American and Irish workshop updates, ArtL!nks plus FlyLady!

It’s official, Kentucky has now been added as the final stop for my American felting workshops on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th May, I am so thrilled to be visiting this beautiful state and am really looking forward to meeting Jan Durham for the first time and catching up with Lindy Huber again!!!  As soon as all the details are ironed out for the workshops I will post here with all the information about the techniques we will be covering as well as update the information on the workshop page

Bookings are now open for The Tin Thimble’s annual Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat in Downeville CA (see I can use American spellings sometimes) so if you are interested in joining us (hi Carole!) for what promises to be an action packed and fun time please hurry, spaces at this event are strictly limited!!!

The introduction to feltmaking for total beginners and improvers at Clasheen on Saturday 5th March is now fully booked but please email me if you would like to be added to my waiting list in case of a cancellation or to discuss the possibility of attending on another day. 

Total mess on my studio tables and beyond

I should in fact be playing in a golf competition this afternoon but needs must, my studio is totally messy once again and I really need to get it sorted and start on my large ArtL!nks vessel by this evening (or more realistically first thing tomorrow morning) at the latest!  The mess isn’t a dirty mess but rather an excceptionally untidy one, the tables mightn’t look too bad but it is everywhere else you aren’t seeing that is the big problem, where on earth will I shove all this stuff to free up my work space???  Note the bird seed, oatmeal and sultanas too, since the harsh weather I have a selection of robins and a blackbird that bombard me every time I leave through the back door so I keep these to hand as a simple way of keeping them happy!  This last part of my ArtL!nks work will be the vessels finished using the yoga balls for the shaping.  I am thinking of making two large vessels, the first one in white Icelandic wool and stiffened with PVA to check out my template measurements and make sure the ball is a good idea, the second in white merino with chocolate and orange shapes.  This merino vessel will require a lot more time and more expensive materials to felt so you can see why I want to try out the Icelandic wool and ball first, if it is a disaster I will need to rethink my plan.

My tidy dining room with felt and fibre accessories!

Lastly I am going to leave you with two pictures of my totally tidy dining room to show that it will be possible to tidy my studio, amazing picture as all my friends know (usually this room is TOTALLY COVERED in paperwork and other assorted ‘stuff’) but it is all down to hard work and a lot of help from FlyLady!!!  Those of you who have been following my blog for a long time may remember that I signed up to FlyLady in January 2009 but I fell by the wayside sometime later that year.  Enough is enough, 2011 is the year I am trying my best to sort out the house, studio and garden in tandem with organising my diary and keeping better track of my felting work.  Keeping a balance between all these things is important but earning a working living is vital and hopefully a bit more structure and a tidy space to live in will help with that!  This first picture shows the view looking over the dining table towards a little nook livened up with a favourite painting by Majid Kahhak, a felt throw on the back of a sofa bed and a light fitting with about 45 felt flower lampshades.  There is another splash of colour in this direction where a shocking pink sheepskin provides a comfy seating place on top of a trunk if necessary, by the way, Alan does NOT like this pink sheepskin at all! 

Simple venacular architecture with individual modern table and chairs!

The second shot is looking in the other direction towards the main bedroom.  In this picture you can see the juxtaposition of the ultra modern dining table and chairs with the unchanged local venacular architecture.  Thanks to friend Duncan Russell whom I comissioned these beautiful pieces from several years ago, I had intended some traditional farmhouse furniture for this room but hadn’t managed to find what I was looking for and totally fell for Duncan’s work, cest la vie. 

When I bought Clasheen approx 5 years ago now it had not been lived in since 1928 and I really wanted to keep the structure and design as it was originally intended (with of course some modern inclusions such as water and an old looking extension to add a bit more space).  This has meant a simple and friendly home which I am totally in love with, there are some drawbacks however including lack of storage space (badly needed) and some draughty spots, even though I had external doors and windows individually made by traditional craftsmen they do not function as well as modern equivalents so I am plannning some improvements which will be put in place as finance and time dictates!

Enjoyable afternoon socialising and selling felt at ‘home exhibition’!

Yesterday afternoon was a great success. Following on from the dreadful experiences of craft fairs over the last weeks it was very refreshing to have an enjoyable and profitable event! Alan and I had a massive tidy up and clean of the house which only barely got sorted in time for me to create a display of my felted items. I decided to use my upstairs dining room to lay everything out in as the space is quite generous for an old farmhouse and the light is good. For those of you who have never been to my house it is a very old simple farmhouse which I bought about 4 years ago now. It had not been lived in since 1928 and had never had any services installed like water, sewage or electricity. I stripped it out myself with a hammer and chisel back to the stone and then I employed some conservationist builders and craftsmen to make good any timbers, install timber sash windows, insulate throughout, re-lay stone floors and lime plaster inside and out. I also built a modern extension to look exactly like the older houses in my region and everyone who has visited to date can’t tell the old from the new. My dining room is the largest of the original rooms and the ceiling goes right up to the roof and has an exposed crossbeam. I laid out all my finished felt (needless to say I have a pile of things just awaiting the perfect handle or closure sitting in the studio!) and initally was afraid that I had not enough variety of items. It appeared that I had quite a few scarves, vessels and neck wraps but not enough wall hangings or jewellery. Anyway, everything went well because after a slow start several groups of friends arrived almost at the same time. For anyone wanting a really nice warming drink to serve at something like this I definitely recommend my warm apple punch! Just bring pure apple juice, sliced oranges and lemons, cinnamon stick and cloves to a simmer and serve, how simple is that? For those of us wanting an acholic drink you just add a shot of spirits to the glass before pouring in the hot apple, I especially like brandy, calvados or whiskey but really any spirit along those lines would do. Sometimes people are not quite sure if they are going to like the punch but as soon as they taste it they are hooked! The apple juice has enough natural sugar not to need any extra and it is a great winter party drink for those people who are the desiginated driver or just don’t like drinking alcohol . Sales were good and I picked up a couple of commissions so all in all I was delighted with the afternoon. An added bonus is that my house (or at least several of the rooms) are beautifully clean and somewhat tidy just in time for the festive season!