Yummy alpaca and embellishing fibres!!!

Check out this yummy box of fibre I received from Roo Kline this week complete with beautiful handmade shawl pin!!! Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions are the amazing sponsors for my nuno felt neckpiece workshop at this years' Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, we are going to have a ball!

I can't wait to dive in but I so want to felt something special with this, I'll be bringing the samples along with me to all my upcoming US workshops.

Alpaca of this quality is a total pleasure to work with, it's not a fibre easily accessed here but once you know a good supplier…..keep them!

On the everyday side of things my current project is coming along really nicely at the Gaelscoil in Carlow, to date I've worked with 300 pupils and by next Monday afternoon another 150 will have had their first experience felting! As a result I've not actually done a lot of felting at home myself over the last two weeks as my fingers are all wrinkled by the time I leave Carlow and my back's aching, I've been trying out a few polymer clay ideas instead. Thanks Elaine (editor of the polymer clay section at Craft Gossip) for linking to the post I wrote recently about my first 'official' necklace, it's always nice to get a thumbs up. I'll be facilitating a felt flower workshop at Duckett's Grove on Saturday so I plan on felting quite a few flowers and other small items then! I'll leave you with a link to a picture of a flower head piece that Mary felted this week (Mary was one of my super students at the VEC recently), I think that it's gorgeous.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=425275637551011&set=a.114109508667627.19391.100002057342575&type=1&theater

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming workshops at Duckett’s Grove and look what Debbie created incorporating one of my flowers!

I've had a pretty frustrating week computer wise, thanks goodness for the iPad otherwise I might have gone totally mad! Next weekend I have a felt bag workshop happening on Saturday 16th February in Duckett's Grove, the initial process is the same for vessels and other three dimensional objects so if either bags with integrated handles, pockets and flaps or strong, sculptural vessels are your thing please email me asap to book your place. On Saturday 2nd March I have a beginners and improvers flat felting workshop happening, again please email me if you would like to book a place. These will both be intensive hands on classes where you will leave at the end of the day with a beautiful finished piece and the knowledge that you will confidently be able to repeat the process at home by yourself, more details over on the workshop page.

 

Before Christmas I met a lovely South African lady called Lizette at Borris Food and Craft Market. She bought some of my naturally printed and dyed nuno felt to bring home for gifts and also selected a few flowers in nice bright colours, felt and silk are wonderfully lightweight to transport so make perfect presents for anyone heading off in a plane!!! Anyway, Lizette is back here for a visit and called in to say hi again at the market on Friday. With her she brought me a gift of the latest 'Bead Book' magazine sent from her good friend Debbie Rijns, director of education at Precious Metal Clay South Africa.

In the magazine I was thrilled to see that a tutorial for one of Debbie's mixed media necklaces features one of my felt flowers combined with a beautiful PMC leaf, copper wire, beads and cord. Above is a picture of the second page of Debbie's tutorial. Thanks Debbie for creating such a lovely necklce incorporating the flower and I really appreciate the credit and mention in the magazine!

 

 

 

Flower bolos, fun, funky and versatile!

I've just completed the cords for 4 flower bolos this morning as I want to bring them with me to Borris Food and Craft Market in the morning. Here's a picture of one way to wear them, head on over to Clasheen on FB to see two more ways to accessorise an outfit!

I'm just going to grab a quick lunch then into the studio to gather my things for the morning.

 

Felt flower tutorial at last!!!

Orange and yellow felt flower

SIMPLE FELT FLOWERS

Materials list 

  • Approx 2 to 3g (.07 to .105oz) merino or Icelandic wool (batts or roving) in complimentary or contrasting colours, a spot of clashing colour often works well!
  • A little silk fibre, tencel, firestar or linen to add embellishment if desired.
  • Two pieces of bubble wrap no smaller than 12” square or one larger rectangle.
  • Warm water and soap.  An unscented soap with a high fat content is the best for your hands, most soap does work but I prefer olive oil soap or goat’s milk soap.
  • A small towel and a bottle for the soapy water, an old plastic mineral or milk container with small holes pierced in the lid makes a good cheap sprinkler!

Method

  • Place your towel on the table with one piece of the bubble wrap on top, bubbles up.
  • Lay out an even but light circle of wool approx 4” to 5” in diameter and lay a second layer on top of the first.  Overlapping the complimentary or contrasting colours works well as does laying out a darker splodge of colour in the centre of your flower.
  • Place your hand on top of the pile of wool and ‘vibrate’ it slightly to help the fibres stick together, check that there are not any extremely thin areas.
  • Patch if necessary and add then a little of your embellishing fibre around the outer edge if using.  Note, silk, tencel, firestar or linen fibres don’t actually felt themselves, the wool ‘catches’ them so please use sparingly.
  • Sprinkle some warm soapy water evenly on top of the wool, enough to compress the fibre but not enough to cause water to run off the bubble wrap.  You don’t need loads of suds so don’t go wild with the soap!
  • Place the second piece of bubble wrap on top of your flower bubble side down, if using a rectangle of plastic lay out the wool on one end and fold the other over.
  • Gently press down to work the water through the wool and remove any air pockets, lift the bubble wrap up carefully and see if the flower is totally wet through, add a little more water if necessary.  Replace the top layer of bubble wrap.
  • With wet soapy hands carefully rub the flower in a circular motion on top of the plastic for about a minute, turn over and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the top layer of bubble wrap and gently rub directly on the wool with soapy hands.  Once a ‘skin’ has formed on the flower pick it up and start to shape it into a three dimensional shape with your hands.  I like to place the tip of my index finger in the centre of the flower and work the felt around the outside of my finger.
  • The flower will shrink by about one third to one half the original layout size, when you are happy with the result rinse in warm water, reshape and dry.  Enjoy!

Now for two thumbnails, WordPress is playing silly games today so apologies I can’t seem to upload any more!

Adding firestar around the outside of the flower

Shaping in my hands

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Lovely day yesterday, Borris Market and felt flower tutorial is on the way …..

Alan and I had a lovely day yesterday, thanks for all the best wishes for his birthday!  This morning has been spent making all the last purchases for Christmas (as opposed to last minute purchases!)  and driving into Bagenalstown to hand deliver a present.  Now I have the stove lit, a chicken to go in the oven and some flowers to felt for my mother.  I also need to make a nice piece of flat felt which will then be cut and stitched into a ‘smart phone’ cover as requested by my sister Lizzie.  I am planning to take some pictures of the flowers in progress and then I’ll post my felt flower tutorial as promised, that’s the plan anyway!  As things stand I doubt that I’ll get to any emails or similar today but once tomorrow and the final selling opportunity for my felt is over Saturday is a new day.

Tomorrow morning I will be back in Borris Farmer’s Market with more 3 for E30 specials, please call in and say hi if you are in the area!

Market, craft fair and running repairs on large felt rug!

It’s been another busy weekend for me!  On Friday morning I set up my stand for the first time at Borris Farmer’s Market, it’s always easier to repeat a display so I wanted to get in early and have time to decide exactly how best to show off the felt.  Flowers proved to be the favourite seller on the day, I priced them at E15 each, 2 for E25 or 3 for E30.  This didn’t allow much profit per unit but keeping the price down meant that I sold more overall, I think it was the right way to go and worth remembering for the future!

Setting up the felt flowers in Borris

On Sunday Alan gave me a hand unloading and setting up my space for ‘A Taste of Carlow’ before heading off to catch up with some paperwork.  The weather was HORRENDOUS while we were unloading the truck, wet, cold and very windy!  It was a little chaotic at the beginning when setting up, I chose to display my felt in an open sided marquee which was definitely colder there than in the individual wooden huts available.  My reasoning was that the open sided display area would hopefully attract more browsers.

A Taste of Carlow

I was sited opposite the band area, beside the christmas tree and next to the wonderful organic food vendors, also the toilet was close by and when you are manning a stand by yourself this is a BIG consideration!!!  Once I had set up everything to the best of my ability given the weather constraints the organisers came around and apologised, several stand holders had arrived late and there was no space left for them.  Some of us who had come early in order to set up properly had to shift sideways and allow them cram in beside us so that was a bit of a pity, but live and let live, it wasn’t the end of the world!  Luckily the rain had eased off by about 2.30 so although the beginning of the day started badly for some people (several display stands blew down, one actually shattered!) the public did come out to support the event, all was well that ended well.  It took a while before anyone started buying but by the end of the evening I was very happy with the event.  There was a great Christmas atmosphere and bustle about the place, quite continental in feeling.  Obviously I wanted to make sales and I did, the biggest benefit however was meeting potential students and making contacts with sheep breeders, it was also great to catch up with old friends!  Check out this picture of Roisin modelling the felt snood her sister treated her to for Christmas!  Roisin learnt to felt with me recently and is really looking forward to participating in one of the hat making workshops I will be organising at Clasheen for Dawn Edwards.  Watch out Dawn because Roisin is a very talanted felter with a great head for design, it will be interesting to see what sort of concepts she has dreamt up by April!!!

Roisin modelling her new felt snood!

Yesterday I travelled to Dublin to help my mother with prep for some more hospital tests.  Before travelling home this afternoon I had to call in to Sylvia and effect some running repairs on her large felt rug.  Followers of my blog will remember that Sylvia commissioned a big rug from me last year, unfortunately her new rescue dog found some very interesting smells worth investigating recently but luckily only pulled off a bit of surface wool, no irrepairable damage was done!!!  I managed to needle felt (I know!) matching wool into the few damaged areas and Sylvia is now going to spot wash, hoover and steam clean the entire rug.  By the time this is done I don’t think that anyone will be able to tell where the  new areas of wool are, hopefully the steaming will remove any other attractive scents so I’m guessing that this is the only repair I will have to make, fingers crossed anyway.

I’m off now to put some food in the oven, walk REX and hopefully catch up on a bit of felting too.  I would like to have some new work ready for my second week at Borris Farmer’s Market this Friday!

Felt flowers adorn my garden!

This morning I finished the last of the 36 felt flowers for my sister’s lamp and as the latest batch are drying on the range I thought it would be fun to take a picture of some scattered amongst the leaves of my beautiful purple burning bush! 

Felt flowers for Suzanne's lamp

I didn’t find the flowers as tedious to felt as I had been expecting.  Maybe it was the fact that I was only working on 36 and not 450 as previously for Sculpture in Context but anyway I enjoyed playing around with the colours and I hope that Suzanne will be happy with the result.  This afternoon I am intending on punching a very small hole in the centre of each flower then   unscrew the bulbs and refit them around the felt.  I am consistently amazed at how versatile and wondrous a fabric felt is, the fact that wool is fire resistant means that these little lamp shades will be perfectly safe.  When the lamp is fully assembled I promise to take some pictures before it wends its way to Suzanne in Dublin!

What do you do with hundreds of felt flowers!

Following on from the felt piece I made for Sculpture in Context I had a big bag of extra flowers sitting in my studio.  I have been toying with the idea of incorporating them into some kind of felt rug but yesterday I raided the stash to steal 45 to use with an Ikea lamp as a kind of floral Christmas decoration!  The lamp is one that I used to use in a previous house but had put in storage since moving here to Clasheen, it has a tall silver base and 45 long flexible ‘arms’ with a small bulb at each end.  Reassembling the lamp was simplicity itself, I literally punched a hole in the centre of each felt flower, unscrewed the little bulb, positioned the felt at the end of each arm and then screwed the bulb back in creating a great focal point in the centre of each flower!  Even Alan commented on how successful the revamp was, pictures to follow tomorrow.

Felting workshop – gorgeous felt flowers and super new soap!

At Saturday morning’s workshop Hilary made some gorgeous felt flowers and we tried out a super new soap! 

Hilary's gorgeous felt flowers!

 

Because there were only the two of us (unfortunately the other participants were not able to make it) I was able to show Hilary how I usually lay out my wool and then we would both make a flower, Hilary following my lead.  We started with some simple rolled flowers as described in Lizzie Houghton’s book ‘Felting Fashion’ and then went on to make flowers using a resist to create two layers of petals.  After this we made a felt ball and then finished up the session creating another flower but this time incorporating a glass bead to form a focal point in the centre. 

During the morning we tried out a new natural soap which Hilary had discovered during the week in her local Lidl supermarket.  This ‘Suhada’ brand rice/bamboo soap is part of a new range that Lidl are currently stocking and contains amongst other ingredients palm oil, coconut oil and cold pressed olive oil.  I found it excellent to work with, soft on my skin like olive oil soap and if anything you needed to use even less than with olive oil soap, it lathered very well.  The liquid ‘brown’ soap that I had brought back from Denmark in the summer contains palm oil but this is the first time that I have known of any product with similar ingredients being for sale anywhere in my locality, I will be stocking up and advise you all to do the same! 

Felt flower with multiple stamens

 

Check out my Flickr photos to see more images of the flowers that we made. 

I still need to finish stringing the felt balls onto the ribbon yarn, why do I find it so difficult to add these little finishing touches???

Felt flowers and felting kits

This morning I had put time aside to take photos of my new felting kits and put them up on Etsy.  I am SOOOO frustrated as I write because now that I have found my camera I can’t find it’s charging station so uploading them will have to wait until Sunday or Monday when I can borrow Alan’s camera again.  As a result I have spent the latter half of the morning making a selection of felt flowers which are now drying on the Rayburn (range).  After lunch I am going to settle down and add beads, buttons and brooch backs, whatever grabs my fancy for each individual flower.  You know how difficult I find it to do the small sewing projects that finish a piece, wish me luck because I know it will be very easy to get distracted by another more ‘urgent’ felting piece and I really do want to get these flowers finished and ready to go!

Making felt jewellery is really fun, doesn’t take a lot of materials and is a great way to experiment with colour combinations that you otherwise mightn’t use.  Tomorrow I am teaching the felting section of the ‘Pick up your Kneedles’ series of workshops, this is in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, a gorgeous rural part of the country.  Possibly we will make jewellery at the workshop or maybe participants will want to make some flat felt or a small vessel.  To date several of the participants have attended each workshop and their skills have been progressing very well, each time is a mixed bag of experience but whatever we make we will definitely have fun!