Display ideas for the studio and a new fun felt hat!

I’ve been researching ideas for home made displays wanting to get different height levels to add interest, check out my new board on Pinterest if you would like to see some of the ideas I’ll be putting into practice this festive season! Last night I tried out a cardboard Christmas tree and it worked really well, I just need to get some gold spray now and I’ll get into production mode. I’d pinned another idea recently about attaching an upturned wooden bowl to a wooden kitchen roll holder and using it as a hat stand, the new board has this and other ideas, hopefully it will inspire me to create seasonal interest at the studio, Borris Food and Craft Market and the Christmas Village at Mount Juliet.

Felt hat incorporating naturally printed and dyed silk

This morning I felted a highly textured hat (really a soft edged beret) incorporating some of the smaller pieces of naturally printed and dyed silk I’ve been working on lately. I really want to have nice items to offer customers that compliment each other, I won’t be making many of these but I do think they’ll work wonderfully with some of the nuno felt scarves that I have been enjoying making. Here’s a picture of the finished hat, check out my new album on FB if you’d like to see some pictures of it at the lay out stage.

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Super exciting news, continuation of the ‘labels for textiles’ debate and a handful of felt berets!!!

Well, I can almost not speak or write today I am so excited, drumroll please!  The biggest news I am sharing with you today is that super friend and felt hat maker extraordinaire, the wonderful Dawn Edwards will be coming to stay at Clasheen during April 2012, I can’t wait!!!!!  This trip has been a long time in the planning, almost 2 years to be exact.  Finally Dawn has her first ever passport, some provisional dates in mind (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th weeks in April) and as soon her current fairs and events are over Dawn will be booking her tickets.  Watch out Ireland, here she comes!!!  I’m going to be blogging loads about Dawn’s trip over the next few weeks and also revealing news about my own Spring trip across the water, KY are you ready???

For the moment however ‘A Taste of Carlow’ looms on the horizon, I’ve been invited to participate in the Borris Farmers Market over the next 4 weeks, loads of felting needs to be completed to display at these venues and mum is being discharged from hospital today but still has loads of tests, scopes and consultant visits to go through over the course of the next two weeks.  Thanks so much Sonia, Deb, Suzanne, Dawn, Ellen, Margaret, Chrissie, Margo, Lebec EGirl (sorry I can’t work out your actual name!), Shirley and Pam for leaving comments about the ‘labels for textile art’ debate!  I am thrilled to get your input as it really opens up the issue and has given me plenty of food for thought.  It’s interesting that Shirley suggested signing the mount board on the bottom right, I did debate doing that but ended up not, would one use a pen or pencil for this???  Shirley also said about keeping the bottom border about 1/2″ deeper than the others, I didn’t do this unfortunately but it totally makes sense if you are signing the board!  As to stitching directly on the felt or adding initials by either needle felting or sewing, like Suzanne while I can sew if really pushed it doesn’t come naturally and I’m really looking for a simpler solution that totally shouts ‘me’.  Obviously I am stretching myself since I purchased my beautiful straight stitching sewing machine but I don’t feel comfortable or confident enough at the moment to sign with free machine embroidery.  Also for me, the felting is my favourite part of the process so I think I’m going to stick with adding a label onto the back of my work in future coupled with signing the mount as suggested in the front.

Label ironed onto felt

At the moment I am ironing my new basic labels onto the back of my work as opposed to sewing them in and it does seem to be working although I would definitely like a more distinctive label.  I love Margo and Deb’s idea of a metal label, adore the little silver tags that Chrissie makes and uses herself and also love the little wooden tags Heather sews inside her felt bags etc., these are definitely options to consider in the future!

Yesterday evening when I got home from visiting mum I decided I just couldn’t face in to felting more flowers.  I am up to date with the target I set myself of having a minimum of 57 flowers completed in time for Sunday so decided instead to have some fun and start working on a few soft and colourful felt berets!  Below is a picture of the first one I completed, beautiful short fibred merino, a swirl of silk chiffon and loads of hand dyed silk hankies on top to provide sheen and bring the turquoise and green colours together.  I’ll be bringing some of these berets to the farmers market on Friday and also to Carlow on Sunday afternoon if I still have any in stock!  I created an event page on FB this morning to promote ‘A Taste of Carlow’ so do please share this with your friends if you use FB.  We would love a big crowd to support all the wonderful Carlow artisans who will be participating on the day (Sunday 4th December, 2 – 6pm) and I just want to let as many people as possible know that the event will be happening!

The finished turquoise and green beret

Mena’s beautiful felt beret and large bag!

As mentioned in the last post Borris Active Retirement had a ‘show and tell’ exhibition last Wednesday and I think this great picture of Mena with her felt beret and large bag sums it all up!  Still having ongoing computer problems (and now no anti virus protection) so apologies for the short post, they will be this way until things are finally sorted, hopefully by the weekend if all goes well. 

Mena's beautiful beret and bag with integrated handle!

CRAFTed news, Michigan workshops open for booking and general workshop information

Laying out merino for the inside of a beret

Friday’s CRAFTed session was chaotic but fun, all the girls are going to have beautiful items to take home with them as a reminder of this transitional year at the school.  Working with 32 inexperienced felters is definitely a challange, I love the enthusiasm with which everyone is attacking their work, it does mean that Mairead (6th class teacher) and I are running all over the art room however during each session and I really hope that I am able to give each girl enough individual attention to ensure the process is an enjoyable one for everyone!  These individual projects will be completed in our last session (they include bags, cell phone covers, vessels, flat felt with/without little pockets, two scarves and one beret!) where we will also work on our collaborative wall hanging, this will be hung in the school when the girls graduate later this summer.  Because of the logistics when working with 32 beginners I am thinking that we will divide the class into three distinct groups next time, each group will rotate and have their turn to finish their individual project, create twisted yarn cords to add to their bags as well as select a square from the group piece which they will then embellish, add a pocket to or otherwise decorate with something of significance which they would like to leave behind as they leave for secondary school and move forward in life.  Not sure if this will work but I am predicting it will be easier and more sensible than having everyone working on the same task at the same time, it will also avoid me running all around the art room all the time, more concentrated effort but less stressful I think for all envolved! 

MICHIGAN WORKSHOPS – I am delighted to say that our Michigan workshops on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May are now open for booking!  Please email the wonderful Dawn if you would like to reserve your place, I am just going to have another go uploading  the full details and descriptions to the workshop page (having problems yet again today!) so in case of further technical issues the Friday workshop is titled ‘Simple vessels, purses and other three dimensional objects’ while Saturday will be dedicated to the fascinating art of ‘Nuno Mosaic’.  One workshop will cost $140 or if both are taken the cost will be $130 per day, for more about what can be covered over two days check out the general workshop information further down this post. 

Wonderful vintage printed silk and chiffon create Marni's gorgeous textured nuno mosaic scarf!

The nuno mosaic technique was taught to me by German felter Sigrid Bannier and is a wonderful way to create memorable wraps, scarves and yardage for incredible one off pieces of clothing.  To refresh your memory (or if you are only visiting this blog for the first time!) here is an image of Marni’s amazing scarf incorporating vintage silk and chiffon from one of the Tin Thimble’s workshops last Fall, this was actually the first time ever that Marni had felted a nuno piece!  If this has not whet your appetite enough there are some more nuno mosaic images from The Tin Thimble workshops here, some from the previous Fall at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco here and a few of my own nuno mosaic skirt and matching wrap here.

GENERAL WORKSHOP INFORMATION – I like to think of my workshops as a place where I share information and provide a recipe for felters to follow or adapt as they see fit!  When I am teaching I always explain that there are many ways possible to reach a similar end result, I will be sharing the methods and tips which I find work best and usually guarantee me a successful outcome, it is up to each individual participant to determine whether they want to follow exactly or adapt the steps to suit themselves.  Although each of my upcoming workshops has a title representing the main technique/techniques covered on that particular day, it will be possible for participants choosing to attend for both days to felt larger more complex projects that may not be specifically mentioned in the titles.  An example would be someone who wanted to felt a complex felt sculpture or bag using several stitched resists, another would be a person wanting to create a reversible nuno felt shrug.  If you have any queries in this respect please don’t hesitate to email me personally, I want to provide all the necessary information in order for people to make an educated descision.  As previous experience has demonstrated most participants at my American workshops are regular felters, it should be noted that all the workshops are open to total beginners so please don’t feel you can’t attend if you are just starting out learning this fascinating craft, I would love to have you come along!!!

Finally, at the risk of sounding pushy, the Kentucky workshops are now provisionally full for Saturday and only have 4 places left on Friday, if anyone is having a little think about things please don’t think for too long!!!

Workshop in Kentucky anyone, another felt beret picture and house sitting at Clasheen

Would anyone be interested in a Clasheen style felting workshop in Kentucky sometime during the last weekend in May??? 

I was very excited to get an email from fibre artist Jan Durham this weekend and we have been chatting over the last few days about the possibility of organising a get together in Kentucky after my workshops with Dawn in Michigan and prior to my return flights home to Ireland.  It would be WONDERFUL to add a new venue to my American adventures so if you are interested in meeting up sometime between Friday 27th and Tuesday 31st May and having a fun time felting together please email Jan today to have a chat!  Kentucky is not a state that I have visited before and what nicer way to make an inagural trip than to meet up with and share time with other felt and fibre friends!!!

Accurate colours and textures

The weather is extremely cold and windy this morning but the biggest plus is the fact that our horrendous rain from yesterday and last night has finally stopped!  I grabbed the chance to take another few pictures of the felt beret I made and here is one showing an accurate representation of the beautiful heathery colours and textures.  I have fallen in love with the possibilities of combining the mohair waste with other fibres and hope that the ladies of Borris Active Retirement feel the same way today when we explore the potential of simple felt hats.

HOUSE SITTING AT CLASHEEN

During my trip to the States in May I am thinking of offering my house and studio to an artist who would like a peaceful rural retreat in which to concentrate on their practice for a month in exchange for providing company and walks for Rex, my canine friend!  Obviously Clasheen is perfect (if somewhat untidy at times!) for a felter or textile artist but it would also suit a writer, painter, photographer (wonderful scenery locally!) or indeed any creative person who would like the space to concentrate on their work whilst having all the amenities of a small town 6 minutes drive away.  If you know anyone who is reliable, flexible and loves sheepdogs who might be interested in living here during the whole of May please pass on this information and ask them to email me asap!  I would also be happy to consider a person or couple interested in basing themselves here for a month rent free especially if they were happy to do a little gardening or painting in exchange for accomodation in a traditional Irish farmhouse coupled with peace and quiet!  Rex is my main priority however so whoever is interested in the possibility of using my studio facilities and/or house must be a dog lover and will need to commit to looking after him for the duration of my trip abroad.

Today has been the perfect day for felting!

We woke up this morning to horrendous winds outside, the perfect excuse to hole up inside and join Carmen for a full day of felting!  By the time she arrived the winds were increasing and after about another hour of howling and wailing the rain started, great stair rods of water coming down vertically, does anyone else use stair rods as an expression for rain???

Mohair and silk throwsters waste for the outer layer of this beret, short fibred merino inside

Tomorrow afternoon I start my third series of workshops with the Borris Active Retirement group and by request the topic for our first session is ‘felt hats’.  I decided to experiment today and felt a beret combining an inner layer of short fibred merino with an outer layer of mohair waste and silk throwsters waste.  As a quick aside, I suggest that anyone interested in trying out this mohair waste that Carmen and I are using (Sharon, hope this suggestion helps) goes to their nearest weaving mill and ask if they have any loose fibres left from the brushing process.  This is where we have got ours and it has been free to collect as Carmen is a friend of the person, I know that Cushendale Woolen Mill sells their abroad but you just need to ask around and I think you would be able to access some.  Anyway, the process for the beret is almost identical to the recent explanation of the mohair vessel with the exception that you don’t create such a deep three dimensional shape as with the vessels, rather stretch and pull the felt into a flattering shape to softly cover your head.  As before, the mohair really blended well during the felting process and for this beret I added a wonderful vintage button cover I picked up during last Fall’s workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA. 

Beautiful vintage button cover

The deep lilac in the centre of the button cover is perfect with the turquoise, pink and lilac silk/mohair combination!  Head on over to my Flickr photos to see more pictures of the hat in progress as well as one rather dark image of the finished beret, the heavy rain made photography rather trying this afternoon!!!