Felting, eco printing and upgrade at Clasheen (the final one!)

Rather later than planned, here’s the final post about the current upgrades at Clasheen and a little pictorial review of the last few weeks. As mentioned previously, I’ve been working on creating a library area in the room which links the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom making it a comfortable suite for friends to stay and workshop participants to relax and refresh. It’s also a lovely bright area for me to read in when I have a minute, at last I have more than enough shelving (combined with the shelves already downstairs) to store my reference books and thrillers. Here’s a picture of one small area as I started to add the books, the little cupboard Jonathan created is specifically sized to store my printer and paper.

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On the work and friend side of things April has ben a very, very busy month, what’s new!

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I’ve been felting and printing a lot as I work towards creating pieces for my solo show in August and the FORM photo shoot which took place yesterday. Here’s an example of eco printed silk combined with fine black merino, it won’t be one of the pieces I display but it is good to be back in the studio getting my hands soapy! I’d also like to say a big thank you to the new FORM designmade in Carlow lineup for electing me as their new chairperson.

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Wonderful textile artist and great new friend Kim Thittichai  visited Clasheen for a fun few days. Aren’t these beautiful flowers that she brought me so cheerful? I love them.

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I absolutely loved being a helper at the first Lyda Rump workshop organised by Maureen Cromer in Dublin on behalf of Feltmakers Ireland, such fun during the day and a delicious meal and company in the evening!!! Lyda is a wonderful felt maker and textile artist, we’ve spent time together now in Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Denmark again and now Ireland again, it was great to catch up, thanks Maureen and Terry for your hospitality too!

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After spending time with Kim and Lyda I finally managed to get some intensive sampling done in advance of my ten day residential felt and eco printing retreat this summer. One of the things we’ll be covering is the possibility of mordanting fabric using natural materials, as opposed to using more traditional metallic based powders. Here are two samples using the same printing materials but different pre treatments prior to bundling and printing. The piece on the left was mordanted with Symplocos and the one on the right with pomegranate, both bundles were boiled in the same pot at the same time, used the same big leaves, are exactly the same lambswool fabric and the results couldn’t be more different! Join me from 15th to 25th July to learn more!

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Thank you Klara and Irish Country Magazine for selecting one of my blackberry and rose printed silk cushions for your feature ‘Outside In’ this month, I’m delighted!

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Thanks also to Dorota for your impeccable sewing as usual, I love the sample apron you made me and I’m looking forward to printing it and seeing how it comes out. I’m also very happy with the latest batch of cushions, this one is blackberry on Symplocos mordanted lambswool.

Finally for today, here’s a lovely picture of great buddy Dawn Edwards who’s just arrived from Michigan on her third visit to Clasheen, it’s great to have her back!!!

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I’ve taken the plunge!

I’ve taken the plunge, nothing dramatic to many of you I’m sure but I’ve finally bought clasheen.com as a domain name. All my old blog traffic will just be redirected so no need for anyone who’s subscribed to updates to panic, as if you would! Deciding to do this was a stupidly big jump for me, my brain said of course it looks more professional but my heart said I’d grown so fond of http://www.clasheen.wordpress.com that I couldn’t bear to change things!!! Anyway, the drama is over now, I’m going to register too with Guaranteed Irish then subject to getting accepted with them I’ll then have all my new business cards, flyers and point of sale materials printed.

Apologies about the lack of communication this week, things just seem to be getting busier rather than quieter. A lot of what I’ve been up to has been one off sort of stuff, I attended an excellent workshop about merchandising, my truck had the DOE test today (to make sure it’s roadworthy for another year, yes is the answer) and I’m going to be pretty busy with Borris Food & Craft Market in the morning and a full bag making workshop at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday. I’ll take pictures of my stand tomorrow and upload them to Facebook, for the moment however here’s a picture of a small bag I felted many years ago. I’m thinking of reviving the design to teach at workshops.

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(Photography by Bernie McCoy)

Fabulous Felted Accessories workshop on 17th and 18th November

On Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November I’ll be facilitating an exciting ‘Fabulous Felted Accessories’ workshop at Berkeley Forest House, New Ross, Co. Wexford using Ann Bernstorff’s 19th century costume collection to spark the flame of inspiration. During this two-day workshop we will tour the collection then explore and experiment with a variety of wet felting techniques, the weekend goal will be for participants to felt a selection of buttons, belts, brooches, bracelets, necklaces, purses, closures or other small three-dimensional items. The techniques learned may all be translated later into larger three-dimensional felt or clothing projects and this workshop is suitable for both the beginner feltmaker and the more experienced. Found objects and treasured bits and bobs may all be incorporated into the felt so participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favourite stash items and we will work together to combine them with wool and create unique, funky, felt accessories. Here’s a picture of one of my first pieces of felt jewellery incorporating found objects, the spiky things are actually old bristles from a yard brush!

Felt beads, found object and sterling silver clasp, an early necklace

Felt beads, found object and sterling silver clasp – photographed by Bernie McCoy

The fee for the weekend is €200 per person (€500 for residential guests arriving on Friday night), this includes all tuition and felting materials, a tour of and access to the 19th century Costume Collection of Ann Bernstorff, tea/coffee during the class and a scrumptious lunch each day! Please contact Alexis for further details or to book a place on 056 7754975, 085 2207706 or email alexisbernstorff@gmail.com.

Upcoming MI and KY workshops plus a couple of pictures from the Gaelscoil

I love teaching!!! Although I would like to have time to felt samples to bring on my upcoming US trip currently I have to concentrate on finishing the wall hanging at the Gaelscoil, help my mother prepare for moving house this Friday and facilitate my ongoing four session felting course with the Goleir group in Carlow. Once the wall hanging is finished I can really knuckle down and get some more pieces felted to bring with me on my travels, in fact I find it hard to believe I’ll be heading off for the first leg of my journey on 7th May. Plainwell MI, Lexington KY and Loomis CA, you’ve been warned!!!!! More about my MI and KY workshops further down this post, to start with I’ll share some news and pics from last week and this morning.

The wall hanging is starting to shrink at last!

The wall hanging is starting to shrink at last!

Firstly, it’s been so rewarding to work with the pupils at the Gaelscoil, their faces were a picture last week as they all returned into the art room to have another felting session with me, this time everyone was really working hard to start the fulling process and get this large baby shrinking! No matter how clear their understanding of the process we are engaged in is, seeing the fully laid out and partially felted wall hanging for the first time was amazing for them. Faces lit up as they could identify their own prefelt pieces in the overall landscape, the younger junior and senior infants (4 to 6 year olds approx) did wonder where their pink, red and purple felt had disappeared to but were soon delighted to discover that they would be adding silk and shaping it into three dimensional flowers!

Beautifully decorated flowers ready to wet out and felt

Beautifully decorated flowers ready to wet out and felt

These will be stitched on to the bottom portion of the piece later this week, I really hope to be able to show you completed pictures before too long, tomorrow we start to roll in a widthways direction. I also want to check with the principal tomorrow to see if I can put some pictures of the children online, I have some great action shots of them all working together as a team.

Now on to my US trip, it’s a hard life for a busy Irish felter!!! I’ll be delivering my new workshop ‘Wrapped in Nature’ in Plainwell MI on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May and Lexington KY on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th May. I’ll follow this on with three individual days teaching at the Felt Fest in Loomis CA on Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June, it’s all SO EXCITING!!!!! In the middle of all this I’ll be facilitating a nuno felt workshop and a felt flower workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th May respectively, full details of all these events and links to book your place are over on the workshop page. I’m going to post the shortened version of the MI and KY workshop info here again for you to look over in case you haven’t already seen it, I hope to see you soon at one of these fabulous venues!!!

‘Wrapped in Nature’ – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape

During this two day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative piece of felt using the natural landscape as a starting point. Some participants may choose to felt a purely decorative art piece such as a large vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may take the opportunity to work on a nuno felt wrap, vest, complex bag or jewellery. Over the course of the two days there will be time to explore and discover techniques or materials that you may have never considered using in your felting before and we will also have the facilities to make some small experiments naturally printing/dyeing on silk and felt.

Wonderful Tin Thimble!

On Sunday I promised to update you on all my upcoming May workshops in the States, today I’ll start with the wonderful Tin Thimble in Loomis CA, next post I’ll be writing about my workshops with the marvellous Dawn Edwards in Plainwell MI and the final post of the week will be about Lexington KY where I’m staying once again with great friend Jan! You’ve probably guessed by now how much I’m looking forward to this trip by the number of superlatives and exclamation marks in recent posts, forgive me if they seem a bit excessive but I am so excited to be heading back to stay with Dawn, Jan, Emma, Sharon and Mark!!!

This is the first time that I’ve actually managed to time my visit to The Tin Thimble to coincide with their annual fibre extravaganza, as a result I’m delighted to be included in the line up for Felt Fest 2013. I’ll be facilitating three full days of workshops with individual topics each day, obviously participants attending for 2 or 3 days may expect to tackle larger and more challanging projects over the duration of the festival. Full details of all the workshops are on The Tin Thimble’s website, I hope to see you there!!!!!

Felt Fest 2013

Felt Fest 2013

Michigan and Kentucky workshop updates plus a beginners and improvers day at Duckett’s Grove next Saturday!

I’ve been so mentally tired after my exciting days at the Gaelscoil working with the pupils on our large felt wall hanging that I have to admit I’d totally forgotten to post full details about my upcoming MI and KY workshops here on the blog, stupid. In fact I thought that I’d already done so, even stupider!!! I’m so excited about my whole trip back to the US, I actually think that I get more and more excited each visit as I just LOVE spending time with such great friends, facilitating the workshops and meeting new fibre fanatics just adds to the excitement! The workshop page is now updated to include the full ‘Wrapped in Nature’ description for both the MI and KY workshops, links to my Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival classes (I need to alter a couple of details plus my bio via the organisers but the basics are correct!) and information about next weekends flat felting and bag making session at Duckett’s Grove. This coming week I promise to tie down the full details about my Loomis workshops at The Tin Thimble (watch out Emma and Sharon!) but in this post today I’m going to concentrate on both my regular MI and KY venues.

I’m thrilled to be returning to both Plainwell and Lexington and want to say thanks a million times to the fabulous Dawn Edwards and Jan Durham for being such good friends and wonderful hosts!!! I’m so looking forward to catching up with returning participants and meeting new felters in MI and KY, one of the biggest joys of these trips is the opportunity to meet and make friends with blog readers and Facebook buddies, it’s just amazing how the internet allows us connect in the first place. This will be the first time that I facilitate my new workshop ‘Wrapped in Nature – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape’. It’s hard for me to express how inspiring it is to live surrounded by the beauty of the rural Irish landscape, I only have to look outside my windows at Clasheen to find my fingers itching to create and when I travel overseas my senses just seem to go on full-time overload!!!

Inspiring views above Berea!

Inspiring views above Berea!

It’s actually been very difficult this year to confine myself to short workshop descriptions, I don’t want to miss a technique out that participants may want to try but on the other hand I don’t want the descriptions to be so vague that no one knows what I’m talking about either! I think that maybe the best thing to do is post the full workshop description here as well as on the workshop page and then I’m happy to answer any questions about individual projects if you’d like to send them my way via email.

‘Wrapped in Nature’ – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape

Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage
Age Level: Adult although younger students welcome by arrangement

Class Description: During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative piece of felt using the natural landscape as a starting point. Some participants may choose to felt a purely decorative art piece such as a large vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may take the opportunity to work on a nuno felt wrap, vest, complex bag or jewellery.

Over the course of the two days there will be time to explore and discover techniques or materials that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will share with participants how she has been experimenting with natural printing on silk, felt and occasionally prefelt over the last year. This simple dyeing/printing process uses a selection of readily acquired onion skins, leaves (especially eucalyptus), tea leaves and rusty metal, wonderful patterns and colours may be achieved on fabric. Nicola has also been experimenting with using open-topped resists for vessel making and some of her bags since participating in a masterclass with Dagmar Binder last summer. The finish is very smooth on the open edges and this method opens up the possibilities for creating different shapes much easily than with the more often used closed resist method. Another technique that may be relatively new to participants is the tumble dryer method of nuno felting. This technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and eliminates all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues! We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two.

Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art!

 NB: Participants who are not able to attend on both days may possibly book one day by prior arrangement although the projects they complete will not be as large or complex as those created over both days of the workshop.