It’s official, Dallas TX here I come!

I'm delighted to announce that Suzanne Morgan and I confirmed last night Saturday 26th of April will be the date for my first ever teaching experience in Dallas, Texas! Because of a prior engagement we're keeping this to a one day natural printing workshop, participants will be asked to bring their own materials to print onto, felt, silk, wool and paper. All the details (including the price!) will be posted shortly, Suzanne is just working the logistics out now but if you're interested in attending please email her ASAP and she'll be able to answer most of your questions. I may also be teaching a workshop in Houston, please email me if you'd like to be kept in the loop for that, more details here and on FB as I get them!

To whet your appetite here's a picture of a wall hanging I felted and printed at the beginning of this week, I love it and have decided to keep it to hang at Clasheen!!! The base is 19.5 micron merino with a generous helping of soy fibre and Firestar, the leaves were eucalyptus and the pot had a big mushy handful of pomegranate skins which had already been used for a couple of print sessions. I deliberately folded it so that I had three uneven panels of leaves, now I just need another 10 hours a day as I really want to make a another piece!






Two naturally printed felt vessels

Following on from my first vessel of 2014 I've felted two more since the beginning of the week, this time they've been naturally printed. I had some lovely pomegranate skins and pith left after I cooked a big lamb, date and pomegranate tagine, what better use than to add them to a pot and let their colour influence a couple of bundles?

Here's a picture of the first vessel prior to printing, it's a combination of Portugese merino, mohair locks and a silk/linen blend for surface embellishment. On FB earlier in the week I mentioned that the fibre was bamboo, not so as I discovered once I printed it, I thought it felt a little different laying it out! Anyway, the giveaway was the fact that it appeared to take colour from the pot well. Bamboo, being a cellulose fibre, usually remains white after printing adding an interesting look to the felt (which I like), silk on the other hand is a protein fibre and takes the colour well so even thought this was a silk/linen blend it didn't really achieve the effect I had intended. Not to worry, here's the finished vessel.

I like the reverse

and side views better.

The second vessel is more of a bowl shape, I used the same Portugese merino with loads of Firestar on the outside (for sheen) plus the same silk/linen blend embellishing the inside.

I used a combination of different eucalyptus and blackberry leaves for this one, you can see a blackberry leaf in the inside centre with this birds eye view.

I particularly like the strong contrast of the reddish eucalyptus against the golden tones of the pomegranate on the base. Next time I'll bundle differently but use the same materials, I'd like to get those colours on the top of a bowl!


Two nuno felt wraps, same raw materials but different pots!

Merridee and I had great fun tracking down a big copper pot in California last September. Finally we sourced a lovely one at an antique shop in Auburn, both of us were interested to see how it affected the results of our natural printing and dyeing during the felting retreat we facilitated at Lake Tahoe. The colours of the vegetation appear softer when simmered in the copper so yesterday I borrowed a fantastic antique jam pot from my buddy George, I'll have to source one myself now as we are both very happy with the way this wrap turned out. Here's a close up shot for you to look at, please bear in mind that the wrap needs to be rinsed out and ironed still but you can see the peachy tones and softness of the colours I think.

The second wrap was bundled with the same two varieties of eucalyptus and the same black tea, the only difference was the addition of some onion skins and the fact that the pot was aluminium. Check out how dark this is, it was simmered for exactly the same amount of time, amazing! In both pieces as they dry the bamboo sings out against the wool, I'll take photos of them when they're finished and ironed.


Lexington workshop details for 23rd and 24th May announced and CA dates confirmed!

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be back teaching at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA on 2nd, 3rd and 4th May. I absolutely love the time I spend here catching up with old friends, meeting new fibre fanatics, facilitating workshops and staying with the most wonderful and welcoming hosts, Sharon, Mark, Dawn, Morry, Jan, Bruce and Kevin, you’re the best!!! Over the next few days I’ll be finalising class descriptions for Loomis and Plainwell (9th and 10th) plus confirming what I’ll be teaching at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival (17th and 18th). Woo hoo, watch out US, here I come again!

In addition to my regular slot at the KSFF I’m back for the fourth time facilitating workshops for the wonderful Jan Durham in Lexington. This two day workshop (one day by arrangement) happens on 23rd and 24th May, there is also a possibility of an additional afternoon/evening class on 22nd, more about that another time! I’m really excited that we’ll be felting on Saturday and having a full day natural printing on sunday, here’s the full workshop description and an example of a naturally printed wrap. Please email Jan if you would like more information and to book your place!

May also be used as a wall hanging or a throw

Silk, merino, bamboo and Firestar nuno felt wrap, naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves

NATURALLY INSPIRED – wearable felt and household textiles inspired by and printed with natural materials!

During this intensive two day workshop participants will have the opportunity to create a beautiful large nuno felt wrap, table runner or wall hanging using the tumble dryer method of felting. They will then have the opportunity to totally elevate it to another level as we experiment extensively with different methods of natural printing/dyeing using the bundling method.

Day one – using the no roll tumble dryer method of felting each participant will create a large nuno felt wrap, table runner or wall hanging, depending on the complexity of these pieces some people may also have time to felt additional samples to put in the dye pot on day two! This super easy technique of nuno felting will transform your arts practice if you’ve never tried it before and is ideal for anyone who finds the traditional rubbing and rolling hard on their body. Concentrating on simple shapes with optional ruffles, we’ll work in white and add a selection of un-dyed embellishing fibres to the lay out. Each fibre will take up the colour from the natural materials differently when put in the dye pot the following day, this leads to stunning wearable art or striking and unique interior accents.

Day two – wonderful results will be achieved by bundling the felt created on day one together with a selection of simple, easy to find natural plant materials, tying them up and then either steaming them or cooking the bundles in plant and/or rust enriched water. At the start of the second day Nicola will explain and demonstrate how different results when bundling are influenced by using different pre-treatments, materials, fabrics, dye pot solutions and ways of actually tying up the pieces. There will be plenty of samples for participants to study and before we dye the felt created on day one everyone is encouraged to put some smaller items of felt and fabric in the dye pot to get a feel for this method.

Participants are encouraged to bring along previously completed felt (bags and vessels too, not just wearables!) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk and these may all be included in the dye pot providing we have space!

NB Although this is a two day workshop participants may be accommodated for individual days by prior arrangement.

First felt wrap of 2014!

Yesterday I felted then naturally printed my first wrap of 2014!

Over Christmas I had collected leaves and seed pods from a variety of different eucalyptus trees, it's fascinating to see how these are reacting with the different fabrics I'm currently printing on in advance of Showcase later in the month. I also used my old staples of onion skins and tea leaves for some of the silk scarves, it amazes me every time how these simple kitchen ingredients impart their colour onto the silk or felt. This wrap is not rinsed or ironed yet so no photos of the complete piece, I just wanted to share a couple of pictures with you though to demonstrate how incredible the power of nature is! Doesn't this print remind you of a tree?




Happy new year!

Happy new year to everyone who follows this blog, I wish you all the best felt, fibre, friend and fun filled year ever and look forward to meeting many of you in Ireland, the US, Canada and Portugal during 2014!!!

I did write a longer blog post but unfortunately managed to delete it somehow a couple of minutes ago, I just don't have time to rewrite it right now so apologies, incredibly frustrating. Suffice to say it's busy here preparing for Showcase and May workshops in MI, KY and CA, keep an eye out over the next few days for the class descriptions and dates. In the meantime, here's a picture of an older sculpture that I placed outside at the base of my miscanthus a couple of months ago, it's weathering our wet weather very well so far!


Happy holidays everyone!

Apologies for the lack of posting over the last week or so. Rex had an accident the Wednesday before Christmas and the normally hectic round at this time of year (market, pop up shop, Christmas celebrations and family time) has revolved around making sure he is comfortable and not left by himself for too long. In typical border collie style he was chasing a car up the lane in the dark and came back on three legs, although X-rays showed no broken bones the vets think that it may be soft tissue damage and take as long if not longer to heal. Anyway, today I'll be felting a wrap and getting a pot on for a bout of natural printing this afternoon, eucalyptus leaves also make a seasonal decoration for the front door!

I hope that you are all having a wonderful holiday season whatever your beliefs, stay safe and best wishes for a fabulous felt filled 2014!!!



Felt and natural printed work at the ‘Carlow Made’ pop up shop

This afternoon I'm spending a little time catching up with computer things and not rushing around quite so crazily as most days of late. Yesterday I had my first stint manning the 'Carlow Made' pop up shop with Ornat, the shopping centre was actually very quiet considering it's so near Christmas but our group collaboratively had a good day sales wise. I'm not trying to force my work on any of you but if you are considering buying a naturally printed scarf, wall hanging/rug/runner or cushion/pillow for a stylish Irish made Christmas present please don't leave it too late! I sold three naturally printed silk scarves at Borris Food & Craft Market this morning so the scarves that are currently in the pop up shop are the only ones now available until I finish another batch. I have about five waiting to be washed out and ironed, whether I get these finished before Christmas is anyone's guess at present, just saying, if you want one or two (complete with their tagged gift boxes) get them sooner rather than later!!!

I'm uploading this picture too just to let you know the position in the shop where my scarves are hanging. Friend and fellow 'Carlow Made' participant Catherine Sothern is also selling naturally printed work (FB fans may remember pics from a workshop at Casheen where I shared the technique!), Catherine's scarves are in front of her lovely cushions and vintage inspired hats while mine are opposite the shelves with the rest of my felt and printing. Do let me know if you're coming in and want a chat or a bit of personalised help, I'll be in Carlow most days in the run up to Christmas Eve but obviously I'll be working from home a lot too!


Felting completed, printing tomorrow, ‘Carlow Made’ pop up shop open for business!

I've felted three white wraps working from the now calm and tidy refitted studio, tomorrow I've a full day of natural printing on the cards then Sunday sees the frenzy of the annual Duckett's Grove Christmas Fair, my last day at the DG studio until early in 2014. As you may realise there's not much time left spare currently to write very much, I will however share some photos from the 'Carlow Made' pop up shop which is now open for business, it's starting to feel pretty festive around here at last!

Thanks Carlow Enterprise Board for organising our signage in time for our first day of trading yesterday, I think that the shop looks pretty welcoming, don't you?
Liga and Catherine having fun on the first of the setting up days, our location slap bang in the middle of Carlow (Superquinn) Shopping Centre couldn't really be any more central!
This last picture was assembled using autostitch, sorry if there is a bit of a blur where two photos have been joined together! From the left, Emma's jewellery, my naturally printed wall hanging/rug, Jim's ceramics, my felt, naturally printed silk homewares and accessories, Emma's paintings and Ilona's own designed and knitted hats, scarfs and cowls. Do call in if you're in Carlow town any day, we're there during the centre opening hours right up until Christmas Eve, late opening until 9pm every Thursday and Friday! You can also keep an eye on our activities on Facebook, don't forget to shout out loud if you see anything that you'd like to buy.


A rather brusque summary of the week to date

It's been a crazy, crazy week, apologies to anyone who may be waiting for me to respond to emails or similar, shout out loud if you think that I've forgotten you, it's certainly not intentional! My week to date in bullet points…….

  • Returned from Cork on Monday and tried to unpack everything constructively
  • Demonstrated felt flowers and gave a talk to a lovely group of ladies on Tuesday, took photos of the saree silk wrap/scarf that I have for Amy, sorry though that I haven't managed to upload them here, technical issues
  • Should have been at a training day on Wednesday but it was postponed until next week, instead planned to felt but instead spent the time trying to get washing and paperwork done
  • Thursday, spent hours weighing materials and preparing for a workshop then taught 20 wonderful ladies flat felting. Until the afternoon, neither I nor the organisers knew that their would be 20, as it was they turned away another 5 phone enquiries!
  • Up like a bird on Friday to catch that proverbial early worm!!! Brought a lot more stock than usual to Borris Food & Craft Market as we were having a coffee morning in support of the 'Save Our Heartland' group. The aim of this group is to stop a line of HUGE pylons ploughing across our beautiful rural landscape, please visit us on Facebook if you would like to read more and/or help us in our endeavours. In addition to all the funds from our regular market teas, coffee and cakes I had personally pledged 10% of my takings for the day to the group. Thankfully we had an excellent turnout and raised quite a bit of welcome funds for the campaign. I was also really happy with the feedback about my extended range of products, I sold a couple of larger interior accent pieces and some flowers so I'm definitely going to make the effort and bring more stock to the market in the foreseeable future!
  • Today, Saturday, I was supposed to be facilitating a two day workshop this weekend at Berkeley Forest House but unfortunately there were not enough bookings this time for Alexis to be able to host the event, Instead, I'm teaching tomorrow at Duckett's Grove so is anyone wants to join me there for a beginners and improvers say email me ASAP or give me a bell, there are only two spaces left.

Whew, I'm hoping you can see why I haven't been the best correspondent this week!