Felting and eco printing, announcing residential retreats in Ireland and Portugal

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of email queries and facebook messages asking about 2015 and 2016 felting and/or eco printing workshops. I had hoped to get dates and workshop descriptions sorted, written then uploaded to the website prior to heading off on my Canadian and Australian adventures, no such luck though as here I am writing from Lethbridge having already spent a wonderful few days in Fernie! Anyway, my big news is that I’ve decided to stick closer to home during the early part of 2016, I really need to get to grips with my garden before it gets totally out of hand and I’d also like to get a few more jobs sorted around the house and studio. I’m planning another extended trip to the U.S. in 2017 but for next year I intend to concentrate primarily on Irish workshops, our annual retreat at beautiful Vale do Mondego in Portugal plus investigate the possibility of another foray or two into mainland Europe if possible. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be organising a really special residential eco printing retreat just down the road from Clasheen during July 2016!

Clasheen

I’m fine tuning details at the moment but suffice to say extremely comfortable accommodation at a beautiful rural Irish location, optional collection from the airport, delicious food, all tuition, on site access to amazing natural plant material, at least one group excursion including a trip to Cushendale Woollen Mill (more excursions depending on participant’s requirements) plus a celebration evening meal at Clasheen one night. These are the bare bones of the retreat, as soon as I can I’ll be confirming the dates and the cost but it’s definitely going to take place sometime during July, please let me know if you thInk you might be interested in attending! In addition to a group retreat I’ll also be available to accommodate individual or small group residential workshops at Clasheen from approx March onwards, the course material for these will be geared towards felting larger projects and/or intensive eco printing on protein and/or cellulose fabrics. I’m also happy to offer visits withIn the surrounding region to participants if they’d like a day or two off from the studio and non participating partners can avail of super hiking locally, the nearby coast, wood turning workshops, guided eco trails, kayaking, golf outings, visits to medieval Kilkenny etc., etc., all right on the doorstep of Clasheen!

 

Now for some early information about our next retreat at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal!!!

Delicious food and wine at Dominio Vale do Mondego!

For 2016 we’re running it a little later than usual, it’ll be taking place from18th to 25th June and it’s also our first workshop exclusively devoted to eco printing. Eelco’s knowledge of the local vegetation coupled with an ever increasing quest for more eco printing has led to this decision, I’m really excited about the move because I really want to explore the use of local plants more thoroughly!

Olga and Marta happy with their fabulous eco printed leggings

If any participants do want to felt though of course they’ll be free to do so in their own time and print what they make during the group classes every day! Please contact Karin directly if you’d like to reserve a place for this retreat, non participating workshop partners are welcome to join for a slightly reduced fee so don’t feel like yu have to leave anyone behind.

So, it’s been a manic couple of months. FORM had a fantastic ten days at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and I also participated in two separate events for Heritage Week, the Carlow Made collective exhibition in Carlow Library and a local craft fair at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford. I don’t usually do craft fairs anymore where the participants are not juried in, the arboretum is such a fantastic resource however and I was really delighted that I made the effort to attend as many people were really interested in seeing what I was doing.

Next post Fernie and Lethbridge workshop pictures!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing in Portugal, week 3 in pictures!

Bye, bye Portugal, tomorrow morning I fly home to enjoy the rest of the summer at Clasheen. If the weather’s been anything similar to last year while I’ve been away I’m guessing I’ll be weeding most evenings for the foreseeable future, a big change from dry and arid Faia!

Clasheen, June 2014

The second 2015 residential felting and eco printing workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego was a delight, wonderful students, superb hosts as always and amazing fun, food, friends and weather for the whole of the week. Below are a selection of images from the wrap up exhibition for you to enjoy.
I’ve also posted a short video clip online of friend Carla playing traditional accordion music at the opening, thank you so much Carla! Tchau to all in Faia and obrigada until 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Life, Kentucky and Michigan updates!

Important events have unavoidably taken over in recent days and weeks so I'm way behind updating things here, many apologies if you've been waiting for a blog post. It's hard to believe but after only three full days at home I'm now sitting at the boarding gate in Dublin Airport awaiting my flight to Portugal. Tomorrow I meet the other participants for a wonderful week of shibori under the tutelage of Joan Morris (my first non working holiday for a long while!) and then next Saturday my own felting and eco printing workshops start at Dominio Vale do Mondego. Please excuse me if I upload a selection of pictures from both the Kentucky and Michigan workshops in the same post, I feel that if I don't I am never, ever going to catch up!!! Thanks a thousand times to great buddies Jan Durham and Dawn Edwards respectively for hosting me once again, it was a pleasure visiting you as always! I also really enjoyed teaching at the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival in KY, it was my fourth year on the trot and thanks a million to master dyer Roo Kline of Moonwood Farm for sponsoring the gorgeous fibre we used in class. Now for a selection of pictures………

KSFF

Jan's two day workshop in Lexington
Day one with Dawn in Plainwell MI
Day two in MI, the rain had stopped by then and I was able to take a photo of each participant with a piece of their work. Great job ladies!
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Austin TX workshop update in pics!

Internet connectivity is zero here in the cabin at Lake Tahoe so Merridee and I have sneaked in to Tahoe City to catch some wifi, read our emails and catch up with essential online stuff. I arrived here on Monday morning having spent a wonderful week with Barbara and Sam in Austin TX, thanks guys for a really fun visit!

Cyndi, Barbara and Carolyn modelling their gorgeous nuno scarves!

The nuno scarf/wrap and vessel workshops last weekend went very smoothly, I hadn't appreciated that many of the participants had no previous felting experience until I arrived at the venue so was doubly delighted with the beautiful felt everyone created.

Stunning felt vessels and purses

It's always amazing when a group of creative people with access to the same raw materials get together, no two pieces looked alike even though everyone was working with the same instructions and the same basic shapes.

Super felt vessels and purses

Great job ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief update then US felt and eco print workshop details at last!

Phew, it’s been a very paperwork heavy week or so, yesterday I finally had to admit defeat and give up on the big submission I was trying to get together because there are currently just too many exciting things happening at once at Clasheen. I don’t want to drop the ball on the website side of things or postpone preparing for upcoming workshops, I also need to make some work for an imminent fashion photo shoot and finally, my new wood burning central heating system is being installed this week.

Over the next week or so Patrick will be finalising the change over of this blog to the website and the online shop will be going live there too. There will be quite a bit of formatting and editing for me to do re the blog I think, I don’t however want to lose all that I’ve written here since I started in 2008! Please bear with us while the transfer is ongoing.

So, without further ado, here are the details for my April and May workshops in North America, they will also be published on the website some day this week. Apologies if this post is a little word heavy, it’s difficult though not to be wordy when trying to write up workshop descriptions accurately. To say I’m excited is an understatement, I’m so looking forward to this visit!!!

North American workshops with Nicola during April and May 2015

Tuscon AZ – Intensive two day natural printing workshop on 17th and 18th April  email Karen to book your place making sure to put Nicola Brown workshop in the subject box

During this intensive two day workshop participants will explore the fascinating and exciting art of printing on protein based fabric and paper using natural materials from the hedgerow, kitchen and garden!

Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials bundles will be created by tying the organic matter up tightly in various weights of felt, silk, wool and silk/wool blends. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist. NB Where local hedgerow materials are not available we will substitute easily located vegetation from the florist.

Over the course of the two days we will have a selection of pots on the go so participants will have plenty of options and decisions to make. We will also be able to print on paper or card, naturally printed heavy duty manila luggage tags make particularly beautiful gift tags. Participants are encouraged to bring along plenty of silk and wool yardage, scarves, previously completed felt bags, vessels and wall hangings (not just wearables) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk. These may all be included in the dye pot, the more the merrier, space providing! Attention will be paid to the after treatment and care of these naturally printed textiles and participants will learn how Nicola prepares her work for sale or gifting.

NB Nicola likes to restrict printing to cream or white items during a workshop as this avoids commercial dyes running and ruining someone else’s work. If participants are keen to try printing coloured items it’s possible we can put one of the pots aside for this on day two, this will depend on the requirements and best interest of the group as a whole.

NEW for 2015, OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP on 19th April – only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop

– Advanced one day workshop, natural printing on cellulose fabrics

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a much more time consuming process than printing on felt, silk and wool, results can be varied and are often disappointing. During this one day class participants who have previously completed a natural printing workshop with Nicola will be able to learn the different ways that cellulose fabric may be encouraged to hold a print. Nicola’s been having great success with linen and cotton this year achieving many really clear and beautiful leaf imprints. Some of the pre-treatments are very time consuming and possibly may not be to everyone’s taste or even smell, others are quicker and seem to result in good prints and colourfast results. This advanced class will share the tips and tricks that Nicola is finding helpful in her own artistic practice to achieve good prints on linen and cotton.

Austin TX Sponsored by Austin Fiber Arts Association on 24th and 25th April – email Barbara for more information

During the nuno wrap workshop on Saturday 24th Nicola will share with participants the tumble dryer method of wet felting, a stress free way of coercing wool and embellishing fibers into silk to create a rich and colorful piece of wearable art. Because there is almost no rolling or rubbing involved participants are free to enjoy the creative process, it is also ideal for those find regular felting methods too tiring!

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

In the vessel workshop on Sunday 25th, Nicola will share with participants the skills needed to design and felt a simple vessel or coin purse using the resist method of three dimensional felting. Old pieces of silk and lace as well as treasured bits and bobs are often suitable to be incorporated into the felt. Should they wish to,, participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favorite stash items and Nicola will help them design one off pieces using these as a starting point.

Lexington KY – Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival – wet felted vessel or coin purse on 16th May and a half day fun felt flower workshop on the morning of 17th May, all materials generously sponsored by Moonwood Farm, bookings open online shortly

16th – During this one day workshop beginners and more experienced felters will have fun learning and experimenting with the fascinating technique of three dimensional wet felting around a resist. The emphasis during the day will be to have fun in a creative and supportive environment, participants may expect to leave with the knowledge and confidence to replicate the techniques learnt successfully at home.

Beginners may expect to lay out and finish a vessel or coin purse during this workshop (with plenty of surface decoration!) while more experienced felters and improvers can discover how to add inclusions such as stones, glass nuggets or other found objects into their felt. Everyone will have the opportunity to experiment with surface design, a gorgeous selection of raw alpaca locks, silk, bamboo, Firestar and other embellishing fibers are included in the cost of this workshop!

17th – Wet felted flowers make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes!

During this three hour workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers using merino and alpaca plus a selection of embellishing fibres including silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Lexington KY – Felting and eco printing in the round, simple vessels, purses or iPad covers on 22nd and 23rd May, email Jan to book your place

Day one – using either the open or closed resist method of wet felting participants will learn how to design templates to create different shaped pieces then scale these up in order to cut out their own plastic resists. Nicola will demonstrate how to lay the wool tightly around the resist and by the end of the day everyone will have a beautifully finished simple vessel or purse ready to print on day two, no obvious ridges or seams in sight! Working in white, participants will learn which embellishing fibres work best in the eco printing process, Nicola will bring a selection of these with her for people to share and include in their work.

NB If anyone would prefer to felt a nuno scarf this will also be possible providing Nicola and Jan know in advance!

Day two – Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials our three dimensional felt from day one will be transformed into beautiful and colourful art using the exciting eco printing technique! We will also work with silk scarves and yardage, participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed wool or silk yardage to get the most from this full day of printing.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Plainwell MI – Intensive one day eco printing workshop on felt, silk and wool on 30th May – FULL

Using simple, natural plant materials learn how to transform felt, silk and wool yardage or clothing into beautiful wearable art using the eco printing technique.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed yardage or scarf blanks to get the most from this full day of printing.

Australian workshop announcement, Marlay Fair ends and the National Crafts & Design Fair is about to begin!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to facilitate a week long felting workshop at the Geelong Fibre Forum in Australia next year, I’m very excited about the whole thing!!! It’ll be fantastic to catch up with friend Pam de Groot who will also be teaching there in 2015, we’ll be the felting instructors and if you check out the event website you’ll be able to see what I’m teaching plus all the other textile related workshops that will be on offer.

Marlay Craft Fair was very pleasant, super organisers and a nice group of visitors each day. I didn’t manage to take any good photos over the weekend because each room had loads of windows and it was really difficult to deal with the light. I will take plenty of pictures though at the RDS this week. Tomorrow I set up all day and we open to the public at 10am on Wednesday, do call up to me at stand B8 and say hi if you’re re in the area!