Home, natural dyeing/printing, unexpected presentation taking up my time…..

I’m home safely after a wonderful time in California! It was great to be back at The Tin Thimble catching up with old friends both before, during and after the three days of workshops plus put faces to the friends I’ve previously been in touch with through the blog, FB and various other forms of social media, I’m not going to mention everyone by name but you all know who you are!!! My intention had been to write a long and proper post yesterday about the workshops and my trip with Merridee and Keith to Lake Tahoe, unfortunately I just don’t have the time so apologies in advance to those of you who were expecting all the low down about the exciting work that was created during my three days of teaching. An unexpected opportunity arose while I was away (thanks Paula for getting in touch to alert me!) so yesterday I had to make a presentation in relation to an exciting art project and this morning I got a call asking me to come back in tomorrow and discuss a few of the points raised during this session. Fingers crossed everything will work out, I’ll keep you posted once I know the outcome!

My own naturally printed chiffon with goodies I bought at The Tin Thimble, glass beads by Toni Lutman and beautiful hand dyed merino by Carin Engen and Laurie Simoni

As regards other work since I’ve been home I printed two lengths of silk chiffon on Monday evening then last night I filled two pots with silk and leaves in preparation for a natural printing and dyeing session today. One of the pots contained a tea solution, the other a vinegar and water mix. I’ve now bundled everything up and all the pieces are simmering on the Rayburn, most of the bundles contain a variety of eucalyptus leaves but two I wrapped using Cotinus leaves from my garden. I also sprinkled some of the fabric with tea leaves and wrapped one of the pieces in rusty metal, I LOVE opening these bundles, pictures next time, I promise. During my stay in CA I spent time with Merridee, Sharon and Nika Ivanoff experimenting more with this method of colouring fabric, thanks Nika for the wonderful leaves you brought last Saturday for us all to share not to mention the wine, chocolate and strawberries, we loved them all!!!

Emma and I are just sorting out dates for workshops in The Tin Thimble again next spring, keep an eye out over the next week or so as we hope to have everything sorted by then!


A wonderful collection of eucalyptus!

As part of my own preparation for 7 days of intensive teaching I wanted to have the materials gathered for my personal work during this time. Obviously I’ll be working one to one with Rami but while he’s laying out pieces and generally discovering all the joys of the various felting techniques I’ll get a certain amount if time to do my own thing. At the beginning of the week I’ve attachments to prepare for a large sculptural piece and some Eco printing and dyeing to do then I plan to lay out a large nuno felt garment incorporating some of the silks and prefelts that I’ll already have printed. The workshop proper will run from 10am until late afternoon each day and after we’ve eaten each evening I’ll be back in the studio felting, Rami will be free to join me if he’s not already mentally and physically exhausted, I also have a list of reading material for him to go through so I think I’ll be keeping him on his toes! I’m going to leave you today with a picture I love, me and my god son Jack gathering eucalyptus leaves and bark (from a variety of different trees) in his grandparents garden, thanks Sharon, Jack, Betty and Jack senior for all your help and the gift of the wonderful vegetation!!!


International felting workshops, visitors to Clasheen, promoting your business through social media and another eco print experiment!

Gosh, I’ve had a busy morning on the computer so far, I’m almost not able to write quickly enough, respond to emails and upload pictures to FB and now it’s lunch time, I need to eat and then I have to prepare for another felt flower workshop tonight, happy days! As a result I think that I’m going to post most of my news today in bullet point format followed by some info and pics re another eco print experiment, of course Alan would probably say that none of my news is urgent, it’s certainly not life threatening but I would like to share it with you!!! Anyway, for those of you who are interested, here goes…..

  • My upcoming workshops at The Tin Thimble CA from 28th to 30th September are now all full! Please contact Emma if you would like to be put on a waiting list or are interested in attending on a future date.
  • Bookings are now open for next year’s felting extravaganza at stunning Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal, full details on the workshop page. The dates are from 15th to 21st June inclusive and places are booking up fast so please contact Karin immediately if you would like to join us!
  • This morning I ordered more felting supplies in anticipation of Rami’s arrival from Beiruit at the end of next week. Rami (a graphic designer) will be staying with me for 7 days intensive one on one felting tuition, currently there are no opportunities to learn in the Lebanon so we will really be working hard to cover the various techniques that he is interested in learning. Do I see another potential workshop venue for the future???
  • A lot of my workshop bookings are now coming as a direct result of this blog and FB. Often I meet other makers and artisan producers who are looking for advice about how to promote their small business with a zero budget, hence next Tuesday’s workshop at Clasheen titled ‘Social media skills to promote your artisan business‘! This is a full day event with a light lunch included, participants are asked to bring their own laptop and wireless enabled mobile devices with them so that they will go home at the end of the day armed with the knowledge of how to best promote themselves using a variety of free or inexpensive promotional techniques. Please check out the event on FB if you are interested in attending and email me asap if you would like to reserve a place.

Bundles, eucalyptus leaves, bark and rusty metal in the pot

Yesterday I received some lovely BIG eucalyptus leaves from Luarena. Thanks so much for the present Luarena and thanks a million to sister Jacqui for delivering them to me at Duckett’s Grove, much appreciated! I couldn’t wait until my next batch of silk arrived to try experimenting with them so last night I grabbed what I could from my studio at Clasheen, scraps of white needle punch, an old outdated yellow silk top (one of our ‘5 for $5’ haul from the Salvation Army in Plainwell Dawn!) and a piece of pongee silk that I’d previously achieved only minimal colour change with when printing. I bundled the cut up yellow top with Luarena’s large leaves and some small leaves of a different eucalyptus variety and wrapped it around a rusty pin (thanks mum for the gift of some young sprigs from your garden!), the needle punch I bundled with more of the large leaves and the ponge silk I just scrunched up and included in the pot. This time I added some of my mother’s small leaves, eucalyptus bark (collected from the ground under a dead tree at the HSE head office in Kilkenny!) and some scraps of rusty metal I picked up down in Tom’s yard to the cooking water, the water I might add is from my own well and free from any artificial additives. After approx an hour simmering on the stove I was amazed to discover the water was incredibly dark, obviously this was something to do with the loose leaves, bark and metal. I had been expecting colour of course, just not this depth after such a short length of time before unwrapping. I couldn’t wait until today to open up the bundles so right before I headed to bed I unwrapped everything and was delighted with the results. I’m especially pleased with the rich colour achieved on the needle punch and now want to see how it felts, I’ve a project in mind for another large wearable and once my latest order arrives from Wollknoll I’ll be begging for more leaves and getting out the dye pot once again!

From left to right – the ponge silk, deconstructed yellow silk top and the needle punch after unwrapping