Cow hair, scarf closures and important information regarding ‘Nuno Felting by Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’

I need to confess, the raw fleece and cow hair iPad cover I felted the other day was not a success, in fact, I could go so far as to say it was a big disaster!!! Cow hair is very slippery and likes to protrude through the layers of wool in any project, I did know this from previous experience and was happy to use it to my advantage in the little vessel pictured.

Back CameraWhat I did for this narrow mouthed vessel was lay the hair against my plastic resist, encase everything in several layers of lamb’s wool then felt them together. The hair worked its way through to the outside during the felting process and ended up as an interesting surface detail, I love this piece. For some lunatic reason however I decided to include cow hair in the iPad cover even though I was able to predict a hairy interior, stupid! I loved the idea of raw fleece and cow hair combined but unfortunately the resultant felt is shedding like crazy both on the outside and the inside of the cover. The soap I used, the felting net, the utility room and my kitchen are covered in loose strands of the hair days later, you know by now how much I HATE cleaning and tidying so you can imagine how thrilled that makes me feel!

Anyway, yesterday I knuckled down to felt 23 flowers with ring backs with a lot more success, these are multi functional acting as colourful scarf closures and are also one of the components of my flower bolo.

IMG_4530The flower bolo has proved to be a best seller since I came up with the design prior to my trip to the wonderful Tin Thimble last September. It may be worn in several different ways and as all my stock of them sold in the run up to Christmas I decided to felt more for both the studio and design shop at Duckett’s Grove when we reopen the first weekend in February. It was really nice to work with bright, cheery colours for the flowers and I’ve continued this theme today while working on some nuno felt, pics tomorrow, weather permitting.

Finally for today, I just wanted to let you all know some important information regarding ‘Nuno Felting by Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’. Due to circumstances beyond my control I regret that from this point forwards purchasers will no longer be able to get a free set of templates for Chrissie’s designs when they order the book. This was a unilateral descision taken by Chrissie, she is however making them available from her at an additional cost of £2.50 per template.

Photos from the Lexington workshops!

It was another exciting but calm day in Lexington as larger projects from yesterday came together and new pieces were laid out too. Donna, Lindy and Karen all felted pieces in the tumble dryer last night and worked on new pieces today and until you have tried this out for yourself it is impossible to realise how much time and effort this can save you! Check out ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ or the downloadable book if you are interested in learning more about how to go about this and to see the proof of the pudding here is a group picture from this evening; Donna is modelling her wonderful vest, Karen her highly textured scarf and Lindy’s large piece of yardage is photographed to the left of the group.

Lindy’s yardage, Tonya, Donna, Jan, Nancy, Karen and Sandy (left to right)

A lot of interesting techniques were incorporated into the various pieces, resists laid out inside three dimensional pieces to reveal hidden details later (Tonya in an wonderful large vessel and Jan in a gorgeous bag which also includes glass nuggets), Karen incorporated beads at the lay out stage of her first resist project, Nancy felted a wonderful large purse with integrated handles and Sandy felted an incredible large wall hanging using alpaca and a selection of fabulous locks from a variety of different sheep and other animals! Check out the album I’ve created on facebook to see more of the work, congratulations everyone, you are amazing!!! I’ll leave you with a picture of Sandy’s beautiful landscape, isn’t it an amazing piece for her second ever time felting?

Sandy’s felt landscape using all cleaned but uncarded alpaca and other fibres

‘niki & niki’ felting tools update, sizes and prices as requested again!

Thanks to everyone who has expressed such an interest in our ‘niki & niki’ felting tools, we’re blown away by all the orders and inquiries and thrilled with the positive response we’re getting from everyone who has already tried them out!!! Our latest batch of prodders has just arrived to be posted asap and the rest of the tools should be here shortly for those of you who are waiting! Apologies also to one friend and customer who has not yet recieved their package, if it doesn’t arrive any day now we’ll be posting out a replacement as soon as the new delivery of rollers arrives. We’re also considering offering registered mail as an option in the future and letting the purchaser choose whichever postal option they want, this would be less stressful for us in the event of any losses in transit. In response to the numerous enquiries we’ve been getting here is the basic info about the various tools again and in future when I get asked the questions I will have a definite link here to direct people to!

Meg fulling her hat at Dawn’s workshop with our prototype mini minimilast

Firstly I’ll reiterate that the tools are the result of a collaboration with great friend and designer Niki Collier, between us we are offering you tools that we both find invaluable in our own felting studios. I like to roll on top of the bubble wrap at the early stages of the felting process then directly on the felt as it gets stronger and is in the middle of fulling to shrink; several of my projects in the new book ‘Nuno Felting with Nicola Brown and Chrissie Day‘ used the rollers and the vessel used the prodder! Handmade and hard wearing, all ‘niki & niki’ felting tools may be personalised with your own name for an additional $8 up to a total of 10 digits including spaces, never lose a valued piece of felting equipment again!!! Niki is preparing a little care note to post with new orders but suffice to say that a good quality wood oil is perfect for keeping your tools in tip top condition, don’t forget to rinse off any soap also at the end of each felting session. Now for the sizes and prices excl P&P, this is charged according to which country we are posting to…..

  • The Big One – total length 56cms and an active rolling width of 36cms – $60
  • The Modest One – total length 50cms and an active rolling width of 30cms – $47
  • The Minimilast –  total length 24.5cms and an active rolling width of 21.5cms – $40 The length of this handleless roller makes it perfect for using both hands together directly on top of the ridged surface
  • The Mini Minimilast – a shorter handleless roller which we have been testing, final length and prices to be advised shortly
  • The Prodder – a handmade wooden prodder with a curved end that is a wonderful aid for stretching and shaping felt vessels and sculptures – $11

NB Please remember that I will be away teaching for the next 3 weeks, back for 1 week and then off to teach in Portugal followed by a weeks holiday there, back for one week then off to participate in a 6 day masterclass with Dagmar Binder in Scotland! In tandem with all this excitment and travelling I’m trying to set up my studio in Duckett’s Grove properly (from afar!) and look after the people who will be staying at Clasheen to mind the house and Rex in my absense. Please don’t be offended if I don’t respond to emails or questions immediately and if I do respond I won’t be writing a missive!!! I really appreciate all your kind comments and wishes for my trip to the US, I really can’t wait to be back and am so looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, I wish I had Dawn here though to help me with my packing!!!!! I’ll leave you today with Meg modelling her finished hat with Dawn, you can check out some of Meg’s other beautiful and stylish hats at Meg Kavanagh Designs!

Meg and Dawn with Meg’s beautiful finished hat!

 

Hats, new studio update and the ebook is live to order!

We had a WONDERFUL time having fun and learning new skills from great buddy Dawn Edwards during her ‘Fantastic Felt Hats’ workshops at the weekend!!! All the participants started each day oohing and aahing over the gorgeous hats on display, trying them on and discussing with Dawn whether to work from one of her templates of branch out and design one of their own.

The start of the Saturday workshop

Unfortunately I don’t have enough hours in any day at the moment to write a long review of the workshops but suffice to say Dawn’s lovely calm, knowledgeable and fun manner of teaching ensured that everybody learnt or honed their skills and left with a beautiful new creation to enjoy and show off! Both Dawn and I are uploading photos to our facebook pages but as I say time is short for me at the moment and I do want to enjoy myself with Dawn now and welcome Danish friend Kirsten to Clasheen at the weekend so it may be another few days before they all are uploaded and titled.

Sisters Babs and Helena wearing their beautiful flower decorated hats!

Friday is going to be hectic, since Dawn’s arrival I have also been running around and frantically preparing a lot of felt which needs to be delivered to Duckett’s Grove tomorrow (I had the wrong deadline) and amazingly I was in the right place at the right time and have secured a new studio place there as well! There are 4 artist’s studios in the renovated courtyard and one of the artists had to back out at the last minute, enter me!!!

Andrea shaping and fulling, Niki and Dawn near the end of the first workshop

We’ll be measuring it up tomorrow when we deliver the felt to the new retail unit there and then planning what to set up for the official opening with a government minister on Friday morning, Dawn’s been invited to display her hats too so it sounds as if it will be an action packed and fun day!

After a lot of technical issues ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ is now available to order as an ebook for iPhone, iPod and iPad touch. Currently Blurb don’t offer it for other forms of digital readers but hope to do so before too long has elapsed. I did have to make it available in a wrap around hard back too in order to get it online but I’ve priced highly just to ensure nobody orders it by mistake, of course if you do happen to want a hard back copy that’s another thing entirely!

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Dawn’s first day in Ireland and the new book is published!!!

Well, it’s been an absolutely whirlwind 36 hours. Luckily I checked my emails while I was trying to tidy the house in preparation for Dawn’s arrival only to discover I’d made a mistake with the time she was landing. I had to actually get up at 4am yesterday in order to leave for the airport at 5am and then when I got to Dublin her flight was early, thank goodness I checked or else she could still be wandering around the airport!!!

Dawn and Eileen MacDonagh are dwarfed by Eileen's amazing installation 'Cathedral'! Eileen has over 40 tonnes of stone and amazing other sculptures on exhibition at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow Town, miss it at your peril!!!

I do want to keep everyone up to date with what’s happening here at the moment but honestly it’s just so action packed it’s really difficult to know where to start and there are not enough hours in the day to write everything down, I also want to relax and enjoy the next couple of weeks! Dawn and I will both be taking pictures every day so do check out Dawn’s new FB album and when Chrissie Day arrives on Friday evening I’ll expect we’ll both have no voices left.

Last night Chrissie and I finally put our new book to bed, ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ is now officially available to order in soft back, we’re just sorting out logistics (IBSN numbers etc.) and then it’ll be available in hard back and an eBook version for iPads and iPhones, please bear with us! One set of downloadable templates for 5 of the tops featured in this book are available free to order in a size of their choice for each purchaser of ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown‘, instructions for accessing these are in the book. Starting with the basics, topics covered include adding design to fabrics using deconstructed screenprinting, the use of an electric sander and discovering how to utilise a tumble dryer in order to eliminate the traditional rubbing and rolling stage of the nuno felting process altogether. Here’s the link to preview or order the book, we hope that you like it!

We’re almost there with the book and check out these hats of Dawn’s!

Last night I finally finished as much of the book as was humanly possibly and pushed the button to start uploading the files to Chrissie, pity I didn’t realise that I had previously set the computer to switch off after 5 hours, hmm! Anyway, it’s back on now and hopefully by tonight the book will be ready to publish!!! I’m off for another session of CRAFTed today and then I’ll be shopping and organising in preparation for Dawn’s arrival tomorrow morning, I’m so excited!!! I can’t imagine how difficult her packing must be, check out this picture of the wonderful hats she’ll have at Borris Town Hall on Saturday and Sunday for our two ‘Fantastic Felt Hats’ workshops!!!!!

Dawn's amazing hats ready to pack for Ireland!

Using a felting roller to speed up the nuno process!

Yesterday morning I felted the piece which will actually be the first in my section of the new book with Chrissie, it’s a beautiful but simple scarf and I think the perfect project for anyone wanting to try nuno felting for the first time. I’m not going to have much time to blog for the next few days as I’m teaching, felting, writing, at the market and preparing the house for Dawn Edwards to arrive this day next week!!!

Using my 'niki & niki' roller directly on top of the bubble wrap

I will however post a few pics as I go along, the one today shows me using my felting roller on the top of the bubble wrap at the early stages of making my scarf yesterday. Instead of rubbing with my hands as I usually would before starting to roll, I simple rolled back and forwards with my ‘niki & niki’ felting roller all over my package 20 times on each side and the short fibre merino was already starting to migrate through the heavy silk fabric! Half the rubbing replaced with this rolling and a lot faster result, yay!!!

U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse

Two nuno felt wraps using the same fabrics but different coloured merino

Yesterday I was very busy felting! I’m going to be away unexpectedly next week (thanks George for stepping up to the mark at zero notice to house and Rex sit, Annette I’ll be in touch about July!) so I need have to have a batch of wearables ready for the golf club tomorrow morning. While I’m away there’s going to be a fashion night there so thanks must also go to Lady Captain Eileen Kelly who’s going to organise someone to display and look after my pieces! My beautiful new cotton gauze arrived on Tuesday afternoon from Charlotte Buch so I decided to felt some nuno wraps combining this with short fibre merino, ponge silk and sari silk from my stash. Killing two birds with one stone I also took pictures of the process, these pieces took a long time to lay out but were fulled in the dryer and that’s how I could felt more than one in a day. This processes is one I will be exploring in the new book with Chrissie and is wonderful for anyone who finds nuno felting either tiring or time consuming!!! Talking of time I must dash now, here’s a close up shot of the finished wraps, note how using the same fabrics but a different colour fibre results in complimentary but very different end results.

Turquoise and apple green merino combined with the same silk and cotton surface fabrics offer two different end results

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More nuno felt vest/stole pics and some answers to questions posed

I don’t have much time to write today so here are two more pice of my latest nuno felt vest/stole and the answers to a couple of questions I’ve been asked.

  • Yes, this vest is fulled in the dryer so NO rubbing or rolling!!! I will be including full instructions about how I do this in my section of the new book. Please note though, I don’t always use the dryer, just sometimes depending on what I’m felting, what my mood is at the time and what end result I’m aiming to achieve!
  • The muslin that I used was bought from Kiernan’s, my local habadashery. I think that it is a little finer weave than what you call muslin in U.S. or Turkey, definitely not as loose a weave as cheesecloth or gauze but rather more like a hybrid of the cheesecloth and your muslin. Hope this helps Carole, the nearest weight that I’ve seen over in U.S. reminds me of the beautiful new 50%silk/50% cotton fabric Sharon and Emma had at The Tin Thimble last spring, do you remember that???

Side view

Anyway, I’m sorry that the quality of the images isn’t great especially the back view. I snapped them while the wind was howling a gale and I couldn’t get the back shot to stay still at all but at least you’ll get an idea of the shape!!!

Back view