Stunning Mendocino!

Merridee and I had a lovely time in Mendocino, staying and socialising with friends Susan and Dale by night and felting with a lovely group of ladies by day! Working with participants who have different experience levels is always good fun and interesting, a stunning array of purses, jewellery and nuno wraps were created over the course of the three days and I also had time to discuss design ideas more extensively with one of the experienced felters, hi Flo! I really enjoyed myself watching as each project progressed and I think you'll see from this photo rich post how everyone seems to be happy with their felt, not to mention laughing and relaxing while spending creative time felting together. Thanks Merridee for all your expert help and thanks Susan and Dale for your fun and generous hospitality!

Merridee, Flo, Patty, Sasha, Zanna and me
Flo, Sasha and Zanna
Patty and Merridee
Sasha's lovely felt beads work brilliantly brilliantly with this fused glass bead that she made

Zanna's fabulous first nuno felt wrap includes silk from two saris that her father gave as a gift to her mother


Flo, Patty, Sasha and Zanna

I love this picture of Patty, Sasha and Zanna hamming it up for the camera! One final shot for today, Merridee and I joined Susan and Dale for a walk after class one evening, what better way to end the day thank watching the sun set than with friends, wine, cheese, olives and beer!!!




Wonderful participants from Lake Tahoe and last minute accommodation available at Mendocino!

Merridee, Keith and I have just returned from our action packed felting and natural printing retreat at Lake Tahoe so I'm finally online again after an Internet blackout for the last week. It's going to take me days to recoup and catch up with things but I really wanted to post a picture of our wonderful participants to whet your appetite for more to follow!

From left to right, modelling their first completed nuno felted and printed scarves………. Mariou, Lupe, Julie (kneeling), Leslie, Patty and Tina, great job everyone!!!
There's one room unexpectedly available at the Mendocino Art Center for the three day felting extravaganza this coming weekend (I'm staying with friends of Merridee's therefore the room they had reserved for me is free!) so if anyone is debating considering joining us and felting like crazy, now is the time to shout out loud!


Lake Tahoe, Vancouver and Winnipeg felters, please don’t forget your onions!

I thought that I'd take a picture of some onion skins on Thursday night, just to show all of you who'll be joining me in Lake Tahoe or Canada the ones that I find give the absolute best prints. Strong, tough brown onion skins are my preference, the thicker the better, red onions give a similar colour but in my experience the lighter papery skins of some US onions don't impart such a strong colour. So, if you're planning on bringing some onion skins to any of the above mentioned workshops, and I do hope that you are, please, please try and get the toughest old skins that you can!!!
They all look a reddish brown when they come out of the dye pot……
and print fabulously on Manila luggage tags too!
From the eucalyptus side of things 'Silver Dollar' is the round variety that gives wonderful orange prints, I usually have to order it from a florist in Ireland although good friend Anita now has a hot line to five trees!
Here it is used to print a luggage tag…..
a nuno felt wrap…..
and a ponge silk scarf. This one was wrapped around an old tin can before dropping in the dye pot, I just LOVE the speckles this gives to the leaf prints!!!


Packing plus a Mendocino felting extravaganza suggestion!

As I gather my clothes, samples and supplies ready to pack for my exciting trip to California and Canada I'm doing what I always do, trying to keep my suitcases light! One of the things that I'll definitely be packing is this large multifunctional nuno felt wrap made yonks ago, it's marvellously light and warm thrown around the shoulders but because of the curve I created along one edge also works well as a skirt if needed. It's also going to fit in perfectly with the new Autumn/Winter colour scheme I'm hoping to wear, red, purple and orange with just a few touches of black and lime green!

It got me thinking about how much I'm looking forward to revisiting Mendocino, the landscape, coastline and beautiful setting of the Mendocino Art Center are all so inspiring and I can just see myself felting another large wrap while I'm there, maybe in abalone colours this time! For those of you who will be joining me (and my super assistant Merridee) to participate in the three day felting extravaganza from 27th to 29th September we have plenty of time to tackle larger projects, this wrap has oodles of texture and was felted using the tumble dryer method so none of the traditional rubbing and rolling. I also used a technique when felting it which I'll share during the workshop for cutting out precisely shaped pieces of lightly woven fabric, ideal if you have a design in mind and you want to be really controlled in your detail. Although my design for this one may look very random it actually was not, surprised? Sooooo, if you'd like to experiment with larger nuno felt wraps, shrugs etc. at Mendocino, this is your chance.
Another thing that I'm looking forward to felting is a new red or purple shoulder bag for myself plus some smaller three dimensional pieces of jewellery. Because of all my preparation for the Glucksman Craft Fair at the beginning of November I do seem to have been felting a lot in white recently, obviously this was because I've subsequently naturally printed these pieces and white was the way to go. Mendocino is the perfect excuse to burst out with glorious colour, bring it on!!!


Preparing for the future…….

These days I seem to be doing a lot of preparation, all good! I'm…..

  • felting, naturally printing and gathering samples for my upcoming retreat with Merridee at Lake Tahoe and the felt/printing workshops in Vancouver and Winnipeg
  • prepring for a three day felting extravaganza at the Mendocino Arts Center (I think there may be a couple of spots left in this one, details on the workshop page) and planning an interesting vessel with handles to bring to same
  • wondering how much colder it'll be in Vancouver and Winnipeg than CA and trying to work out what I'll need to pack for my trip!
  • clarifying exactly where I envisage the main sales side of my business to move towards during 2014 and 2015
  • continuing to experiment with natural printing and dyeing to extend my range of skills
  • working on my packaging materials so that I have a really nice range of gift boxes complete with naturally printed gift tags in time for the Glucksman Craft Fair at the beginning of November
  • starting to wash and finish scarves that I've printed over the last month or so, I need to deliver more to the design shop at Duckett's Grove as happily they seem to be a hit with the visitors

All this is in addition to the usual teaching, market and DG so yes, it's busy here at Clasheen! Here's a picture of some new gift tags drying (prior to ironing) followed by a shot of a printed woven wall hanging fresh out of the dye pot today.



Lake Tahoe, Mendocino and Canada, September/October felting workshop updates and some pics of my latest naturally printed nuno felt scarf!

Whew, sorry about the long title for this blog post, there's a lot to share with you though so here I go with all the details!

One of the confirmed participants for our sold out felting retreat at Lake Tahoe (17th to 22nd September) may not be able to take up their place unexpectedly, as a result Merridee and I are looking for one enthusiastic felter/dyer/fibre artist to join us at the cabin! You can check out all the details on the workshop page, please let either of us know ASAP if you would like to come. This is a super opportunity to have our undivided attention in a wonderful location, click here to email me if you've any questions or would like to book, Keith's cooking and the fabulous location are just the icing on the cake!!!

Who knows but Merridee may even inspire me to try my hand at acid dyeing some of my felt too, I'll never even attempt to paint on silk though, aren't these pictures of her's absolutely amazing?

Mendocino, another absolutely fabulous location, this time on the west coast. Merridee's actually going to be my helper for the fun felting extravaganza I'm facilitating there at the Mendocino Art Center, this takes place from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th Sepepetember inclusive. There'll be tonnes of individual attention for everyone each day, class size is small so there'll be loads of felting completed! To a degree, participants will dictate the direction this three day intensive workshop goes but from my perspective I'd like to really help people hone their three dimensional skills (think craters, spikes, jewellery, bags and quirky vessels!) and share how to felt large nuno felt pieces using the tumble dryer method. These are the felting skills that I find most helpful at home, regardless of what project I decide to tackle! You can register online for this felting extravaganza directly with the Mendocino Are Center, here's the link to make things easy.

Moving northwards on to Canada, three individual workshops over the course of a week, Vancouver, Winnepeg then back to Vancouver, I'm still pinching myself to make sure this is happening!!! Here's the schedule first, followed by details of the workshop content below, the scarf in the first picture was felted yesterday morning and dyed twice in the afternoon therefore easily achievable in one day!

Thursday 3rd October NATURALLY NUNO – a beautiful scarf inspired by and printed with natural materials! 10.30 to 5.30pm at The Loafing Shed Glass Studio, 9060 184th Street Surrey, BC. Please contact Sharon at 604 916 7633 or 778 298-8545 to book your place!

Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th October NATURALLY INSPIRED – wearable felt and household textiles inspired by and printed with natural materials! This two day workshop takes place at the Edge Gallery and Urban Art Centre, 611 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba and costs $275 including materials. To book your spot at this two day workshop please contact Margaret ASAP, there also is a dedicated Facebook page for this event!

Thursday 10th October NATURALLY NUNO – a beautiful scarf inspired by and printed with natural materials!10 to 4pm at the Marpole Place Neighbourhood House (1305 West 70th Ave), Vancouver. The cost of the workshop is $155 and includes the following materials, a silk habotai or gauze scarf, 4oz of merino (19 micron), 1/2 oz silk hankies plus materials for the natural dyeing segment. To book your spot at this workshop please contact Sara asap at 604 781 1724.

Now for the full workshop descriptions……

NATURALLY NUNO 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!”

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 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!

Finally for today, a few pictures from yesterday's felt and natural printing/dyeing efforts, thanks Liz Nicholls for being my happy cohort! I've actually got loads more silk and cotton pieces from today hanging up to dry but until they've been ironed and brought inside I'll stick with images of work already almost finished.

A length of cotton and a silk scarf bundled together. The eucalyptus leaves from Christine didn't actually give any prints in these experiments, they did add a wonderful colour to the dye pot though so thanks Christine, I'll get working on your silk next week!

Eucalyptus pods and cotinus leaves on cotton

Extremely wishy washy prints from loads of eucalyptus leaves, the sycamore leaf was ok and the cotinus gave a strong print. This was one of the scarves that I felted yesterday morning and I was very disappointed with the colours achieved, after over dyeing with onion skins I'm thrilled with the result!

The final picture shows both sides of the scarf.









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

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!!!