Lovely day yesterday, Borris Market and felt flower tutorial is on the way …..

Alan and I had a lovely day yesterday, thanks for all the best wishes for his birthday!  This morning has been spent making all the last purchases for Christmas (as opposed to last minute purchases!)  and driving into Bagenalstown to hand deliver a present.  Now I have the stove lit, a chicken to go in the oven and some flowers to felt for my mother.  I also need to make a nice piece of flat felt which will then be cut and stitched into a ‘smart phone’ cover as requested by my sister Lizzie.  I am planning to take some pictures of the flowers in progress and then I’ll post my felt flower tutorial as promised, that’s the plan anyway!  As things stand I doubt that I’ll get to any emails or similar today but once tomorrow and the final selling opportunity for my felt is over Saturday is a new day.

Tomorrow morning I will be back in Borris Farmer’s Market with more 3 for E30 specials, please call in and say hi if you are in the area!


Reflections on another day at Borris Farmer’s Market

Well I’m home, fed and watered now, so is Rex!  It was a beautiful but icy day when I headed in to Borris this morning to set up my stand, luckily the heaters were working overtime in the hall so it was nice and warm inside even if the fish man was freezing outside.

Setting up my stand beside Emma Jane Champley

The dynamics of our potential customers appeared slightly different today, almost without exception everyone who came to the market was primarily interested in stocking up on seasonal food, the people who also had a look at the various art and craft stands only purchased if they were totally sure that they needed the items.  It’s very obvious that there are no snap descisions being made or impulse buys as would have been commonplace a few years ago.  For this reason I’m happy with the descision I took a couple of weeks ago to offer good value on felt flowers, rings and brooches, today I extended the offer to include my latest phone/camera covers and needle filled cases too.  I did sell a handfull of these during the course of the morning but no sales totalling more than a collective E30 for 3 items, I don’t think this way of selling product can be classified as a get rich quick scheme, do you?  Overall however, I still feel it is a good local venue to promote my workshops, sell some stock, meet friends and enjoy a warm drink while munching delicious home made cookies.  Next week is the last Friday before the big day itself, will we have a big rush of last minute buyers looking for some artisan stocking fillers?  I for one, certainly hope so!!!

Sewing little pouches, cases and covers for Borris Farmer’s Market on Friday

Yesterday I had a marathon sewing session, stitching little purses and/or phone/camera covers, Kindle covers (or large clutches!) and a handful of needle cases too.  Don’t be mislead into thinking that I enjoyed the process, it was very satisfying however to see the ever increasing pile of work finished and sitting at the end of my kitchen table!

Needle cases

Some of the pieces have vintage button closures, others hand made buttons while the needle cases have the most incredible find ever, ‘jeans buttons’ which I picked up for a song at Kiernan’s in Borris.  I can’t believe how easy these were to fit, no sewing just tapping with a hammer!  I have tried a whole variety of grommets and snap fasteners over the last year or so usually NOT to my satisfication (funnily enough I one of my favourite felters, Andrea Graham, has also been experimenting with these lately!) but these jeans buttons are just the business, I will definitely use them again!!!

If you are interested in some progress pics from yesterday check out Nicola Brown – Clasheen on FB, my personal page has some images of the other completed pieces so if we’re not already friends please send me a request!!!

Market, craft fair and running repairs on large felt rug!

It’s been another busy weekend for me!  On Friday morning I set up my stand for the first time at Borris Farmer’s Market, it’s always easier to repeat a display so I wanted to get in early and have time to decide exactly how best to show off the felt.  Flowers proved to be the favourite seller on the day, I priced them at E15 each, 2 for E25 or 3 for E30.  This didn’t allow much profit per unit but keeping the price down meant that I sold more overall, I think it was the right way to go and worth remembering for the future!

Setting up the felt flowers in Borris

On Sunday Alan gave me a hand unloading and setting up my space for ‘A Taste of Carlow’ before heading off to catch up with some paperwork.  The weather was HORRENDOUS while we were unloading the truck, wet, cold and very windy!  It was a little chaotic at the beginning when setting up, I chose to display my felt in an open sided marquee which was definitely colder there than in the individual wooden huts available.  My reasoning was that the open sided display area would hopefully attract more browsers.

A Taste of Carlow

I was sited opposite the band area, beside the christmas tree and next to the wonderful organic food vendors, also the toilet was close by and when you are manning a stand by yourself this is a BIG consideration!!!  Once I had set up everything to the best of my ability given the weather constraints the organisers came around and apologised, several stand holders had arrived late and there was no space left for them.  Some of us who had come early in order to set up properly had to shift sideways and allow them cram in beside us so that was a bit of a pity, but live and let live, it wasn’t the end of the world!  Luckily the rain had eased off by about 2.30 so although the beginning of the day started badly for some people (several display stands blew down, one actually shattered!) the public did come out to support the event, all was well that ended well.  It took a while before anyone started buying but by the end of the evening I was very happy with the event.  There was a great Christmas atmosphere and bustle about the place, quite continental in feeling.  Obviously I wanted to make sales and I did, the biggest benefit however was meeting potential students and making contacts with sheep breeders, it was also great to catch up with old friends!  Check out this picture of Roisin modelling the felt snood her sister treated her to for Christmas!  Roisin learnt to felt with me recently and is really looking forward to participating in one of the hat making workshops I will be organising at Clasheen for Dawn Edwards.  Watch out Dawn because Roisin is a very talanted felter with a great head for design, it will be interesting to see what sort of concepts she has dreamt up by April!!!

Roisin modelling her new felt snood!

Yesterday I travelled to Dublin to help my mother with prep for some more hospital tests.  Before travelling home this afternoon I had to call in to Sylvia and effect some running repairs on her large felt rug.  Followers of my blog will remember that Sylvia commissioned a big rug from me last year, unfortunately her new rescue dog found some very interesting smells worth investigating recently but luckily only pulled off a bit of surface wool, no irrepairable damage was done!!!  I managed to needle felt (I know!) matching wool into the few damaged areas and Sylvia is now going to spot wash, hoover and steam clean the entire rug.  By the time this is done I don’t think that anyone will be able to tell where the  new areas of wool are, hopefully the steaming will remove any other attractive scents so I’m guessing that this is the only repair I will have to make, fingers crossed anyway.

I’m off now to put some food in the oven, walk REX and hopefully catch up on a bit of felting too.  I would like to have some new work ready for my second week at Borris Farmer’s Market this Friday!

Super exciting news, continuation of the ‘labels for textiles’ debate and a handful of felt berets!!!

Well, I can almost not speak or write today I am so excited, drumroll please!  The biggest news I am sharing with you today is that super friend and felt hat maker extraordinaire, the wonderful Dawn Edwards will be coming to stay at Clasheen during April 2012, I can’t wait!!!!!  This trip has been a long time in the planning, almost 2 years to be exact.  Finally Dawn has her first ever passport, some provisional dates in mind (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks in April) and as soon her current fairs and events are over Dawn will be booking her tickets.  Watch out Ireland, here she comes!!!  I’m going to be blogging loads about Dawn’s trip over the next few weeks and also revealing news about my own Spring trip across the water, KY are you ready???

For the moment however ‘A Taste of Carlow’ looms on the horizon, I’ve been invited to participate in the Borris Farmers Market over the next 4 weeks, loads of felting needs to be completed to display at these venues and mum is being discharged from hospital today but still has loads of tests, scopes and consultant visits to go through over the course of the next two weeks.  Thanks so much Sonia, Deb, Suzanne, Dawn, Ellen, Margaret, Chrissie, Margo, Lebec EGirl (sorry I can’t work out your actual name!), Shirley and Pam for leaving comments about the ‘labels for textile art’ debate!  I am thrilled to get your input as it really opens up the issue and has given me plenty of food for thought.  It’s interesting that Shirley suggested signing the mount board on the bottom right, I did debate doing that but ended up not, would one use a pen or pencil for this???  Shirley also said about keeping the bottom border about 1/2″ deeper than the others, I didn’t do this unfortunately but it totally makes sense if you are signing the board!  As to stitching directly on the felt or adding initials by either needle felting or sewing, like Suzanne while I can sew if really pushed it doesn’t come naturally and I’m really looking for a simpler solution that totally shouts ‘me’.  Obviously I am stretching myself since I purchased my beautiful straight stitching sewing machine but I don’t feel comfortable or confident enough at the moment to sign with free machine embroidery.  Also for me, the felting is my favourite part of the process so I think I’m going to stick with adding a label onto the back of my work in future coupled with signing the mount as suggested in the front.

Label ironed onto felt

At the moment I am ironing my new basic labels onto the back of my work as opposed to sewing them in and it does seem to be working although I would definitely like a more distinctive label.  I love Margo and Deb’s idea of a metal label, adore the little silver tags that Chrissie makes and uses herself and also love the little wooden tags Heather sews inside her felt bags etc., these are definitely options to consider in the future!

Yesterday evening when I got home from visiting mum I decided I just couldn’t face in to felting more flowers.  I am up to date with the target I set myself of having a minimum of 57 flowers completed in time for Sunday so decided instead to have some fun and start working on a few soft and colourful felt berets!  Below is a picture of the first one I completed, beautiful short fibred merino, a swirl of silk chiffon and loads of hand dyed silk hankies on top to provide sheen and bring the turquoise and green colours together.  I’ll be bringing some of these berets to the farmers market on Friday and also to Carlow on Sunday afternoon if I still have any in stock!  I created an event page on FB this morning to promote ‘A Taste of Carlow’ so do please share this with your friends if you use FB.  We would love a big crowd to support all the wonderful Carlow artisans who will be participating on the day (Sunday 4th December, 2 – 6pm) and I just want to let as many people as possible know that the event will be happening!

The finished turquoise and green beret