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!

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

Wonderful, wonderful Rhinebeck!

Just the shortest of notes to say how much Heather and I have enjoyed our two days at Rhinebeck!  The whole experience was fabulous and as soon as I recover from the train, bus, plane, bus and car drive home I promise to sit down and blog properly about both the Kalamazoo felting workshops and the Rhinebeck experience complete with loads of pictures and links to peruse!!!  I am off now to pack my bag and then hopefully we will have an early night and a good (read BIG!!!) breakfast tomorrow morning before Heather drives me to the station to catch my 11.40am train.  Until then …..

KIA workshops, Weaver’s Guild talk, more photos and into ‘Horst Style’ production this morning!

Great weekend workshops at the KIA, successful talk (at least I THINK so and I think that they do too!) at the Weaver’s Guild meeting on Monday night, visit to Saugatuck and Lake Michigan yesterday and into Horst style production with Dawn this morning, only downside is that I have almost NO voice left and I definitely will need it for visiting with Heather and heading to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival this coming weekend!!! 

Dawn and Horst hamming it up for the camera working on our first full duster!

I still need to download my images from the complex felt bag and the felted accessories workshops that happened at the KIA in Kalamazoo from Saturday to Monday but the work created was so inventive and fabulous, you will LOVE the results!  Possibly I may get a little time to do some computer stuff when I get to Heather’s house tomorrow evening but today Dawn and I are felting some scarves and hopefully two sleeveless waistcoats using Horst’s method (small sander and time permitting!) as well as dying them, fingers crossed we have time to complete everything because I would love a new vest to wear the the Sheep and Wool Festival!  Good friend Kristi has kindly set up a Snapfish room (check it out!) where we can share pictures of all the fabulous bags, flowers, pieces of jewellery and nuno felt masterpieces created over the weekend so I am just going to post the info directly here and hopefully some more of you will share your images!  Message from Kristi …….. Join Felting Weekend with Nicola – I created a room where we can share photos, videos and projects! We can also write messages to the group, order prints and gifts of each others’ photos and more. Please feel free to add your photos too!  In order to join or view this group room, you’ll need to enter this privacy code nicola.  You can also copy the web address and paste it into your browser:
http://feltingweekend.snapfish.com/snapfish/otsc=SYE/otsi=CRI

Dawn unloading our first duster from the dryer - beautifully dyed by Horst in some of my favourite colours!

Our second AMAZING creation, now proudly winging it's way back to Ireland with me!!!

Trying out one of Horst's soft and cuddly but oh so stylish jackets!

First pictures from our time with Horst!

Dawn following Horst's directions to attach a roving skirt to a ready prepared bodice

Dawn and I had the most AMAZING time in Streetsboro, Ohio with Horst, Jess, Gina, Choxie and Panzer, Choxie and Panzer being a Pomerarian and a Corgi respectively!!!  We can’t thank them enough for their warm hospitality and Horst’s mother for all the wonderful sweet deserts she brought every day, peach cobbler, apple crisp, cheesecake with cherry topping, German chocolate cake and some tasty and seasonal pumpkin cookies, reading through this list it’s amazing that we didn’t return to Michigan 2 stones heavier than we arrived late on Monday afternoon!  I know from all the emails and Facebook comments I am recieving that you are really looking forward to seeing some of our photos from the visit so here goes with just a couple and as soon as the Kalamazoo workshops are finished (I had a marvellous time today) I promise to write a longer post and share the finished dusters (THREE!!!) with you.  I do hope to add some more pictures to my Flickr account tomorrow evening but in case I don’t have time after the complex bag workshop is over please bear with me as I still need to prepare my presentation for Monday night’s talk to the Kalamazoo Weaver’s Guild!  To give everybody some background information (for all of you who are SO envious out there in cyber space!) we started our ‘Horst Couture’  induction on Tuesday morning by learning how Horst attaches an organic style duster bottom to a partially felted bodice, watched as he wetted it out, worked with personally adapted electric sanders, rinsed to remove the soap, dyed the duster by hand (he is a master colourist!) and then fulled the dyed coat in the tumble dryer before removing it to a fanfare of trumpets just ready for Dawn to model and me to take some photos!  The second day when Horst was off teaching we prepared HUNDREDS of various attachments for the next few dusters (petal like attachments, leaflets and loops) and spent some time that evening working out exactly what we would be doing on the following day as well as watching while Horst dyed the bottom of 8 sleeveless vests in preparation for further work the next day.  It would also be fair to say that we prepared 5 large bags and 4 ‘pocklets’ but equally true to confess that not all of these worked out exactly as we planned.  We nearly died laughing when we discovered how disasterous some of these bags (purses) turned out to be but more about this and loads more photos to follow in the next post when the KIA workshops have finished!!!  I also can’t resist adding another photo to today’s duo, Dawn modelling a fun fur hat which we just happened to find in Horst’s studio and I’m sure you will agree looks absoultely stunning when modelled by her!

Dawn looking absolutely stunning!

Dawn modelling the amazing finished duster (which now sits proudly in her closet ready to be worn to the Weaver’s Guild meeting in Kalamazoo MI on Monday night!)