not actually done a lot of felting at home myself over the last two weeks as my fingers are all wrinkled by the time I leave Carlow and my back's aching, I've been trying out a few polymer clay ideas instead. Thanks Elaine (editor of the polymer clay section at Craft Gossip) for linking to the post I wrote recently about my first 'official' necklace, it's always nice to get a thumbs up. I'll be facilitating a felt flower workshop at Duckett's Grove on Saturday so I plan on felting quite a few flowers and other small items then! I'll leave you with a link to a picture of a flower head piece that Mary felted this week (Mary was one of my super students at the VEC recently), I think that it's gorgeous.
I finally finished my first 'official' felt and polymer clay necklace last night, I'm happy with some of its aspects and less happy with others. On the plus side of things I love the combination of textures, the soft organic shape of the beads, the smoothly burnished large polymer clay bead contrasting with the tactile felt beads, the black rubbery tubing I used to tie everything together with and I'm definitely happiest with the roughly textured polymer clay beads and the matt black spacers.
I think that the finished necklace looks lovely against the textures of my recent nuno felt so I'm happy that I'll be able to create a collection of accessories that will add another dimension to my craft practice. On the negative side of things I'm least happy with how symmetrically I strung everything together, my only excuse is that I had a very limited selection of felt and polymer components to work with, hopefully that'll change as I get more pieces made and build up my stock of raw materials. I'm still waiting for my tissue blades to arrive so I'm a little limited with what I can do, the plus side of that is I have to keep experimenting and looking for ways around my lack of some decent cutting implements.
I'd like to recommend Ronna Sarvas Weltman's book 'Ancient Modern' for anyone looking for clear basic instructions and wonderfully inspiring projects in polymer clay and wire jewellery. It's on special offer via the Interweave store up until 15th February at a knockdown price of $6.88 (usual price $22.95). I wish I'd known that before I ordered it elsewhere for the full price but it's wonderful value nonetheless!
Laying out some Fimo against a nuno felt wrap last night to try and select the colours I wanted. Of course I realised as soon as my order of polymer clay arrived that I didn't get half enough blocks of soft subtle colours and I only ordered one white and one translucent block, silly me. The green that I got is much sharper in colour than I expected also so this afternoon I headed into Carlow after teaching to stock up on some more light colours and white. The Fimo is much more expensive there than online but at least I can now work again and do some more experimentation this evening, tomorrow I'll be felting the complimentary pieces in the morning then assembling all the jewellery in the afternoon. At least that's my plan anyway and I'll really try to stick to it!
I've had a pretty frustrating week computer wise, thanks goodness for the iPad otherwise I might have gone totally mad! Next weekend I have a felt bag workshop happening on Saturday 16th February in Duckett's Grove, the initial process is the same for vessels and other three dimensional objects so if either bags with integrated handles, pockets and flaps or strong, sculptural vessels are your thing please email me asap to book your place. On Saturday 2nd March I have a beginners and improvers flat felting workshop happening, again please email me if you would like to book a place. These will both be intensive hands on classes where you will leave at the end of the day with a beautiful finished piece and the knowledge that you will confidently be able to repeat the process at home by yourself, more details over on the workshop page.
Before Christmas I met a lovely South African lady called Lizette at Borris Food and Craft Market. She bought some of my naturally printed and dyed nuno felt to bring home for gifts and also selected a few flowers in nice bright colours, felt and silk are wonderfully lightweight to transport so make perfect presents for anyone heading off in a plane!!! Anyway, Lizette is back here for a visit and called in to say hi again at the market on Friday. With her she brought me a gift of the latest 'Bead Book' magazine sent from her good friend Debbie Rijns, director of education at Precious Metal Clay South Africa.
In the magazine I was thrilled to see that a tutorial for one of Debbie's mixed media necklaces features one of my felt flowers combined with a beautiful PMC leaf, copper wire, beads and cord. Above is a picture of the second page of Debbie's tutorial. Thanks Debbie for creating such a lovely necklce incorporating the flower and I really appreciate the credit and mention in the magazine!
I'm really a felter and only a felter! However, I do love the combination of other materials with hand made felt and up to now have always bought my beads, buttons and findings from others who are skilled in the art of making them.
I don't have time to write properly today but here're two pics, an experimental Fimo ring and felt/Fimo pendant I've just finished making, I'm thrilled! Finally I think that I've found a medium I can have fun with and that I will be able to use to design unique organic shapes for my own closures and other bits and bobs.
I used a wonderful online tutorial from Ronna Sarvas Weltman (search for it on YouTube) to learn how to create the textured pod shape for the pendant and then fell totally in love with Melanie West's jewellery, often inspired by nudibranches believe it or not! Kathleen Dunstin is another artist to watch, stunning work. Thanks to polymer clay experts and friends Liga and Sharon for your help (Valg Studio and The Bead and Button Emporium respectively on Facebook) and encouragement, I think I'm going to have great fun. The only thing I'll have to be careful of is if I decide to use super glue to attach the centre to another pod, I nearly stuck my hands together but couldn't wait until I had sourced a different glue, I wanted to see the finished piece
Tomorrow is my last session with the parents' group at Carlow VEC. We're going to be working on nuno felt samples so after the last class I brought home some of the wool that the VEC have provided, I just wanted to see how it would react when combined with ponge silk. I'll be bringing a selection of my own supplies and new nuno scarf kits tomorrow also, some of the participants fell in love with the feel of the short fibre merino and want to invest in some for future use at home.
Anyway, here's a picture of the finished sample I laid out this morning, silk side uppermost. I'd actually forgotten how nice it is to experiment with supplies that I don't usually work with! I loved how easily the coarse wool fibres migrated through the silk, it's really quick compared to finer merino and perfect for beginners to get a feel for the nuno technique.
I also love the finished texture of the sample, it would work really well in different colours as a window treatment but it's definitely not soft enough to wear against the skin, for that I'll stick to finer fibres! You can check out some more images of this piece in progress on my Nicola Brown – Clasheen page, the link to bring you there is on the right hand toolbar.
It's a fabulous day here in Duckett's Grove, clear blue sunny skies definitely put everyone in a good humour! I spent the earlier part of the morning finishing the reorganisation of my studio and writing up some blackboards with updated workshop information, now I've just finished emailing off details to the manager for the new Duckett's Grove website, this should go live sometime early next week.
As a result I was horrified to realise that my 'About' page here on the blog was totally out of date, whoops. I've now rewritten it, it's far from perfect (I want to add in exhibitions etc.) but at least it's more current that what was previously there. Feel free to have a look and please let me know if you see any glaringly obvious mistakes.
At lunchtime Emma and I headed outside to have look at a wonderful miniature remote controlled helicopter camera. The owner was very nice and gave us a few demos of how it worked, he's been taking arial shots over the ruins this afternoon, fascinating stuff! Stupidly I didn't ask his name but did give him my business card and ask him to post some of the video footage to our courtyard Facebook page, I'm really looking forward to seeing a different view of the buildings and surrounds.