This July I am teaching 2 workshops in the wonderful new space at The Yarn Room in Ashford, Co. Wicklow. ‘Revisiting the Basics of Wet Felting’ takes place on Saturday July 16th and ‘Nuno Felt Scarves’ the following week on Saturday 23rd, full details available by clicking on the relevant links. This is a great opportunity for anyone living within striking distance of Ashford to have a really fun day out, beautiful Mount Usher Gardens are opposite this amazing, yarn and fibre filled shop/studio, Avoca Handweavers run the restaurant there, what more could one want???
I finally exhausted all the dye from my large dye bath and ended up with this softly coloured saffron wrap. The lighter coloured section is how it looks in reality and not a reflection on the camera lens, I held the centre of the scarf in the dye bath for longer than both ends and the tips of the cords then were returned to sit in the dye for the longest time until no more colour appeared to be left. The tones are not as saturated as the jacket and bags but the softness is really appealing, I LOVE this dying lark now!!! In order to get no obvious lines where the colour graduates I keep moving the piece up and down where I want the change of tone to be and just keep an eye out to make sure I am getting subtle variations and not a hard line or stripe, hope this helps Nessa!
The Tall Ships in Waterford 2011
Finally as I head off to make Cristina’s bed and pack my bags, a rare recommendation not felt related, I always try to keep this blog to topic but for once I just can’t hold my whist! Visit the Tall Ships Race and Festival in Waterford this weekend if you are anywhere near Ireland, it is just an AMAZING experience!!!!! Alan and I headed down for the opening evening last night expecting to amble around, enjoy some food and head home after a couple of hours, as well as doing all of the above we attened an amazing (and free!) Bryan Ferry concert (there are 4 stages playing wonderful artists) and stayed until the incredible firework display was over at about 11pm, magic! Check out the website for a full list of the weekend events. Car parking including a catalogue and shuttle bus only costs E10 per car, incredible value and how special it will be to see all the ships sail off for the race on Sunday morning??? Not to be missed if at all possible I think, enjoy.
Off to pack now for Felt in Focus, will keep you all up to date via my phone!
I got a bit sidetracked yesterday, having mentioned that I was going to felt 100s of attachments for a new wrap I decided instead to adapt and finish a Horst style jacket and matching bag! This jacket was another ‘blank’ which Horst was good enough to leave with me to do as I wished with, the second of 2 demo pieces from our workshop. I decided to keep things simple and wanted something that I would wear for everyday use in colder weather, this meant adding a couple of pockets, adjusting the collar to frame my face and decorating the pockets and framing the edges with black merino thereby adding some depth of colour. In addition I wanted to practice using Horst’s method of felting bags again, it’s not a method that I’m going to use for all my work but I do find the pebbly texture interesting, the layout very quick and I wanted to experiment with dying again and end up with a piece to compliment the jacket.
Bag prior to dying and jacket prior to dying and fulling
At this stage I think I have a confession to make, my name is Nicola and I am addicted to acid dying!!! OK, only half joking, but I can’t believe how Horst’s recent workshop has totally demystified the process and allowed me to just throw things into the pot and watch the magic occurring. I’m not scientific about it at all, not measuring the level of the water versus dye powder etc. (Jacquard acid dyes I bought with Heather at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last year) but for me this adds to the experience, instinctively I appear to be getting the result I am looking for so onwards and upwards! My only reservation about the dye pot yesterday is that although I used ‘olive’ as my deeper colour I didn’t think that the powder looked olive at all in the packet and it certainly wans’t olive when I added it to the dye bath, rather a nice deep rust colour, complimentary but not my original intention. Talking to experienced dyers I know that the powder doesn’t necessarily look like the resultant liquid but I do wonder if this was mispackaged??? I’m not a bit concerned however, I love the results, more pics over on Flickr!
My new HUGE dye bath is on the gas cooker, pot and cooker both purchased in advance of Horst’s large felt garment workshop and now taking pride of place in my kitchen for the last few days! I’m not 100% sure whether I like the nuno felt I was working on yesterday but I’ve decided to go ahead and dye it anyway. This morning I have made a new Horst style bag as well as adjusting and redesigning a long sleeveless jacket. These are both spinning at the moment and as soon as they are done I’ll take pictures prior to dying all the pieces and a couple more once I am happy with the colours achieved. I’m going to use up the last of the pumpkin/gold mixture from the other day and then add olive to the pot hopefully giving me nice graduation of colour. Fingers crossed …..
I’ve been to the library, discovered I’ve won some gorgeous hand spun from my buddy Heather, run a wash, stocked up on brown soda bread and milk as well as 100 dressmakers pins this morning (more in a minute) and now I’m ready for a FULL DAY felting and possibly dying too, woo hoo! I still need to catch up on emails, paperwork and many more other household tasks left over from the manic last weeks but for today that is it, no more procrastinating but rather creating and playing with fibre!!!
Nuno texture and merging colours
On Friday I shared with Gerda an experiment in nuno felting using a technique I hope to offer in workshops this Autumn. Basically it involves using a tumble dryer for some of the steps therefore meaning that anyone with physical limitations or a tendency to get tired rubbing and rolling will have this stage of the process either eliminated altogether or cut down to no more than ten minutes in total! Chrissie and I will be publishing a new book prior to Christmas (click here to check out a preview of our first book From Felt to Friendship if you are interested in what we have been up to so far) and this time concentrate on simple ideas for designing and felting your own clothing with a view to flattering your personal shape, not that ‘perfect’ shape we all aspire to but most of us never achieve!!!
Anyway, back to Friday and the nuno top I made. Working in white ponge silk and undyed 26 micron I laid out a front and back side of my top basing the design on a scaled up version of a favourite wardrobe staple. By using only white raw materials for the main layout area I was able to lay out the fibres really quickly, get on to the felting, piece my top together (thanks Gerda, you kept me sane, bought more much needed pins this morning!) and then have great fun dying using Horst’s wonderfully simple method of achieving graduating colours with no stress at all. Having the correct equipment now for my studio and working with Horst again over the course of our large felt garment workshop as well as observing friends Jan Durham, Dawn Edwards and Sharon Costello from The Tin Thimble in action during my US trip has given me the confidence to set up my dying station in the kitchen and just ‘get on with it’ myself.
My plan for the next few days is to felt and dye at least two pieces to be used for the fashion show at Felt in Focus next week, I leave for Copenhagen on Friday so I’m off now to get started!!! Thanks Cristina for house sitting while I will be away, Rex will be thrilled.
After Horst’s workshop Gerda had a few extra days to stay over in Ireland before flying home to South Africa on Sunday so I invited her to stay at Clasheen for a couple of days, boy did we have some fun felting and dying Horst style!!! It’s going to take me about a week to finally unwind after all the excitment of the last few weeks but for now check out the sleeveless vest I felted and dyed with gold and pumpkin acid dyes in my kitchen. It’s great to finally have a HUGE dye pot and the confidence to actually try some experiments out for myself! ‘Till tomorrow …..
On Friday afternoon I felted a little white on white bag incorporating some lovely vintage lace which I got at The Tim Thimble last year. The lace incorporated really well into the merino roving I used, I didn’t however like the finished result anything like as much as I had been hoping, the ruffles (created with resists) worked well but visually the lace disappeared too much into the main body of the bag. Thanks to a comment from Andrea via Facebook I decided to dye it in the microwave using some Neon food colouring, success! More anon …..
The weather has been APPALLING here for most of the day. Horrendous rain and heavy winds until late afternoon meant that I didn’t feel one little bit guilty (virtuous in fact!!) felting all day and I was even able to buy some food dye and have a go at my first dying experiment! First things first, here are a couple more pictures of the sleeveless jacket I felted at the weekend but you do need to bear with me as the pictures aren’t great. To be strictly fair it is not totally finished but you know me by now, I really need to push myself to add a couple of buttons and a fish skin and leather belt, maybe tomorrow???
The 'almost' completed sleeveless jacket
Yesterday when the jacket was drying in front of the range I decided to use some of the gorgeous hand dyed silk I bought from Lyda Rump to make some more nuno scarves, my target is a minimum of 10 scarves a week from now on! The piece of chiffon that I choose to work with was in fabulous aquamarine colours and I suddenly had the absolute brain wave of felting one of the pieces with some extraordinary merino/silk/tencel/glitz artisan batts that I bought from Blas in Urban Fauna Studio last October. This has turned into one of my absolute favourite nuno scarves ever, check out this cool texture and colour!
Hand dyed silk chiffon with merino/silk/tencel/glitz
I used a combination of turquoise and apple green for the second piece of silk chiffon and turquoise, royal blue and apple green for the third. It is incredible how different colours combine together and I hope to take more pictures tomorrow, all the scarves are nice but for me this one is absolutely special!Working with Lyda’s gorgeous fabrics got me on to thinking yet again about dying my own raw materials. I know that I could achieve beautiful effects if I dyed wool, silk, fibres, fabrics, yarns, etc. here at Clasheen but to be honest I just don’t think that I would have the patience on an ongoing basis and for me the mess and tidying up process would drive me mental. I also feel that when I can buy such fantastic hand dyed materials from Lyda why bother myself? Well, inspired by the chiffon I did decide to have a go at dying with food colouring today as for me this seemed a simple way to use easily available dye stuff without horrible mordants and a lot of technical ‘stuff’. First off I nuno felted a white scarf combining it with 16 micron merino, raw mohair locks and corn fibre tops, when it was felted I left it soaking in a vinegar and water solution. I had done some searching on the internet first and thought that the corn fibre would not absorb the dye but this was fine with me as my intention was to create an ocean inspired colour scheme. In my excitement buying the food colouring I didn’t even think what I was purchasing and it was only when I was mixing the colours that I discovered I had green to combine with yellow and not blue as I had thought! Never mind, green must be my favourite colour so nothing ventured, nothing gained, various shades of dark to yellow-green it would be Once I had the food colouring diluted with some hot water and vinegar I placed the already soaked scarf in a microwavable bowl and ‘painted’ on the colours. Realistically this meant that I used a bottle with a nozzle for the darker green and poured the yellow/green mixture directly onto the scarf from a glass bottle, very technical here! I swirled the scarf around with a chopstick before covering the bowl with cling film. 5 minutes on high, a rest followed by 5 minutes more and the microwave process was over. To be continued tomorrow …..