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

Printing workshop update, post party news and the innocent big knit

There’s still so much information to share about what I was working on at both the second day of the Kirsten Lundberg printing workshop during Felt in Focus and at the book launch party with Chrissie last weekend but I’ve finally realised I am never going to have enough time to write everything down here on the blog!!!  It’s difficult to be brief but if I’m not I am never going to be able to update you all with the most important info and in turn I’m never going to be able to actually have my planned ‘staycation’, more about that next post!  So, here is a synopsis of the techniques I sampled during day 2 of Kirsten’s amazing workshop …..

  • The use of different binders on silk and cotton with the intention of creating a resist through which fibres would not migrate when working on nuno felt.  These binders could be white, transparent or opalescent and all could have pigments added to change the colour.  They could be applied in a variety of ways such as rollers, screen printing or painted directly on the fabric.
  • The use of a ‘glue’ to add text and images from magazines.
  • The use of a ‘glue’ to add metallic foil.
  • We discussed rust dying and had a look at various samples.

My main focus over the course of the 2 days was to print two similar but slightly different pieces of fabric basing my design on the dry stone walls surrounding me here at Clasheen.  I will be blogging about this further because in a couple of weeks I am going to be combining these with a variety of different coloured wool to see how best to replicate the texture and effect of the walls as I imagine them in my head, I’ll keep you posted.  Now, on to the party.  A big thanks to …..

  • Everybody who attended and helped make the day so special for Chrissie and me and added to the wonderful Irish style party atmosphere!
  • All who so generously brought gifts of salad, flowers, wine, soft drinks, yummy deserts and all thoses yummy extras that went to make the buffet table so tasty, you know who you are!!!
  • Nigel and Alan who carted tables, road signs and all the hardware kind of stuff around both before and after the party.
  • Those essentialtal washer upers including Elizabeth Cope, Suzanne, Shaz and Nigel.
  • Chrissie and Nigel for being such fun, isn’t the power of the internet amazing???
  • Good friend Martin Lyttle who introduced me and Chrissie for us to officially launch the book.
  • All those of you who bought the book and those of you who now have to order online because we sold out, thanks!

Chrissie and me revealing the front and the rear of our ewe!

After we both spoke a few words Chrissie presented me with the choice of two identically wrapped parcels, here is a picture of us as we revealed what each one contained, my parcel contained the front end of a sheep and Chrissie’s the rear!!!  Thanks Chrissie for such a well thought out gift, each picture means something by itself but together they make a whole.

As a result of hearing our story about meeting through the internet Sue Nunn kindly invited us both to join her for a slot on ‘The Sue Nunn Show’ before Chrissie and Nigel travelled home on Monday morning.  Thanks Sue for the invitation and allowing us the opportunity to chat and speak about our love of felting, we had a great time!!!  During the course of the programme we discovered that Sue and KCLR are participating in ‘the innocent big knit’, a movement to help keep older people warm in Ireland this winter.  We know that felting isn’t knitting but since crochet hats are accepted too Chrissie and I thought we would put the word out there that we are both felting hats to give to Sue, would anyone like to join us in supporting this worthwhile cause???  If you do decide to help out we need the hats to be with Sue before the end of the first week in October.  I am going to suggest that anyone who wishes to participate felt your hat/hats, post them to me (Nicola Brown, Clasheen, Ballybrack, Borris, Co. Carlow, IRELAND) to arrive no later than the last week in September, I will blog about them and take photos then deliver them in person to Sue before the final date.  Do please let me know if you are participating then I can keep an eye open in my post box!!!  Thanks!

Flying post ….. Chrissie and Nigel’s visit, book launch and a few more ramblings

This is just a really short post to say how much Alan and I enjoyed our time with Chrissie and Nigel Day, the time seems to have flown by!  I can’t believe that it is Monday afternoon now, where did the last 4 days go???  Tomorrow afternoon or sometime on Wednesday I will get a quiet hour or so to have a ramble about the book launch, the radio interview we recorded this morning (with Sue Nunn on KCLRfm), our plans for the next book (nuno felting!) and wrap up my posting about Kirsten Lundbergh’s wonderful printing workshop at Felt in Focus.  Until then I’m off to try and find my phone charger and USB lead so that I can upload some pics for you of the last few days!

Summer buffet and book launch invitation!

To officially launch our recently published book ‘From Felt to Friendship’ and celebrate meeting for the first time, UK author Chrissie Day and I would like to invite you to a summer buffet at Clasheen this Saturday 20th August!!!  Food and drink will be available from 1 o’clock until 3pm, the book launch will take place at approx 4 pm.

Please feel free to bring a friend, it would be great if you could RSVP however if you are definitely coming so I have an idea of numbers for the food!

DIRECTIONS – At Kyle Cross take the Ballybrack road for approx 1/4 to 1/2 mile, Clasheen is down the first small farmers lane on the right hand side.  As a marker Ballybrack House is on the left just before the turn for Clasheen, my house is the old farmhouse on the left 1/4 mile down the lane, hope to see you there!!!

 

Exhibition wrap up, preparation for Chrissie and Nigel’s arrival and please vote for Dawn!

Yesterday evening our 10 days exhibiting at Grennan Mill Craft School was over.  I had such fun over the last two weeks, spending time with Alex (director of the craft school), the other artists and everybody helping them set up and invigilate the show, I think we all had a ball!  Welcoming visitors to the ground floor space Clive Nunn had a wonderful exhibition exploring his journey through Irish furniture over the last 30 years.  It was fascinating to read his story boards and see examples of venacular furniture side by side with the stylish modern designs that he now makes to commission from his studio a stones throw down the road from Grennan.

Detail from my favourite of Trini's batics

Moving up the stairs to the mezzanine gallery, Trini Kenny’s amazing batics drew gasps of admiration from all our visitors and many people were tempted to put their hands in their pockets and bring one of these beautiful framed pieces home with them.  My work was on this level too in the first floor gallery and two flights of stairs higher saw wonderful leather work from Brendan Brennan and an amazing photography exhibition from Kirsty O’Keeffe.  Finally up a further two flights of stairs to the top floor gallery where Maire Gartland had a fabulous exhibition of paintings and beautiful hand made books.  This is the largest gallery in the mill and Maire’s work really showed off the space to the best advantage.  The public appreciated her work too and it was great to see people not afraid to invest in a bigger piece of art, some of the canvases were huge!

Turquoise, white and hot orange felt vessel

I was very happy to sell 4 of my vessels and 4 framed seascapes.  It was good too to get a comission for another framed piece and potentially 2 more comissions for small vessels, fingers crossed they both pan out.  Many visitors are interested in felting workshops so all in all it was a very successful experience for me sharing my work and meeting other like minded individuals!

Today I have been battling in my kitchen and other areas of the house in preparation for Chrissie and Nigel Day’s arrival on Thursday.  Most of you probably know by now that the wonderful Dawn Edwards and I both attended the same university of housework, unfortunately I was a dropout so there really is a LOT of work to get done before Chrissie and I have our launch party for ‘From Felt to Friendship’ next Saturday!!!  Speaking of Dawn, please, please, please head on over HERE, check out her amazing hat and vote for her if you would like to see a fellow felter win the design opportunity of a lifetime.  She needs 100s of you to click that vote button so don’t be shy, the leader at the moment has over 1000 votes so let’s see if the power of our textile network can really push Dawn up that list fast, there are only 2 days left!!!

Musings from the exhibition to date and new nuno felt wrap today

It’s been very interesting and revealing invigilating at Grennan Mill Craft School, each of the 6 artists needs to either man the show for 3 full days or 6 half ones, I have chosen to do 3 full days.  If I wanted I could nominate someone else to do my stints but for me a lot of the pleasure at this stage of the process is to meet the public and see how people engage with all the work on display.  It has become increasingly obvious as the days go by that people either love the felt or hate it (maybe hate is too strong a word!), there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground at all.  I love watching everyone’s expressions when they first enter my space, many people are totally surprised when they discover the vessels and sculptures are wool, they know that they appear tactile but they often think that they are ceramic none the less!

Stitched seascape

It has also been interesting to discover that even if people do like these non functional pieces they may not have a place in their homes to display them.  After I sold my only stitched seascape on the first day several people said that they were interested in hanging this type of work in their home, in fact I actually got a commission for a framed piece during the course of the opening evening.  As a result of this I decided to spend Monday and Tuesday working and finishing some more wall pieces, I framed them yesterday morning at Grennan and two of the four sold during the day, actions speak louder than words sometimes!

Today I spent a lovely time at Carmen’s with her and an Argentinian fibre friend Patricia, we started with a big breakfast, felted all morning, had a delicious stew for lunch and then stuffed ourselves on pancakes before more fibre related fun in the afternoon!!!  Getting totally away from vessels and seascapes for the day I planned and felted a large wrap using some of the beautiful silk my Auburn friend Merridee dyed for me at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA recently.  This was an experiment using the tumble dryer method, a technique I want to work on further before offering it as an option for workshops but this might be a good time to say that it entails NO rubbing or rolling making it perfect for larger projects and anyone who might find the methodology of traditional nuno a little time-consuming or dare I say it even boring!  I would like to stress though that I don’t find rubbing and rolling boring, relaxing and therapeutic would be my personal take on this process but I suppose it’s horses for courses isn’t it and who doesn’t want to make a larger piece but with a lot of the effort removed and in a fraction of the time???  I’m not going to blog further about this method until I have fine tuned my timing but I will definitely include a couple of projects in the next book Chrissie and I are publishing (nuno clothing, out before Christmas!), for now here is a picture of todays finished wrap.

Nuno felt wrap

Addled …..

At this stage I am totally addled and don’t know whether I am coming or going as regards the finishing of my work for Kilkenny Arts Festival.  Thanks to Carmen, Jean and Cristina who all have kept me sane over the last couple of days and Dawn and Chrissie who have put up with some depressed and frustrated emails, you guys are the best!!!  Constructive and objective advice from good friends is just what I needed, now I am felting one last piece today then tomorrow I head over to my buddy Eileen‘s house first thing in the morning.  Eileen really stepped up to the plate today when I discovered that the plinths I had been going to use are not actually available after all, big panic that is thankfully all sorted out now, thanks Eileen!

On another note I was blown away by all the birthday wishes I recieved on Saturday, amazing the power of the internet!!!  It just goes to show that we really can make true friends online and once the fuss of getting my show set up in Grennan dies down I am really looking forward to spending a week or so tidying up around the house and doing some weeding (not sure how effective that will be, it’s like a jungle outside with all this rain we are getting!) in advance of Chrissie’s trip here later in the month.  Imagine this will be the first time EVER that Chrissie and I will actually meet in the flesh!!!  We are planning a party to celebrate the launch of our book, please keep Saturday 20th August free in your diary if you would like to visit Clasheen and  have a chance to meet Chrissie yourself!

a meeting of minds…
By Chrissie Day and N…

Wrap up from Lisa Klakulak’s felt jewellery workshop and book review in Living Crafts Magazine

Another few days have gone by since I promised to post more pictures of the pieces I worked on at Lisa’s felt jewellery workshop, time just seems to be running as fast as ever so sorry if any of you have been waiting.  I had debated a variety of large neckpiece options but finally decided on an oversized ‘pendant’ to be worn either on a thick felt torc or with a scarf wrapped through the bail, a new word I learnt and you can check out the meaning here if you don’t already know it too!

Oversized torc and neckpiece

Because my first piece didn’t have the shrinkage I was hoping for or expecting I did have to revise my ideas for the pendant, I still made it oversized but that’s OK, I like my pieces to make a statement!!!  Unfortunately I didn’t ask anyone to take any pictures of me wearing it with my own camera but to get an idea of the scope of the project there is an image of me and my friend Birgit Kiems taken on the night of the gala dinner at Felt in Focus on Facebook, you can have a look at Birgit’s pictures here.  Be prepared, it’s not the most flattering image of me, eyes half closed and tummy sticking out!  Iam also in the process of uploading more images to Flickr, these show a little more detail of various parts of the free machine stitching, now that I am home I will also take some pictures of the torc minus the pendant.

Thanks to Pardis and all at Living Crafts Magazine for giving Chrissie and I the thumbs up for our new book ‘From Felt to Friendship’ in the summer 2011 issue!  Here is what they said ….. “This gem of a felting book is for those who are beyond the beginner stage and are looking for inspiration for more adventurous projects.  It is written as a guide to encourage the more experienced felter to experiment and ‘play’ more freely.  It is rich with many beautiful projects and diverse techniques.”  THANK YOU!!!

The next time I post here I am going to talk a little about the fascinating time I had participating in Kirsten Lundbergh’s printing workshop, the possibilities are now endless with creating my own designs on fabric especially when you combine these new methods (new to me!) with the dying skills I learnt from Horst

Nuno felting today!

I’ve been to the library, discovered I’ve won some gorgeous hand spun from my buddy Heather, run a wash, stocked up on brown soda bread and milk as well as 100 dressmakers pins this morning (more in a minute) and now I’m ready for a FULL DAY felting and possibly dying too, woo hoo!  I still need to catch up on emails, paperwork and many more other household tasks left over from the manic last weeks but for today that is it, no more procrastinating but rather creating and playing with fibre!!!

Nuno texture and merging colours

On Friday I shared with Gerda an experiment in nuno felting using a technique I hope to offer in workshops this Autumn.  Basically it involves using a tumble dryer for some of the steps therefore meaning that anyone with physical limitations or a tendency to get tired rubbing and rolling will have this stage of the process either eliminated altogether or cut down to no more than ten minutes in total!  Chrissie and I will be publishing a new book prior to Christmas (click here to check out a preview of our first book From Felt to Friendship if you are interested in what we have been up to so far) and this time concentrate on simple ideas for designing and felting your own clothing with a view to flattering your personal shape, not that ‘perfect’ shape we all aspire to but most of us never achieve!!!

Anyway, back to Friday and the nuno top I made.  Working in white ponge silk and undyed 26 micron I laid out a front and back side of my top basing the design on a scaled up version of a favourite wardrobe staple.  By using only white raw materials for the main layout area I was able to lay out the fibres really quickly, get on to the felting, piece my top together (thanks Gerda, you kept me sane, bought more much needed pins this morning!) and then have great fun dying using Horst’s wonderfully simple method of achieving graduating colours with no stress at all.  Having the correct equipment now for my studio and working with Horst again over the course of our large felt garment workshop as well as observing friends Jan Durham, Dawn Edwards and Sharon Costello from The Tin Thimble in action during my US trip has given me the confidence to set up my dying station in the kitchen and just ‘get on with it’ myself.

My plan for the next few days is to felt and dye at least two pieces to be used for the fashion show at Felt in Focus next week, I leave for Copenhagen on Friday so I’m off now to get started!!!  Thanks Cristina for house sitting while I will be away, Rex will be thrilled.

So much felting news to share, so little time …..

I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha)  to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!!  Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow.  Here goes ……..

      • THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant!  Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards.  If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
      • Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
      • Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog.  Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience.  In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!!  There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.

        Horst's latest line of felt purses!