Photos from the Lexington workshops!

It was another exciting but calm day in Lexington as larger projects from yesterday came together and new pieces were laid out too. Donna, Lindy and Karen all felted pieces in the tumble dryer last night and worked on new pieces today and until you have tried this out for yourself it is impossible to realise how much time and effort this can save you! Check out ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ or the downloadable book if you are interested in learning more about how to go about this and to see the proof of the pudding here is a group picture from this evening; Donna is modelling her wonderful vest, Karen her highly textured scarf and Lindy’s large piece of yardage is photographed to the left of the group.

Lindy’s yardage, Tonya, Donna, Jan, Nancy, Karen and Sandy (left to right)

A lot of interesting techniques were incorporated into the various pieces, resists laid out inside three dimensional pieces to reveal hidden details later (Tonya in an wonderful large vessel and Jan in a gorgeous bag which also includes glass nuggets), Karen incorporated beads at the lay out stage of her first resist project, Nancy felted a wonderful large purse with integrated handles and Sandy felted an incredible large wall hanging using alpaca and a selection of fabulous locks from a variety of different sheep and other animals! Check out the album I’ve created on facebook to see more of the work, congratulations everyone, you are amazing!!! I’ll leave you with a picture of Sandy’s beautiful landscape, isn’t it an amazing piece for her second ever time felting?

Sandy’s felt landscape using all cleaned but uncarded alpaca and other fibres

Saturday’s fun and productive workshop, raw wool bag, nuno felt tutorial, vessel for sale …..

On Saturday Mairead and Sharon really knuckled down to create beautiful pieces of flat felt in the morning and both felted wonderful vessels in the afternoon.  It’s always interesting sharing techniques with other artists because once I demonstrate the basic skills I love watching how participants use the creative process to get stuck in and bring their own experience to the felting table!  Sharon had never felted before and although Mairead’s art practice is often textile based wet felting is not a technique that she has had much prior experience in either.  I’ve posted images of their work to my mobile uploads on Facebook, have a look and I am sure you will agree they both did a wonderful job!

Jacob's sheep bag

I certainly enjoyed the day and I think that they both did too, in fact I was really fired up after they left and started a raw wool bag which I then had time to finish this morning.  The locks that I used were local Jacob’s and the inside is a rich raspberry coloured wool which I bought at Felt in Focus 3 years ago, it just seemed to be a perfect marriage with the rich chocolate and creamy white Jacob’s fleece!  I added a leather strap (an upcycled belt) for the handle and a cool vintage leather button for the closure.  In fact, I think that the button graced a sheepskin jacket yonks ago (isn’t yonks a great word???) so how much more appropriate could the button be than that?

Large autumn coloured felt bowl

The weather has been dreadful here for the last 48 hours.  It is so wet that I haven’t a hope of getting outside to photograph my new framed landscapes, I wanted to get them uploaded to my Big Cartel shop but the light is so poor inside (because it is LASHING outside!) that I am going to have to wait another little while.  I did however decide to upload the large autumn coloured stitched vessel that I felted for the rare breeds show at Gosford.  It’s available for $120 at the moment and if you put the code OCTATCLASHEEN in at the checkout stage you get a 15% discount until the end of this month.  This is a BIG felt vessel!!!

Finally I had a query about a video record/nuno felt scarf tutorial which I uploaded to YouTube a long time ago, here’s the link again for those of you new to this blog and who just might be interested in the info it contains!

Little felt vessel

The weather was appalling at the weekend, very wet and windy, definitely not the perfect conditions for capturing photos outside.  I did manage to take a couple of pics of the little rosehip inspired vessel I made my mother for her birthday so here it is.  Apologies if the exposure isn’t the best, I ran outside when it was only drizzling and not totally lashing as we say here in Ireland!

Little red vessel

I also thought that the colour was appropriate given that this weekend celebrated ‘Felt United’, the third international day of felt and the colours for this year were red, blue and purple.

Another rose hip felt vessel and more free machine embroidery pictures

Apologies for not posting final pictures from the weekend’s free machine embroidery workshop yesterday, tidying up just got in the way!  Seriously, the massive back kitchen/garage restructuring that I have undertaken this week is really coming along famously and I didn’t want to break stride and get sidetracked by the computer, I would NEVER have headed back to the devestation that is my garage otherwise!!!

My mother’s birthday in on Sunday and she has requested a companion piece to the little rose hip vessel (one of the pieces in ‘From Felt to Friendship’) I gave her for Mother’s Day earlier in the year.  Luckily she requested this ages ago (as she requested the original vessel!) and I was able to put some orange, red and black merino aside in a bag so fingers crossed I can make a nice piece this morning, a welcome change from all the tidying and cleaning going on chez Clasheen!  This afternoon I am playing in the last big ladies golf competition of 2011 so thinking of this I have put aside this morning for felting the vessel and hopefully a couple of new bracelets to stitch at the weekend.  I really feel that because I have invested so heavily in my machine I need to get to grips with the technicalities pdq because I obviously need to be selling work to justify the initial cash outlay.  My intention is not to stitch every piece of felt from now onwards rather understand the possibilities and see where that leads me!  Now on to some more pictures and info from Arlene Shawcross’s brilliant free machine embroidery workshop last weekend.

The finished bracelet photographed against the granite stone wall I used for inspiration

On Saturday evening when I returned home after the first day was over, I had a look in my studio to see if any of the beautiful glass buttons I brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last October would suit the colours of the bracelet which I had been stitching.  The loop closure is not the widest because I felt I needed to keep it in proportion to the delicacy of the stone wall design so I was delighted to discover the smallest of the buttons was a beautiful grey/blue glass with a band of deep green and iredescent gold, perfect.  It was a bit (or a lot fiddly!) to attach the button and after a failed attempt myself I have to confess that Arlene was brilliant and stitched it on for me, thanks Arlene!  Big strong hands are a huge advantage sometimes (excuse the pun) but for some jobs especially ones involving detailed sewing I just get very frustrated, ah well, one step at a time I suppose.

My next experimental project was to stitch on a dissolvable paper, very interesting.  Arlene has gorgeous samples and I thought this would be a very interesting way of creating interesting pieces to sandwich between two layers of perspex or glass, my mind was humming!  With this method I didn’t need to cross over each line of stitches to the same degree as I had with the Romeo, the second stage of the process is wetting out and removing some of the paper so being selective with this ensures that the remaining paper ‘bonds’ everything together anyway.  Adding paint to your brush and washing it lightly over the surface of the stitches and paper leads to interesting effects if you don’t make it too wet, as the water/paint dries the remaining paper stiffens around the stitching.  I loved this distressed look and will be experimenting further, below is an image of one of the pieces that I made.  The final piece that I created used a very sticky backed plastic, problems, problems with this one but a very impressive final result even if I do say so myself!  I’m going to add a few selective beads to this piece, frame it, photograph it and then blog about it so until then I’m not going to write any more about it here.

A close up of the stitched, dissolved and dried paper sample

Felting vessels using wool from rare or less usual breeds

Maureen and I have spent an action packed 3 days catching up, eating, drinking, sourcing supplies, visiting Cushendale Woolen Mills and Threads of Green (a wonderful sewing supplier in Kilkenny) as well as felting vessels using wool from rare or less usual breeds of sheep!  This work was to support Feltmakers Ireland in their drive to have a large display of vessels felted from less usual fibres on display at the Rare Breeds Survival Trust annual show at Gosford Park in Northern Ireland this coming weekend.  The only criteria was that 80% of the fibre used for each vessel had to be from a rare breed and there needed to be an opening in each piece because the public are being asked to drop a note in their favourite one and the vessel with the most notes will win a lovely Wensleydale fleece!

Cleaned and carded Zwartbles with collar of Finnish raw locks

My first vessel was felted from beautiful Zwartbles with a collar of raw Finnish locks, thanks Chrissie for the Zwartbles and thanks Carmen for the locks!

Maureen spent the first evening carding like crazy for her planned vessel, unfortunately I can’t remember the second fibre she used but I do know that they were both white and one of them was Wensleydale.  I liked her idea of felting in a metal chain and sink plug, fun!!!

Maureen with her funky vessel!

My second vessel was a large bowl felted using dyed Kainuu Grey wool.  This is a rare Finnish landrace sheep favoured by wonderful felters Rod and Karolina who specialise in large rugs and wall pieces, thanks again Chrissie for this fibre!  I wanted to see how easy it would be to machine embroider a wide, shallow vessel.  I didn’t have any difficulty actually holding the felt under the needle but I had HUGE problems with the viscose and rayon speciality threads breaking when stitching through the thick, softish felt.  Obviously this had to be a tension problem because there was no difficulty when I used polyester thread, I did try all sorts of different settings on the machine but hopefully when I have some more practice all will sort itself out with time.  Once the stitching was finished I shaped the vessel by steaming it over a large glass salad bowl.  This enabled me to create a deeper centre because I had been worried that it would be difficult to stitch inside the centre if the rim was too high.  I left the outside edge of the felt a little bit ruffled and hopefully now that the vessel has dried it will hold its shape on the long drive up to Gosford Park!

Large felt vessel with free machine embroidery

New felt vessel, thanks again and latest Wikio rankings!

This morning I started a turquoise and white vessel, the first in a new series which will form the main focus of my solo show this year for the Kilkenny Arts Festival, hopefully I might have a few pictures for you all tomorrow.  It felt great to be laying out my fibres and felting again, the last few weeks have really seen me tied to the computer but now I need to concentrate on getting a little work finished before I head of to U.S. next Monday.  I also want to felt a few new nuno mosaic scarves to bring with me but at the moment all I can think of is one day at a time and I don’t have many of those days or times left now!

Chrissie and I are thrilled with the response to our book so far, THANKS SO MUCH to all of you for your encouragement, support and good cheer as we went through the laborious process of documenting our work and putting thought to paper.  Your messages of congratulations and ordering of books has been wonderful, thanks Linda Koch for being the first ‘outsider’ to order a copy, only 8 minutes after the book went live so that gave us a great big boost last night!!!  If you are interested in getting your own copy all you need to do is click on the little picture of the book to the right, select whether you want softback or hardback and click the order button, Blurb deliver workdwide!

I am also pleased to be moving upwards again in the latest Wikio blog rankings!  Thanks Neila for letting me know, at the moment I am in eigth position for the knitting rankings in the UK and Ireland, see my sidebar, but after the 5th May I go up to 5th.  Here is a sneak preview of the new top 20!

1 pennies per hour of pleasure
2 needled
3 Daisie Days
4 Art Yarn
5 Clasheen by Nicola Brown
6 The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty
7 ysolda
8 Confessions of a YarnAddict
9 Eskimimi Knits
10 Little Cotton Rabbits
11 The Yarn Yard Blog
12 Dyed in the Wool
13 mooncalfmakes
14 All things Socktopus!
15 fourth edition
16 Wendy Knits
17 Purlpower
18 SNOOPYDOGKNITS!
19 Dye Studio Diary
20 glittyknittykitty

Ranking made by Wikio

Felting photos from yesterday!

Little felt vessel sitting on the wall

Dorothy, Betty, Una, Mary and Ann behind their fabulous bags!

Time is of the essence at the moment, apologies  for the lack of words but do head over to look at yesterday’s photos and here is one of my little vessel inspired by the ancient stone walls around me. 

I have just uploaded a load of photos from our wonderful afternoon yesterday to Flickr, Mena, Dorothy, Betty, Mary and Ann choose to felt large bags with integrated handles, Una a kindle cover and Helen a needle felted landscape into a wet felted background for this, our final session of the current series.  It is fantastic to review just how much knowledge the Borris Active Retirmement ladies have learnt during the last year, we have had three series of 12 hours each and by now all the participants are able to felt quite complicated bags, hats and vessels using the resist method, flat felt landscapes, needle felt embellishments and beautiful fun jewellery and accessories.  Everyone seems a dab hand with a needle so much of the work has been embellished with stitching and beading at home, beautiful teapot covers, bags and cushions have been stitched, lined and finished as the pictures on Flickr show off to best advantage!!!

Little felt vessel and Horst’s workshop almost booked out already!

Just a really quick post, I felted a gorgeous small vessel on Friday and Horst’s workshop is almost booked out already!  Pictures of the vessel tomorrow, off now to load the truck and meet the ladies for Borris Active Retirement’s last session today.  Apologies to anyone waiting for a reply to an email, I’ll get you later tonight!!!

Largest ArtL!nks vessel felted at last!!!!!

Whew, I was beginning to think that I would NEVER get my largest ArtL!nks vessel felted and fulled!!!!!  Over the last week or so I have been giving it a rub and a roll every time I had a spare minute and yesterday afternoon I finally decided enough was enough and decided to declare it finished!

Working any uneven spots on the mohair layer with my felting mouse

I don’t have a lot of time this morning to blog about yesterday (preparing for my session this afternoon with Borris Active Retirement) but thought you might enjoy a couple of photos showing what I was up to at this final stage of shaping the vessel.

You may recall that I laid out this vessel with the intention to have the mohair layer for the outside, as things progressed, I far preferred the inner layer of white merino as I like the subtle colour variations where the mohair fibres have felted through the white.  Because of the soft and less structural nature of mohair (as opposed to a vessel felted purely from merino or another fibre) I decided to stiffen the mohair then turn the vessel inside out exposing my favourite side.  I think that I will need to leave the vessel dry on the exercise ball for at least a week but hopefully by then the PVA will have dried sufficiently for me to remove the exercise ball and see if this last experiment stiffen has been a success or not!

Sponging on diluted PVA to stiffen prior to turning right side out

US workshop details getting fine tuned, Downeville info and large vessel is HEAVY!

My upcoming workshops at Urban Fauna Studio SF, Plainwell MI and Lexington KY are in the last stages of finalising, I hope to have all the details about the various workshops ready by the end of this week!!!  I keep forgetting how difficult it is to write workshop descriptions accurately and provide enough information without overloading anyone.  I try to be flexible when I am teaching so one title often doesn’t quite do justice to the various techniques that will be shared during the workshop so if anyone has questions once the info is uploaded please shout and I will do my best to answer!

The Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat at Downeville is booking up nicely, Emma (joint owner of The Tin thimble with her mother Sharon) has written a blog post with some links to photos of previous retreats so if you are interested in more information check this out.

As I write this post my current large ArtL!nks vessel is spinning in the washing machine.  Today I have been rubbing, rolling and throwing it on top of my kitchen table, it is uncomfortably heavy to handle when wet hence the quick spin to remove some of the excess water!  Hopefully it will have shrunk some more by the end of the afternoon, I am really wanting enough shrinkage to make inserting the exercise ball necessary to stretch it into shape before a lot more fulling and finishing.  Wish me luck!