Felting in Portugal, part four

Well the ‘tomorrow’ of  Wednesday’s post has been and gone so appologies if it’s taken me a couple of days longer than anticipated to write about our nuno felting and eco bundling experiences in Portugal! My Danish friend Annette arrived in Ireland at 12.45am on Wednesday morning and as well as enjoying her company, attending the market in Borris on Friday and sorting the hundreds of other daily things that go on here at Clasheen I’m trying to get my supplies together (not sucessfully yet unfortunately) and prepare for Dagmar Binder’s masterclass in Scotland which starts on Tuesday.  Annette and her husband will be staying here while I’m away and taking care of Rex then we’ll have another couple of days together when I return, I’m planning a visit to Cushendale Woollen Mill and we’ll be felting together too so that should be fun! Now as promised, back to our time in Portugal…..

Sandy and Stella both working on laying out large nuno felt wraps

The latter part of the week was taken up with nuno felting, flat felting with a view to eco bundling and basically a little (or a lot!) of whatever took each participants fancy based on the techniques that had been already been shared. Not everyone had previous nuno felting experience and strangely enough it proved impossible to get either cheesecloth or muslin in Portugal for everyone to share, why is this I wonder??? Between us all however we had quite a variety of suitable fabrics including the most amazing stretchy cotton gauze from The Netherlands that apparantly is something you use when making a mattress for yourself!!! Depending on the supplies that everyone had brought some participants worked with undyed Bordeleira while others worked with hand dyed silks and coloured merino. For everyone who had not nuno felted before I recommended felting their first pieces by hand to learn the different stages of the process, for those with plenty of nuno experience I shared the way I’m currently using the tumble dryer to slash the time for larger projects. Over the course of the rest of our week a selection of amazing large wraps were felted (pictures of finished work from the week will be in my next and final post about Portugal!) and some smaller nuno felt and flat felt pieces in white were made in preparation for some natural dyeing experiments.

Participants disappearing into the distance to forage for leaves, flowers and old pieces of rusty iron!

From the beginning it had always been obvious how Karin and Eelco would like everyone to use natural materials or found objects from the domain as inspiration for or inclusion in the felt that we would be making during the week. This came together very naturally with a desire to try out simple eco bundling, the olive and sweet chestnut leaves just cried out for inclusion as did various rusty bits of old metal which we picked up while out foraging for goodies! Terriea was marvellous in sharing her experience dyeing with leaves and rust, thanks Terriea for your wonderful manner and fun way of sharing a new experience!!! Our objective was to imprint leaf shapes and colours onto felt as well as trying out some experiments with the heavier cotton fabric Karin had bought originally thinking it would be OK for nuno felting with. Terriea explained that protein fibres such as silk and wool absorb natural colour from the leaves best but since we also had the cotton we decided to give it a go too, we soaked our felt and the cotton pieces overnight in a vinegar solution prior to bundling. This was all a fun and relaxing experiment so please don’t ask me for any exact measurements as shock horror, we didn’t take any!

Terriea and Annemarie with a large pot of bundles ready for the stove

On Thursday morning Sandy choose to continue working on the final shaping of her large felt vessel but everyone else wrapped a selection of different nuno felt, flat felt and cotton pieces with a selection of the leaves and rusty pieces of old metal we’d scavanged. Heather also decided to eco print a felt bag; the original intention had been to felt this together with some silk velvet but as the velvet experiment hadn’t worked out as planned this proved to be an inspired choice to print with! Carla made great use of some left over cherry soup from the previous lunch with one of her pieces of felt and I added some tea leaves to a couple of my cotton bundles. Once all the pieces were tied up with their various inclusions we placed them in two different saucepans, one for pieces including rusty objects and the other for pieces only containing vegetable matter. The bundles were covered with water and put on a cooker to bring to the boil, once boining point was reached the heat was turned down and the pots were simmered for aprox 45 minutes to an hour. They were then left to cool down naturally and the bundles stayed in the water overnight until we unwrapped them on Friday morning. This was fun, seeing how our expectations were either met, exceeded or in some cases failed, all part of the learning process and information to be stored and used in future projects! Sweet chestnut leaves (plus the long flowers), olive leaves and rose leaves proved to impart the strongest and clearest shapes on felt, Carla’s scarf using the cherry soup worked brilliantly as did Annemarie’s pieces using a mizture of flowers, grasses and fruit slices while Heather had a very successful experiment wrapping one of her large nuno felt wraps without inclusions and simmering it in the pot with the rest of the iron filled pieces!!!

I’ve got to sign out now because my bags are calling and I need to get those raw materials assembled for Dagmar’s class as well as some final clothes dried and the house tidied a little. My final post about Portugal will be memories of our last group day together at Dominio Vale do Mondego and pictures of the participants with some of the amazing felt completed during the course of this fantastic week. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get this written before I fly to Scotland at 6.05am tomorrow morning but I will try and keep you all up to date with progress at the masterclass during the week and finish Portugal as soon as I can. For now one last picture and ‘adeus’ until next time!

Having fun – Heather and Sandy watching Nienke unwrapping one of her bundles

Printing workshop update, post party news and the innocent big knit

There’s still so much information to share about what I was working on at both the second day of the Kirsten Lundberg printing workshop during Felt in Focus and at the book launch party with Chrissie last weekend but I’ve finally realised I am never going to have enough time to write everything down here on the blog!!!  It’s difficult to be brief but if I’m not I am never going to be able to update you all with the most important info and in turn I’m never going to be able to actually have my planned ‘staycation’, more about that next post!  So, here is a synopsis of the techniques I sampled during day 2 of Kirsten’s amazing workshop …..

  • The use of different binders on silk and cotton with the intention of creating a resist through which fibres would not migrate when working on nuno felt.  These binders could be white, transparent or opalescent and all could have pigments added to change the colour.  They could be applied in a variety of ways such as rollers, screen printing or painted directly on the fabric.
  • The use of a ‘glue’ to add text and images from magazines.
  • The use of a ‘glue’ to add metallic foil.
  • We discussed rust dying and had a look at various samples.

My main focus over the course of the 2 days was to print two similar but slightly different pieces of fabric basing my design on the dry stone walls surrounding me here at Clasheen.  I will be blogging about this further because in a couple of weeks I am going to be combining these with a variety of different coloured wool to see how best to replicate the texture and effect of the walls as I imagine them in my head, I’ll keep you posted.  Now, on to the party.  A big thanks to …..

  • Everybody who attended and helped make the day so special for Chrissie and me and added to the wonderful Irish style party atmosphere!
  • All who so generously brought gifts of salad, flowers, wine, soft drinks, yummy deserts and all thoses yummy extras that went to make the buffet table so tasty, you know who you are!!!
  • Nigel and Alan who carted tables, road signs and all the hardware kind of stuff around both before and after the party.
  • Those essentialtal washer upers including Elizabeth Cope, Suzanne, Shaz and Nigel.
  • Chrissie and Nigel for being such fun, isn’t the power of the internet amazing???
  • Good friend Martin Lyttle who introduced me and Chrissie for us to officially launch the book.
  • All those of you who bought the book and those of you who now have to order online because we sold out, thanks!

Chrissie and me revealing the front and the rear of our ewe!

After we both spoke a few words Chrissie presented me with the choice of two identically wrapped parcels, here is a picture of us as we revealed what each one contained, my parcel contained the front end of a sheep and Chrissie’s the rear!!!  Thanks Chrissie for such a well thought out gift, each picture means something by itself but together they make a whole.

As a result of hearing our story about meeting through the internet Sue Nunn kindly invited us both to join her for a slot on ‘The Sue Nunn Show’ before Chrissie and Nigel travelled home on Monday morning.  Thanks Sue for the invitation and allowing us the opportunity to chat and speak about our love of felting, we had a great time!!!  During the course of the programme we discovered that Sue and KCLR are participating in ‘the innocent big knit’, a movement to help keep older people warm in Ireland this winter.  We know that felting isn’t knitting but since crochet hats are accepted too Chrissie and I thought we would put the word out there that we are both felting hats to give to Sue, would anyone like to join us in supporting this worthwhile cause???  If you do decide to help out we need the hats to be with Sue before the end of the first week in October.  I am going to suggest that anyone who wishes to participate felt your hat/hats, post them to me (Nicola Brown, Clasheen, Ballybrack, Borris, Co. Carlow, IRELAND) to arrive no later than the last week in September, I will blog about them and take photos then deliver them in person to Sue before the final date.  Do please let me know if you are participating then I can keep an eye open in my post box!!!  Thanks!