I’m just grabbing a minute at the end of a very busy but satisfying second day of our residential workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego to jot this post, the atmosphere is one of fun, friends, food and felt! Internet connection is a little sketchy and for once my phone doesn’t seem up to the task, I’d love to post some pictures but I think it will be tomorrow before I get a chance to upload them via computer to the net. Everyone has arrived now and it’s just been such fun meeting up, starting out felting and eating and drinking all around us!!! The people, food, scenery and wool are all amazing, everyone yesterday and today completed amazing projects. Tomorrow we start to work with the raw wool,’till then, adieu!
So much news, yet again so little time! Dawn came with me last week to meet the pupils that I’m working with for my 2012 CRAFTed project, they just loved her hats and in turn she just loved them singing two songs in Irish for her!!!
Tomorrow is my last session with the school and I can’t believe that I haven’t got my paperwork up to date for this. It has been so hectic here the last 6 weeks that for the first time ever I am behind at this stage of the project, the fact that I am working with 35 and not 26 pupils also has contributed to the delay, anyway, onwards and upwards. We’ll be hanging the finished felt portraits tomorrow and making friendship bracelets for all the pupils to share.
After the opening of Duckett’s Grove on Friday morning Dawn and I picked up my great Danish buddy Kirsten Elise Lund and we headed back to Clasheen for an action packed and fun weekend! On Saturday morning we headed over to Suzanna Crampton’s beautiful home and spent a wonderful few hours rambling around the garden and getting up close and personal with her gorgeous Zwartbles sheep!
I want to write a full blog post about this trip, the sheep and felting with their fleece before I leave for US but if I don’t get time please MAKE sure I do so later in the summer!!! After a blissful morning we all went for an early lunch to Nicholas Mosse Pottery, dropped Suzanna home then Dawn, Kirsten and I headed food shopping to Kilkenny followed by a brilliant trip to Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh. Thanks so much Mary Cushen for opening up the mill especially for Dawn and Kirsten, we really appreciated the personal attention, this local mill is my ‘must see’ recommendation for any international textile visitor who comes to Clasheen!!!
In the evening Kate Ramsey arrived to stay and we were all joined by some of my closest friends for a plate of curry and a chat. On Sunday morning Niki Collier arrived and we spent the day felting, chatting, eating, laughing and basically having what we Irish call ‘the craic’, Kate and Niki also popped in to Carlow to see Eileen MacDonagh’s amazing exhibition LITHOSPHERE at Visual!!! In the evening our local guy won the final of ‘The Voice of Ireland‘, congratulations Pat Byrne, we voted, cheered and shouted with the best of them. Dawn, Kirsten and I had an early start on Monday morning, 4am to be precise! It was bitter sweet leaving the girls at the airport, our time together was really special and it was very sad to see it ending. I will be however heading to US myself in exactly one week and visiting with Dawn and the three of us have plans laid for a longer session together next spring, lots to reflect on and lots to look forward to!!!
Speaking of the US, I am SO EXCITED that I will be heading off my travels exactly one week from today, in fact by this time next week I’ll actually be airborn and heading over to stay with the wonderful Jan Durham in Lexington and the amazing Dawn Edwards in Plainwell! If you would like to join us in Lexington on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May or Plainwell on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May from 10am to 5pm please just contact Jan or Dawn asap, we have just a few slots left on each of these dates so hurry if you want to have some fabulous felting fun!!! There are also only a few places left for the amazing week long felting extravaganza at Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal, please follow the link to see what’s on offer and contact Karin asap if you wish to confirm your spot! I’ll leave you today with the full workshop descriptions for KY and MI, I’m also going to be in action for 3 days at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival from 18th, 19th and 20th of May in case you can’t make either Lexington or Plainwell!!!
‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’
Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage but total beginners are very welcome too!
Class Description: Let the shapes, forms, colours, patterns, textures and structures of the natural and built environment fire your imagination! During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative pieces of felt using nature and the man-made landscape for inspiration. Some participants may choose to create a purely decorative art piece such as a complex vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may decide to design and felt some wearable art or interior accent, possibly a bag, some jewellery, some nuno felt or maybe a framed landscape or table runner.
There will be time to experiment and discover techniques or materials over the two days that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will be bringing some of her favourite mohair off cuts for everyone to try out and will share with participants how she is currently using free machine embroidery selectively to accentuate design elements in some of her new bags and framed landscapes. She’ll also demonstrate the use of an electric sander during some stages of the felting process and speak about the possibilities of fulling nuno felt using the tumble dryer, Nicola doesn’t use a sander all the time herself but sometimes it can really help with certain tasks and it is definitely useful to know when this might apply. The tumble dryer technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and to eliminate all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues so again, another technique it can be handy to know about!
Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art! We will have access to a sewing machine during the workshop but if you have your own machine with a free machine embroidery foot please bring it along and some threads too if you have space in your car. We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique during the workshop they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two!
NB Although participants will get the most from this workshop in either Kentucky or Plainwell if they are able to participate on both Friday and Saturday there may be a few places available for those unable to attend both days, please just contact Jan or Dawn asap to check.
I am so excited to be announcing that from June 9th to 16th I will be joining Karin and her husband Eelco at the beautiful Domino Vale do Mondego in Portugal to facilitate a wonderful week-long residential felting holiday!!! If you would like to register your provisional interest with us once you read the details below please email me immediately. I expect the places will be taken very quickly as the price is incredibly competitive and includes all accomodation, organic food, local wine and 5 full day felting workshops! Alternatively we will have the full workshop details available online sometime towards the end of next week and you can book directly with Karin then.
Karin and Eelco moved to the region in 2007 and farm biodynamically, they have a large herd of milk sheep, a dairy, fruit trees (it’s going to be cherry season in June!) and olive groves as well as unspoilt woodland and natural areas for guests to enjoy. One of their main aims is to breed and promote the rare indigenous Bordeleira sheep, the famous Serra da Estralla cheese is made from their milk!
Karin sent me a small sample of both the raw and prepared Bordeleira wool and I immediately requested more! I was blown away by how beautifully it felts, really soft in the hand so perfect for clothing and accessories, not at all scratchy and incredibly quick to form a strong fabric too. I’ve made a few samples, a small vessel, a nuno sample and some sleeveless mittens, everything worked like a dream and I am really looking forward to introducing others to the beauty of this fibre, I particularly enjoyed felting with the raw wool. Carmen was with me the other day while I was experimenting and already wants to put in an order, I imagine I’ll be coming back with bulging cases this summer, roll on the shearing season!!!
Anyway, Karin and I hope to have the flyer and workshop description finalised by the end of next week but just to whet your appetite here are the bones of what we will be offering. One week’s stay at Dominio Vale do Mondego in a double room including breakfast buffet, 2-course lunch with wine, 3-course dinner with wine each day, 5 full days felting workshop including materials working with the rare Bordeleira wool, an excursion to a weaving museum and a walk with Eelco costs just E695, a single room will cost E765. I think that this is an absolute bargain!!!