Season’s Greetings!!!

Season’s greetings to everyone from Ireland!!! It’s been an unusual sort of day for me, working in the morning, exchanging gifts and having an excellent lunch with Carmen and Peter followed by a little more work in the late afternoon. Now I’ve got my stove lit, a glass of wine poured and a good book to read. Alan’s ringing later from his mother’s house then tomorrow I’ve more work to get through in the morning before meeting up with my family for a welcome and delicious lunch! I hope you’re all having a great day, lots of love from Clasheen.

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Happy Christmas everyone!

Happy Christmas to all of you who celebrate this festive season! 

I almost didn’t get to travel to my sister’s house yesterday as we had such bad ice in Ballybrack that I couldn’t get up the hill in my local village and had to abandon my truck at the village church car park.  Luckily there is an old mass path through the fields under my house so I was able to walk home the short way and not around the lethal roads!  Several other intrepid travellers had to turn back also but after a couple of hours warming myself at home I set off through the fields again and was eventually able to drive to Dublin by a much longer but safer route.

Rex is being looked after by friends Marie, Fin and their families so I am going to stay for another two nights with my family here and then back to Ballybrack and back to felting!  Thanks to everyone who has left Christmas messages here, on Flickr and also through my email.  It is wonderful to have so many virtual and real friends from all over the world, I wish you all a fabulous Christmas and Happy New Year!

Felted sign and Happy Holidays!

This evening I am planning on making a felted sign to hang at the top of my lane.  I have been debating for some time what to put on it, Clasheen, Felting Studio, Studio, Nicola Brown, Felt, any ideas???  I would like to hang it up whenever I have an open house or a workshop happening, just something personal that would be a marker for people trying to find my rural retreat!  The technique that I am going to use is the Osman technique, basically what Mehmet Girgic teaches at his workshops but I will not full the felt to the degree necessary for a rug, just enough to have a large piece suitable to hang outside in all that the Irish weather can throw at us. 

Happy Holidays to everyone, whether you celebrate Christmas as we do or just take a few days break to recharge the batteries!  Thanks to my sister Lizzy, husband Paul and my nephews and niece for a great couple of days spent celebrating the occasion at their comfy house in Co. Wicklow.  My mother and I travelled up together and we all met at my other sister Suzanne’s house for Christmas day.  Lizzy and Suzanne live aout 5 minutes apart so the few days were spent travelling between the two houses, catching up on all the news, giving out our Christmas presents and of course eating some great food!  Lizzy and Paul’s children are now old enough to really enjoy the buzz around Christmas but not too old to be cynical about all the hype so it was nice to see them all so excited about the whole experience.

I really tried to make most of my own presents this year, felted scarves, home made cranberry relish, chicken curry, covered notebooks etc. and bought other craftspeople’s work if I felt the recipient might already have an overdose of my felt!  The response that I got to the hand crafted presents was great, it definitely is nice to make something personal for someone and I think that most people also appreciate the effort that you go to when selecting the gifts.  From the other perspective I was really happy with the presents that I recieved myself, thanks to everyone for the great things that you gave me, I am actually writting this post on the new (secondhand but very fast!) laptop that I got from my mother.

Felted beads, exhibition and Christmas Craft Swap

I have been making a series of felted beads to incorporate into some new necklaces that I am making for another exhibition that I will be participating in.  Yesterday I was contacted by Tunde from KOZO studio and gallery to say that my submission had been successful for the Winter/Christmas exhibition that she is organising so I was very excited.  Twelve selected artists have been chose for this well organised event which is running at the KOZO Gallery in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny from 19th November until 31st January.  This means that both this exhibition and ‘Breaking Out’ run at the same time which is brilliant for me, hopefully it will also mean that more people may be interested in learning the fascinating craft of felting!

Christmas Craft Swap and Autumn Swap update  Everyone should have posted and received their Autumn Swap packages by now, please can you make sure to photograph your goodies and post them to our group pool on Flickr?  It is really important that everyone’s effort is aknowledged and it is brilliant seeing how many talented members we make friends with around the world.

Our new swap is the Christmas Craft Swap and to make sign ups a simpler process for me to organise and monitor from now on please sign up through Clasheen Crafty Swaps.  If you are not a member of Flickr it is really simple to join up (follow the instructions) and you will also be able to express your likes and dislikes in the discussion section of the group.  Our swap will consist of either a hand made Christmas ornament OR a handmade Christmas gift, a seasonal receipe and a small little extra.  Please say whether you would like an ornament or a gift when signing up to the swap and make sure to sign up before the closing date of Saturday November 15th.  Swap partners will be assigned on Sunday 16th and packages need to be posted out by Friday 5th December, this gives everyone 3 weeks to come up with the goodies!

Felting techniques and swap update

It is amazing how many ways there are to felt a ball.  Today I needed to make a couple of felt balls and although they are always trotted out as a beginners project for me they are far from it!  I always seem to have difficulty starting them off without getting creases but no more, Australian feltmaker Anita Larkin’s way worked a treat.  You lay a few very light layers of wool down on a bamboo blind (I used merino) at right angles to each other and then dry felt for a few seconds.  This dry felting is done by placing the palm of your hand of the fibres and moving it gently away from you and back towards you, then do the same from a 90 degree angle.  You now have a flattish square of fibres which you fold over at the corner to make an angle, exactly like folding a won ton.  Starting from this angle now fold and roll the whole wad of fibres into a ball making sure that the last wisps are as smooth as possible on the outside.  Dunk very quickly and very gently into hot soapy water (I use natural olive oil soap) and start to rotate LIGHTLY in your hand.  Almost immediately you will feel a skin forming on the outside of the ball, the inside will still be dry and any small creases can now be covered with a light wisp of wool.  Work the ball in your hand and on the mat dunking it a couple of times in the hot water as you progress to start working the inside as well.  Before you can say ‘felt’ you will have a great ball, amazing!  Make sure to rinse it out in hot water and there you go.

Speaking of Australia I mentioned before a great Australian website for felting and sewing supplies, Essential Textile Art.  Today I placed another order for various types of sari fabric to incorporate in my nuno felting.  I am going away on a felting course to Wollknoll in a weeks time and hope that the fibres will be here on my return.  My new Etsy shop is now set up and I will be frantically making some nice pieces to sell as Christmas presents, as soon as I have the items up I will post a link here on the blog!  Remember, sign up to Buy Handmade if you want to support artists and craftspeople from around the world.

Swap update: We now have swap participants from Ireland, Germany, Spain and Denmark to join in the upcoming exchange that I am organising.  To keep it simple for the first swap the theme will be Autumn and the deadline to join will be 21st September.  Swap buddies will be allocated then and your package needs to be posted to your buddy by the 14th October.  We will exchange one handmade accessory, one seasonal receipe and a little something extra.  Obviously everyone is into different forms of craft so you may make your handmade item anything that you would like to recieve yourself using Autumn at the theme.  If you don’t work with textiles there is no problem, just let me know if you would prefer to exchange a piece of art (hand made cards, wall hanging etc.) or some hand made edible goodies and I will pair you up with someone who would like to receive there items.  To sign up and for those of you already signed up please email me with your likes and dislikes and let me know if you would be happy to receive gifts other that textiles if necessary and I can forward your preferences on to your swap buddy when the draw is made.  If this swap goes according to plan we might consider Christmas as our next theme!  To check out other current swaps visit SwapDex, be careful you don’t get hooked.