Flu and felt!

Cristina and I had a lovely time felting together although we did miss our friend Sheila who had some sick bodies to look after and couldn’t make it down from Dublin, hope everyone is feeling a lot better by now Sheila.  Unfortunately I seem to have succumbed to some kind of flu myself (how annoying is that) so I am going to keep this post brief and share a couple of pictures of two sleeveless jackets, one which I made a while ago (and now has a new home with Cristina!) and the other which Cristina made during her stay here at Clasheen! 

Detail from the front of Cristina's jacket

Cristina’s white jacket is worked from needle punched felt and has some lovely raised detail inspired by some interesting techniques of Danish felter Charlotte Buch.   The merino in mine picks up the colours of the large hand dyed silk lap which formed the basis of the design, I love the texture this silk adds to the surface and the little holes which I emphasised in the wool. 

Close up showing how the silk laps add texture to the felt surface

First photos from my ArtL!nks project

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.

Ready to start rolling

To be continued …..

My favourite felt accessory of the moment, raw materials for US workshops and a picture of my new fibre friend!

If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know how hectic things have been here at Clasheen since my return from ‘Felt Naturally’ in Silkeborg at the beginning of August.  Laying out and felting Sylvia’s large rug took a lot longer in actuality than in planning, partially due to the logistics of scaling up to such a degree (especially without another pair of hands!) and partially due to interruptions with Lady Captain duties at Borris Golf Club.  I did however manage to fit in a few small projects between other committments and one of the pieces that I felted is definitely one of my all time favourite accessories, a real conversation opener whenever I wear it at the moment which to be honest is quite often!  

Green felt boa

Charlotte Buch needs to be credited with the design and was very generous in sharing the technique used with all of us who participated in her long workshop in Denmark.  Because I was totally focused on felting my sea creature it wasn’t until I returned to Clasheen that I actually got to try out this method for myself and I absolutely LOVE the versality of the finished piece!  In the workshop many participants felted this boa starting with a base of prefelt but for mine I decided to start from scratch and use some of the gorgeous hand dyed merino roving I recieved from Holly as part of the New Year Secret Scarf Exchange organised via Ravelry.  The boa may be twisted a couple of times around the neck as a necklace, wrapped around the waist, worn as a scarf, tied around a ponytail and in many other ways which might grab the wearer at any given moment.  This felt accessory just goes to demonstrate how totally versatile and adaptable one simple design may be and if you would like to see some of the other ways which I wear mine have a look through my Flickr  photos.  Another amazing advantage of felting this piece is that my horror of a sewing machine has almost disappeared, honestly!  Charlotte uses either an embellisher or a sewing machine (depending on the end result required) during the early stages of some of her work and to be honest once I saw how simple various of the techniques were and the amazing results on offer I have had a major head change with regard to the use of these frightening pieces of equipment (frightening to me!). 

This brings me on to another point which I feel is well worth making before I head over to the US next week.  Many different raw materials may eventually lead to a similar end result and many different end results may be arrived at by numerous different people all starting from the same point and using the same raw materials!  This is something that I can’t stress enough for anyone considering joining me at one of the exciting workshops that are planned for Loomis, Berkeley, San Fransisco and Kalamazoo over the next 4 weeks.  Please don’t feel that you have to copy exactly what I do or use the same fibres and other raw materials that I choose to use but obviously you are welcome to do so if that is what you so wish!  What I will be providing is an insight into how I work, what I find works best for me (I am ALWAYS learning and discovering new materials and texchniques!), sharing some of my own favourite pieces and bringing along with me as many raw materials and embellishments as possible to examine with all of you thereby providing a felting receipe which you may choose to follow or totally adapt dependent on your own wishes.  What I would like all participants to do is to bring with you as many or as few of your own felting materials,  found items, stash goodies, jewellery findings and equipment as you can comfortably transport (in a bag or in a truck!!!) and then we can look at the ways in which you work and find the direction and materials you are comfortable experimenting with in order to create some fabulous and individual pieces during the course of the various workshops!  Is it obvious HOW EXCITED I am to be finally meeting so many of you in the flesh???

Lastly, here is a picture I took of a fibre friend from La Gomera and I have now installed her as my desktop background because I think she is just gorgeous!!! 

My fibre friend from La Gomera!

Simple felt dreadlocks!

As well as meeting loads of fun and dedicated fibre enthusiasts one of the best things about attending any international felt event is the sure fire knowledge that you will learn something new.  Many of you know that I love dreadlocks or felt cords but up until now they have definitely not been on my list of top ten easiest felted items to make! 

Funky felt necklace

Since attending Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Silkeborg I have been experimenting with a technique of hers which allows you to insert multiple cords at the lay out stage without any prior felting to keep them seperate, this has proved a eureka technique for me!!!  Probably I heard somewhere else how to do this (have something way in the back of my mind!) but until I actually saw the results and tried it for myself I couldn’t imagine how many possibilities this would open up for me.  While I was taking a break from finishing the rug I decided to apply this method and try to felt a dreadlock necklace without taking all day making the cords, it worked and only took about 50 minutes from start to finish!  The only difference in the finished item is that the dreadlocks are more ‘crinkly’ looking than if they were partially felted before inclusion, this lends quite a funky feel to the finished piece and I am now full of ideas about how to alter already felted bags and plains of flat felt etc. to update them and add a bit of extra interest.

Felted closure

 

I also adapted a technique learnt from Evelyn Refsahl during my short jewellery workshop for the closure, I still find these a bit fiddly to make but hopefully I will get better in time!

Sea creature out and about!

This afternoon I have finally been able to take a couple of pictures of my completed sea creature! 

Home at Clasheen

I had planned blogging more about Charlotte’s wonderful workshop and the fabulous jewellery session I participated in with Evelyn Refshal but time is just slipping away and felting my large rug is taking up every spare minute at the moment.  Over the next few days I will be short on writing but heavy on pictures so please bear with me!  Suffice to say that I ran into some MAJOR issues when felting my sea creature.  The gauze stretched amazingly due to the high raised bumps and I eventually needed to add some judicious stitching on the inside before working the felt to the finished stage.  Note to self, use silk in future for any similar projects, already have ideas swirling around in my head!  I also had planned adding coral-red points on top of the bumps (check back to see the picture I used for my inspiration) but now that the sea slug is home at Clasheen I rather like the turquoise and white just as it is. 

Disappearing into acanthus

 

I would like to acknowledge the generous support of Carlow Co. Council who helped fund my participation in Grima’s event through the award of a 2010 Arts Act Grant, your support was much appreciated!

Charlotte Buch’s two day workshop continued

My head is a little clearer now and my body a little less tired so here goes with continuing on from my first post about Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Denmark.  We started day one by drooling over the wonderful household textiles Charlotte had brought to discuss with us and listened to her explaining the techniques used while jotting our own notes in the workbooks supplied.  I was totally captivated right from the start as all the techniques could be applied to many different weights of fabric/fibre.  This meant that what we would be covering during the two days applied as much to sculptural work or clothing as to the household textiles that we were going to be making, the methods used have so many uses it is quite amazing!  Mainland European felters seem to work a lot more with prefelt/needle felt than we do here in Ireland and while I chose to work in my favourite short fibred merino (I brought Kap merino from Wollknoll with me) it was fascinating to see others stretching and working with commercially prepared needle felt. 

Charlotte had brought some great images of underwater creatures and coral with her and because I knew that I wanted to felt something three dimensional a black, white and acidic yellow sea cucumber (or is it a sea slug?  Is there a difference???) seemed the perfect kicking off point for me.  Of course as soon as I opened my suitcase with all my many kgs of wool I discovered that I had left the black on my kitchen table so had to think laterally and decided to substitute with turquoise instead!  Cutting out a template was the easy part and this I covered with gauze to give the piece some extra stability, at least that was the idea, more on that later!!!  I wanted clear edges between the white and the turquoise wool so decided to roll a LOT of cords dry before dunking them in soapy water and ‘painting’ them on, my idea being that when the felt was wet out the lightly rolled edges would move together but the slight edges would prevent the colour ‘bleeding’ and merging together too much. 

Laying out the first side prior to infilling with colour

 To be cont …..

Fantastic felting fun (and some serious learning time) in Denmark!!!

I have just returned from a marvellous time celebrating Grima’s 20th anniversary at Silkeborg in Denmark.  Grima (the Danish Felting Association) did a wonderful job bringing together felters from all around the world to share with them in this special event.  Today I am so tired that it will not be possible to write coherently about any of the happenings so I am going to leave you with a couple of taster pictures from my felted household textiles workshop with Charlotte Buch, an AMAZING experience!!! 

Sea life inspiration

Starting to lay out the white rolls