Internet connectivity is zero here in the cabin at Lake Tahoe so Merridee and I have sneaked in to Tahoe City to catch some wifi, read our emails and catch up with essential online stuff. I arrived here on Monday morning having spent a wonderful week with Barbara and Sam in Austin TX, thanks guys for a really fun visit!
Cyndi, Barbara and Carolyn modelling their gorgeous nuno scarves!
The nuno scarf/wrap and vessel workshops last weekend went very smoothly, I hadn't appreciated that many of the participants had no previous felting experience until I arrived at the venue so was doubly delighted with the beautiful felt everyone created.
Stunning felt vessels and purses
It's always amazing when a group of creative people with access to the same raw materials get together, no two pieces looked alike even though everyone was working with the same instructions and the same basic shapes.
The three day sculptural workshop that I attended with Pam MacGregor over the weekend was fantastic, really well worth participating in. Thanks Pam and thanks Feltmakers Ireland for making it happen, thanks Maureen and Terry for the great accommodation! I'm just working on felting a different stopper for my vessel this afternoon, I'm not 100% happy with the quality and dimensions of the one shown here so as soon as I have the new one finished I'll post a picture. For now here are a couple of pictures Pam took, I love the shadow in the first image!
I'm having a busy but productive time of it lately, many things are coming together at the one time so please forgive me if I just post a couple of pictures today. As soon as I have a minute I'll write a longer blog post, I'll also have time then to full and shrink this beaded felt vessel a little further.
Thanks a million Jan for the gorgeous beaded silk chiffon and thanks Dianne and Mike for transporting it to Ireland!
Some of you may remember I had tried and failed to shape a large felt vessel to compliment three smaller ones made for the inaugural FORM exhibition in June. The depth of the vessel coupled with the thickness of the wool (many fine layers in the layout) and lack of time did not agree with my current tennis elbow, finally I put it aside and decided to revisit it later.
Later arrived the other day, pretty quickly actually as it turned out! Merridee, Keith and I gathered some windfallen eucalyptus leaves from an unidentified tree while out walking, I flattened the vessel as best as I could, soaked it I vinegar then bundled it and boiled for several hours in a eucalyptus and onion skin dye bath.
Interesting prints where an insect has eaten into the. Edge of the eucalyptus leaf! Felting and printing by Nicola Brown - Clasheen
I'm thrilled with the printing result although I still couldn't reshape it quite the way I'd like to, never mind, this one's a keeper and after the Kilkenny Arts Festival is over I'll add a leather shoulder strap!
Large felt bag naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves by Nicola Brown
Following on from my first vessel of 2014 I've felted two more since the beginning of the week, this time they've been naturally printed. I had some lovely pomegranate skins and pith left after I cooked a big lamb, date and pomegranate tagine, what better use than to add them to a pot and let their colour influence a couple of bundles?
Here's a picture of the first vessel prior to printing, it's a combination of Portugese merino, mohair locks and a silk/linen blend for surface embellishment. On FB earlier in the week I mentioned that the fibre was bamboo, not so as I discovered once I printed it, I thought it felt a little different laying it out! Anyway, the giveaway was the fact that it appeared to take colour from the pot well. Bamboo, being a cellulose fibre, usually remains white after printing adding an interesting look to the felt (which I like), silk on the other hand is a protein fibre and takes the colour well so even thought this was a silk/linen blend it didn't really achieve the effect I had intended. Not to worry, here's the finished vessel.
I like the reverse
and side views better.
The second vessel is more of a bowl shape, I used the same Portugese merino with loads of Firestar on the outside (for sheen) plus the same silk/linen blend embellishing the inside.
I used a combination of different eucalyptus and blackberry leaves for this one, you can see a blackberry leaf in the inside centre with this birds eye view.
I particularly like the strong contrast of the reddish eucalyptus against the golden tones of the pomegranate on the base. Next time I'll bundle differently but use the same materials, I'd like to get those colours on the top of a bowl!
Yesterday I ordered the raw materials to fulfill the trade orders from Showcase and got some dreaded paperwork out of the way early in the morning. This left me free to felt my first vessel of 2014!
Every day when I walk up the lane and through the fields at Clasheen with Rex, my eyes are drawn time and time again to the beautiful lichen, moss and fern strewn dry stone walls which are a constant source of inspiration for me. It was interesting to see the night before that I was very attracted to an unusual polymer clay necklace online friend Jaroslava Zikmundova posted to FB and Etsy, I then discovered when I left a comment that it too was inspired by mosses and lichen!
Anyway, yesterday I wanted to work on an idea that I had had for a while, a felt vessel with plenty of texture and some craters. I'm planning a series of vessels incorporating some natural printing but for yesterday I just wanted to break my duck and get back to felting three dimensionally. I also wanted to use some of the lovely Portugese merino I bought at the wool factory in Guarda on a trip we made last year at the wonderful residential felting holiday at Dominio Vale do Mondego. Just as an aside, if anyone is interested in joining us for this years extravaganza don't forget to check it out and contact Karin ASAP, spaces are filling very quickly!
Here's a picture of the vessel during the early laying out stage…..
and one after I've laid out all the surface embellishments and started to felt, thanks Sue (GlitterGirl Feltworks) for the funky yarn!
Here's a picture of the almost finished vessel sitting on top of the wall, I still need to do a little work to firm up the shape. Overall I'm happy with the result, the craters would have been much better if I'd used a different method for creating them, the Portugese merino batt gives a lovely pebbly texture when felted but was a little uneven to lay out, all in all it was a pleasant way to start felting vessels for the new year.
I've been having great fun with Jan this week, scouring the local Goodwill stores for printed silk (she's still in training but a quick learner Dawn!), exchanging skills, brainstorming ideas, felting and preparing for two days of workshops in Lexington this coming weekend!
My first task was to finish felting the nuno scarf I laid out last Saturday at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, it's really interesting to see the contrast between the scarf that Jan felted and the one I've just finished. We both chose a western inspired colour scheme of chocolate ponge silk with brown and teal shades of alpaca plus loads of Roo and Elizabeth's beautiful hand dyed bamboo for surface embellishment. Jan also added some of her own dyed cotton gauze on top of the alpaca and I used quite a lot of Firestar for added glamour and shimmer, I love them both!
At this point I have to say that I LOVED every minute of the KSFF!!! Teaching for the full day on Saturday but only half a day on Sunday was a perfect combination. I was able to have a good chat with Roo and Elizabeth on Friday evening plus check out my workshop space, having Sunday afternoon free gave me plenty of time to do the rounds of all the stands, see the animals plus pick up a tonne of yummy fibre to bring home to Ireland, not ALL for me mind you, some for Anita who's looking after my studio while I'm gone. The organisation of everything was SPOT ON, thanks so much to all the committee and helpers who were friendly, helpful and put on a wonderful event!
Yesterday I shared the open resist method of making vessels with Jan, in turn, I was inspired by a wonderful teapot she felted at a Pam MacGregor workshop to try including a handle in one of my own vessels. I love this exchange of ideas and brain storming, I've now an idea in my head for some new bags with long shoulder straps (purses!), I doubt that I'll get to felt them though until some time after I return from teaching in Portugal! This week long residential workshop is now fully booked but if you live within shouting distance of Lexington why not come and join us for our workshop here next Saturday 25th May!!! If you're interested in more information or reserving a place please email me ASAP, if you don't have any idea what to make don't panic (because I'll help you) and if you need materials in a hurry Jan will bring extra on the day if you let her know which colours you prefer.
I'll leave you today with this picture of my new vessel drying, I call it 'Ode to Pam'.