Wall hanging and felt vessel on days three and four of Dagmar’s workshop

Being inspired by Dagmar’s fine art wall hangings on exhibition in Odense, Denmark during ‘Felt in Focus’ 2009 I swore then that I’d take a workshop of hers when this was one of the projects that would be offered for participants to explore.

Working on the back of my natural white wall hanging with ‘The Modest’ felting roller from ‘niki & niki’

Thanks to US friend Susan (who didn’t manage to get into Dagmar’s 2 day Irish workshop!) who alerted me to the 6 day masterclass at Big Cat Textiles, I booked asap and in turn alerted our mutual US friend Merridee, the die was cast and the three of us all had a marvellous time!!! I knew before I headed to Scotland that I wanted to make my wall hanging in natural white with various undyed fibres for the surface decoration, this left me free to make decisions about what attachments to add and how I wanted the piece to appear structurally after I had time to mull over all the different options. The soya, silk, linen, milk protein and sea cell fibres that I used on the surface gave a nice tone on tone effect and opting for a simple style meant that I was free to try a complimentary vessel with a spiral attachment on day four.

The almost finished wall hanging, sorry about the poor quality photo

Working with an open rather than a closed resist for my vessel was a eureka moment for me!!! Strange isn’t it? Dawn uses this method almost always for her beautiful hats and it never once occurred to me to do so for a vessel. It’s a hang over from reading somewhere (a beginners felting book I think, early in the days) that it was always preferrable to totally cover the template, something to do with the pressure the edges are put under during the felting process. Well anyway, chatting to Dagmar and actually trying an open sided resist has totally changed my perspective on how I’ll felt vessels in the future, I loved the way I could manipulate the shape and the quality of the open edges was very uniform and smooth! I’m not saying that I’ll always use this method but I can now see my way clearly to felting some vessels that I’ve been itching to try but to date have only existed in my imagination, watch this space. Finishing my vessel by the time day four’s advertised time was up meant that I had several hours free that evening to measure myself (with help obviously!) and work out how large I needed my template to be for the sleeveless vest with attachments that were scheduled to be felted during the fifth and sixth days of this marvelous workshop. I’ll leave you with a picture of the finished vessel, note the subtle colour and texture from soya fibre inside the neck. Next time, the vest.

My large felt vessel with spiral

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I’m home now and all fired up!

I arrived safely home to Clasheen this morning, tired, elated, fired up with the knowledge to put some ideas into practice and very satisfied after a wonderful week felting at Jeanette Sendler and Alison Mountain’s beautiful new studio ‘Big Cat Textiles’ in Scotland!  The week was a huge success from many different points of view: the start of a wonderful season of summer schools for Big Cat in their new studio space, an amazing opportunity to learn from and be inspired by Dagmar Binder over the course of a 6 day masterclass (three dimensional structured surfaces for garments and wall hangings), felting and having fun with great friends Merridee and Susan from the U.S., being wined and dined by Merridee’s husband Keith who cooked great tasty food for us in the evenings and then kicked us back to the felting studio, spending creative time with old and new friends, learning techniques which I know will help me become a more professional felter and overall having such a fun time and creating some felt pieces that I’m actually very happy with!!!!!

My initial sample from Dagmar Binder’s 3d felting masterclass in Scotland, attachments felted using various combinations of 21 micron merino and prefelt

It was also lovely to meet Aileen Clarke and her friend Kirsty (fellow felters from Scotland!), work alongside Britt (we met for the first time at ‘Felt in Focus’ 2009!), spend time felting with Merridee, Susan, Linda and Jenny each night after supper, all in all it the week has definitely been one of the highlights of my felting career to date!

When I got home Annette and Rex were both in great form. Today’s been spent relaxing, chatting, showing Annette the pieces I made at the workshop and planning a trip to visit Philip and Mary Cushen at Cushendale Woollen Mill before Annette heads home on Wednesday.

Small sample neckpiece combining my favourite short fibre merino and hand dyed prefelt

My fingers and thumb pads are actually worn out now from all the rubbing and soapy water during the workshop (thanks Meridee for the Compeed plasters, brilliant!!!) so tomorrow is planned to be a work free relaxing day and I’ll get the chance to spend some more time chatting and showing off the beautiful rural locality surrounding Clasheen. I also hope to to catch up somewhat with emails and paperwork, forgive me if you’re waiting for a response to messages, mails or phone calls, concentrating and immersing myself in the total masterclass experience was essential!!! More pics tomorrow from the week as it progressed, I promise!