A picture rich blog post from Kentucky!

I've been having a wonderful time as usual with Jan, Bruce and Kevin in Lexington, Kentucky! This is going to be another picture rich blog post, there are just not enough hours in any one day to document the fun I'm having both facilitating workshops and spending time with friends. Participants at the wonderful Kentucky Sheep and Fiber festival workshops last weekend felted super flowers, clutch bags and landscapes, all of these were created using gorgeous hand dyed alpaca and amazing embellishing fibres sponsored by Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions. Everyone was really amazed to handle and have the opportunity to sample a new fibre, it's lustrous looking and behaves a little like silk, the components are fibre from rose stems and ground pearl dust from the pearl industry!!! Anyway, here are some photos of what has been happening in this neck of the woods to date, on Friday and Saturday I'll be facilitating my final two day workshop, felting on day one and natural printing on day two.

Thanks Leedra for forwarding on a picture of your dry felt, the button your husband made is perfect with these colours!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Nuno felt scarves!

Today's workshop was great fun but HARD work, nuno felting is always an interesting process involving a gentle touch initially coupled with plenty of rubbing and rolling then finally some aggressive throwing to loosen up tight muscles and encourage the felt to shrink! I'm going to upload a picture rich post today, plenty to see from the lovely colours and work produced, my brain is too tired to write many words though. Drool over the supplies and colours so kindly provided by Alpaca Fiber Solutions and be amazed by the beautiful scarves the ladies all felted!!! I don't have a picture yet of the Nuno samples Chris was working on or Jan's finished scarf, I'll try and take pics of them tomorrow.

Alpaca locks ready at the start of the day
Silk fabric and embellishing fibres
My samples ready to show how some of the fibres look when felted
Carolyn, Nancy and Julie laying out their scarves
Pat's scarf in the foreground, Jan laying a scarf and Chris working on some samples
Chris's first sample underway
Julie's first ever piece of wet felt ready to embellish, it's the top scarf in the following picture!
BEAUTIFUL colours and textures in theses four finished scarves! Alpaca is wonderfully soft but doesn't travel through the silk to the same extent that merino would, this gives a highly textured effect on the reverse side but of course I forgot to take a photo of this, sorry!
Pat, Carolyn, Julie, Jan and Nancy
Pat modelling her stunning scarf!
To end the day some of us headed over to show Roo and Elizabeth what had been felted during the workshop using their beautiful fibre. I'll leave you with a picture of the ladies at the Alpaca Fiber Solutions booth (we say stand at home), the light is not the best but I think you can get the idea. From left to right……… Nancy, Julie, Elizabeth, Roo, Pat and Carolyn, see you tomorrow ladies!!!
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Lexington and the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, here I come!

I've got a little lay over at Chicago Airport on my way to Blue Grass, Lexington so thought I might write a short blog post and upload it later when I have an Internet connection. My wonderful stay with Dawn in Plainwell Michigan is over, our two day felting and printing/dyeing workshop was a blast, I spent such fun time with friends and once again I had a BRILLIANT time, thanks so much Dawn and Morry for having me!!! Now I'm en route to stay with Jan and Bruce, great friends and always a hoot to stay with too, I'm really looking forward to catching up with them later tonight!

This weekend I'm teaching at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival then next weekend it's the workshops that Jan is organising and running. These have always been great fun and Jan is a master at putting on a super lunch too, there are a couple of places left so if you'd like to join us please don't forget to email Jan or pick up the phone!!! Tomorrow we'll head over to the festival grounds and check out the space I've been given to teach in for the festival, last year there was plenty of room but not too many tables so fingers crossed well have enough for the classes. On Saturday I'm teaching nuno felt scarves/neck pieces working with alpaca locks, silk and fabulous embellishments, on Sunday I'll be teaching felt flowers. I'm really looking forward to catching up with both Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor tomorrow too, they're sponsoring the fibre and embellishments on Saturday via their business 'Alpaca Fiber Solutions' and I'll definitely be buying some of their deliciously dyed materials to bring home to Ireland myself.

Next week Jan and I will be doing some natural printing and dyeing together to check out the local flora and fauna, on Thursday evening I'll be facilitating this topic at a private workshop so fingers crossed we'll find some interesting plants or dried material to work with! I'll leave you now with a picture I love of Dawn taken at our last lunch today, she's wearing one of her Nuno felt scarves which she dyed during the workshop last Saturday and its closed with one of Anne Murphy's (Eala Enamels) wonderful enamel brooches. A little bit of America meets a little bit of Ireland!

 

Nuno felting with alpaca and/or merino in anticipation of my KY classes!

I decided not to go to my studio at Duckett's Grove today, rather I'm staying home and felting some more pieces to bring with me on my travels. Yesterday I made myself a very simple but much needed nuno felt scarf as well as preparing three pots of naturally printed and dyed silk bundles.

So far I've only had time to open up the bundles I steamed in the microwave, unfortunately the eucalyptus leaves from a new source left almost no imprint but the onion skins gave fantastic colour and a light dusting of tea leaves also imparted a soft, warm colour. I'll open the other bundles this afternoon and see what the results of these are like. They were simmered in two differen pots (stainless steel and aluminium) and although my intention was to include rusty metal in the aluminium pot I obviously got a bit distracted (a lot on my brain?), I discovered last night that I had included one rust wrapped bundle in the stainless steel saucepan as well. Uugh. Anyway, whatever the outcome I'm sure they'll be interesting, it's just that I wanted to have an obvious difference between the two pots, ah well, c'est la vie!

On the felting side of things I'm going to make a nuno felt wrap/shrug today using some of the fantastic alpaca and embellishing goodies I got from the wonderful Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor of Alpaca Fiber Solutions. I met Roo and Elizabeth at the Kentycky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington last year and they very kindly are sponsoring all the fibre for my nuno felt scarf/neckpiece class at this years festival on Saturday 18th May, thanks a million girls!!! There are several places available for this workshop so if you're interested in nuno felting with alpaca do please check out the website asap and book your place, the cost for this workshop is an impressive $120 including all the necessary silk, alpaca and embellinshing materials! Here's a picture of a simple neck piece I felted two weeks ago using ponge silk, alpaca locks, Firestar and bamboo. Roo is a MASTER at dyeing and I just love the way the different fibres compliment and play against one another, for once the pink and lavender colours in these two pictures are an accurate representation of the actual felt itself! Check out the close up shot, don't the colours just sing?

 

Yummy alpaca and embellishing fibres!!!

Check out this yummy box of fibre I received from Roo Kline this week complete with beautiful handmade shawl pin!!! Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions are the amazing sponsors for my nuno felt neckpiece workshop at this years' Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, we are going to have a ball!

I can't wait to dive in but I so want to felt something special with this, I'll be bringing the samples along with me to all my upcoming US workshops.

Alpaca of this quality is a total pleasure to work with, it's not a fibre easily accessed here but once you know a good supplier…..keep them!

On the everyday side of things my current project is coming along really nicely at the Gaelscoil in Carlow, to date I've worked with 300 pupils and by next Monday afternoon another 150 will have had their first experience felting! As a result I've not actually done a lot of felting at home myself over the last two weeks as my fingers are all wrinkled by the time I leave Carlow and my back's aching, I've been trying out a few polymer clay ideas instead. Thanks Elaine (editor of the polymer clay section at Craft Gossip) for linking to the post I wrote recently about my first 'official' necklace, it's always nice to get a thumbs up. I'll be facilitating a felt flower workshop at Duckett's Grove on Saturday so I plan on felting quite a few flowers and other small items then! I'll leave you with a link to a picture of a flower head piece that Mary felted this week (Mary was one of my super students at the VEC recently), I think that it's gorgeous.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=425275637551011&set=a.114109508667627.19391.100002057342575&type=1&theater

 

 

 

 

 

Alpaca nuno felt neckpiece

Since meeting Roo Kline of Moonwood Farm at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival last May I’ve often meant to work with the fabulous samples of alpaca fibre she gave me, I never seemed to find the right moment however as 2012 just seemed to be so crazy and I wanted time to think of something nice that I would felt for myself! I often took the bag of lusciously soft alpaca out of my special stash box but until today when I also pulled out some deep purple ponge silk from another box at almost the same time I couldn’t make my mind up what to make.

Luscious hand dyed alpaca locks and shimmery firestar laid out on top of rich purple ponge silk

Anyway, suddenly the hot oranges and purply pinks of the alpaca called out to the rich purple silk, immediately I decided to felt a small neckpiece and couldn’t be happier with the result. Susan McFarland of Susan’s Fiber Shop gave me a gift of some glittery bits at the festival too, amazingly the colours matched the alpaca perfectly so this really is a Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival neckpiece!

The pic below will give you an idea of what the finished neckpiece is like, I couldn’t get a great shot however because the light was fading and the wind was rising. I’ll be teaching nuno felting at the festival this year so if you’re interested in felting something similar why not come along and join me? Next week I’ll felt a simple closure and include a beautiful large glass bead made my Toni Lutman in CA, I didn’t take a pic of the bead yet but the colours just sing against the purple and orangy gold.

Alpaca, firestar and ponge silk neckpiece

Craft Fair, Etsy shop, Sigrid Bannier workshops

It’s been a busy weekend an an even busier start to Monday!  On Saturday I went down to Woodbrook House to discuss a couple of things with Giles and also to clarify the set up of our felting room and the dining arrangements for the Sigrid Bannier jewellery and nuno workshops next weekend.  Due to unforseen circumstances I am now going to be organising and cooking the food myself next weekend as well as participating in the Saturday workshop and entertaining everyone on Saturday night!  We also need to rearrange the workshop room somewhat and I will be going down to Woodbrook again in the morning to try for a final organising with Giles. 

At last I am starting to get a few more items up on my Etsy shop.  I wanted to have nice hand made products in the E15 to E60 price range suitable for Christmas presents and stocking fillers.  This morning I uploaded a range of images of trellis scarves and wraps selling from E30 up to E47, one thing to remember is that the prices on line are un USA dollers so they are not actually as expensive as they sound at first, $38 = approx E30!  As soon as my camera charges up again I have a series of felt necklaces (some with vintage or hand made buttons) to photograph and get on line.  These will cost from E15 to E20 each so do check in over the next few days as I get to grips with getting the shop up and running.

The Craft Fair that I participated in on Sunday was interesting if very dissapointing.  Unfortunately there was an extremely low turnout of people to view the stands and although in general the standard of work was very high there just weren’t enough people to make it worthwhile.  I was lucky enough to sell both of the alpaca scarves (both to men!) that I had on display and therefore covered costs and made a few Euro.  Most of the exhibitors sold nothing although the home made biscotti and preserves that the organisers had made did sell steadily to anyone who came.  It was a salutory lesson for me.  Normally I am on the organising end of events and to be honest advertising in many shapes and forms is the main answer to get the foot fall, the only sign that I saw for the event was on the road leading to the town and although the organiser did assure us that she had advertised extensively locally none of us had seen anything.  I am not blaming her in the slightest but I do feel that she underestimated the amount of signage needed and the actual cost of getting it all together, purely through lack of experience.  The venue was beautiful if small, a gorgeous room overlooking the river Barrow and the organisers were helpful and friendly.