Two naturally printed felt vessels

Following on from my first vessel of 2014 I've felted two more since the beginning of the week, this time they've been naturally printed. I had some lovely pomegranate skins and pith left after I cooked a big lamb, date and pomegranate tagine, what better use than to add them to a pot and let their colour influence a couple of bundles?

Here's a picture of the first vessel prior to printing, it's a combination of Portugese merino, mohair locks and a silk/linen blend for surface embellishment. On FB earlier in the week I mentioned that the fibre was bamboo, not so as I discovered once I printed it, I thought it felt a little different laying it out! Anyway, the giveaway was the fact that it appeared to take colour from the pot well. Bamboo, being a cellulose fibre, usually remains white after printing adding an interesting look to the felt (which I like), silk on the other hand is a protein fibre and takes the colour well so even thought this was a silk/linen blend it didn't really achieve the effect I had intended. Not to worry, here's the finished vessel.

I like the reverse

and side views better.

The second vessel is more of a bowl shape, I used the same Portugese merino with loads of Firestar on the outside (for sheen) plus the same silk/linen blend embellishing the inside.

I used a combination of different eucalyptus and blackberry leaves for this one, you can see a blackberry leaf in the inside centre with this birds eye view.

I particularly like the strong contrast of the reddish eucalyptus against the golden tones of the pomegranate on the base. Next time I'll bundle differently but use the same materials, I'd like to get those colours on the top of a bowl!

 

Dallas TX calling and watch out Clasheen, Dawn’s returning!!!

I've been super excited for the last two days. Firstly, I've been invited to teach a workshop in Dallas at the end of April and secondly, wonderful friend and felt hat maker extraordinaire Dawn Edwards of Felt so Right fame will be teaching in Ireland at the beginning of the same month. Exciting times ahead!!!

So…………..

  • If you're interesting in attending a two day nuno felting and natural printing workshop with me in Texas the weekend of 26th and 27th April please shout out loud ASAP. We need to make sure that the numbers stack up by next Monday if at all possible, if they do the workshop goes ahead!

  • If you're interested in attending a one day fantastic felt hat workshop with Dawn Edwards at Clasheen (or a nearby venue) on Saturday 5th April please shout out loud ASAP also. It may be that we will have two days of classes but I need to confirm everything with Dawn so for the moment I'm starting to take bookings for the Saturday.Please email me or comment here to express your initial interest or provisionally book for either workshop!

 

First felt vessel of 2014

Yesterday I ordered the raw materials to fulfill the trade orders from Showcase and got some dreaded paperwork out of the way early in the morning. This left me free to felt my first vessel of 2014!


Every day when I walk up the lane and through the fields at Clasheen with Rex, my eyes are drawn time and time again to the beautiful lichen, moss and fern strewn dry stone walls which are a constant source of inspiration for me. It was interesting to see the night before that I was very attracted to an unusual polymer clay necklace online friend Jaroslava Zikmundova posted to FB and Etsy, I then discovered when I left a comment that it too was inspired by mosses and lichen!

Anyway, yesterday I wanted to work on an idea that I had had for a while, a felt vessel with plenty of texture and some craters. I'm planning a series of vessels incorporating some natural printing but for yesterday I just wanted to break my duck and get back to felting three dimensionally. I also wanted to use some of the lovely Portugese merino I bought at the wool factory in Guarda on a trip we made last year at the wonderful residential felting holiday at Dominio Vale do Mondego. Just as an aside, if anyone is interested in joining us for this years extravaganza don't forget to check it out and contact Karin ASAP, spaces are filling very quickly!

Here's a picture of the vessel during the early laying out stage…..

and one after I've laid out all the surface embellishments and started to felt, thanks Sue (GlitterGirl Feltworks) for the funky yarn!

Here's a picture of the almost finished vessel sitting on top of the wall, I still need to do a little work to firm up the shape. Overall I'm happy with the result, the craters would have been much better if I'd used a different method for creating them, the Portugese merino batt gives a lovely pebbly texture when felted but was a little uneven to lay out, all in all it was a pleasant way to start felting vessels for the new year.

 

Reflections from Showcase 2014 and thanks!

I had intended posting pictures to the blog every day of Showcase, poor Internet connectivity coupled with tiredness in the evenings unfortunately made this an impossibility. Instead, I'm going to reflect on how everything went and give you a peek into my thoughts as I debrief, if I get it all written down now then I can move on and make some new felt. I'd especially like to say a massive thank you to everybody who supported and encouraged me in advance of the show and over the five days of the event itself, the Showcase and Crafts Council teams who did an incredible job, the electrician who changed the wiring on my stand with such good humor, twice, all of you both here and on Facebook who blew me away with your good wishes and finally, my buddies in crime at the neighbouring stands, thanks for being such a pleasure to spend time with! Obviously it's impossible to name everybody (and I don't want to leave anyone out inadvertently!) but a special thanks go to Ariane Tobin, Cornelia McCarthy, Roisin Markham, Kate Ramsey, Emma Jane Champley, Lesley Round, George Stafford, Anita Marnell, Niki Collier, Mary Whelan, Nicola Doran and to Lorraine Bowen who gave me great advice about agents and JobBridge.


Now for those reflections, it paid to……….

  • Have clear signs (thanks Ger and Joe from Carlow Sign Management)
  • Have good photography (thanks Greg Dorney)
  • Send out email invitations to prospective stockists letting them know which stand I was on and what my collection consisted of
  • Keep the display very simple
  • Pay for additional lighting
  • Offer a show special
  • Ask for a sale
  • Have a slide show of images looping on the MacBook meaning whenever I got a confirmed order or a lead I could quickly update my notes by typing them up
  • Be on the stand myself as much as possible but have good knowledgeable friends to help me too, thanks a million George and Anita!
  • Wear one of my scarves
  • Eat!!! The first day I didn't eat any lunch, bad move! From then on I tried to get a hot meal or snack regularly on dates and fruit, one needs ones energy at these shows.
I was thrilled to get orders from galleries and high end shops in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK. America will be on stream in a couple of months while Canada is also a possibility. In addition to the confirmed stockists I've several exciting projects coming up in both Ireland and Northern Ireland over the spring/summer period, all in all exciting times ahead! I've now got to finish unloading the truck and order more raw wool and silk. I'll leave you today with a picture I took earlier this afternoon, somehow a glittery leaf from a Christmas arrangement ended up on a pile of spent natural printing material and was sparkling in the rain, weird but fun.

 

 

Less is more for Showcase!

My mantra today has been ‘less is more’! Although I’d love to get a few more wraps felted before the weekend I’ve realised that I’d be better occupied making sure everything else is organised in advance of Showcase. Today George came over and we worked out a mock stand set up, hence the less is more theme. I really, really wanted to have a printed wall hanging displayed but working within a 2m x 2m space it’s more important to leave stuff out than cram it all in I think!

Large naturally printed wall hanging

Large naturally printed wall hanging

Obviously I’ll bring a couple of wall hangings with me and store them in the magic plinth, I’ll reserve the final judgement about whether to display one or not until I set up the stand on Saturday. I’m in the ‘Home & Gift’ hall, stand A285, please can you share this info with anyone you know who might be attending, thanks! Tomorrow I collect my new signs, a couple of plinths, try to get a top or two and have my hair cut, plenty of other things need to be done too but for now I’m going to have an easy night and get a few more invitations to buyers emailed then call it a day.

Website overhaul and the magic saucepan!

Today has been mentally consuming work but satisfying. I started early this morning on my long awaited website and blog overhaul, although unfortunately I couldn’t afford the professional help I had intended I’m happy with how it looks now so fingers crossed the functionality will be ok too. One of the main changes aside from the more streamlined look is a static homepage and the drop down menu for the gallery, hopefully those of you following this blog will get your updates too by email as per normal, I’d like to say notify me if you don’t but it you don’t get it how will you know to shout at me!

Showcase preparation continues apace. I’m collecting the first batch of silk and wool cushions from the local seamstress tomorrow morning and I’ve a pile of freshly ironed fabric to drop off at the same time. This fabric was printed in my largest aluminium pot, for those of you who’ve messaged me asking what the pot looks like with bundles inside, here’s a picture of it in all it’s glory!

A bundle simmers in a large pot of eucalyptus, onion skins and water

A bundle simmers in a large pot of eucalyptus, onion skins and water

 

Two nuno felt wraps, same raw materials but different pots!

Merridee and I had great fun tracking down a big copper pot in California last September. Finally we sourced a lovely one at an antique shop in Auburn, both of us were interested to see how it affected the results of our natural printing and dyeing during the felting retreat we facilitated at Lake Tahoe. The colours of the vegetation appear softer when simmered in the copper so yesterday I borrowed a fantastic antique jam pot from my buddy George, I'll have to source one myself now as we are both very happy with the way this wrap turned out. Here's a close up shot for you to look at, please bear in mind that the wrap needs to be rinsed out and ironed still but you can see the peachy tones and softness of the colours I think.

The second wrap was bundled with the same two varieties of eucalyptus and the same black tea, the only difference was the addition of some onion skins and the fact that the pot was aluminium. Check out how dark this is, it was simmered for exactly the same amount of time, amazing! In both pieces as they dry the bamboo sings out against the wool, I'll take photos of them when they're finished and ironed.


 

Showcase preparation continues

Yesterday was a very busy day for deliveries at Clasheen. In the morning my gorgeous new duck feather filled cushion liners arrived as did the supplies I need to hang my signs for Showcase, in the afternoon a big box of business cards, tags for my gift boxes, information postcards and stickers came. In the evening I signed off on the signage I'm having printed by super Carlow firm Sign Management Services and late at night I continued searching for the perfect responsive template theme to use for my new website. I don't think I've had time to mention that I ran into big problems with the one I'd decided on, they wanted a whopping 30% of any sales I made through the shopping cart! Anyway, here's a sneak look at my new folded business card, contact details are on the back and care information for all my work in on the inside.

 

 

 

Lexington workshop details for 23rd and 24th May announced and CA dates confirmed!

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be back teaching at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA on 2nd, 3rd and 4th May. I absolutely love the time I spend here catching up with old friends, meeting new fibre fanatics, facilitating workshops and staying with the most wonderful and welcoming hosts, Sharon, Mark, Dawn, Morry, Jan, Bruce and Kevin, you’re the best!!! Over the next few days I’ll be finalising class descriptions for Loomis and Plainwell (9th and 10th) plus confirming what I’ll be teaching at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival (17th and 18th). Woo hoo, watch out US, here I come again!

In addition to my regular slot at the KSFF I’m back for the fourth time facilitating workshops for the wonderful Jan Durham in Lexington. This two day workshop (one day by arrangement) happens on 23rd and 24th May, there is also a possibility of an additional afternoon/evening class on 22nd, more about that another time! I’m really excited that we’ll be felting on Saturday and having a full day natural printing on sunday, here’s the full workshop description and an example of a naturally printed wrap. Please email Jan if you would like more information and to book your place!

May also be used as a wall hanging or a throw

Silk, merino, bamboo and Firestar nuno felt wrap, naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves

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 felt 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 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.