FeltUnited @ Clasheen invitation and pictures of new felt wraps

I'd like to extend an invitation to everyone within striking distance of Clasheen, please come along on the afternoon of Saturday 4th October and help celebrate FeltUnited Day 2014 in style. My plan is for us to felt a collaborative wall hanging, swap tips and stories, show and tell, enjoy a pot luck supper and for those that want, it's an open opportunity to set up a selling or swapping table and stash bust!!! Check out the invitation flyer for more details https://www.smore.com/app/pages/preview/0xzhg and don't forget that total beginners are very welcome to attend too, the only prerequisite is a love of felt and fibre plus I would appreciate if people stick to the time plan and RSVP prior to the day!

 

Stag's horn sumac

On the felting side of things I'm busy preparing new work to bring to my first seasonal event of the festive season, the annual Glucksman Craft and Design Fair which is taking place in Cork from 7th to 9th November inclusive.

Side A - eucalyptus bark

In the mornings I'm trying to felt two wraps and then either printing them in the afternoon or tryng to keep things progressing in advance of Creative Island (@Showcase in January), there's a lot of work to do!

Side B - eucalyptus bark and leaves

This week I was particularly happy with the two wraps pictured in this post, both were printed at the same time in the same pot. It's always fascinating to see how incredibly different the end results may be, differing vegetation (and sometimes pre-treatment) makes such a big contribution to the end result.

 

 

 

 

 

Having fun felting, printing, visiting exhibitions and catching up with Merridee and Keith!

I'm having such a fun time with great US friends and visitors Merridee and Keith, having great weather hasn't been bad either! We started our time together with a lovely party to celebrate Cathy and Martin's 10th wedding anniversary then have spent time visiting the exhibitions in Kilkenny with Alan, at the FORM pop up shop, walking at the Raven and Curracloe beach, eating in Step House, visiting Thomastown to see some wonderful exhibitions (especially at Grennan Mill and Marty in Framewell, congratulations everyone), having a fab chilli and cardamom hot chocolate from the Truffle Fairy, dropping in to Cushendale Woollen Mill, experimenting with new felting and printing materials at Casheen plus spending creative time with Carmen. Tomorrow morning Keith and I will be live on the Sue Nunn show after the 11 o'clock news, after that we'll all head to visit Elizabeth, Geoffrey and all at Shankill Castle before having a last night dinner with Carmen and Leiko. Here's a short round up of the week to date in pictures, the felting pics are last in a case any of you want to skip to the end!

 

Little felt shopping bag, a successful over dyeing/natural printing project

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!

 

 

Wonderful participants and work from week 2 in Portugal!

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!!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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.

 

The journey and story behind one naturally printed felt wrap!

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.

 

A few natural print images

Yesterday I spent the day printing nuno felt wraps, one silk scarf, a vintage silk skirt and a wall hanging, that is when I wasn't cuting myself with metal or catching the top of one finger in my tongs! I was very happy with the results of the silk scarf (a welcome but unexpected result!), skirt and wall hanging but although the wraps printed well they didn't have as dark colour a base colour as I was looking for so back to the felting table today.

The scarf had been bundled with eucalyptus leaves and wrapped around a copper pipe about a week ago and then I discovered that there just wasn't space to add it to the dye pot at that time. It sat in the studio and the silk got greener and greener (a bit like my hair!), once I took it out of the pot yesterday and opened it up I was thrilled with the speckles, a welcome surprise!

One of the joys of natural printing is the unbundling, although it is possible to predict to a large extent the results when using familiar organic materials, water and pot etc. there's always that unknown element that pops up to surprise on occasion!

Here's a detail from the wall hanging, this will either be heading to a gallery or onto my new online shop, the shop is what I'll be finishing this week as soon as I have the last of my Showcase orders fulfilled.

 

 

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!

 

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.