January update

I’m writing this blog post on a flight to Dubai, my final destination is Canberra where I’m looking forward to joining Australian family to help celebrate my great aunt’s 90th birthday. So many events and preparations happened during January that it’s difficult to believe that 2016 has only Just started. I’m going to share a few of the highlights from the past month here in images, next month I’ll be back to reality!


Beautiful photography from Patrick McHugh………….

Felted raw fleece wrap and onion skin printed felt skirt

Onion skin printed silk organza scarf with cotton dots

Showcase Ireland 2016

Custom built wall displays for Showcase made to my spec by Jonathan Dickson

Borris Library

Debriefing in Borris Library with some of the ladies involved in our 2015 year of design project

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Felting, eco printing and notice of a competition!

I’ve been having a wonderful time at Clasheen these last few days, felting like crazy and then firing up the pot for my first eco printing session here since the beginning of April. It’s like a mini jungle outside at present, lucky then that many plants others consider ‘weeds’ give wonderful colour and interesting prints! Here’s a pictorial review of the dress I felted then printed with wild blackberry leaves (brambles), further down this post is an opportunity to win one of my eco printed wraps!

Using a Palm wash board to full the dress

Still wet but ready to print

I love the unbundling process!

V-neck to the front

Round neck to the back

And now for that competition, can you guess the vegetation I used for these prints???

Merino, silk, tencel and Firestar felted wrap

May be worn many ways

Shimmer from tencel and Firestar

Revealing the prints

Older leaves give more golden prints

To be in with a chance to win this piece please, please follow the instructions as written in this flyer, all comments to enter the draw need to be left on my Facebook business page but you don’t have to be a member to leave a comment. Good luck!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting fun with Robbin Firth!

Thanks a million Anita for inviting the wonderful Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks to Ireland, I had such fun today learning different ways in which Robin and Harry’s palm wash boards can help in the felting process. It’s always good to up-skill!
During the course of the day each participant felted two pieces, first a beautiful merino and silk cowl then a gorgeous raw lock scarf. I’m particularly happy with the cowl that I made and know I can apply the technique we used for more complex clothing projects in the future.
I made mine totally reversible and like the way it may be worn in many different ways with different colours of embellishment showing.
It’s always good to work with Roo Kline’s fab hand dyed fibres! I selected some lovely yellow silk and green throwster’s waste from Anita’s class supplies then added copious amounts of Roo’s Firestar, sari silk threads and bamboo fibre on top. The result is a shimmering lustrous surface as seen in the below close up shot, lovely!

The final fun thing of the day was catching up with good friends Mairead and Ruth in the class as well as meeting facebook friend Juliette for the first time. I also met Anita’s students Jane and Laura, how this felting lark unites us all!!!
Thanks Ruth for taking this photo of me and many thanks once more to Anita, Robbin and Kirsten for all your help and inspiration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston calling and felting and eco printing update from Clasheen

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be making a return trip to visit Houston this May! My lovely hostess Barbara and I will be visiting thrift and consignment stores then playing in her studio for a week or so, I'll also be facilitating an intensive one day eco printing workshop on protein fabrics. This will take place on Tuesday 12th May, please email Barbara if you would like to book a place and the workshop description is the same as that for Plainwell MI. You can view it here!

Eucalyptus leaves on felt, tencel embellishment

Those of you following my personal page on Facebook may have seen my recent woes regarding the stolen courier van and problems booking flights to the US, I've tried not to harp on about them too much on the business page for obvious reasons, no one loves a moaner!!! Anyway, as a result of the stolen courier van two of my Showcase trade orders went missing without a trace, the last couple of weeks have been spent trying to print replacement pieces as well as battle it out to try and get insurance compensation.

Oak leaves on lambswool, part of a replacement order

Now that the replacement stock is all finished I've finally time to start felting some vessels for Ross Fine Art Gallery and Craft Boutique in Ramelton, Co. Donegal. These all need to be felted, printed and ready to deliver before I head overseas, I'm hoping to have them completed before my house sitter arrives on 12th April then I can spend a day or so showing her the ropes here.

90% felted and ready for the printing pot

Got to fly, the studio is calling.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco printed nuno felt top

It's full steam ahead at Clasheen, felting and eco printing will be on the agenda from now until I head to the U.S. and I'm really trying to restrict answering emails and the bulk my internet time until after well after lunch each day if at all possible. I'm always freshest brain wise in the mornings, if I postpone starting a new project until too late in the day my head is so full of ideas I often find that I just can't actually get started, especially if it's felting.

rose and bramble printed nuno felt top

Yesterday morning I made a nuno felt top, it was actually the first time that I'd used Crepe de Chine 14 as the fabric (combined with merino, silk, bamboo and Firestar) and I like the finished texture very much. This is not a cheap fabric but I'd several ginormous silk scarves 138cm square and actually felt that they were so large it made them difficult to wear.

Large rose leaves give a very definite print

I printed it in the afternoon using rose and bramble leaves, now all it needs is a little stitching up the sides and it's finished.

 

 

Brief felt, eco print, website and Showcase Ireland update

I’ve not had much time to blog recently, please bear with me and don’t think that I’m not working quietly away at Clasheen! Here are the most recent updates in brief………..

Felting – finally, after a lot of hard work and frustrated sampling the large felt sculpture I’m currently working on is starting to take shape. It’ll be felted from merino and bamboo fibre, the bamboo adds wonderful sheen and texture to the surface of the felt.

Banana fibre gives an interesting sheen and texture to felt

Eco printing – I’ve had a lot of pots on the boil over the holiday season and since the new year. The contents have been mixed, a couple of small felt sculptural pieces, plenty of lovely super fine merino scarves and several batches of paper which I’m printing to incorporate into Showcase invitations.

Onion skins and black tea eco printed on paper

Patrick is working hard on the new website, I worked hard to write and collate a lot of the new information. The website should be live sometime next week, obviously I’ll post here as soon as it is but the blog will link to the new domain name anyway.
 
Showcase Ireland – A lot of my work is ready for Showcase but there’s also a lot more to do! I hadn’t fully appreciated how a lot of European companies closed down from before Christmas right through until after the new year. As a result I won’t have any of my new promotional material (with the new website details and new email address) for another few days, cushion liners are somewhere with the courier, silk is on its way, many things are in transit. I’m really excited that Philip Cushen of Cushendale Woollen Mill is weaving a run of lambswool for me this week too, I’ll print it at the weekend and Dorothy will stitch it into cushions at the beginning of next week.

One of the five varieties of eucalyptus planted at Clasheen

To round things off today I’ll leave you with a picture of eucalyptus leaves against a blue winter sky. This eucalyptus is one of five different varieties I have planted in a grove to the back of the house and I’m interested in the way the leaves have started to change colour, you can clearly see ribs and veins. The three trees of this variety have slso started to get tall so I’m thinking now I’ll have to curtail their growth sooner rather than later, if I don’t I’ll never be able to reach the leaves when I need them for printing!
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Preparations underway for FeltUnited @ Clasheen!

The base is sorted and I'm putting aside wool and various embellishments to adorn our collaborative wall hanging next Saturday for FeltUnited Day 2014! We'll be laying out our design on what remains of a large roll of rug base I bought from Mehmet Girgiç quite a number of years ago. Mehmet is a marvellous felter and teacher, do visit him and Teresa May O'Brien in Turkey for a workshop if ever you get the opportunity, alternatively take or organise a class with him in your own studio. Here's a close up of the first rug I ever made using this base, felted with Mehmet at Wollknoll in Germany and still one of my favourite pieces!

Thanks a million to those of you who've confirmed you'll be here at Clasheen (George, Ruth, Anita, Karen and Samantha), if you've indicated via Smore or FB that you're coming but NOT emailed or spoken to me personally please just do so sometime this week. The reason that I'm asking you to drop me a quick line is that SO many friends worldwide have said they're coming and obviously won't all be able to make it, I'd like to have a guideline of numbers so that I can make sure I've enough drinks and food organised!!! The plan was to have a pot luck supper after the wall hanging was finished but maybe it'll work out best if we start the food from mid afternoon onwards, we'll play it by ear.
Finally for today, please don't forget that you are encouraged to bring along any stash items you'd like to swap, sell or give away, this will all add to the fun atmosphere on the day! For example, I'm going to have items like plenty of excess bubble wrap and laminate floor underlay to give away (cut pieces perfect for smaller projects and brilliant if you teach) and black velvet necklace stands, large plastic rolling mats, hanging storage, packs of 10 Jiffy bags, large wire baskets, pool noodles and tonnes more items to sell at knock down prices. Alan always says that I buy storage solutions to store my storage solutions, he may be correct unfortunately!!!

 

FeltUnited @ Clasheen invitation and pictures of new felt wraps

I'd like to extend an invitation to everyone within striking distance of Clasheen, please come along on the afternoon of Saturday 4th October and help celebrate FeltUnited Day 2014 in style. My plan is for us to felt a collaborative wall hanging, swap tips and stories, show and tell, enjoy a pot luck supper and for those that want, it's an open opportunity to set up a selling or swapping table and stash bust!!! Check out the invitation flyer for more details https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/0xzhg and don't forget that total beginners are very welcome to attend too, the only prerequisite is a love of felt and fibre plus I would appreciate if people stick to the time plan and RSVP prior to the day!

 

Stag's horn sumac

On the felting side of things I'm busy preparing new work to bring to my first seasonal event of the festive season, the annual Glucksman Craft and Design Fair which is taking place in Cork from 7th to 9th November inclusive.

Side A - eucalyptus bark

In the mornings I'm trying to felt two wraps and then either printing them in the afternoon or tryng to keep things progressing in advance of Creative Island (@Showcase in January), there's a lot of work to do!

Side B - eucalyptus bark and leaves

This week I was particularly happy with the two wraps pictured in this post, both were printed at the same time in the same pot. It's always fascinating to see how incredibly different the end results may be, differing vegetation (and sometimes pre-treatment) makes such a big contribution to the end result.

 

 

 

 

 

Vessel turned bag!

Some of you may remember I had tried and failed to shape a large felt vessel to compliment three smaller ones made for the inaugural FORM exhibition in June. The depth of the vessel coupled with the thickness of the wool (many fine layers in the layout) and lack of time did not agree with my current tennis elbow, finally I put it aside and decided to revisit it later.

Later arrived the other day, pretty quickly actually as it turned out! Merridee, Keith and I gathered some windfallen eucalyptus leaves from an unidentified tree while out walking, I flattened the vessel as best as I could, soaked it I vinegar then bundled it and boiled for several hours in a eucalyptus and onion skin dye bath.

Interesting prints where an insect has eaten into the. Edge of the eucalyptus leaf! Felting and printing by Nicola Brown - Clasheen

I'm thrilled with the printing result although I still couldn't reshape it quite the way I'd like to, never mind, this one's a keeper and after the Kilkenny Arts Festival is over I'll add a leather shoulder strap!

Felt bag by Nicola Brown

Large felt bag naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves by Nicola Brown

 

 

Having fun felting, printing, visiting exhibitions and catching up with Merridee and Keith!

I'm having such a fun time with great US friends and visitors Merridee and Keith, having great weather hasn't been bad either! We started our time together with a lovely party to celebrate Cathy and Martin's 10th wedding anniversary then have spent time visiting the exhibitions in Kilkenny with Alan, at the FORM pop up shop, walking at the Raven and Curracloe beach, eating in Step House, visiting Thomastown to see some wonderful exhibitions (especially at Grennan Mill and Marty in Framewell, congratulations everyone), having a fab chilli and cardamom hot chocolate from the Truffle Fairy, dropping in to Cushendale Woollen Mill, experimenting with new felting and printing materials at Casheen plus spending creative time with Carmen. Tomorrow morning Keith and I will be live on the Sue Nunn show after the 11 o'clock news, after that we'll all head to visit Elizabeth, Geoffrey and all at Shankill Castle before having a last night dinner with Carmen and Leiko. Here's a short round up of the week to date in pictures, the felting pics are last in a case any of you want to skip to the end!