A few pictures of my samples and Horst visit update!

Unfortunately I was so engrossed in trying out different techniques that I don’t have images of any actual finished items to share with you from the weekend jewellery making workshop, I don’t really have any finished items!  OK, to be strictly truthful I do have one paper yarn ‘nest’ which I completed and it is now hanging from a tree but it’s not my favourite piece so I’m not showing it, sorry!  Here however are a couple of pictures of two pieces I am happy with, the jewellery back is probably my favourite individual item but Angela did have to help me finish it!!!  The other point to note is that while I don’t like my own paper yarn ‘nest’ I do see the potential of the technique, more to follow when I return from US, I have plans for a ring and some other items using this as a starting point.  Now for the pics …..

Paper yarn and felt brooch with stainless steel brooch back

Fake gold leaf gilding on merino felt

McSweeney media have sent out extensive coverage to the press this morning of my participation at the Irish and International Sheep and Wool Festival including a big write up about Horst’s upcoming trip to Clasheen and the first ever display of his couture garments outside the US!!!  There are three spaces that still need to be confirmed for his ‘Large Felt Garment’ workshop which we will be facilitating together from 17th to 19th June at The Studio in Bennetsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.  If you have been waiting until the last minute to either confirm your booking for Horst’s workshop or make a descision now is the moment, everything needs to be totally finished and all monies collected before I head off to California at the beginning of May!  Please email me asap if you have any questions or forward me on the balance of your course fee if you have not already done so, thanks to all of you who already have.  Martin and Jill, owners of The Studio have kindly offered excellent B & B accomodation on site and I have emailed all actual and potential participants with the details.  In case I have missed anyone out please let me know if you never got the message, with all my recent computer woes I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have made a couple of errors!

Long day felting ahead fueled by inspirational photos from the West

Fossils at the shore near Enniscrone

I have just returned from an unexpected visit to Alan’s parents in Enniscrone, Co. Sligo. It’s a long drive from here, about 4 hours on rural roads no matter which route you take or how fast you try to drive it! Enniscrone is a small town on the Western coast and there are some amazing fossils in the local rock which I just love taking pictures of for inspiration.  I also picked up some wonderful small stones which will be perfect for incorporating into felt jewellery or some other work to document for our book!  I’m off now for a late breakfast (freshly ground coffee and corn bread, Heather’s receipe) and then Carmen and I will be spending the day felting together, tomorrow is St Patrick’s day and we may well felt together all day then too if Carmen has the day off work!!! 

Connemara ponies in the setting sun - photo taken off the West coast at Easky, Co. Sligo

Simple felt dreadlocks!

As well as meeting loads of fun and dedicated fibre enthusiasts one of the best things about attending any international felt event is the sure fire knowledge that you will learn something new.  Many of you know that I love dreadlocks or felt cords but up until now they have definitely not been on my list of top ten easiest felted items to make! 

Funky felt necklace

Since attending Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Silkeborg I have been experimenting with a technique of hers which allows you to insert multiple cords at the lay out stage without any prior felting to keep them seperate, this has proved a eureka technique for me!!!  Probably I heard somewhere else how to do this (have something way in the back of my mind!) but until I actually saw the results and tried it for myself I couldn’t imagine how many possibilities this would open up for me.  While I was taking a break from finishing the rug I decided to apply this method and try to felt a dreadlock necklace without taking all day making the cords, it worked and only took about 50 minutes from start to finish!  The only difference in the finished item is that the dreadlocks are more ‘crinkly’ looking than if they were partially felted before inclusion, this lends quite a funky feel to the finished piece and I am now full of ideas about how to alter already felted bags and plains of flat felt etc. to update them and add a bit of extra interest.

Felted closure

 

I also adapted a technique learnt from Evelyn Refsahl during my short jewellery workshop for the closure, I still find these a bit fiddly to make but hopefully I will get better in time!

Kristie and her beautiful felt vessel plus fun dreadlocked wrist cuff!

I am going to start this post with a gorgeous picture of Kristie and the beautiful vessel she felted with me at a workshop in Clasheen last Thursday.  She used Icelandic wool in shades of green and teal and included some insertions in gold spangled polyester, this created a very interesting and striking effect when these areas were opened up near the end of the felting process.

Kristi with her stunning vessel

Kristie is one of my blog readers and online friends from America and it was great to share some time with her and three girl pals during their exciting trip to Ireland.  She also makes wonderful purses, totes, lunch bags and other custom items and I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous upcycled wallet which matches perfectly the necklace I felted during Evelyn’s workshop and the matching bracelet I completed the following morning!!!  I also discovered it also totally compliments the funky wrist cuff I was messing around with yesterday afternoon as I was taking a break from felting the rug (short rug post and loads of pictures to follow tomorrow).  This cuff is felted using some woven mohair from Cushendale Woolen Mills as a base and the dreadlocks are inserted using a method of Charlotte’s, SO easy compared to what I would have done before! 

Upcycled wallet and dreadlocked wrist cuff!

Sea creature out and about!

This afternoon I have finally been able to take a couple of pictures of my completed sea creature! 

Home at Clasheen

I had planned blogging more about Charlotte’s wonderful workshop and the fabulous jewellery session I participated in with Evelyn Refshal but time is just slipping away and felting my large rug is taking up every spare minute at the moment.  Over the next few days I will be short on writing but heavy on pictures so please bear with me!  Suffice to say that I ran into some MAJOR issues when felting my sea creature.  The gauze stretched amazingly due to the high raised bumps and I eventually needed to add some judicious stitching on the inside before working the felt to the finished stage.  Note to self, use silk in future for any similar projects, already have ideas swirling around in my head!  I also had planned adding coral-red points on top of the bumps (check back to see the picture I used for my inspiration) but now that the sea slug is home at Clasheen I rather like the turquoise and white just as it is. 

Disappearing into acanthus

 

I would like to acknowledge the generous support of Carlow Co. Council who helped fund my participation in Grima’s event through the award of a 2010 Arts Act Grant, your support was much appreciated!

Special offers and the power of Twitter as my new boutique felt store goes live!

Exciting news, at least for me!  Although it is going to take a couple of weeks hard work felting new summer stock, photographing work already completed and uploading everything to my new exclusive boutique online store CLASHEEN, as of last night the store is live and I have already made my first sale!!!   

After a lot of soul searching and research, I decided like my good fibre friend Chrissie Day that Etsy is not really the market place for my one off designs.  Big Cartel offers a much more boutique shopping experience and if I were quite honest customers who appreciate hand felted designs are the demograph that I am aiming to attract.  To this end, all my felt wearbales and new interior/exterior design range will be exclusive to the new store although I will still be offering a limited selection of supplies from the middle of May on Etsy.  These will include an interesting  nuno felt scarf kit complete with silk/cotton fabric, merino, silk fibres and an instruction video!  For the next week only I have a selection of experimental felt accessories avaiblable at a discount of 40% off their original price as a stock clearing excercise so if you want to snap up a  bargain head over to Etsy now, these items are sold as seen and anything left after Friday 7th May will be de-listed and not offered for sale again.

I also have two nuno felt scarves/wraps on special offer at my new store and look forward to having regular specials and seasonal items as we progress through the year.  It is going to take a little getting used to but the system as operated by Big Cartel appears to use a simpler way of uploading items than Etsy (not complaining about Etsy, it served its purpose for me).   I discovered this afternoon that once an item sells it is still visable to the public although it does say sold out if you click through to the description.  This is something I need to keep an eye on but once I get the hang of things I think that it will be a lot quicker and easier to maintain the store as well as having a much more luxurious and individual look about it although I’ll let you all be the judge of that!

Lastly the power of the internet is a wonderful thing.  When the boutique store finally went live late yesterday afternoon I posted a quick tweet for all of you following me on Twitter, congratulations to Olwyn who is now the proud owner of this gorgeous felt vessel! 

Felt vessel combining C1 and Herdwick

Busy day today and combining felt with found objects, my fun project for tomorrow!

Well, I am just going to see how long it takes to write and upload this post, started at 19.39 and counting……….

Today was Carmen’s birthday and we had an active day variously felting, weaving, chatting and catching up with our friend Martina who called in on a special visit from the other side of Ireland especially in honour of the birthday girl!  Tomorrow we are going to be joined by more friends Cristina and Mariate for a felting, chatting and eating marathon.  You may wonder how Alan fits into the middle of this activity (especially since he really doesn’t like all that fluffy wool stuff!!) but this weekend was put in motion when he announced his trip to visit his parents and since he did not travel due to a cold what else can a girl do except persevere with her plans?

My objective tomorrow is to make some small three dimensional pieces and then combine them with found objects from my stash to create unique and funky felt and recycled jewellery.  I got a GREAT book during the week through Amazon, ‘Fabulous Jewellery from Found Objects’ by Marthe Le Van.  For the first time ever I now have some technical knowledge which shows me the safest way to drill through stones, work with precious and semi precious metal and basically gives clear step by step instructions for some of the necessary jewellery skills required when working with various types of new and found objects.  Alan has lent me a very small drill ( mine is a BIG Makita power tool!) and I have loads of ideas floating around in my head so hopefully I will have a few photos tomorrow to show you how everything is progressing.

The other necessary thing I have to do in the morning is put together a proposal for the Cashel Arts Fest.  This event does not take place until November but the organisers are sorting out the workshops sometime this week and I really would like to have something fun and interesting to offer for the children.

Post complete at 19.54!

Felted accessories, our Friday workshop with Lyda Rump

Yesterday morning I drove Lyda back to the airport and after a quick call to Ikea, McDonalds (a girl’s got to have some junk food ocassionally doesn’t she??) and the library in Carlow I returned home to Clasheen ready for a hot bath and bed.  I am physically tired but mentally exhilarated after our weekend workshops and I am so looking forward to getting silly household chores out of the way so that I can start laying out some samples for my newest felt project.  I still have to finish fulling my complex felt sculpture but that is on hold for a couple of days until I get the house tidied and the well (STILL no water of my own) back in proper working order.  Now on to the ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop with Lyda on Friday.
We started the morning oohing and aahing over some of Lyda’s beautiful scarves and inventive felt jewellery.  These fun pieces of jewellery gave us the freedom to discover how different colours, fibres and fabrics combined together without the stress of laying out a bigger project and it was very satisfying to have a gorgeous felt accessory at the end of each experiment! 

Gold threaded fabric, turquoise beads and felt necklace strung on rubber cord

Lyda encouraged us to incorporate artifical fabrics into our layout and these had some amazing results in the finished felt, you either loved each piece or you hated it, no middle ground!  During the morning I suddenly remembered that I had a large artificial fabric wrap donated to me by a friend to repurpose and the metallic weaving combined with black was perfect to cut up into pieces to see what the result would be if it were felted into a background of short fibred merino.  As you can see from the picture on the left it formed a good bond with the wool fibres and crinkled nicely during the felting process!  I thought  it was interesting the way the mixed fibres in the weave affected the finished shape.  My lay out of wool and fabric for this piece was square but as I felted them together they shrank very much more in one way than the other.  This ended up as an interesting twisted rectangle shape which I further embellished with turquoise stones and strung on a black rubber tube.  My brief to myself over the weekend was to try our new things, to stitch or bead some work and to complete some projects and not leave them on the long finger for finishing later, whether you like this piece or not it is finished and it is beaded!

Argh, I am so annoyed and frustrated because when I uploaded this post for some reason the second half of my writing and the image to accompany it was deleted.   I don’t know what actually happened and unfortunately I have to rush to the bank so don’t have time to write any more right at this minute.  I will however leave you for the second time, this time with a picture of my merino, stone, fabric and bead pendant minus the longer and more instructive description! 

Beaded felt and stone pendant

 

Some more fun and funky felt accessories!

This morning I made some more felt flowers and two cuffs, after lunch (fed five hungry tree planters some home made red Thai curry!) I forced myself to sit down and finish several of the flowers by adding simple brooch backs.  The weather has been wonderfully crisp today so I was able to take some photos of the completed works and have just now uploaded them to my Etsy shop

Funky orange and turquoise felt flower!

This large orange and turquoise flower would look equally at home pinned to an outfit or tying back your hair so I am actually giving the purchaser the option of finishing the flower with either fitting or else I can include both the findings for them to stitch on themselves!  It was actually when Hilary and I were working on Saturday that I thought of this colour combination.  Although I always tell students to either compliment or contrast I have never actually combined turquoise and orange myself before.  The mulberry silk around the outside of the base layer provides a nice highlight to the finished flower.  You can check out some more of the flowers on Etsy and I have also uploaded the cuffs too.

The tree planting is almost finished, it is amazing what 4 or 5 men can do with 13,000 trees when armed with a simple spade and a bit of will power! 

James with the oak

Rex surveying the lower ash plantation

Combining felt and ribbons, felt Christmas presents and catching up with emails

During the summer I received two balls of a ribbon yarn during one of the Ravelry swaps that I participate in.  As I understand it these would normally be used as quirky additions when knitting, crocheting or weaving but for me they make the perfect yarn to use when stringing fun felt necklaces!  The ribbon that I have is approx 1cm wide and space dyed in hot orange, yellow, pink, red and blue.  This makes it the ideal cord for stringing simple felt beads in a mixture of these colours, the necklaces are fun, light (as well as light hearted!) and look good with pretty much anything you throw them on with.  This morning I just need to finish making a couple of these (hope to take some pictures later) and then I am off to deliver some jewellery and scarves to Earthworks in Thomastown.  

Tomorrow morning I have another felting workshop here at Clasheen and then in the afternoon I intend making my sister Suzanne’s Christmas present!  She has a nice little antique table in her hall and is looking for a simple runner to put on the top as a protection for the phone, keys and accumulated clutter that always seem to gravitate to this spot.  Over the weekend I need to reassess all my other present giving requirements too and make a list of what gifts I need to felt or crochet, these will be worked on starting from next Monday. 

My last major task before the middle of next week is to plough through all my emails and written correspondence that have been accumulating over the last couple of weeks.  With the arrival of my trees and being initiated as the new Lady Captain of Borris Golf Club things have really been slack in the paperwork (and virtual paperwork!) department as there have just not been enough hours in the day to get through everything that needed to be done.