Exciting website news, thanks, ticket giveaway and a brief event update.

It’s controlled mania here preparing for next weekend’s Marlay Fair, the National Crafts & Design Fair which is set up just two days after Marlay ends plus Creative Island at Showcase in January. Everything is coming along nicely thanks to a structured plan, plenty of long but fun working days and lots of help when needed from good buddy George.

Eco printing at Clasheen

She’s great at keeping me on track finishing printed pieces and happy to be a sounding board when I ramble on about all the detritus involved in preparing for a major show.

Eco printed wrap by Nicola Brown

Eucalyptus leaves and bark on a large felt wrap, one of my pieces that is heading to the RDS fair

I’ve several pairs of tickets to giveaway for Thursday 4th and Friday 5th at the RDS, please email me your full name and address ASAP if you would like me to pop some in the post for you, first come, first served!

Eco print on felt by Nicola Brown

Oak leaves on nuno felt, another scarf heading to Dublin

I’m also very busy at the moment collating information for my new selling website, this will be launched in January in advance of Showcase and I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved who has helped me get to this stage in my business and is currently helping make this vision a reality.

  • Frances McDonald – excellent craft mentor who has acted as a sounding board all year. Thanks too Frances for your generous mention recently on Craft Words, much appreciated!
  • Emer Ferran, Mary Whelan, Emma McGrath and team, ongoing support and feedback from the DCCoI, especially in relation to Showcase preparation and providing one to one mentoring with Eddie Shannahan
  • Carlow Local Enterprise Office – 1000 thanks for approving my grant application for the web voucher scheme, none of this would have been possible if it hadn’t been approved
  • Eddie Shanahan – retail, branding and marketing guru, clearly saw within minutes of meeting how I could pull the three separate strands of my artistic practice together, a fabulous help and the person who introduced me to Patrick
  • Patrick McHugh – wonderful fashion photographer and super duper website designer, a pleasure to work with
  • Peter Martin – quirky film maker and videographer, can’t wait to have a short video for the website to help communicate my making process
  • Greg Dorney – excellent product photographer

Ok, one final picture before I head back to the printing studio, professional photographers avert your eyes!

Oak leaves eco printed on silk satin by Nicola Brown

My own oak leaves printed on silk satin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP Rex and an update of recent activities

Apologies for the lack of posting these last few weeks, my beloved Rex started suffering from bad heart problems unexpectedly and unfortunately I had to put him to sleep last Monday. He was a real character, inherited from my neighbour Tom Doran (who died aged 90 when Rex was 6) he'd lived at Clasheen all 14 years of his life, those of you who'd met him will know how quirky he was!


Meeting Tom and Rex at Clasheen
Jumping to catch a ball, one of Rex's favourite pastimes!
Although I didn't usually let Rex up at the table Dawn DID manage to capture this picture during her visit last April, wonder how that happened???
Merridee and I relaxing mid August, although Rex was not well by then he did want to participate in everything we were doing! Alan dug a grave in a nice spot between the oak plantation up above my house and the ever expanding grove of eucalyptus trees, RIP Rex Doran 2000 – 2014.
In addition to the trauma with Rex I've had a really busy time since Merridee and Keith's departure home to California. In brief I've been working on an order of naturally printed silk scarves for the Old House Gallery in the UK, had an individual piece and a collaborative piece accepted for an upcoming Feltmakers Ireland exhibition, attended a full day Creative Island training session, been juried in to the Glucksman Gallery's Christmas design and craft fair plus been working on some new ideas for felt and silk naturally printed accessories. The collaborative piece is interesting if a little time consuming in the conception and construction, it's a felt neck piece incorporating moisture reactive smart technology. Thanks Niki Collier and Cheryl for the opportunity to work together! I'm also working on dates and venues for my trip to the US and Canada next spring, do please shout out loud at the end of this week if you haven't heard back from me, it's been manic here and I'm really trying to get everything under control as soon as I can. Kentucky friends Dianne and Mike are also arriving tomorrow to visit for a few days, fun ahead but not too much time at the computer yet again!
I'll leave you today with two images of a Tshirt I printed over the weekend, it may be worn with either side to the front.
I'm currently experimenting with using cotton, linen and other fibres as a background for my natural printing, it's a different preparation process (that's where I'm doing a lot of experiments) and I'd like to offer it as a more advanced technique next year to students who've already taken an introductory natural printing workshop with me. More anon………….
 
 
 
 
 

 

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

 

 

A serendipitous gift from the dye pot!

The weekend before last I picked up several apron style dresses in gorgeous linen at a blowout sale in Dublin. They were all layered with a lace edged viscose under shift kind of thing, way too frilly and girly for my plain taste! Anyway, most of the dresses had this piece actually attached to them so I had to cut it off, one of them was in a slightly different style and the under shift with this one was more like a cross between a long Tshirt and a petticoat in the brightest white you could possibly imagine. Anyway, yesterday I decided to bundle it up with eucalyptus and tea leaves then popped it in the pot while I was eco printing a couple of organza scarves.

Imagine my surprise to discover it didn't give even the faintest prints from the eucalyptus leaves or tea at all except on the lace edging (I think that this must be polyester although it didn't say on the label), instead it transformed itself into the softest and most attractive soft shades of gold and apricot, the perfect shift to dress my mannequin! This serendipitous gift will be worth it's weight in gold, I hate a naked mannequin but have always found it really difficult to find a nice neutral outfit for mine against which the naturally printed wraps and scarves stand out, my search is over!!!

Please excuse the quality and composition of these images, the wind was wild and the sun made it difficult to take good pictures but at least you'll get an idea of what why I'm happy.

 

Showcase naturally printed felt wraps and silk scarves are now ready!

So far today I've washed out and ironed seven felt wraps and one wall hanging, four silk scarves still remain to be done. Once they're finished my orders from Showcase will be complete, tonight I'll send the shops and galleries a Pro Forma invoice then have gift boxes, cards etc. prepared ready to dispatch as soon as I hear back from them. Hopefully these first pieces will be on their way first early next week, if it hadn't been for the bad weather and lack of electricity I would have had everything done last Friday.

Here're a few of images of my latest merino, bamboo and Firestar wall hanging. I love the strength of the eucalyptus leaves, these were gathered from a tree that had been pruned, lucky me! The reverse of naturally printed textiles also fascinates me, sometimes appearing strongly printed whilst at other times subtle like an animal pelt, as with this one.

I also included a resist during the laying out phase of this piece, while the finished hanging could be used as a table runner the channel at the top makes it really simple to hang!

 

Less is more for Showcase!

My mantra today has been ‘less is more’! Although I’d love to get a few more wraps felted before the weekend I’ve realised that I’d be better occupied making sure everything else is organised in advance of Showcase. Today George came over and we worked out a mock stand set up, hence the less is more theme. I really, really wanted to have a printed wall hanging displayed but working within a 2m x 2m space it’s more important to leave stuff out than cram it all in I think!

Large naturally printed wall hanging

Large naturally printed wall hanging

Obviously I’ll bring a couple of wall hangings with me and store them in the magic plinth, I’ll reserve the final judgement about whether to display one or not until I set up the stand on Saturday. I’m in the ‘Home & Gift’ hall, stand A285, please can you share this info with anyone you know who might be attending, thanks! Tomorrow I collect my new signs, a couple of plinths, try to get a top or two and have my hair cut, plenty of other things need to be done too but for now I’m going to have an easy night and get a few more invitations to buyers emailed then call it a day.

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.

Fun and stunning printed wraps in Winnipeg!

I've had a really fun (if necessarily short!) time in Winnipeg, thanks so much Margaret for inviting me and organising the workshop. Thanks too for co-ordinating with Tammy from the Crafts Council and scheduling my evening talk, plus of course Tammy, Dave, Addy and Benny for offering accommodation and sharing your house with me!

Ten creative ladies met on Saturday morning at the Edge Gallery and studio, what a great way to celebrate FeltUnited Day 2013!!! Some were extremely experienced felters while others were having their first exposure to the magic of creating non woven fabric, our goal was large felt wraps which we would then print on the following day. Jackie joined us on Sunday for the printing session (in case you think that I can't count), I'm going to continue this post with pictures because I'm now back at Wnnipeg airport waiting for a flight, Vancouver here I come again!

From left to right – Kathleen, Ann, Lee Anne, Maura, Pat, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Margaret (our intrepid organiser!), Celia and Louise
Pat
Margaret
Kathleen
Maura
Jackie
Celia
Celia's wonderful first felt wrap!
Kathleen and Pat comparing print patterns
Rebecca
Lee Anne
Louise
Ann
Elizabeth
Margaret also printed a piece of up thrift shop blanket
Our great selection of nuno felt wraps, silk yardage and various shirts too
Thanks ladies for a wonderful weekend!

 

Fabulous felted and printed scarves from Vancouver and tomorrow is FeltUnited Day at last!!!

I'm here in Winnipeg now preparing for this weekend's two day felting and natural printing workshop, I'm really excited to be felting here tomorrow in celebration of FeltUnited Day 2014!!! We had a wonderful time yesterday at the one day event in Vancouver so ably organised by Sharon Gerhart, congratulations ladies on all your marvellous creations, you really were a fun group! Here's a pictorial rich review of what we got up to, for the first time ever I think I actually managed to take pictures of everyone unveiling their scarf.

Smiling faces all round as Sharon helps Chelsea open her scarf, this first successful unveiling really sets the tone for the whole group!
Judith bundled her scarf a little differently from everyone else and got a really nice clear design against the natural white background.
Debbie smiling as she shakes out the leaves and madrone bark from her scarf. Who knew until yesterday in that madrone was actually another name for arbutus, a tree I can get my hands on in Ireland??? Not me!
A group photo before Judith, Debbie and Chelsea head for the ferry then the rest of us head back to do some more unbundling!
Intense examination of Hayden's results.
One section of her scarf…..
….. looking good Hayden!
A stunning all over print from Sharon our intrepid organiser.
Bamboo fibre doesn't take the colour so lends a gorgeous tracery of white against some of the Silver Dollar eucalyptus prints.
Seed pods add another whole dimension to the design.
We're all pretty excited as Sheila unrolls her scarf, by this time we know she'll have a great outcome…..
….. and here it is!
Hayden helping Irma.
Super prints on Irma's scarf, Silver Dollar eucalyptus, black tea and onion skins.
Sheila and Sharon intent as they watch Ann unwrap her scarf.
Another nice example showing the bamboo fibre standing out strongly against the printed felt.
A final photo and a lot of happy smiling faces, Irma, me, Sheila, Sharon, Hayden and Ann!