I got a bit sidetracked yesterday, having mentioned that I was going to felt 100s of attachments for a new wrap I decided instead to adapt and finish a Horst style jacket and matching bag! This jacket was another ‘blank’ which Horst was good enough to leave with me to do as I wished with, the second of 2 demo pieces from our workshop. I decided to keep things simple and wanted something that I would wear for everyday use in colder weather, this meant adding a couple of pockets, adjusting the collar to frame my face and decorating the pockets and framing the edges with black merino thereby adding some depth of colour. In addition I wanted to practice using Horst’s method of felting bags again, it’s not a method that I’m going to use for all my work but I do find the pebbly texture interesting, the layout very quick and I wanted to experiment with dying again and end up with a piece to compliment the jacket.
Bag prior to dying and jacket prior to dying and fulling
At this stage I think I have a confession to make, my name is Nicola and I am addicted to acid dying!!! OK, only half joking, but I can’t believe how Horst’s recent workshop has totally demystified the process and allowed me to just throw things into the pot and watch the magic occurring. I’m not scientific about it at all, not measuring the level of the water versus dye powder etc. (Jacquard acid dyes I bought with Heather at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last year) but for me this adds to the experience, instinctively I appear to be getting the result I am looking for so onwards and upwards! My only reservation about the dye pot yesterday is that although I used ‘olive’ as my deeper colour I didn’t think that the powder looked olive at all in the packet and it certainly wans’t olive when I added it to the dye bath, rather a nice deep rust colour, complimentary but not my original intention. Talking to experienced dyers I know that the powder doesn’t necessarily look like the resultant liquid but I do wonder if this was mispackaged??? I’m not a bit concerned however, I love the results, more pics over on Flickr!
My new HUGE dye bath is on the gas cooker, pot and cooker both purchased in advance of Horst’s large felt garment workshop and now taking pride of place in my kitchen for the last few days! I’m not 100% sure whether I like the nuno felt I was working on yesterday but I’ve decided to go ahead and dye it anyway. This morning I have made a new Horst style bag as well as adjusting and redesigning a long sleeveless jacket. These are both spinning at the moment and as soon as they are done I’ll take pictures prior to dying all the pieces and a couple more once I am happy with the colours achieved. I’m going to use up the last of the pumpkin/gold mixture from the other day and then add olive to the pot hopefully giving me nice graduation of colour. Fingers crossed …..
I’ve been to the library, discovered I’ve won some gorgeous hand spun from my buddy Heather, run a wash, stocked up on brown soda bread and milk as well as 100 dressmakers pins this morning (more in a minute) and now I’m ready for a FULL DAY felting and possibly dying too, woo hoo! I still need to catch up on emails, paperwork and many more other household tasks left over from the manic last weeks but for today that is it, no more procrastinating but rather creating and playing with fibre!!!
Nuno texture and merging colours
On Friday I shared with Gerda an experiment in nuno felting using a technique I hope to offer in workshops this Autumn. Basically it involves using a tumble dryer for some of the steps therefore meaning that anyone with physical limitations or a tendency to get tired rubbing and rolling will have this stage of the process either eliminated altogether or cut down to no more than ten minutes in total! Chrissie and I will be publishing a new book prior to Christmas (click here to check out a preview of our first book From Felt to Friendship if you are interested in what we have been up to so far) and this time concentrate on simple ideas for designing and felting your own clothing with a view to flattering your personal shape, not that ‘perfect’ shape we all aspire to but most of us never achieve!!!
Anyway, back to Friday and the nuno top I made. Working in white ponge silk and undyed 26 micron I laid out a front and back side of my top basing the design on a scaled up version of a favourite wardrobe staple. By using only white raw materials for the main layout area I was able to lay out the fibres really quickly, get on to the felting, piece my top together (thanks Gerda, you kept me sane, bought more much needed pins this morning!) and then have great fun dying using Horst’s wonderfully simple method of achieving graduating colours with no stress at all. Having the correct equipment now for my studio and working with Horst again over the course of our large felt garment workshop as well as observing friends Jan Durham, Dawn Edwards and Sharon Costello from The Tin Thimble in action during my US trip has given me the confidence to set up my dying station in the kitchen and just ‘get on with it’ myself.
My plan for the next few days is to felt and dye at least two pieces to be used for the fashion show at Felt in Focus next week, I leave for Copenhagen on Friday so I’m off now to get started!!! Thanks Cristina for house sitting while I will be away, Rex will be thrilled.
After Horst’s workshop Gerda had a few extra days to stay over in Ireland before flying home to South Africa on Sunday so I invited her to stay at Clasheen for a couple of days, boy did we have some fun felting and dying Horst style!!! It’s going to take me about a week to finally unwind after all the excitment of the last few weeks but for now check out the sleeveless vest I felted and dyed with gold and pumpkin acid dyes in my kitchen. It’s great to finally have a HUGE dye pot and the confidence to actually try some experiments out for myself! ‘Till tomorrow …..
I think that the faces say it all!!! Safe travelling to Horst, Gina and Kirsten, all heading for mainland Europe first thing tomorrow morning allowing me time to upload ALL the images of our amazing workshop!
Me, Lorraine, Horst, Tracy, Kirsten, Gerda, Natasha, Sigrid, Kirsten and Trisha!!! Ness and Niki completed the group but had to leave earlier.
It’s 12.30 at night and I have finally made Horst and Gina’s beds, Kirsten’s will just have to wait until tomorrow evening! I still have about another hour of organising/tidying to go but I must say that Dawn’s ultimate method of shoving everything into a closet or chest of drawers when you run out of time is getting more appealing by the minute, my only problem is that I don’t have enough storage to hold everything, pity, hmm!!!!!
I did get to have a lovely lunch and chat with Cristina earlier in the day (lunchtime I think but the hours are now blurring into one) and then had a surprise phone call from the wonderful Australian felter Pam de Groot. Would you believe that Pam was at Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh at the same time that Cristina and I were sorting out a lot of the logistics for Horst’s workshop? We did manage to meet for a coffee and a chat however in Kilkenny and discovered that we are both booked in for Lisa Klakulak’s workshop at Felt in Focus!!!
I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha) to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!! Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow. Here goes ……..
THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant! Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards. If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog. Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience. In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!! There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.
Unfortunately I was so engrossed in trying out different techniques that I don’t have images of any actual finished items to share with you from the weekend jewellery making workshop, I don’t really have any finished items! OK, to be strictly truthful I do have one paper yarn ‘nest’ which I completed and it is now hanging from a tree but it’s not my favourite piece so I’m not showing it, sorry! Here however are a couple of pictures of two pieces I am happy with, the jewellery back is probably my favourite individual item but Angela did have to help me finish it!!! The other point to note is that while I don’t like my own paper yarn ‘nest’ I do see the potential of the technique, more to follow when I return from US, I have plans for a ring and some other items using this as a starting point. Now for the pics …..
Paper yarn and felt brooch with stainless steel brooch back
Fake gold leaf gilding on merino felt
McSweeney media have sent out extensive coverage to the press this morning of my participation at the Irish and International Sheep and Wool Festival including a big write up about Horst’s upcoming trip to Clasheen and the first ever display of his couture garments outside the US!!! There are three spaces that still need to be confirmed for his ‘Large Felt Garment’ workshop which we will be facilitating together from 17th to 19th June at The Studio in Bennetsbridge, Co. Kilkenny. If you have been waiting until the last minute to either confirm your booking for Horst’s workshop or make a descision now is the moment, everything needs to be totally finished and all monies collected before I head off to California at the beginning of May! Please email me asap if you have any questions or forward me on the balance of your course fee if you have not already done so, thanks to all of you who already have. Martin and Jill, owners of The Studio have kindly offered excellent B & B accomodation on site and I have emailed all actual and potential participants with the details. In case I have missed anyone out please let me know if you never got the message, with all my recent computer woes I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have made a couple of errors!
On Wednesday evening we had a fantastic open night at Presentation PS in Kilkenny. The girls displayed all their amazing work from our CRAFTed project and screened the video footage of exactly what was achieved during our time together and with their teacher Mairead in the classroom following our last felting session. I was blown away by the sheer scope of what we had achieved, it was incredible to think that the body of work produced arose from a project with in effect 8 hours of actual hands on felting time. The video footage (which the girls and their teacher Mairead had all taken turns filming and editing) was broken up into 4 short films, our initial meeting and introductory session, the first hands on session where everybody made a piece of flat felt for their journal covers, the start of the individual projects and the finishing of these pieces coupled with the embellishment of our group wall hanging, awesome!!! I spoke a little about what the project had entailed, how we acquired the funding etc. (thanks to Kilkenny Education Centre and the Crafts Council!) and then we had a great time answering questions and showing the parents, relations, teachers, pupils and other guests present the beautiful and tactile results of all the hard work. It was fascinating to delve into the journals and realise how much the girls seemed to enjoy felting, everyone mentioned how much hard work it was but all agreeed it was well worth the effort! The positive energy in the school hall was infectious and I am delighted to say that I have been speaking to Marie from the Irish and International Sheep Shearing Championships this morning and we will be displaying our work to a wider audience when the 2011 Sheep and Wool Festival comes to Kilkenny on the June Bank Holiday weekend, congratulations girls, we are going on tour!!!
If I didn’t have my phone I actually think that I would have thrown in the computer towel yesterday. My computer is now in Dublin for some serious doctoring, thanks for all the messages of suport, yes, I definitely wish I had invested in a MacBook last year and Paul, what I have been working is actually my new laptop, not a PC! Thank goodness I can upload images directly to Flickr from my phone and then steal the code to insert them here in the blog, Alan’s computer is about 4 years old and amazing I don’t seem able to upload them directly there or download Blurb because of some scripting problem, at least I think that’s what the problem is! Update ….. I have just discovered that I can’t actually steal the link code and upload the images here for some reason so please head on over to the CRAFTed set on Flickr to see more images from Wednesday, I will be drip feeding uploads from my phone all day today so bear with me, it may take some time! A lot of the pupils had their cameras too so I am hoping we will have a great variety of fun pictures to share over the course of the next few days.
US, Irish and Horst workshop updates – I know I promised to get the materials list together for my US workshops and also contact Horst workshop participants with B&B info, please be patient, it is in the works but this computer stuff really has my head addled! Last night I called in to The Yarn Room in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, don’t think I was skiving I was delivering the laptop to my sister. We put two dates in our diaries for July, these will be for a kind of felting orientation day followed by a wonderful nuno felting workshop, more about these when I get the specs written up but if you live within striking distance and would like to learn or improve your felting skills July 16th and July 23rd are the dates for you! I also have a workshop booked here at Clasheen for Saturday 23rd April, the last time I will be teaching here before heading off across the water! If you have already got some felting experience and would like to join me for the day to explore some interesting ways of adding detail to the surface of your felt (I will write up this class spec too and add it to the workshop page) please email me asap, I have a couple of spaces left.