Apologies for the lack of posting over the last few weeks. Those of you who follow my activities via FB will know that I've pretty much been out of Internet coverage from the time the workshops ended in the north until Alan and I returned from our holidays in west Cork on Sunday night. Now I'm preparing for good friends Merridee and Keith to arrive for a visit on Friday so I think it's best if I update you here via pictures! I'll begin with an invitation to our FORM event during Kilkenny Arts Festival followed by a few from our hols (some of the to me we vacationed on an island and spent two nights in a tipi and two in a yurt!), the final image is the felt bracelet that I finished this morning, a VERY belated birthday present for my sister.
Regular blog readers may remember that I spent a few happy days last year staying with good friend Liz Nicholls and facilitating a workshop with Feltmakers North. Over the course of two days participants laid out and felted either large bags with integrated handles and flaps or smaller but no less time consuming iPad or laptop covers, the pictures below give an idea of what we got up to.
This weekend I'll be making a return visit, on Friday we'll be felting large nuno wraps using the tumble dryer method followed by simple vessels or clutches on Saturday.
Thanks ladies for inviting me back, I'm really looking forward to spending some time with you all again!
Aside from teaching and waiting for a big delivery of merino and silk to arrive, I'm currently participating in a two day 'shabby chic' style furniture technique workshop at Raheen Family Resource Centre. Here's a picture of my work from today, thanks Carmen for a fun workshop, the piece combines decoupage, transferring and waxing. I've also given an old antique chair an undercoat of chalk paint ready for some more work tomorrow, it's amazing how fast these techniques actually are.
I'm a bit bogged down with paperwork and emails this week, submissions to complete for both the Glucksman Gallery (done) and Creative Island for the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (coming along) mean a lot of time spent in front of the computer. It was a welcome surprise to find this lovely picture in my inbox this morning, thanks Roo from Moonwood Farm for your great photography skills. Here are my fabulous students from day two at the Alpaca Fiber Solution stand (generous sponsors of the materials for my Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival workshops) showcasing the gorgeous alpaca clutch bags they felted, lovely memories!!! For those in the know, with the progression of their respective businesses Roo and Elizabeth are now working individually, Roo's yummy fibre is available from her Artfire store and Elizabeth's from her Etsy store!
I'm getting tonnes of use and plenty of compliments for this little shopping bag that I felted and printed in Portugal. If my arms were currently a bit stronger (tennis elbow in both unfortunately!) I would have stretched the top edge more during the fulling stage and again after it came out of the dye pot but all in all I'm pleased with the shape and size. Initially I didn't like the results when I printed it, the vegetation that I used was eucalyptus and St. John's Wort but the biggest problem was that some of the black silk ran with the heat. Here's a picture of the front of the bag after the first printing session, see the pale grey lines………
…………… and below is a picture of the same side overprinted during week two in a stronger dye bath containing plenty of rusty metal. This time I was very happy with the result!
I had a wonderful time during the second week at Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal. Different participants plus other non felting visitors on retreat (with the exception of Naomi who took part both weeks!) gave a different dynamic and it was really interesting to watch a totally different body of felt and natural prints emerge. Here are some images to give you a flavour of what we got up to, I hope that you enjoy them! Bye, bye Portugal, see you at the same time, same place next year, details of our next extravaganza will be posted online within the next week or so!!!
I'm really excited to announce that Karin, Eelco and I made the decision yesterday to add a second residential felting extravaganza week at Dominio a Vale do Mondego in Portugal this June!!! The week of 14th to 20th June is fully sold out now but to give you advance notice of our second offering here are some basic details. The dates are from Saturday 21 June to Friday 26 June (leaving after breakfast on Friday), 6 nights/ 7 day week including 5 days intensive felting with me (and natural printing for those that want!), all materials, all organic meals and drinks (including fabulous organic wine!), single accommodation in a lovely studio with private facilities, price €695 person! NB this week is one day shorter than usual due to another workshop starting on 27th, hence the slightly cheaper price.
Please, please consider joining us, it's a marvellous week in the sun filled with felt, fibre, friends, food and fun!!! To book your place or for more information email Karin ASAP.
This past week has been one of great excitment and tonnes of work, I really don't have a minute spare this week either so please forgive me if I'm not online much over the next few days. The main highlights from last week all actually occurred on Thursday! It started off mid morning when I met with Mary Gallagher of the Blue Egg Gallery in Wexford, she has placed an order for naturally printed silk scarves and felt which I'll be delivering this week then as soon as I return from teaching in the US I'll be felting her a selection of colourful nuno mosaic pieces too. The say I'm thrilled is an understatement, Mary's gallery and shop is stunning so it's wonderful to be selected as a maker for there! On my way home I stopped at a garden centre and found a couple of healthy eucalyptus (cider gums) to add to my collection and then, when I was just casually driving along a bit nearer home what did I find??? A HUGE eucalyptus of a variety I'd not seen before had fallen during the recent storms and a few end branches were hanging out over the hedge onto the road. I nicked a few leaves, tried printing with them and discovered that they give a good outline, an interesting soft coffee coloured beige. Amazingly the tree was in the home farm of a sculptor whose brother was actually in the same class as me in national school, a text and phone call later and I'll be collecting ALL the leaves from the tree this week, wow!!!
Anyway, here are a few pictures from yesterday's workshop at Duckett's Grove, didn't Bernadette and Mary create just stunning first felt pictures?
Well done ladies, it think a couple of new fibre fanatics are born!
This afternoon I felted a couple of samples to bring with me on my upcoming trip to the US and it made me realise how funny it is the way things sometimes pan out. Initially I had a total blank in relation to an exhibition vessel I'd been planning for ever and intended starting today, being at my studio in Duckett's grove for the day I knew that I needed to stop over analyzing and begin to make something regardless of what, otherwise I would never get anything done and would finish up feeling cross and totally frustrated. I decided to felt a couple of balls to get a feel for the wool (my hands were cold!), moved on to a tube and suddenly realised I could utilize both the finished tube and balls in a couple of samples I needed to make anyway to bring with me on my travels. Now that these are felted I've had a more realistic idea for the vessel, all is well now and I'll start laying it out on Tuesday. I'm not sure about everyone else but I find that if I'm totally overwhelmed and my brain is swimming with ideas I never get anything done, the act of laying out wool and just starting to felt is one of the only ways I know to get past this hurdle!
I'll leave you this evening with some botanical inspiration, beautiful purple flushed white violets and ferns with penny royal. Both these images of botanical inspiration were photographed whilst walking with Rex (and his visiting companion Penny!) up the lane on Friday, spring may finally be arriving!
Last year a call went out to Feltmaker Ireland members inviting submissions for a curated exhibition titled 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World'. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I was delighted to have a large naturally printed nuno felt wrap accepted, the timing was extremely tight but I managed to felt and print it in the week between trips to the US and Portugal! A visitor to Borris a Food & Craft Market saw images of the wrap on display at the National Botanic Gardens and wanted to buy it, between the jigs and the reels we never managed to actually meet up again (she was a one off visitor!) so in November I brought the wrap with me to the Glucksman Gallery Christmas Fair. Enter Kate!
Kate was on holiday from the US visiting her sister who is living in Dublin, her daughter was getting married very shortly and she'd had been searching for months to find a special piece to compliment her mother of the bride dress. As soon as she saw the wrap Kate knew it was the one, love at first sight! It looked amazing on her at the Glucksman and I was so excited that someone would be buying it to wear on such a special occasion. As soon as Kate decided to purchase the wrap her sister stepped in with a lovely surprise, she bought it as a gift for an upcoming 'special' birthday and off the piece went to the States, nice surprise!
Last week I got a lovely email from Kate with stunning pictures as promised from the wedding. I was so touched with her message and asked her if I could share part of the email and some of the pictures. As soon as I saw them I understood exactly why the eucalyptus, black tea and onion skin wrap complimented her silk outfit so beautifully, I think that the colours were divine together.
In Kate's words, 'I wanted you to know that it made me feel so extra special that day! It really looked like it was meant to be with my dress. Everyone loved it and I of course, told them the story. Not only did I love the look, but the feel of the fabric was so soft and comfortable. We had a blizzard the night before the wedding and it was so cold and windy. It just felt so cozy in my wrap!!
Your work is so beautiful and I really appreciate your art. Thank you for making me feel so beautiful on one of the most important days of my life. I know it was heaven sent!!'
Thank you so much Kate for taking the time to write to me, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the day so much and from the wedding pictures it's obvious that everyone else did too!!! I look forward to having you visit Clasheen next time you're in Ireland and sharing the magic and simplicity of natural printing with you.
I'm really happy to confirm that I'll be heading on from a Dallas to teach for two days in Houston, thanks Barbara for inviting me! We're planning a one day felt vessel workshop on Monday 28th April followed by a one day natural printing workshop on Tuesday 29th, finalised details should be posted here tomorrow or the next day. Here're two pictures of a small naturally printed wrap that I felted last week, this time combining eucalyptus leaves with blackberry and rose leaves from my garden.
Now on to my main activity for a lot of last week…..
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I had the pleasure of introducing the 50 pupils at Ballymurphy National School to the joys of working with fibre. This school is actually about ten minutes walk from Clasheen through the fields, obviously though I had to drive because otherwise I'd never have managed to bring all the necessary materials and bubble wrap!
For those of you living in countries with a different junior school system, usually children go to national (primary) school from the ages of 4 to 12, sometimes in small rural schools such as this there might be actuall classes with no pupils, strange but true!
Anyway, as you can see from this series of images a fabulous variety of stunning felt pictures was created. Inspiration was varied but the surrounding mountainous landscape and portraits were two popular themes. I'm going to load all the pictures I took to an album on Facebook later today, this way you can have a look plus all the pupils will have a reminder of what we got up to!