Presentation, exhibition, felt corsage

Saturday was a fun day even if I was on the road from 5am until 11pm!  The closure for ‘Craft in the Classroom’ was very interesting, it was great to hear from other artist/makers and the teachers that they worked with as well as getting the opportunity to view a small selection of the work that they had made with their pupils.  All of it was good but some of it was AMAZING!!  Polly Minnet (director of the project from the Crafts Council) actually said that one collaboration achieved work of post grad standard and indeed it was absolutely mind blowing to see what these particular pupils had created and realise that they were only 7 to 9 years old.  For this particular work they had explored the idea of mapping and combined this with local historical buildings.  The pupils had each been given a grid on an ordenance survey map (they painted these on a wooden background) and then they made either an historic building or a local landmark to position on their square.   These buildings and landmarks were made to scale in pottery and I still find it hard to believe how accurate and detailed they looked and how the total piece all came together like a jigsaw when the various squares were assembled for display.  Other pupils made a life sized willow and paper boat and still others worked in wire and fibre to create colourful fish which now have pride of place hanging over their heads from a large fishing net in their games hall.  Overall there were almost 20 schools represented on Saturday and I was thrilled that some of my pupils and parents arrived early in the afternoon and were able to accept their certificate in person and it was interesting to note how QUIET they seemed out of the normal setting of their school environment!!  Photographer Bernie McCoy was there to document the day and the Crafts Council are hoping to assemble the pictures into large posters which may go on to tour Ireland, this is a nice idea as it might not be practical to tour all the work but it would be lovely to have a permanent reminder of how the project evolved.  The ‘Leitrim Design House’ will also be curating an exhibition in late September/early October of selected works so all in all the  project will live on for another while at least.  Thanks to Alan who travelled down from his parent’s house to attend with me.  I had to rush home as soon as proceedings were over to try and catch the end of the Blueprint opening in Carlow so we didn’t get a chance for a meal or anything but hopefully he will be back in Clasheen towards the end of the week and we will have a lot more time to do things together now he is not in the Council.

By the time I arrived in Carlow on Saturday night the opening was actually starting to wind down!  Aparantly there had been a good crowd (over 100) and everyone who had lingered on was in good spirits so I just got my instructions for invigilation on Sunday and after a quick half glass of wine headed off home. 

Blueprint Exhibition

Blueprint Exhibition

My stint minding the space was from 11.30am until 5pm on Sunday and I must say that although I got pretty cold due to the cement floor and high ceilings the time passed very quickly indeed. There are 10 participating artists and interestingly enough although the works were not curated (there was a definite guideline of art not functional craft) everything seems to pull together well and I think that the space lent itself to an exhibition of this type. It was interesting to talk with some of the people who dropped by over the course of the day and I had a long chat with Paul from the Carysfort Gallery who was taking a day off in Carlow but couldn’t resist spotting for talent at the various fringe exhibitions around the town.  Apologies for the quality of the image, I just wanted you to get a bit of an idea of how the show looks and feels, possibly I may get back during the week and get another opportunity to take pictures but realisticaly with my tight time schedual at the moment that seems unlikely!!

Wool and silk corsage
Wool and silk corsage

As promised here is an image of one of the simple felt corsages that I made the other day at Carmen’s.  Without giving a total blow by blow account of the process I laid out a thin circle of merino fibres and added a piece of silk chiffon to the centre, felted the bundle until it was holding together and then cut out a wedge shaped piece a bit like cutting a slice from a cake or a pizza!  I also snipped a few holes in the felt and then continued to felt and stretch the holes to create a nice shape.  When I was happy with the shrinkage achieved I manipulated the felt into a spiral and left it to dry in this shape.   I love the finished result and now have to decide will I get out the dreaded needle to add a few seed beads or leave well alone, decisions, decisions, decisions!


Felt vessels, simple but stylish corsage, Eigse and Blueprint exhibition

Wow, I had hoped that things would calm down a bit this week but what with getting election posters down, making work for Blueprint and preparing for my ‘Craft in the Classroom’ presentation on Saturday it has been action on all fronts.  I actually decamped to Carmen’s studio on Tuesday and Wednesday rather than working here at home and this turned out to be a pretty good decision.  Because I limited myself  primarily to bringing undyed fibres with me I was able to concentrate on the vessels that I wanted to make and there were no outside distractions calling claim on my time.  Carmen cooked some wonderful food both days so really all I had to do was enjoy the creative process and get stuck into my felting.  Things worked out really well and by Wednesday afternoon I had finished 5 vessels before attempting a simple felt corsage as described in Lizzie Houghton’s new book ‘Felting Fashion’.  These were a joy to make and would make a gorgeous present for a favourite friend!  Unfortunately my camera’s battery ran out this evening just as I was in the middle of setting up the photo shoot but check out my next blog post for images of the flowers and written instructions on how you too can make them.

My main task today was going with Martin and setting up our work for Blueprint, a joint exhibition that we are participating in as part of the fringe section at Eigse, Carlow town’s large annual art festival.  If you are interested in seeing the show the address is Unit 2, Castle Gate, Kennedy St. Carlow and we will be open from 13.00 – 19.00 every day from June 13th – June 21st and longer at the weekends.  Although we didn’t need to have our work in place until tomorrow evening I wanted to be sure and get organised today as tomorrow I will be preparing my presentation for Saturday and need all the time I can get to get it finished!  It was really a case of being in the right place at the right time since good friend Eileen MacDonagh was just finalising the lay out of her major show in St. Patrick’s College and had a long thin plinth going begging which was absolutely perfect for my vessels!  If you can visit Eigse at all I urge you to do so, you MUST visit the college to see Eileen’s work.  She has many pieces of her beautiful Icosahedrons Series on display and other abstract geometric sculpture which has just arrived back in Ireland from her recent show in Paris.  Not since Sophie Ryder’s show several years ago has work so perfectly filled the exhibition space, both inside and outside.  Anyway, that tip is my tip of the year, I promise you will not be disapointed if you make the effort to attend!

One more day to go!

Only one more day of canvassing and then the electorate vote in the local elections from 7am – 10pm tomorrow. Felting has really taken a back seat over the last couple of weeks but as soon as the weekend and the count are over I will be fully up to speed again, hurrah!! My biggest concern then will be preparing work for 2 upcoming exhibitions (one to be hung next Thursday!) and sorting out my wrap up presentation about my Craft in the Classroom project which takes place on Saturday 13th June. Although I ususally work pretty well to a deadline I definitely will need to prioritise over the next week and don’t want to feel rushed when creating the work for either show. My plan is to create some small and medium sized felt pods which I will suspend in a cluster and I also need to make a large rug/wall hanging expanding the concept of ridges and bumps as with the swirling water sample piece. Off now to get on the campaign trail again, I look forward to properly continuing with this blog next week!!

Back in the felting saddle at last!

Horrah!  At last I had an uninterupted day’s  felting with Carmen and it was really great to get back in the saddle at last!!  I seem to have been on the road almost constantly over the last 5 or 6 weeks and now I need to get a couple of proposals together before the middle of next week, do the deadlines never finish?  Carmen was working on some punched felt necklaces and once I had made handles for a gorgeous silk and merino tote (destined for an American swap partner) I was able to try out the beautiful merino from Treetop Colour Harmonies that I got as a gift from friends and members of Feltmakers Ireland.  Thanks again Sheila, Holly, Elizabeth and Maureen for my fantastic pressie, I made a beautiful cobweb scarf and tried out an experimental piece in ‘blimey limey’, one of my new all time favourite colours!  Carmen had prepared some amazing sushi and we gorged ourselves at lunchtime before heading back to her new studio to continue felting for the afternoon.

Sparkly felt corsage

Sparkly felt corsage

This evening I have uploaded a few finished items to my Etsy shop including this unusual coloured corsage and over the next few weeks my goal is to have at least 50 items uploaded to the store.  What I would really like to do is offer a selection of interesting and funky gift ideas with a large percentage of items costing under $20 (approx 15 Euro).  I have also started posting about my last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions on the Drumlea blog so check it out if you are interested in seeing how the wall hanging actually progressed.  The pupils love getting comments especially from far away places so if any of you feel the urge please leave them a message, it means a lot to them!

Craft in the Classroom project almost over

Our wall hanging after the first rolling We had an excellent two sessions to wind up my contact hours at Drumlea for  the Craft in the Classroom project.  The first of the images are up on Flickr and over the next few days I will blog about things properly and get some more images online.  Just as a taster here is a picture of our wall hanging after 3 hours of stamping, kicking and rolling in the large plastic mat but priorto going through the washing machine and more hand rolling by me!  At this stage it had not shrunk much but all the fibres were holding together well and it was ready for some more ‘serious’ fulling!!

Busy preparing for last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions

This morning I have had to cancel my proposed training with Failte Ireland in order to concentrate on preparing for my last sessions in the ‘Craft in the Classroom’ project and to finish designing the race card for our Green Party fundraiser this Thursday night.  Because I was so shattered the last time that I drove up to Drumlea early in the morning I have decided to travel up at my leisure this afternoon, spend some time with friends (thanks a million Nigel and Jackie for giving me a bed!) and be bright and bushy tailed tomorrow morning ready for our big session rolling the wall hanging.  My plan is to arrive a couple of hours before I am due to start working with the pupils, wet out the hanging myself and give it a good working over with my sander BEFORE letting the pupils loose rolling, felting and fulling.  The problem is that I always use an electric sander (carefully) not a cordless but obviously would not be able to let the kids use it as it could be constituted as an electrical hazard.  Knowing how much a design can shift if not worked carefully I really want to make sure that the text is fully secure before the pupils start to stamp and kick the rolled up package.  I also need to find some thin but strong cotton cord today that I can use to tie up the large plastic mat that we will be enclosing the wall hanging in, hopefully I can pick some up in a hardware along the way as I travel to Carrick-on-Shannon this afternoon.  I am off now to start packing the truck and hope I will have some great images on Wednesday to post here showing some of the completed projects from our last two sessions including the finished wall hanging.

Nuno felt, workshops, Drumlea …..

Still think that I have a touch of a virus but thankfully I was a bit livelier today so got the Drumlea blog updated and made two pieces of nuno felt.  The first was a kind of experiment in silk chiffon and merino worked in a strong yellow silk and a sparkly yellowish wool.  It is interesting enough but not really as nice as I thought it would be especially since the sparkly merino has gorgeous glittery fibres carded into the tops!  My second piece was a much bigger success although I still need to decide on it’s final conception.  For this piece I used a base of a silk jewel in shades of deep purple and shocking pink!  I order my silk jewels from Susan at Essential Textile Art and have never been disappointed with anything that she has sent me to date.  I laid out my wool a bit thicker that usual as I wanted to create a stiffer than normal fabric and might try to create a lamp shade from it or use it as a base for a wall hanging.  The colours worked beautifully, deep purples and pinks so now it is lying out to dry just waiting for a little bit of inspiration!

This week I will be attending a two day workshop with Annette Quentin Stoll and I am really looking forward to learning some new techniques.  I also had a LONG chat with Sigrid Bannier at the weekend and am delighted to say that she will definitely be over here with me this August and we have a great line up of workshops planned!  Details will follow early next week but definitely we have some interesting things planned.

Still recovering from frenetic felting sessions!

Design laid out and ready to fill in on our wall hanging

Design laid out and ready to fill in on our wall hanging

Gosh, we had some action packed sessions in Drumlea this week!  I am still recovering and expect it is going to take a couple more days before I fully recharge!!  Our game plan had been to divide the pupils up into 3 different groups, one to start work on the collaborative wall hanging, the second to make vessels and the third to work on felt balls.  The idea behind this was that I would never cope with all 26 pupils working on their first 3-d project at the same time and obviously we needed to get working on the wall hanging or else we would never get it finished!  Well the vessels went very well, so did the balls but we nearly had a mutiny about the subject matter for the wall hanging.  At the beginning of the session we had taken the top 5 suggestions from everybody, I wrote them down on a sheet of paper and then every pupil voted for their favourite 3 items.  Problems, problems, problems.  I had already explained that in order for the design to stand out when felted in the landscape format that the pupils preferred (taking account of how much the base we were using would shrink) I only wanted to incorporate the top 4 items from the wish list.  In order of preference these were the name Drumlea, the school crest, a football and in joint fourth place either a sun or a rainbow.  Discussion ensued about how we would make our descision and it was agreed by the pupils that everyone’s name would go into a hat, one name would be drawn out and that this pupil could choose the final item to be depicted on the wall hanging.  The name was drawn, the pupil was choosen and he in turn choose the rainbow (or was it the sun), mayhem ensued!  The pupils who were actually meant to start laying out the design didn’t want the rainbow (or sun) and pretty much stuck in their heels.  Eventually after a lot of discussion I showed them how we could incorporate both items if we changed the layout of the hanging from landscape to portrait, agreement at last!  The school crest morphed into a leafless tree, the rainbow is huge and the whole thing looks great now that the colours have been filled in.  Clare should be emailing me some pictures of the next stage and I will post them here as soon as they arrive.  Next time I go to Drumlea we are going to add a date to the piece, wet it out and then roll for several hours wrapping it tightly in the large plastic woven mat that I got from Mehmet.  Happy hours!

Over the weekend I will write a little bit about our 3-d work and post images of some of the super vessels the pupils created, check out my Flickr account if you simply can’t wait!