Felting and eco printing, announcing residential retreats in Ireland and Portugal

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of email queries and facebook messages asking about 2015 and 2016 felting and/or eco printing workshops. I had hoped to get dates and workshop descriptions sorted, written then uploaded to the website prior to heading off on my Canadian and Australian adventures, no such luck though as here I am writing from Lethbridge having already spent a wonderful few days in Fernie! Anyway, my big news is that I’ve decided to stick closer to home during the early part of 2016, I really need to get to grips with my garden before it gets totally out of hand and I’d also like to get a few more jobs sorted around the house and studio. I’m planning another extended trip to the U.S. in 2017 but for next year I intend to concentrate primarily on Irish workshops, our annual retreat at beautiful Vale do Mondego in Portugal plus investigate the possibility of another foray or two into mainland Europe if possible. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be organising a really special residential eco printing retreat just down the road from Clasheen during July 2016!

Clasheen

I’m fine tuning details at the moment but suffice to say extremely comfortable accommodation at a beautiful rural Irish location, optional collection from the airport, delicious food, all tuition, on site access to amazing natural plant material, at least one group excursion including a trip to Cushendale Woollen Mill (more excursions depending on participant’s requirements) plus a celebration evening meal at Clasheen one night. These are the bare bones of the retreat, as soon as I can I’ll be confirming the dates and the cost but it’s definitely going to take place sometime during July, please let me know if you thInk you might be interested in attending! In addition to a group retreat I’ll also be available to accommodate individual or small group residential workshops at Clasheen from approx March onwards, the course material for these will be geared towards felting larger projects and/or intensive eco printing on protein and/or cellulose fabrics. I’m also happy to offer visits withIn the surrounding region to participants if they’d like a day or two off from the studio and non participating partners can avail of super hiking locally, the nearby coast, wood turning workshops, guided eco trails, kayaking, golf outings, visits to medieval Kilkenny etc., etc., all right on the doorstep of Clasheen!

 

Now for some early information about our next retreat at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal!!!

Delicious food and wine at Dominio Vale do Mondego!

For 2016 we’re running it a little later than usual, it’ll be taking place from18th to 25th June and it’s also our first workshop exclusively devoted to eco printing. Eelco’s knowledge of the local vegetation coupled with an ever increasing quest for more eco printing has led to this decision, I’m really excited about the move because I really want to explore the use of local plants more thoroughly!

Olga and Marta happy with their fabulous eco printed leggings

If any participants do want to felt though of course they’ll be free to do so in their own time and print what they make during the group classes every day! Please contact Karin directly if you’d like to reserve a place for this retreat, non participating workshop partners are welcome to join for a slightly reduced fee so don’t feel like yu have to leave anyone behind.

So, it’s been a manic couple of months. FORM had a fantastic ten days at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and I also participated in two separate events for Heritage Week, the Carlow Made collective exhibition in Carlow Library and a local craft fair at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford. I don’t usually do craft fairs anymore where the participants are not juried in, the arboretum is such a fantastic resource however and I was really delighted that I made the effort to attend as many people were really interested in seeing what I was doing.

Next post Fernie and Lethbridge workshop pictures!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wonderful participants and work from week 2 in Portugal!

I had a wonderful time during the second week at Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal. Different participants plus other non felting visitors on retreat (with the exception of Naomi who took part both weeks!) gave a different dynamic and it was really interesting to watch a totally different body of felt and natural prints emerge. Here are some images to give you a flavour of what we got up to, I hope that you enjoy them! Bye, bye Portugal, see you at the same time, same place next year, details of our next extravaganza will be posted online within the next week or so!!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Wonderful participants and fun in the sun, Portugal week 1!

Our first week at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego is starting to come to a head, tomorrow we'll have an exhibition for ourselves and the Portuguese, a great opportunity for the locals to see what we've been up to! Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite, I'll take loads tomorrow and try to post them as soon as I get a minute!!!

 

Felting in Portugal, advance notice of a second week!!!

I'm really excited to announce that Karin, Eelco and I made the decision yesterday to add a second residential felting extravaganza week at Dominio a Vale do Mondego in Portugal this June!!! The week of 14th to 20th June is fully sold out now but to give you advance notice of our second offering here are some basic details. The dates are from Saturday 21 June to Friday 26 June (leaving after breakfast on Friday), 6 nights/ 7 day week including 5 days intensive felting with me (and natural printing for those that want!), all materials, all organic meals and drinks (including fabulous organic wine!), single accommodation in a lovely studio with private facilities, price €695 person! NB this week is one day shorter than usual due to another workshop starting on 27th, hence the slightly cheaper price.

Please, please consider joining us, it's a marvellous week in the sun filled with felt, fibre, friends, food and fun!!! To book your place or for more information email Karin ASAP.

 

 

Short note and Autumn workshop at Mendocino Art Center – early notice!

I'm having a fabulous time here in Portugal, first during the workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego and now travelling with Alan and having a holiday. Sorry about the total lack of Internet activity, I had no coverage at all in my Quinta during the course of the workshop so I'm grabbing the opportunity now to write a quick note whilst staying at Estela's marvellous old town house in Eixa. Estela and I first met via facebook then at the week residential last year, this year she was a returning participant and now Alan and I are having a brilliant time seeing a little of the real Portugal!!! I'm going to blog properly and post plenty of pictures of both the workshop and the holiday as soon as I get home next week, for now I leave you with a link to an exciting three day workshop that I'm facilitating at the Mendocino Art Centre in California at the end of September. I'll also be posting full details of the felting retreat that Merridee and I are facilitating together at stunning Lake Tahoe during mid September, it's an exciting time to look forward to!

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/Fall13/Brown.html

Felting in Portugal, part four

Well the ‘tomorrow’ of  Wednesday’s post has been and gone so appologies if it’s taken me a couple of days longer than anticipated to write about our nuno felting and eco bundling experiences in Portugal! My Danish friend Annette arrived in Ireland at 12.45am on Wednesday morning and as well as enjoying her company, attending the market in Borris on Friday and sorting the hundreds of other daily things that go on here at Clasheen I’m trying to get my supplies together (not sucessfully yet unfortunately) and prepare for Dagmar Binder’s masterclass in Scotland which starts on Tuesday.  Annette and her husband will be staying here while I’m away and taking care of Rex then we’ll have another couple of days together when I return, I’m planning a visit to Cushendale Woollen Mill and we’ll be felting together too so that should be fun! Now as promised, back to our time in Portugal…..

Sandy and Stella both working on laying out large nuno felt wraps

The latter part of the week was taken up with nuno felting, flat felting with a view to eco bundling and basically a little (or a lot!) of whatever took each participants fancy based on the techniques that had been already been shared. Not everyone had previous nuno felting experience and strangely enough it proved impossible to get either cheesecloth or muslin in Portugal for everyone to share, why is this I wonder??? Between us all however we had quite a variety of suitable fabrics including the most amazing stretchy cotton gauze from The Netherlands that apparantly is something you use when making a mattress for yourself!!! Depending on the supplies that everyone had brought some participants worked with undyed Bordeleira while others worked with hand dyed silks and coloured merino. For everyone who had not nuno felted before I recommended felting their first pieces by hand to learn the different stages of the process, for those with plenty of nuno experience I shared the way I’m currently using the tumble dryer to slash the time for larger projects. Over the course of the rest of our week a selection of amazing large wraps were felted (pictures of finished work from the week will be in my next and final post about Portugal!) and some smaller nuno felt and flat felt pieces in white were made in preparation for some natural dyeing experiments.

Participants disappearing into the distance to forage for leaves, flowers and old pieces of rusty iron!

From the beginning it had always been obvious how Karin and Eelco would like everyone to use natural materials or found objects from the domain as inspiration for or inclusion in the felt that we would be making during the week. This came together very naturally with a desire to try out simple eco bundling, the olive and sweet chestnut leaves just cried out for inclusion as did various rusty bits of old metal which we picked up while out foraging for goodies! Terriea was marvellous in sharing her experience dyeing with leaves and rust, thanks Terriea for your wonderful manner and fun way of sharing a new experience!!! Our objective was to imprint leaf shapes and colours onto felt as well as trying out some experiments with the heavier cotton fabric Karin had bought originally thinking it would be OK for nuno felting with. Terriea explained that protein fibres such as silk and wool absorb natural colour from the leaves best but since we also had the cotton we decided to give it a go too, we soaked our felt and the cotton pieces overnight in a vinegar solution prior to bundling. This was all a fun and relaxing experiment so please don’t ask me for any exact measurements as shock horror, we didn’t take any!

Terriea and Annemarie with a large pot of bundles ready for the stove

On Thursday morning Sandy choose to continue working on the final shaping of her large felt vessel but everyone else wrapped a selection of different nuno felt, flat felt and cotton pieces with a selection of the leaves and rusty pieces of old metal we’d scavanged. Heather also decided to eco print a felt bag; the original intention had been to felt this together with some silk velvet but as the velvet experiment hadn’t worked out as planned this proved to be an inspired choice to print with! Carla made great use of some left over cherry soup from the previous lunch with one of her pieces of felt and I added some tea leaves to a couple of my cotton bundles. Once all the pieces were tied up with their various inclusions we placed them in two different saucepans, one for pieces including rusty objects and the other for pieces only containing vegetable matter. The bundles were covered with water and put on a cooker to bring to the boil, once boining point was reached the heat was turned down and the pots were simmered for aprox 45 minutes to an hour. They were then left to cool down naturally and the bundles stayed in the water overnight until we unwrapped them on Friday morning. This was fun, seeing how our expectations were either met, exceeded or in some cases failed, all part of the learning process and information to be stored and used in future projects! Sweet chestnut leaves (plus the long flowers), olive leaves and rose leaves proved to impart the strongest and clearest shapes on felt, Carla’s scarf using the cherry soup worked brilliantly as did Annemarie’s pieces using a mizture of flowers, grasses and fruit slices while Heather had a very successful experiment wrapping one of her large nuno felt wraps without inclusions and simmering it in the pot with the rest of the iron filled pieces!!!

I’ve got to sign out now because my bags are calling and I need to get those raw materials assembled for Dagmar’s class as well as some final clothes dried and the house tidied a little. My final post about Portugal will be memories of our last group day together at Dominio Vale do Mondego and pictures of the participants with some of the amazing felt completed during the course of this fantastic week. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get this written before I fly to Scotland at 6.05am tomorrow morning but I will try and keep you all up to date with progress at the masterclass during the week and finish Portugal as soon as I can. For now one last picture and ‘adeus’ until next time!

Having fun – Heather and Sandy watching Nienke unwrapping one of her bundles

Felting extravaganza in Portugal, part three!

As promised yesterday, I’m going to continue blogging about our wonderful residential week felting in Portugal and today concentrate on our trip to the Museu de Tecelagem dos Meios (the textile museum in Meios) and the pieces we made using the natural Bordeleira fleece from Dominio Vale do Mondego.

Watching a weaving demonstration at the Museu de Tecelegam in Meios

We started Wednesday morning by heading off to nearby Meios, this is a small village approx 1km away from Trinta, site until recently of 40 different wool processing and weaving factories. At Meios there’s a very interesting small museum with wonderful old tools and pieces of weaving equipment on display as well as huge working looms on the upper floor. Eelco and I had already been there on the Saturday prior to the workshop commencing and had found out that Wednesday morning would be the time to go if we wanted to see one of the largest old looms in action! These big looms were only ever operated by men, having seen one working I would never presume that a female could work one (even though I usually believe in equality for all), the physical effort required in the upper body to move the heddle was enormous!!! Alan and I went back for a further visit when he arrived to join me, we learnt that traditionally women did all the spinning and loading the flying shuttles, the men did all the weaving. Back downstairs after our demonstration everyone had fun trying on some of the gorgeous locally produced clothing and browsing the rugs and blankets for sale. The simple floor rugs, shepherd’s blankets and marriage blankets are woven at the museum, if they are to be brushed (as in the case of the natural white wedding blankets) they go one of the remaining working factories at Trinta and then come back to be sold on site. I also discovered some wonderful locally produced hand forged knives (you could easily cut off your finger with these!) and scissors, I bought two knives and a pair of scissors for myself plus some knives to bring home as gifts to Ireland.

Someone wanting a little bit of early lunch too!

Once we returned to base we had an early lunch so that everyone could have a head start in the afternoon selecting and starting to work with the freshly shorn Bordeleira fleece. We headed down to the stables and had the pick of gorgeous brown or white fleece, some people choose to felt smaller pieces while others wanted to felt a whole fleece. Because the climate and terrain is so different to Ireland there were lots of seed heads and various bits of dried vegetation in the fleece. At home our wool may be muddier but we definitely don’t have anything like the amount of little bits to pick out before we can get stuck into the serious besiness of felting! Once participants had selected their fleece everyone worked outside cleaning and sorting, this took quite a while depending on each individual animal that the fleece had come from.

Picking through the raw fleece prior to felting

Next two very fine layers of carded Bordeleira wool were laid out on the side of the fleece that would have been next to the sheep’s skin and everything was felted together using a lot of soap at the early stages of the process. Depending on previous experience and the size of the pieces some of these pieces took a lot longer than others to felt, this in normal, it’s not a race!!! I had laid out a slightly trimmed smaller fleece the night before and was able to finish it late on the Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a picture of it as it’s finishing drying, it’s on my chair at the kitchen table at Clasheen now and is a delicious contrast to the shaggy Norwegian wild mountain sheep fleece I felted last year!

Tomorrow I’ll write about nuno felting and our wonderful time eco dyeing with Terriea!

My fleece felted and drying in the sun