Thanks ….. and leather handles for felt bags!

Thanks so much to all of you who have left comments, sent emails and rung me to wish my mother the best.  Yesterday it was confirmed that she has a very rare disease primarily affecting the muscles, only 9 in every 1,000,000 people suffer from the condition.  At the moment she is somewhat of a medical celebrity in the hospital because in the last 7 years no patient has presented with the symptoms!  I will probably not get too much paperwork done over the next few days or many emails answered so apologies if you are waiting for a reply, I will get to read everything all going well just no time to think clearly and write the replies.  Do you think that I can forget the housework too???

Yesterday I felted another 9 flowers for the ‘Taste of Carlow’ event and now I need to add buttons and finish some of the bags and purses I felted last week.  I did have an idea of approaching a wonderful Kilkenny leather craftsman and asking him to make some special handles to my designs, maybe next week I will get time to pop down and have a chat with him.  Failing that I probably need to order handles online from Homestead Heirlooms.  I love the work these ladies produce and stocked up on handles last year when Heather and I attended the amazing Duchess County Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck!

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Another rose hip felt vessel and more free machine embroidery pictures

Apologies for not posting final pictures from the weekend’s free machine embroidery workshop yesterday, tidying up just got in the way!  Seriously, the massive back kitchen/garage restructuring that I have undertaken this week is really coming along famously and I didn’t want to break stride and get sidetracked by the computer, I would NEVER have headed back to the devestation that is my garage otherwise!!!

My mother’s birthday in on Sunday and she has requested a companion piece to the little rose hip vessel (one of the pieces in ‘From Felt to Friendship’) I gave her for Mother’s Day earlier in the year.  Luckily she requested this ages ago (as she requested the original vessel!) and I was able to put some orange, red and black merino aside in a bag so fingers crossed I can make a nice piece this morning, a welcome change from all the tidying and cleaning going on chez Clasheen!  This afternoon I am playing in the last big ladies golf competition of 2011 so thinking of this I have put aside this morning for felting the vessel and hopefully a couple of new bracelets to stitch at the weekend.  I really feel that because I have invested so heavily in my machine I need to get to grips with the technicalities pdq because I obviously need to be selling work to justify the initial cash outlay.  My intention is not to stitch every piece of felt from now onwards rather understand the possibilities and see where that leads me!  Now on to some more pictures and info from Arlene Shawcross’s brilliant free machine embroidery workshop last weekend.

The finished bracelet photographed against the granite stone wall I used for inspiration

On Saturday evening when I returned home after the first day was over, I had a look in my studio to see if any of the beautiful glass buttons I brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last October would suit the colours of the bracelet which I had been stitching.  The loop closure is not the widest because I felt I needed to keep it in proportion to the delicacy of the stone wall design so I was delighted to discover the smallest of the buttons was a beautiful grey/blue glass with a band of deep green and iredescent gold, perfect.  It was a bit (or a lot fiddly!) to attach the button and after a failed attempt myself I have to confess that Arlene was brilliant and stitched it on for me, thanks Arlene!  Big strong hands are a huge advantage sometimes (excuse the pun) but for some jobs especially ones involving detailed sewing I just get very frustrated, ah well, one step at a time I suppose.

My next experimental project was to stitch on a dissolvable paper, very interesting.  Arlene has gorgeous samples and I thought this would be a very interesting way of creating interesting pieces to sandwich between two layers of perspex or glass, my mind was humming!  With this method I didn’t need to cross over each line of stitches to the same degree as I had with the Romeo, the second stage of the process is wetting out and removing some of the paper so being selective with this ensures that the remaining paper ‘bonds’ everything together anyway.  Adding paint to your brush and washing it lightly over the surface of the stitches and paper leads to interesting effects if you don’t make it too wet, as the water/paint dries the remaining paper stiffens around the stitching.  I loved this distressed look and will be experimenting further, below is an image of one of the pieces that I made.  The final piece that I created used a very sticky backed plastic, problems, problems with this one but a very impressive final result even if I do say so myself!  I’m going to add a few selective beads to this piece, frame it, photograph it and then blog about it so until then I’m not going to write any more about it here.

A close up of the stitched, dissolved and dried paper sample

Three of my favourite suppliers from Rhinebeck!

Good morning from a very snowy Clasheen!  Although we had a bit of a thaw yesterday morning there was another fall of snow last night bringing our total depth in this neck of the woods up to 12″ in most areas, deeper in selected spots.  The good news is that I am confined to barracks and suffering NO guilty feelings about felting non stop but the bad news is that I have very limited supplies of short fibred merino (new order on the way from Wollknoll) so have put the next phase of my ArtL!nks project on hold until my delivery arrives sometime after my house becomes accessible again!  I have also been having internet and phone connection problems so please bear with me but am sure that this is weather related, amazingly we had crashing thunder and incredible lightning at 6.40am yesterday and another bout during the day,  very odd to have snow and lightning at the same time.

As promised I want to tell you about my favourite suppliers from Rhinebeck so here goes with three of my top picks, Cloverleaf Farms, Homestead Heirlooms and Maggie’s Farm.  These are my personal selections and don’t mean to say that other vendors didn’t have fantastic supplies too, I loved the whole shebang and was trying to pick up goodies that might have been difficult to find here in Ireland and remember I was looking for materials as a felter and not a knitter/spinner.  

Cloverleaf Farms is run by Joan Berner and boy does she have beautiful hand dyed fibres for felting or spinning, must be because she is an excellent felter herself!  I made two purchasing trips to Joan’s stand, one on Saturday and the second on Sunday because for me her lustrous colours were unequalled at the show, the fibres didn’t appear to be over heated during the dying process and I loved the fact that they could be bought in Blue Faced Leiscester (which I had heard of but never seen before), Merino, Silk and various combinations thereof. 

My second pick is Homestead Heirlooms where I bought as many pairs of simple pre-punched leather handles as I was able to afford in lovely colours including the yummiest green possible!  I had seen their work on the internet before but was a little nervous buying on speck, now I can’t wait to re-order but obviously I need to make a few more bags and use up this stock first.

My third pick is Maggie’s Farm and here I bought the most divine smelling chunk of homemade soap ever!  It was a huge chunk and kind of looked like a big piece of cheddar, the smell is subtly clove like however and it is just the best thing for felting.  Unfortunately the chunks were really heavy otherwise I would have bought the entire stock and stored it in my hotpress to scent my clothes, buy some if you can!!!

Lastly I want to share with you my gorgeous new cowl from Rachel aka Pushkin on Ravelry, it couldn’t have arrived at a better time with all the snow! 

My wonderful new cowl from Rachel- please excuse the bug eyed photo but it is difficult to take pictures of oneself!

Help please!

Is it just my computer or does everybody reading my last post see some text to the right of the main section and have the links and email subscription button etc. moved down the page to the left???  I do want to upload some more workshop pictures taken during my amazing US trip and I also want to write about my favourite finds in Rhinebeck but I don’t want to play around with things too much and stuff the blog up totally.  What is going on???  Is it just me or can everyone else see what I do?  Thanks for the suggestion Lindy but you look great in the pictures so I don’t think that is the solution!!!  Comments please ……

Pictures at last!

My blog/computer seems to be working to order this morning so as promised here are some pictures from the Monday accessories workshop at the KIA! 

Laying out short fibred merino on top of silk for the nuno scarves

Deb's dreadlocks in place at the end of her scarf

Oops, I spoke too soon, so frustrating but I have only been able to upload one picture.   What on earth is happening with WordPress?????  Will try again later …..

The jewellery ladies!

Wonderful nuno felt scarves and fabulous felt flowers (amongst other gorgeous pieces!)

I was delighted that several of the participants from the complex felt bag workshop stayed over in Kalamazoo to join us on Monday for the felted accessories workshop.  We started the day with a quick look at some of my work and then I gave a simple felt flower demo using the short fibre merino I that I love to work with (available online from either Wollknoll or Filzrausch) before everyone launched into flowers of their own!  This was a great way to get warmed up and after a very short time everyone had made a couple of flowers, some of them using a resist and multi layered.  After this we discussed what accessories everyone would like to make and then the group of 12 divided into two sections, one to work on nuno scarves and the other to discover some of the tips and assorted ways I use to create felt balls, cords, dreadlocks, cubes and all sorts of components useful for jewellery, buttons, closures and the like.  I particularly like to show people how I felt balls and cubes starting with a square wad of fibres, this method was shown to me by Australian sculptor and felter Anita Larkin and was a revelation when I first learnt it! 

URGGH, for some reason I am not able to upload pictures here this morning so forgive the lack of eye candy, there must be a technical hitch.  I will try again tonight and hopefully I will be back to full speed tomorrow morning, off to tidy the studio this Bank Holiday Monday.  To keep your imagination fired why not have a look through Dawn’s Facebook album sharing the wonderful time we had together with Horst, Janice Arnold and just mooching around at Plainwell Icecream Parlour and visiting beautiful Lake Michigan.

THANKS and pictures of the beautiful felt created at the KIA workshops!

I’m home safely at last and bowled over when I look back at all the pictures I have taken over my whirlwind felting trip to the US.  Four weeks sounds like a LOT of time to spend on the road but in actual fact the time just whooshed by although I lived every minute to the best of my ability and LOVED every second spent with fibre friends both new and old!  It’s just not possible to thank everyone who contributed to my wonderful experience individually on the blog and I would hate to leave anyone out unintentionally so to everyone who made me feel totally at home and SO welcome everywhere I travelled THANKS!!!  Thanks to all the organisers, hosts, friends, workshop participants and blog followers who really made the trip so special and thanks to everyone who gave me unusual gifts along the way, fibre, chocolate, rolling mat, sequin waste, artificial fabric, inclusions, fabric, vintage trimmings and other little items either difficult or impossible to get here in Ireland.  I love them all and hope to show you pictures here as soon as I start to incorporate them into my felt over the next few months although in case you are wondering I am eating the yummy chocolate, some things are just a step to far when it comes to adding inclusions!

Now for some pictures as promised from the fantastic complex bag workshop at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, pictures to follow tomorrow from the felted accessories workshop and then over the weekend pictures from my visit with Dawn and my trip to the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck with Heather! 

Cyndee and Lindy adding surface detail to their bags

 

Detail from Sally's bag

 

Wonderful bags created at the KIA weekend workshop