Felt flowers ……

I’m felting like crazy now in order to have a nice supply of stock for the craft fair on December 4th.  Taking the descision to limit my range of products has been beneficial I think, I’ve decided to concentrate on flowers, a series of bags/accessories combining raw wool and merino and lastly several framed landscapes.  Also mum is not well at all now and I need to work whatever hours I am not visiting her in Dublin.  Yesterday I drove her up there after discovering her own GP was away and the blood tests he ordered last week not back from the lab.  She was seen really quickly by a triage nurse then the ER consultant, had an ECG and chest a X-ray and then was admitted into hospital.  We saw the consultant neurologist last night and today she in undergoing a barrage of tests to confirm the preliminary diagnosis.  Over the last few weeks her muscles have got a lot weaker than usual and several other slight but unusual indications lead to the conclusion she may have a very rare disease, we should know more today or tomorrow.  For now I’ll leave you with an image of some flowers, sorry the colours are not hectic, the sun was shining too brightly at Clasheen this morning!!!

Merino and linen flowers

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Busy, busy, busy few days!

Since I last posted here on Friday it seems that at least two weeks worth of work has actualy taken place so apologies for my lack of communication over the last few days. 

On Saturday morning as I was preparing for the first of my two planned felting workshops I managed to shear the copper water pipe leading from my well in half with my bare hands (hands made stronger from felting???) leading to no water supply for the day!  Luckliy I have the key to my neighbours farmhouse and was able to let myself in and carry enough water for the felting home in a basin, thanks to Alan the supply was reconnected in the evening and allowed me to have a bath and prepare for Sunday’s craft fair.  I packaged my new felting kits, gathered my felt scarves, jewellery and a couple of vessels, loaded the truck with all these as well as my large folding table, bath bags and tonnes of books which I had assembled during a monsterous house tidying session! 

Sunday dawned dry for a change (my 13,000 decidious trees had not arrived on Friday due to horrendous weather) and I got to Raheen Family Resource Centre with plenty of time to set up before the public was due to arrive.  From a selling point of view the day was not a great success (although I did just about cover my costs) but as regards supporting a good cause, making contacts and promoting my workshops with International artists it definitely helped get the message across about what I am doing.  I do think that Carmen did a great job organising the fair and decorating the hall, people just didn’t seem to have any money to play around with and possibly are holding on to what they have until our Irish Budget which takes place tomorrow!  It was nice however to catch up again with sculptor Gilly Thomas, last December Gilly bought one of my silk and merino neck pieces at an exhibition and was actually photographed wearing it recently and in the paper during the opening of her exhibition for the Wexford Opera Festival!!  I also had a good chat with Gayle Coleman from Palace Gems (our tables were side by side!), visual artist Mary Wallace, excellent holistic therapist Barbara McAteer and textile artist Blanka-Silviane Davare, a new member of the Enniscorthy Knitting Group.  Blanka-Silviane has moved to the Enniscorthy area of Co. Wexford from Switzerland via Dublin and doesn’t have a website at present, if you are interested in viewing her hand knitted and fulled stylish headwear she may be contacted by email.  As well as buying some Christmas presents Barbara and I did a fun swap, one of my cowls in exchange for a half hour head and back massage, a great deal for both of us!

Yesterday morning my trees arrived at last and in the afternoon Alan helped Chris (the forester), Dennis and Paul plant the first of the Ash.  I had to prepare for the Golf Club Ladies AGM and in the evening I officially took over as the new Lady Captain, this is a position I will hold for my sins until the beginning of December 2010.  Today I am trying to organise and collate all the paperwork needed by Chris in order to successfully get my grant cheque for the woodland, I am planting approx 8.5 acres so I need to make sure everything is in order as it does involve quite a lot of money!

Tomorrow morning I am getting my hair cut (newsworthy as it is only the second time this year I will have had time to make the journey!) and then I need to deliver some felt jewellery and scarves to Earthworks, a gallery and studio in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.  After that I will make some lunch for the guys planting and then Carmen is arriving for an afternoon of feltmaking, roll on the time because I feel withdrawal symptoms in the air!

Nuno felting, to compliment or contrast?

Just a quick post today as I continue preparations for Saturday’s workshops and Sunday’s craft fair at Raheen.  Yesterday I made two sweet scarflettes using some of the gorgeous printed silk that I bought recently at Threads of Green in Kilkenny.  The print is in a light turquoise and rust so I was debating whether to use turquoise for the wool on both of them or try a totally different colour on one as an experiment.  Eventually I decided on turquoise for one and a hot orange for the second.  Hopefully the weather will be fine in the morning and I will post the results so you can see the difference, it is astonishing how the same fabric ends up with a totally different look!

My kitchen is beautifully scented this afternoon as I have just finished making 36 bath bags to add scent and colour to my display on Sunday.  It was really difficult not to make any more felt but I am totally determined to try and sell a lot of what I have already made and get a bit of space free in the studio and around the house.  Carmen is up to ninety getting everything organised and hopefully the Fair will raise loads of funds for the Raheen Family Resouce Centre.  Please pop in at any time during the day if you are within striking distance of Wexford and make sure to introduce yourselves to me, it is always a pleasure to meet any of my blog followers!

Pictures of my new fabric and felt neckpiece design

As promised here are some pictures of my new style (loosly based on a Lyda Rump design) fabric and felt neckpiece. 

Printed silver fabric and black felt bead neckpiece

The scarves that I have used in my first two prototypes are a 20% silk 80% linen mix and the beads are wet felted from some of my gorgeously soft short fibred merino.  When I was taking these pictures I thought again how perfect this style would be for anyone who  is allergic to wool.  The felt beads may be moved around the scarf and never touch the skin therefore anyone finding wool itchy would never come in contact with anything irritable.

Detail of printed fabric and felt bead neckpiece

I formed one long felt bead around a wooden dowel and just before I had finished felting cut the piece into five even pieces.  The black beads perfectly compliment the silver printed fabric and I am still deciding if I will add small seed beads to the turquoise neckpiece (pictures on Flickr) or leave it as is, plain and simple.  As mentioned before I sewed the ends of the scarf together and covered the join with a felt bead.  It would of course be an option not to do this but leave the ends open, this way the scarf could be wound around the neck in the normal manner as many times as wanted leaving the ends free to sit to the front or to the back.

I am off now to have a quick snack for lunch and then set in to a long afternoon felting in preparation for Sunday’s craft fair!  Until tomorrow …..

Fabric and felt neckpieces, craft fair preparations

At the end of last week I made two fabric and felt neckpieces, basically a cross between a necklace and a scarf!  These were inspired by a piece of Lyda Rump’s that I saw in Denmark this summer and consisted of a long scarf of silk and linen pulled through large felt beads.  The two ends of the scarf were sewn together and a felt bead covers them and the whole ensembale may be worn wrapped once, twice or three times (if you have a small head!) around your head.  I used my short fibred merino to make the beads so they are exceptionally soft but even if you were actually allergic to wool it would be possible to enjoy the neckpieces as only the silk/linen mix scarf would sit at the back of your neck.   As soon as I get a chance I will upload some photos and you can see how simple but effective these are, a perfect present and a great way of combining some artificial fabrics with felt as well!

This week it is all about preparation for the craft fair that I am attending on Sunday.  I did mention before that I am only doing the one this year, Carmen is organising it and I really want to support the cause.  I have boxed up LOADS of books in my quest to tidy up the house and I am going to bring theses along as well (having of course asked permission) and sell them from beside my stand, hopefully I can make a little extra cash and sort the house out a bit more at the same time!  Here are a few details about the event …….

RAHEEN FAMILY RESOURCE CENTE

IS HOLDING OUR 2ND CHRISTMAS FAIR ON SUNDAY

DEC 6 FROM 10 AM TO 16 PM.

Venue: Raheen Community Hall, Raheen,

 Clonroche Enniscorthy

 

This year’s event promises to be bigger and better that last year’s craft fair. The diverse range of stalls include:

  • Handcrafted jewellery
  • Hand made felt
  • Festive Home made products
  • Festive Décor
  • Christmas trees
  • Clothing
  • Pottery and wood turning
  • Hot Drink and food
  • Hair wrap and face painting

Craft fairs, felting, open house this weekend…….

Wow, how the time flies!  It seems that I have been continuously on the road over the last two weeks and coupled with that have been having internet connection problems, hence the lask of posts for which I would like to apologise.  Anyway, here goes with a bit of an update (including a caution!) and things should be back on track from now on.

Last weekend I had a stand at a small rural craft fair which Carmen organised, this was to raise funds locally for the community development project in Raheen, Co. Wexford that she is involved with.  Stands cost only E20 (luckily!!) and some bright wit from another Christmas event kindly removed all Carmen’s road signs.  The roads were absolutely treacherous when I set out, my intention was to reach the venue a couple of hours in advance but unfortunately, signs lacking, I actually arrived to the parish centre about 15 minutes after the proposed opening time of 10am.  Carmen will never know how close I was to turning around and just going home when I couldn’t find the venue, she had left her phone in the car and I was trying to contact her continuously once I had got lost but eventually I found a man who gave me directions and all was well again.  Some of the teenage members of the Youth Club that Carmen works with were on hand to help everything run smoothly and to man the tea and coffee stand.  Attendance was dreadful, 37 people work in the centre, Carmen herself was the ONLY worker who actually attended and she was running the show!  Anyway, the public were definitely conspicuous in their absence and by about 3pm I had only sold one scarf.  I wanted to stick things out for Carmen’s sake (other exhibitors had gone home) and thankfully a couple of people arrived who really related to the felt and I sold several items in quick succession.  I definitely picked up a few new people to teach, covered my costs and went home with a couple of extra Euro in my pocket so the day turned out to be a much more positive experience that I had at first expected.  Not so the 2 day house event that I attended on Monday and Tuesday.  This took place at Ballyhealy House, a comfortable old guest house a couple of miles outside Kilmore Quay in Wexford.  My friend Betty owns the house and for the last 4 or 5 years has been running a Christmas Gift Fair at home so we were expecting a big croud.  I felt sorry for Betty because she had put a lot of effort into inviting people, advertising and promotion on the radio.  All I can say after 2 disasterous days is that it is definitely apparant to me people are affected badly by the current economic situation.  On the Monday afternoon/evening a friend and I counted only 23 actual customers (none of whom bought any of my items!) and the following day not 1 person came when they had dropped their children to school (this was a busy time previous years) but about 38 customers did come sporadically during the day.  I met a few  nice people who were very much into hand crafted products and by the end of the day had made sales to customers who really appreciated the felt.  Again I made contacts interested in lessons after the New Year so from that point of view it was worthwhile but in this instance the stand cost E150 and I definitely didn’t cover my costs when you put travel expenses etc.  into the equation.  LESSON LEARNT  I will not participate at craft fairs ever again unless the space costs E20 – E50 and it is really to support a cause that I believe in and/or the current economic climate takes a turn for the better.  It is really soul destroying to sit hour after hour when no customers are even in the building!  Felt is a very definite niche market and I had no problems selling my work whenever interested customers came to my stand, the problem was a lack of customers through the door and this is something that I had no control over.  I hope that this summation does not sound too depressing but I really want anyone else thinking of going down this route to plan their participation carefully and learn from my experience.

On to happier days, or should I say difficult but happier days!!  I returned home from Ballyhealy House late on Tuesday evening and was due to set out for a Feltmakers Ireland get together and Crafts Council training in Dublin at 7am the next morning.  The weather was so cold that night and the roads so covered by ice that I took the decision to leave a bit later than planned.  My vehicle is a long wheel base pick up truck and it is not the best in icy conditions being only 2 wheel drive and very light unless fully loaded.  Anyway, it took me an hour and 25 minutes to drive a distance that usually takes less than half an hour so I did not arrive to Dublin until after 11am, a total travel time of over 3 hours.  What a nerve wracking journey but it was great to finally arrive, grab a Starbucks coffee and head into Blanchardstown Library to meet the other feltmakers.  There was a big pile of work on display and instead of actually making Christmas Ornaments as I thought we were going to do everyone discussed the items that they had made recently and on the recent Sigrid Bannier workshops.  I was wearing the necklace that Sigrid gave me as a present and the ring which I made with Ingrid to match it, these got many admiring glances!  We all went next door to the Driocht cafe for a light lunch (very tasty!) and then were joined by some other crafts people for an afternoon session with a Crafts Council sponsored mentor.  This session was dealing with sales and I must say following on from the previous 3 days was quite an interesting experience.  It reinforced my belief that unless you get the foot fall past your stand you will not have a good show but if you were in any way unsure how to get a sale with a LIVE customer this was the afternoon for you!  When we had networked and said our goodbyes it was almost 6 o’clock but I wanted to take a quick run into Inspiring Ideas, a craft shop in the Blanchard Centre before setting out for Clasheen once more.  A heavy fog was blanketing everywhere so I tried not to delay, some beads and cord later I have to confess that I then grabbed a large Big Mac meal to set me up for the journey ahead!  Lucky I did this, my trip home took 2 hours and 45 minutes, usually I can do it in approx 2 but the fog was just like pea soup.

Yesterday morning Carmen called over and we got stuck in for a very enjoyable morning’s felting.  I made some more punched beads ‘a la’ Sigrid and then strung them in the evening with some nice lime green beads that I have, Carmen made a beautiful felt and linen necklace.  I then had the pleasure of watching Carmen prepare the most devine paella (anyone who knows me knows that I just LOVE good home prepared food) complete with fresh squid, monkfish and huge prawns.  We had a glass of sherry, very refined and then got stuck into the paella, not so refined!  It was fantastic, a great combination of tastes and textures.

This Sunday I am opening my house between 2 and 5pm sharp for a display and sale of my felt and hand made Christmas ornaments.  Quite a few friends were asking me about buying felt as presents so this seemed an ideal opportunity to gather everyone together at the one time and have a bit of a social event at the same time.  We are going to enjoy a glass of spiced apple punch and some canapes and I would love for any of you within striking distance to come along if you would like to attend and please tell your friends!  If anyone needs directions please just email me and I will forward them on.

Craft Fair, Etsy shop, Sigrid Bannier workshops

It’s been a busy weekend an an even busier start to Monday!  On Saturday I went down to Woodbrook House to discuss a couple of things with Giles and also to clarify the set up of our felting room and the dining arrangements for the Sigrid Bannier jewellery and nuno workshops next weekend.  Due to unforseen circumstances I am now going to be organising and cooking the food myself next weekend as well as participating in the Saturday workshop and entertaining everyone on Saturday night!  We also need to rearrange the workshop room somewhat and I will be going down to Woodbrook again in the morning to try for a final organising with Giles. 

At last I am starting to get a few more items up on my Etsy shop.  I wanted to have nice hand made products in the E15 to E60 price range suitable for Christmas presents and stocking fillers.  This morning I uploaded a range of images of trellis scarves and wraps selling from E30 up to E47, one thing to remember is that the prices on line are un USA dollers so they are not actually as expensive as they sound at first, $38 = approx E30!  As soon as my camera charges up again I have a series of felt necklaces (some with vintage or hand made buttons) to photograph and get on line.  These will cost from E15 to E20 each so do check in over the next few days as I get to grips with getting the shop up and running.

The Craft Fair that I participated in on Sunday was interesting if very dissapointing.  Unfortunately there was an extremely low turnout of people to view the stands and although in general the standard of work was very high there just weren’t enough people to make it worthwhile.  I was lucky enough to sell both of the alpaca scarves (both to men!) that I had on display and therefore covered costs and made a few Euro.  Most of the exhibitors sold nothing although the home made biscotti and preserves that the organisers had made did sell steadily to anyone who came.  It was a salutory lesson for me.  Normally I am on the organising end of events and to be honest advertising in many shapes and forms is the main answer to get the foot fall, the only sign that I saw for the event was on the road leading to the town and although the organiser did assure us that she had advertised extensively locally none of us had seen anything.  I am not blaming her in the slightest but I do feel that she underestimated the amount of signage needed and the actual cost of getting it all together, purely through lack of experience.  The venue was beautiful if small, a gorgeous room overlooking the river Barrow and the organisers were helpful and friendly.