I am just taking a quick break from organising bedrooms (my two sisters and a friend are staying here tomorrow night in honour of the golf club dance!) to post the first pictures from the start of my ArtL!nks project. After all the planning that went into my proposal it was actually quite hard to start the work for some reason, sometimes I think that pondering, plotting, planning and worrying too much can have a very detrimental effect on my actual felting!
Fitting and stitching some of Mehmet's rug base around a plastic resist with the intention of ending up with a freestanding tube
Anyway, I decided that instead of playing around with samples exploring surface detail as I had initially intended I would actually try and make a free standing column, measure the shrinkage rate, see how strongly I could felt it and assess how stable it would be without additional internal support. This has been the aspect of the project that I have been having the most concerns about and I wanted to be sure that my ideas would work before studying images of nudibranches further prior to finalising the design and cutting out the first resists. You may remember the piece I felted this summer during Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Silkeborg, the images we used for inspiration were the trigger for me to explore the wonderful and colourful world of nudibranches (aka sea slugs) and it would be safe to say I am thoroughly hooked by now!
I decided to stick with a tonal grey colour combination that I enjoy working with leaving me free to feel how the base of my piece was felting and determine how successfully the structural aspects of the column were working. I stitched some of Mehmet’s rug base into a tube and inserted a plastic resist into the middle to make sure that the wool didn’t all just felt together into one big thick carpet! Next I laid two colours of Icelandic wool (both grey) on the surface leaving a couple of areas free of wool and also adding a few splotches of apple green C1 for contrast.
Working the soap and water downwards through all the layers of wool and fabric
A lot of rubbing and sanding later the surface wool was starting to migrate through the thick cotton well and everything was starting to felt together into one cohesive piece, now I was ready to start with rolling. Because of all my recent work on Sylvia’s rug I knew that the cotton fabric Mehmet uses for his rug bases would add stability to the column but at this stage I wasn’t sure exactly how evenly I would be able to shape the final piece and whether the top and bottom would stretch a little as had happened with some tentative experiments earlier in the year.
Under pressure for time over the next couple of days as golf duties prevail! I just thought that while you were pondering on the etamine question you might like to see a couple of pictures of the vessel I felted combining C1 and Herdwick fibre.
Two international felting events taking place worth noting in your diaries are the 11th Southern Hemisphere Felting Convergence (a bi-anual event happening from 2nd to 7th October 2011) and the ‘Obviously Felt’ symposium (28th July to 1st August 2010) organised by the Danish Felting Association Grima in honour of their 20th anniversary. My exciting news this weekend is that Carlow Co. Council have confirmed that they are awarding me E400 under the Arts Acts Grant scheme meaning that I will be able to participate at ‘Obviously Felt’ in Silkeborg, Denmark this summer, I am thrilled!!! On the other side of the world expressions of interest are being sought from tutors interested in running workshops at Convergence 2011 so if you live anywhere within striking distance of Bunbury, Australia it could be an excellent opportunity to become involved in an international symposium and a brilliant way of show casing your work. Check out their excellent blog and email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your ideas!
Yesterday I felted this simple but striking (to my mind!) vessel using Norwegian C1 wool and luscious locks of Wenslydale. At least that’s what I ‘think’ they are because unfortunately I mislaid whatever information I had describing the locks so this is just a wild guess! I used a round resist and once I had covered it with 50g C1 on each side I laid a further round resist on top of one side, this resist had a hole cut out in the centre to allow me to lay and attach the gorgeous curly fibres. To start the felting I was very careful to rub gently but firmly over the raw locks but as soon as I was happy they were starting to combine with the other wool I just rubbed, rolled and felted as normal. At the beginning I worked with coolish water and loads of soap (Anna Gunnarsdottir does this and the felt doesn’t shrink very much) but for the fulling process I rinsed it in hot water and made sure to seal the cut edges where I removed the resist very well. Over the summer I am taking part in several exhibitions where I have to show sculptural pieces. This piece is the starting point for a series of vessels combining C1 or Icelandic wool with raw locks and fibres from Irish and rare breed sheep.
Alan has been pretty sick this week and today was no exception. He did join my mother, Suzanne and I for lunch (local chicken, leeks, potatos and the first rhubarb of the season) but has headed off to his own house now and is hopefully tucked up in bed having a sleep. As a result I have been a bit frustrated trying to pin him down re. my planned felting trip to US in the Fall but eventually this afternoon he told me to go ahead and finalise my dates leaving him out of the equation so for those of you waiting for me to confirm dates, I am on to it!
I know that you have already seen an image of my first sample but here is a close up so hopefully you will be able to follow what I am talking about!
Close up of sample 1Sample 2
Lyda had brought a great selection of glass nuggets with her for us to share (apparantly cheap and easy to get in Ikea, roll on July 27th when the first store opens in Ireland!) so I decided to felt in 4 different colours to see which would work best with my wool selection. Just by matching the nuggets up beside the raw wool I thought the the green colour would be best but also incorporated black, clear and frosted green. I also covered one of the nugets with green gauze before covering with more wool thinking that it could prove an interesting contrast in textures when the glass was exposed. In the close up above you can see how much shinier and visable the green glass was compared to the frosted glass and indeed these were nothing like as good as the black, black was by far the best contrast with clear glass second! The other thing of note in the close up is how the silk chiffon that I used on top of the merino was almost totally submerged into the top layer of wool, useless for the bag as you would not have had any idea it was there at all! I also used gorgeous silk hankies and silk twists on the reverse of the piece but again these just blended into the background. What did stand out brilliantly however were the strips of green gauze (bottom right of image), I had never incorporated gauze into my work before and it was a revelation so off I went back into the traders hall (had to ration myself here!!) to try and get some turquoise gauze. Unfortunately they did not have it in this colour but luckily I found some gorgeous pongee silk in just the right shade of blue. Although by this stage everyone else was well underway laying out the wool for their bags I made the decision to make a second sample in order to discover exactly how the pongee would look against the black, blue and green for my backpack.
With this sample I laid out the wool a lot thinner than in my first piece (everyone else’s work was much thinner than mine in sample 1) so it felted quicker but Lyda said to stick with how I usually worked and to lay it as per my first sample. I loved the effect of the pongee silk against the merino so with a happy heart started to lay out my backpack! To be continued …..