Felt, ceramic, cookies and frustration!

Yesterday morning I started the day by showing a friend Leonie how to make three dimensional stars using 1.5m strips of coloured paper!  These are great strung as a garland or hung individually from the tree as Christmas ornaments.  We chatted over a cup of coffee and before Leoine left she gave me a lovely present of some home make star cookies (very appropriate!) which her girls had make.  They are all eaten now, thanks Esme and Nessa! 

I  spent a happy afternoon  felting a stripy ‘man’ scarf for a friend’s Christmas present and followed this by stringing some simple necklaces with commissioned ceramic buttons as the centre piece.  Because I wanted the scarf to be very soft and warm I used both merino and a merino and silk mixture which I had carded myself in the stripes.  I laid out the fibres crossways practically the whole length of my big table and proceeded to felt.  Never having made a striped scarf before (amazing that when I think about it!) I possibly should have laid some of the fibres in the opposite direction as well.  Everything felted perfectly but the scarf got longer instead of shorter, much longer in fact!!  Anyway, Martin is tall and the scarf feels wonderful wrapped a couple of times around the neck, I hope that he likes it.

All the naturals necklace

All the naturals necklace

The buttons that I used for the necklaces (initally intended for felt necklaces and bags!) were commissioned from Hillary Jenkinson, a talented maker working from a studio in the Demanse Yard at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny.  It is well worth a trip to Castlecomer to visit this yard, in addition to the craftspeople’s studios and workshops there is a well stocked restaurant, a history of coal museum, beautiful parkland to walk in and a brilliant kid’s playground.  Each of the buttons is a one off and I think that they look great with the crocheted cream cotton beads that I made  ‘a la Sigrid Bannier’ and some simple wooden or glass beads.   You can check them out on my Flickr photostream and the necklace above is actually on sale through my Etsy shop.  This is where the frustration sets in …. I had intended to put loads of felted items and these new necklaces  on my shop this morning but the battery on my camera just limits how many things I can upload in one session.  I had thought that they would make lovely pressies and was pricing everything between E10 and E20 but after 4 hours I have only managed to get 4 items up,  aghhhhhhhh.  Anyway, here is a picture of one of the necklaces and it is priced at $20 which equals E14.16 if anyone is interested!

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Drum carding machine is magic!

I finally succumbed to the lure of Carmen’s new drum carding machine!  To date I have been more than happy with the variety and quality of commercial fibres on offer but finally I have tried mixing my own and have to confess that I could become hooked!!  The carder has been left in my possession for 2 days and I am live a devil possessed, my favourite mixture of fibres is merino and mulberry silk and I am frantically carding as much as possible before I give the machine back.  I also carded some of the beautiful Jacobs wool that I got a present of, still not sure that all the work is for me but it will be nice to make something with wool that I have washed, picked over and carded myself.  The biggest problem I find is that it is very tough on my back and although I love the idea of preparing all my own fibres it is not really the best option for me.

What can  I say about the beautiful woven bag that I recieved from Martina in the swap??  Pictures to go up as soon as the weather permits me to take a good image.  The colours are perfect for me, a rich russet with black highlights, really beautiful with an organic hemp and cotton outfit I have from Blue Fish in Taos, New Mexico.  thanks a million Martina!

Making cords the Australian way!

Before I discuss the new way that we learnt of making cords at the Anita Larkin workshop, I just want to say that all the techniques we tried over the weekend ultimately unite and allow you to create exciting scupltural 3 dimensional pieces of felt!  At first it seems that learning how to make cords is very basic at a workshop for people who have all felted before but you are never too late to learn new techniques.   Most of you are familiar with making cords and probably everyone has their favourite method.  How many can there be you might ask but I certainly learnt a totally different method from Anita than any I had seen used before.  Lay out a long layer of very fine fibres in a diagonal and then lay a second layer on top of these in the opposite direction, also diagonally.  If you want to make a thicker section lay some more layers in that place and then dry felt the fibres by lightly moving your hands over them as with wet felting.  Using your spray bottle VERY lighlty wet along only the edge of the fibres and then roll them gently into a log shape.  If you are going to be attaching this rope to another piece of felt leave the ends dry for the moment.  Using the minimum amount of warm water lightly wet the sausage shaped fibre log and with soapy hands roll it very lightly on your bubble wrap, blind or sushi mat.  As far as I can see the biggest difference is in the way the fibres are laid on the diaganol and the volume of (or lack of) water used.  This seems to make a very solid and strong cord.  Shapes that were started as in the previous post may be added on at any time once the cord starts to hold its shape or the cord itsef may be attached to another piece of felt that you are in the process of making.  Next post I will discuss inserting wire into felt and wrapping a solid object in felt.  I also want to post a few more images of work that I have completed recently to keep the blog a little bit visual!

Nuno felt incorporating batik, exploring options

Work in progress

This week I am on an excellent batik course at the Grennan Craft Mill in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.  Facilitated by Alexandra Meldrew, our diverse group are basically having a crash course in different techniques and applications of this facinating craft.  My idea was that after the week, skill peremitting, I would be able to incorporate some of my pieces into some nuno felt work.  Here is a selection of my work in progress.

The fabric that we are working with is quite tightly woven so I have waxed and dipped on a piece of scrim today to see what that will turn out like, just realised that I left it in the bucket of dye when I finished this evening!!  I find that scrim is great to nuno felt with so hopefully this experiment will work out and I can have fun next week incorporating it into some bags or vessels.

Tomorrow I am going to bring along a couple of white silk scarves which I got from Wollknoll, I am intending on waxing them with simple designs and dipping in just one colour of dye.  I probably will keep one as is and then use the others in pieces of felt as well, will just wait and see how I feel next week.

African image inserted into felt

African InspirationHere is a photo as promised of the wallhanging I made last Saturday after Jean’s workshop by inserting the piece of printed muslin I created into a larger piece of felt.  I was very happy with the result although after Bernie’s beautiful photography not a bit happy with the image I took!  This week I am up to my eyes with the batik course I am taking at Grennan Craft Mill and Open Week at Borris Golf Club.  Images to follow tomorrow of work in progress with the batik.

Love affair with felt continues!

My love affair with felt continues.  Yesterday my delivery of fibres and equipment arrived from Germany, seventh Heaven!  Already I have managed to create 2 new scarves and tonight I will be tutoring again, probably do some really light and supple marino creations.  Have now attended the Artlinks morning on blogging for beginners, I hope I can put it into practice.

Carmen lent me her sander (yes a Black and Decker sander) and I have been playing around with it at the early stages of the felt making process.  You need to be careful to have a light sheet of plastic between you and the fibres, otherwise the holes in the plate of the sander will suck up the wool or silk.  Last night I made a Nuno felt scarf and also tried to use some prefelt cutouts on top of Bheda wool, a course wool that felts really well.  The prefelts were not make from 100% wool and the sander definitely helped to secure them into the feltmaking process.  Will keep you updated.