Stunning bags felted at Duckett’s Grove this weekend!

It's been a very busy few days, on Friday morning I had my regular stand at the market in Borris, in the afternoon I moved furniture and arranged Duckett's Grove for the weekend, on Saturday I facilitated a full day felt bag workshop at Duckett's Grove and today a full day beginner's workshop! My linguistic skills aren't too hot at this stage of the night so I'll just post pictures from the weekend and let you admire the fabulous creations all the ladies felted!!!

Paula, Jeni, Mary and Mary hard at work laying out the surface design
Mary and Mary with their almost completed bags, great job!
Stunning iPad sized bags from Jeni and Paula!
Ciara and Jackie almost ready to start felting their clutch bags, these will be stitched up at the sides later
Lovely bags and lovely smiles, wonderful first felt pieces!
The backs of the bags are as beautiful as the fronts…..



Langley, BC – change of time and a few bundling pictures to whet your appetite!

Due to many participants travelling in from the islands to participate at the Langley, BC workshop, we have decided to change the class time to start at 10.30 and work through until 17.30. This workshop is almost full now so if you’re interested in joining us do please contact Sharon on 604-916-7633 or 778-298-8545 immediately!

Starting the revealing process!

Starting the revealing process!

Although I haven’t been able to do any felting this past week (booking my flights was fraught with problems and just seemed to take FOREVER!) I was able to do some bundling experiments on cotton and card stock. I picked up a few inexpensive white long sleeved T-shirts in Kilkenny and in addition to these I tied up a well worn and loved over dress (Dawn, it’s OUR dress), another T-shirt and a new throw/tablecloth kind of thing I picked up in Ikea as well as a batch of my cream luggage tags, they’re a heavy card stock.

Unwrapping is always very exciting

Unwrapping is always very exciting

I wanted to see how the different fabrics and card picked up the colour from the various leaves and plant material that I was using. Anyway, the card picked up all the different leaf materials beautifully, the cotton long sleeved Ts picked up the purple from the cotinus leaves and the gold from the onion skins brilliantly (although without very distinct leaf outlines except where the iron water was touching the fabric) without any evidence of the small eucalyptus leaves I used and the throw/tablecloth took the onion skins brilliantly but nothing else very well, interesting!!! It was far too windy to take pictures of the finished pieces today, in fact my mannequin fell over whilst I was trying to get them. Here’re two close up shots though of one of the finished long sleeved T-shirts.

Lovely wavy lines

Lovely wavy lines

Don’t forget that if you are attending the retreat in Lake Tahoe (full) or the workshops in BC (contact Sharon, phone numbers above) and Winnipeg, Canada (please email Margaret) this is something that you can try out in addition to bundling the felt scarves and wraps we make during the classes!!!

Gold tones from the onion skins

Gold tones from the onion skins

Residential felting holiday in Portugal 2014 – €65 early bird booking discount!

I’m really thrilled to be heading back to beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal to facilitate another residential workshop next June. The dates are from 14th to 20th and Karin is offering a €65 early bird discount for any bookings made before 1st September, please click on the link to get all the details! Felting in Portugal with Nicola Brown 2014

Here’re a few more pictures from this year’s event to whet your appetite, me lending a hand shearing, a beautiful ram waiting for his turn, one of Heather’s gorgeous wooly creations (pics please when you attach the leather handle Heather!) and sacks of wool waiting for processing at the woollen factory in Guarda. Do consider joining us next year, it’s a marvellous week filled with fibre, fun, friends and food!!!

Me having a go shearing!

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October felt jewellery class in Ennis Creative Arts Centre!

I’m delighted to be returning to the beautiful Ennis Creative Arts Centre in Tubber, Co. Galway on 19th October where I’ll be facilitating a felt jewellery making workshop, instead of participating in one! Here’s a picture of Liga, Ronna Sarvas Weltman and me outside Shirley Bredin’s gorgeous venue, a beautifully renovated Irish farmhouse that’s been tastefully extended to accommodate a fabulous studio. This picture was taken after the brilliant polymer clay class I attended with Ronna, I loved every minute of the weekend!!!

Liga, Ronna and me outside the Ennis Creative Arts Centre

Liga, Ronna and me outside the Ennis Creative Arts Centre

Anyway, a little more info about what I’ll be sharing………….during this intensive one day jewellery making class we’ll be working towards making three specific items of jewellery, a flower ring, a beaded bracelet and a large multi functional flower bolo. No previous felting experience is necessary to attend the workshop but if you are an experienced or improving felter I’ll be able to help you add your own quirky twist to these most popular designs from my studio. Shirley’s set up an event page on facebook for people to check out and I’m posting a more expansive workshop description here so that you may get a greater feel for what the day will offer! Do please consider joining us if you live on the other side of Ireland and have not considered travelling to Duckett’s Grove before. The techniques learnt during this workshop will be ones that you can use in a whole variety of sculptural projects, the cord making one (I learnt it from Anita Larkin many years ago) is particularly useful!!! Here goes….

‘Funky Felt Jewellery”

Wet felted flowers and cords make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes! During this workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers with or without stems using her favourite short fibered merino and a selection of embellishing fibres such as silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during one of my workshops last year at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during one of my workshops last year at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

For participants who do like to stitch however, Nicola will have a selection of beads and brooch backs with which the flowers may be turned into beautiful, sparkling, pieces of jewellery. We will also learn a simple but very effective way of felting strong, hard cords. During the workshop participants will felt a long cord which may be combined with a felt ring to wear as a stunning multi functional felt bolo. The technique for making these cords may also be used in a variety of other ways including quirky jewellery, spikes for three dimensional felting and strong bag handles.

Winnipeg, Canada on FeltUnited day – workshop description!

Although I don’t actually have a price or venue address yet for the class in Winnipeg I thought that I’d post the workshop description and dates to give people time to think whether they wanted to attend or not! If this sounds like something you’d consider joining us for please email Margaret and she’ll answer your questions and take your bookings. The workshop will run over Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th October, this means that we will be felting together on FeltUnited day, in Canada, how exciting!!! Anyway, here’s the workshop description…..

NATURALLY INSPIRED – wearable felt and household textiles inspired by and printed with natural materials!

During this intensive two day workshop participants will have the opportunity to create a beautiful large nuno wrap, table runner or wall hanging using the tumble dryer method of felting. They will then have the opportunity to totally elevate it to another level as we experiment extensively with different methods of natural printing/dyeing using the bundling method.

Day one – using the no roll tumble dryer method of felting each participant will create a large nuno felt wrap, table runner or wall hanging, depending on the complexity of these pieces some people may also have time to felt additional samples to put in the dye pot on day two! This super easy technique of nuno felting will transform your arts practice if you’ve never tried it before and is ideal for anyone who finds the traditional rubbing and rolling hard on their body. Concentrating on simple shapes with optional ruffles, we’ll work in white and add a selection of un-dyed embellishing fibres to the lay out. Each fibre will take up the colour from the natural materials differently when put in the dye pot the following day, this leads to stunning wearable art or striking and unique interior accents.

Day two – wonderful results will be achieved by bundling the felt created on day one together with a selection of simple, easy to find natural plant materials, tying them up and then either steaming them or cooking the bundles in plant and/or rust enriched water. At the start of the second day Nicola will explain and demonstrate how different results when bundling are influenced by using different pre-treatments, materials, fabrics, dye pot solutions and ways of actually tying up the pieces. There will be plenty of samples for participants to study and before we dye the felt created on day one everyone is encouraged to put some smaller items of felt and fabric in the dye pot to get a feel for this method.

Participants are also encouraged to bring along previously completed felt (bags and vessels too, not just wearables!) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk and these may all be included in the dye pot providing we have space!

NB Although this is a two day workshop participants may be accommodated for individual days by prior arrangement.

BC, Canada – felting and dyeing workshop details!

Today I’m delighted to give you the details of the first workshop in Canada, tomorrow I hope to have the info re. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Thanks a million Sharon Gerhart for inviting me to teach and getting a venue sorted so quickly, this is going to be an active and super fun day!!! The workshop will take place within shouting distance of Vancouver at The Loafing Glass Studio, 9060 184th Street, Surrey, BC on Thursday 3rd October. The class will run from 10am sharp until 5pm, please contact Sharon ASAP if you’d like to book a place, the numbers to ring are 604-916-7633 or 778-298-8545. And now for those details…..

NATURALLY NUNO – a beautiful scarf inspired by and printed with natural materials!

During this fun one day workshop participants will create a simple white nuno felt scarf in the morning using the no roll tumble dryer method then print/dye it in the afternoon using a selection of easy to find natural plant materials and rusty metal.

This super easy technique of nuno felting will transform your arts practice if you’ve never tried it before and is ideal for anyone who finds the traditional rubbing and rolling hard on their body. We’ll work in white and add a selection of un-dyed embellishing fibres to the scarves, everyone can enjoy the process of laying out the wool knowing that this will be the biggest design decision of the morning!

In the afternoon we’ll transform the scarves by bundling them together with a selection of simple, easy to find natural plant materials then they’ll be tied together and either steamed or cooked in plant enriched water for a couple of hours. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how to achieve different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on the method chosen prior to putting the pieces in the dye pot. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the scarves also create different designs in the finished pieces.

Participants are encouraged to bring along previously completed felt (bags and vessels too, not just wearables!) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk and these may all be included in the dye pot providing we have space!

Canadian workshop update and cotinus, a picture of the shrub!

I'm so excited, this Canadian adventure is really going to happen this autumn!!! Hopefully we'll have workshop descriptions and venue details sorted today or tomorrow but for those of you leaving comments and sending me messages the first workshop will be in Langley BC on Thursday 3rd October then I'll travel on to teach in the Manitoba region for the weekend. We're planning a felting workshop on Saturday 5th and a natural printing/dyeing workshop on Sunday 6th, I'm SO thrilled that this will actually be happening, all my friends tell me that Canada is a magical country to travel to!!! Obviously I'm not going to have a bundle of time to explore on this trip, if everything goes well however hopefully this will just be the first of many visits. As soon as I have the finalised details I'll post both here and on Facebook, do please let me know if you'd like the organisers to get in contact so you can reserve a place!

Now on to the cotinus. Here's a picture of the shrub in my garden (not a great shot but you get the idea), it's the purple leaved plant on the left of the picture………

……. and here's a close up of the prints it imparts on top of my recent nuno felt jacket This side is silk covered merino for those of you who've been asking for more details!


Upcoming felting workshops at Lake Tahoe, Mendocino, Canada and more pictures from Portugal!

I'm very excited this morning, it's possible I'll be teaching in Canada at the beginning of October so fingers crossed I'll have details and dates to confirm in a couple of days! In the meanwhile I've updated the workshop page with full details of my September workshops at stunning Lake Tahoe (only one place left) and Mendocino. I've also posted details of classes at Duckett's Grove on July 27th and 28th (also only one place left each day) and I'll have the full info for Portugal 2014 tomorrow or on Thursday. I've just this past weekend got the new outdoor stove I brought home from California firing on all cylinders so before the Food & Craft Market in Borris this Friday I'll sort dates out for my new natural printing and dyeing sessions at Clasheen. These classes will be suitable for all textile and mixed media artists, not just felters!

To whet your appetite here's a picture of a sleeveless jacket that I printed last week using cotinus leaves (from my garden), onion skins and tea leaves. The dye bath had rusty metal and eucalyptus leaves to add extra colour, I love the richness of this piece and the fact that the colours are so deep and intense. I also had great news this week, my large printed wrap titled 'Second Skin' has been selected to be exhibited as part of the Feltmakers Ireland exhibition 'Origins: Felt in the Natiral World' at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. This exhibition will run from 7th to 24th August and should make for a wonderful day out!
Finally for today, I'm just not getting the time I need to upload all the pictures that I intended from the wonderful holiday Alan and I spent in Portugal. I'd meant to post them and a few more from the amazing time we spent with Estela and the residential workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego, instead I'm going to ask you to check out my Facebook photos, Heather's, Terriea's and Karin's to see what we were up to, thanks! I will leave you with this shot though, it's the prow of a traditional fishing boat indigenous to the Aveiro and Praia de Mira regions, stunningly beautiful and photogenic! Thanks Estela for being such a marvellous host!!!


Short little felt, natural dyeing and polymer clay update

I've had a very busy but extremely enjoyable few days. Firstly Liga Valg and I headed to Ennis Creative Arts Centre for a wonderful two day polymer clay workshop with fabulous Seattle artist Ronna Sarvas Weltman and then as soon as I arrived home Anita came to stay for two days of intensive felting and natural dyeing! My electricity went late this afternoon and has only just come back so I'm not going to write any more now as I'm tired but here are a few pictures which I hope will keep you happy until the next post! That one will contain the promised info about all my upcoming interntional and Irish workshops.


Anita with her first ever naturally printed and dyed felt, two beautiful nuno felt scarves and three flat felt samples. Great job Anita!!!

Undoing one of the scarves, it's always a very exciting moment, will there or won't there be fabulous colour from the inclusions?
One of my sample pieces from the workshop with Ronna, I learnt so much and am now very excited about designing a limited collection to compliment my felt. Ronna was a marvellous instructor, very generous and so knowledgeable, I absolutely ADORE her jewellery!!!
Finally my funky ring, I love it but unfortunately unless I loose some weight it's just a tad too small for the finger I intended to wear it on, 'cest la vie'!



Lake Tahoe felting retreat plus friends, felt and fun in Portugal part one!

It's finally time to share some wonderful photographic memories from my recent residential felting workshop and holiday with Alan in Portugal. Internet connectivity was not good while I was away (hence the lack of blog posts) and since we arrived home on Tuesday night it's been pretty hectic here too, what's new! I'm also conscious that I haven't updated you yet about the exciting felting retreat that the amazing Merridee Smith and I are hosting at beautiful Lake Tahoe from 17th to 22nd September so I'll give you the bare bones now and promise to totally update the workshop page next week. This update will include a series of Irish workshops this summer, the felting retreat at Lake Tahoe, full details about the three day felting extravaganza at Mendocino Art Center and also all the details about the 2014 residential felting holiday in Portugal, phew!!!

OK……. Lake Tahoe – four and a half days exclusive, intensive, felting and dyeing tuition with personalised attention from me and Merridee (the dyeing queen!), your wish is our command – wonderful lunch cooked by chef extrodinaire Keith Smith daily plus tea, coffee and snacks – optional bed and breakfast accommodation with us on site in a beautiful wooden cabin five minutes walk from the lakeside – spectacular, inspirational scenery, am I whetting your appetite yet???

Welcome drink on the private jetty, all tuition (Wednesday morning through until Sunday lunch time), lunch, tea, coffee and snacks for the amazing price of $650, optional bed and breakfast an additional $300, a deposit of $200 will secure your place! Merridee and I would love for both experienced and novice felters to feel that they could participate in this retreat. Lake Tahoe is a magical location and while we'll both be working each day participants are free to explore the area if they'd like to relax, chill out and wander a little! Several places for the retreat are gone already and the number is capped at six so if you're interested in joining us please email Merridee or me ASAP.

Now for the first batch of pictures from Portugal, next time I'll upload some more from the workshop, my weekend class teaching local ladies and the wonderful holiday Alan and I spent with Estela and her family! I will be uploading loads more images to Facebook next week with full descriptions, live tags etc. but for the moment you'll have to elaborate on the captions yourselves. Sorry about the poor quality of some of the pictures (it's hard to teach AND snap at the same time!) but if you head over to Terriea's wonderful blog she's written a great post and filled it full of fabulous photos.

Naomi, Cyndi, Heather, Conchita, Estela, Sandy, Nikki and Terriea with a SMALL selection of their fab creations!
Heather's yummy raw fleece bag
Naomi modelling her wonderful naturally dyed hat and wrap
How's this for a load of eucalyptus? Thanks a million Joacim (sorry if I spelt this name incorrectly)!
This is NOT a glass of wine, it is however a glass of red wine vinegar made with the first batch of grapes harvested from new vines at Dominio Vale do Mondego
From the rear….. Karin (owner of our wonderful venue, check out the new studio space!), Cyndi, Estela, Conchita, Carla, Ana, Vanessa, Heather, Terriea, Naomi, Sandy and Ann
Three generations of the one local family come together for our end of week exhibition! Ana, her daughters Vanessa and Carla (they joined us some days and made some beautiful flowers and naturally printed flat felt pieces!) and Ana's mother
Fun, colourful and quirky work!
Terriea with some of her beautiful felt bags, the hat is by Conchita, the naturally dyed necklace by Cyndi and the gorgeous Bordeleira raw fleece rug by Ann
Manuel modelling Conchita's first felt hat, he's part of the family who own and operate the large woollen mill where our prepared roving came from and I do think he looks rather dashing in this hat. Next post you'll see a picture of his mother with her own amazing first piece of felt!