Fabulous Felted Accessories workshop on 17th and 18th November

On Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th November I’ll be facilitating an exciting ‘Fabulous Felted Accessories’ workshop at Berkeley Forest House, New Ross, Co. Wexford using Ann Bernstorff’s 19th century costume collection to spark the flame of inspiration. During this two-day workshop we will tour the collection then explore and experiment with a variety of wet felting techniques, the weekend goal will be for participants to felt a selection of buttons, belts, brooches, bracelets, necklaces, purses, closures or other small three-dimensional items. The techniques learned may all be translated later into larger three-dimensional felt or clothing projects and this workshop is suitable for both the beginner feltmaker and the more experienced. Found objects and treasured bits and bobs may all be incorporated into the felt so participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favourite stash items and we will work together to combine them with wool and create unique, funky, felt accessories. Here’s a picture of one of my first pieces of felt jewellery incorporating found objects, the spiky things are actually old bristles from a yard brush!

Felt beads, found object and sterling silver clasp, an early necklace

Felt beads, found object and sterling silver clasp – photographed by Bernie McCoy

The fee for the weekend is €200 per person (€500 for residential guests arriving on Friday night), this includes all tuition and felting materials, a tour of and access to the 19th century Costume Collection of Ann Bernstorff, tea/coffee during the class and a scrumptious lunch each day! Please contact Alexis for further details or to book a place on 056 7754975, 085 2207706 or email alexisbernstorff@gmail.com.

Beautiful felt jewellery created

I had a lovely time at the Ennis Creative Arts Centre on Saturday, eight fun ladies met to join me for a full day jewellery making workshop. Over the course of a morning and an afternoon we concentrated on getting to grips with felting four different jewellery components, flowers, spikes, balls and cords (laid out and felted a different way than the spikes!).

The techniques learnt may be applied to all sorts of different felting projects, with jewellery they form the basis for unlimited experimentation and I'm hoping that the participants will have fun creating some more lovely pieces with the fibre they went home with! Here are a few pictures from the workshop for you all to enjoy.

I'm sure you'll see from the smiles that it was a really nice and fun group of ladies, just to assure you, our photographer was smiling too!

 

Felt jewellery workshop at Ennis Creative Arts Centre on Saturday

I've hit the ground running since driving home from Canada late on Monday evening, yesterday I had a full day training to attend on pricing work, taxation etc. (it was excellent, thanks Marian) and today I've been trying to unpack my various bags at the same time as trying to prepare for a full day felt jewellery workshop on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to facilitating this workshop at the Ennis Creative Arts Centre, you may remember that Liga and I spent a great weekend there in the summer attending a two day polymer clay workshop with Ronna Sarvas Weltman, this time it's my turn to teach! The techniques that I'll be sharing include……..

Cords and balls – both may be used as they are or cut to expose the different coloured layers inside as with this ball. If cut these pieces make really interesting embellishments, buttons, beads, jewellery components and the basis for some funky hanging Christmas decorations!
Here's an experimental brooch which comprises of two balls and a cord felted together.
Close up of a ball cut in half……
….. and uncut balls combined with polymer clay in a necklace.
A fun felt flower, these make brilliant decorations and brooches, they're fantastic to add to hats, coats, napkin rings etc. and include in strings of Christmas lights, loads of uses!
Finally for today here's a flower with an integrated ring back, this is a combination of the cord and the flower technique. As of this morning there were just two places left for this class, please email Shirley ASAP if you think that you'd like to join us!

 

October felt jewellery class in Ennis Creative Arts Centre!

I’m delighted to be returning to the beautiful Ennis Creative Arts Centre in Tubber, Co. Galway on 19th October where I’ll be facilitating a felt jewellery making workshop, instead of participating in one! Here’s a picture of Liga, Ronna Sarvas Weltman and me outside Shirley Bredin’s gorgeous venue, a beautifully renovated Irish farmhouse that’s been tastefully extended to accommodate a fabulous studio. This picture was taken after the brilliant polymer clay class I attended with Ronna, I loved every minute of the weekend!!!

Liga, Ronna and me outside the Ennis Creative Arts Centre

Liga, Ronna and me outside the Ennis Creative Arts Centre

Anyway, a little more info about what I’ll be sharing………….during this intensive one day jewellery making class we’ll be working towards making three specific items of jewellery, a flower ring, a beaded bracelet and a large multi functional flower bolo. No previous felting experience is necessary to attend the workshop but if you are an experienced or improving felter I’ll be able to help you add your own quirky twist to these most popular designs from my studio. Shirley’s set up an event page on facebook for people to check out and I’m posting a more expansive workshop description here so that you may get a greater feel for what the day will offer! Do please consider joining us if you live on the other side of Ireland and have not considered travelling to Duckett’s Grove before. The techniques learnt during this workshop will be ones that you can use in a whole variety of sculptural projects, the cord making one (I learnt it from Anita Larkin many years ago) is particularly useful!!! Here goes….

‘Funky Felt Jewellery”

Wet felted flowers and cords make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes! During this workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers with or without stems using her favourite short fibered merino and a selection of embellishing fibres such as silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during one of my workshops last year at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during one of my workshops last year at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

For participants who do like to stitch however, Nicola will have a selection of beads and brooch backs with which the flowers may be turned into beautiful, sparkling, pieces of jewellery. We will also learn a simple but very effective way of felting strong, hard cords. During the workshop participants will felt a long cord which may be combined with a felt ring to wear as a stunning multi functional felt bolo. The technique for making these cords may also be used in a variety of other ways including quirky jewellery, spikes for three dimensional felting and strong bag handles.

Contrasting textures in my first ‘official’ felt and polymer clay necklace

I finally finished my first 'official' felt and polymer clay necklace last night, I'm happy with some of its aspects and less happy with others. On the plus side of things I love the combination of textures, the soft organic shape of the beads, the smoothly burnished large polymer clay bead contrasting with the tactile felt beads, the black rubbery tubing I used to tie everything together with and I'm definitely happiest with the roughly textured polymer clay beads and the matt black spacers.

I think that the finished necklace looks lovely against the textures of my recent nuno felt so I'm happy that I'll be able to create a collection of accessories that will add another dimension to my craft practice. On the negative side of things I'm least happy with how symmetrically I strung everything together, my only excuse is that I had a very limited selection of felt and polymer components to work with, hopefully that'll change as I get more pieces made and build up my stock of raw materials. I'm still waiting for my tissue blades to arrive so I'm a little limited with what I can do, the plus side of that is I have to keep experimenting and looking for ways around my lack of some decent cutting implements.

 

I'd like to recommend Ronna Sarvas Weltman's book 'Ancient Modern' for anyone looking for clear basic instructions and wonderfully inspiring projects in polymer clay and wire jewellery. It's on special offer via the Interweave store up until 15th February at a knockdown price of $6.88 (usual price $22.95). I wish I'd known that before I ordered it elsewhere for the full price but it's wonderful value nonetheless!

 

Decisions, decisions…..

Laying out some Fimo against a nuno felt wrap last night to try and select the colours I wanted. Of course I realised as soon as my order of polymer clay arrived that I didn't get half enough blocks of soft subtle colours and I only ordered one white and one translucent block, silly me. The green that I got is much sharper in colour than I expected also so this afternoon I headed into Carlow after teaching to stock up on some more light colours and white. The Fimo is much more expensive there than online but at least I can now work again and do some more experimentation this evening, tomorrow I'll be felting the complimentary pieces in the morning then assembling all the jewellery in the afternoon. At least that's my plan anyway and I'll really try to stick to it!

 

Felting frustration…

I’ve had a pretty frustrating morning on the felting front, two failed attempts at a new style bracelet and only one relatively successful result. My plan had been to get a lot of smaller jewellery items felted this weekend as I need to think of splitting my stock for both the Christmas Village at Mount Juliet and the Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair next week. I’m actually going to call it a day and start a massive tidy up instead. While I totally suck in the household department (with the possible exception of cooking in fact!) I so need to get sorted in advance of Christmas, once next weekend arrives it’s outside events right up until the night of 24th. Starting afresh on Monday morning with a clean and tidy house should help get the creative juices flowing!

New felt bracelets, free machine embroidery workshop and the 2011 Irish Web Awards!

It’s a busy time here at Clasheen but I do seem to be managing my time a little better than usual, thankfully!

Stone wall inspired bracelets

As promised here is a picture of the two dry stone wall inspired felt bracelets I made at Niki’s last week, the bracelet on the right I kept for myself and the one on the left has just been added to my Big Cartel shop.  It has been interesting hearing the reaction of everyone who has seen these two pieces together, with the exception of one friend and myself, everyone has choosen the one on the left hand side as their favourite.  This leads me to believe people find the larger white surround of the stones appealing, whatever, I love them both!!!

I spent a wonderful two days over the weekend participating in a workshop with the South East Textile Group.  Our main focus for the workshop was free machine embroidery on various types of dissolvable fabric or paper but for me the biggest result was getting to grips with my Janome straight stitch machine and feeling comfortable with the results!  Our tutor was Arelene Shawcross, an English lady now living and working from Macroom in Co. Cork.  Arelene was an excellent teacher, I would highly recommend sessions with her for anyone interested in exploring free machining further, her manner is informed, relaxing and highly productive.  There were loads of interesting samples for everyone to examine and exclaim over.  For me the beauty of Arlene’s embroidery was most visable in some subtle tone on tone work, I don’t find highly coloured pieces as attractive to my eye but definitely there was something to suit everyone in the work on display and we all got inspired and ready to get down to business quickly.

Stitching on Romeo, is that a smile???

The first sort of soluble fabric that I decided to experiment with was a thickish plastic kind of one called ‘Romeo’.  Following on with my dry stone wall obsession I wanted to keep my work subtle and elected to stitch a bracelet (after a couple of small sample pieces!) using soft shades of silver, grey and blue machine embroidery threads.  The top two tips that I learnt over the weekend were that it is important not to have the presser foot (free machine or darning) down against the fabric you are stitching on and that you can use machine embroidery and metallic threads on top and in your bobbin if you follow this rule, magic!!!  You may remember I was having problems with my metallic thread breaking constantly when I last stitched into felt, changing to a new needle and following the above tips worked like a dream, I tried stitching into some very thick felt after I had finished the bracelet and no problems.  Following is a picture of the bracelet pinned to some polystyrene prior to dissolving the plastic, images of the finished piece tomorrow!

Finally a big thanks to Cathy for nominating this blog for a 2011 Irish Web Award, YAY!

Bracelet pinned to polystyrene and ready to submerge in water

Wrap up from Lisa Klakulak’s felt jewellery workshop and book review in Living Crafts Magazine

Another few days have gone by since I promised to post more pictures of the pieces I worked on at Lisa’s felt jewellery workshop, time just seems to be running as fast as ever so sorry if any of you have been waiting.  I had debated a variety of large neckpiece options but finally decided on an oversized ‘pendant’ to be worn either on a thick felt torc or with a scarf wrapped through the bail, a new word I learnt and you can check out the meaning here if you don’t already know it too!

Oversized torc and neckpiece

Because my first piece didn’t have the shrinkage I was hoping for or expecting I did have to revise my ideas for the pendant, I still made it oversized but that’s OK, I like my pieces to make a statement!!!  Unfortunately I didn’t ask anyone to take any pictures of me wearing it with my own camera but to get an idea of the scope of the project there is an image of me and my friend Birgit Kiems taken on the night of the gala dinner at Felt in Focus on Facebook, you can have a look at Birgit’s pictures here.  Be prepared, it’s not the most flattering image of me, eyes half closed and tummy sticking out!  Iam also in the process of uploading more images to Flickr, these show a little more detail of various parts of the free machine stitching, now that I am home I will also take some pictures of the torc minus the pendant.

Thanks to Pardis and all at Living Crafts Magazine for giving Chrissie and I the thumbs up for our new book ‘From Felt to Friendship’ in the summer 2011 issue!  Here is what they said ….. “This gem of a felting book is for those who are beyond the beginner stage and are looking for inspiration for more adventurous projects.  It is written as a guide to encourage the more experienced felter to experiment and ‘play’ more freely.  It is rich with many beautiful projects and diverse techniques.”  THANK YOU!!!

The next time I post here I am going to talk a little about the fascinating time I had participating in Kirsten Lundbergh’s printing workshop, the possibilities are now endless with creating my own designs on fabric especially when you combine these new methods (new to me!) with the dying skills I learnt from Horst

Textured and stitched, the addition of machine embroidery to felt adds another dimension!

It is just not going to be possible to blog comprehensively about all the new techniques learnt and information absorbed at Felt in Focus, firstly there is definitely not enough time and secondly a lot of it is in my head and will be transmitted into my work over the course of the coming months.  Instead I hope you will share with me as I post some images taken during the two amazing workshops I participated in, felt jewellery with Lisa Klakulak and printing on fabric (printing with pigments and binders and not with acid dyes as I had somehow imagined!) with Kirsten Lundberg.

20 layers of partial felt underneath a layer of silk chiffon adds to the raised surface

I’m going to start today by uploading two images of the first piece I completed at Lisa’s workshop, a richly coloured wall piece (that I originally intended to be a bracelet!) with areas of high relief, achieving textured surfaces is something that really interests me.

Seeing Lisa’s felt in reality was a wonderful experience, watching her demonstrate how adding free machine embroidery to various areas really opens up a whole new avenue for exploring different means of surface embellishment.  As someone who has always had a horror of working on a sewing machine free machining was a total new experience, wonderfully relaxing believe it or not expecially since I was working on a relatively ‘free’ style of stitching  playing around to see what sort of effects I might be able to achieve without totally stressing myself out about perfection!

Merino, fabrics, partial felts and stitching combine to create a unique new felt