I’ve been having a wonderful time at Clasheen these last few days, felting like crazy and then firing up the pot for my first eco printing session here since the beginning of April. It’s like a mini jungle outside at present, lucky then that many plants others consider ‘weeds’ give wonderful colour and interesting prints! Here’s a pictorial review of the dress I felted then printed with wild blackberry leaves (brambles), further down this post is an opportunity to win one of my eco printed wraps!
Using a Palm wash board to full the dress
Still wet but ready to print
I love the unbundling process!
V-neck to the front
Round neck to the back
And now for that competition, can you guess the vegetation I used for these prints???
Last year a call went out to Feltmaker Ireland members inviting submissions for a curated exhibition titled 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World'. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I was delighted to have a large naturally printed nuno felt wrap accepted, the timing was extremely tight but I managed to felt and print it in the week between trips to the US and Portugal! A visitor to Borris a Food & Craft Market saw images of the wrap on display at the National Botanic Gardens and wanted to buy it, between the jigs and the reels we never managed to actually meet up again (she was a one off visitor!) so in November I brought the wrap with me to the Glucksman Gallery Christmas Fair. Enter Kate!
Kate was on holiday from the US visiting her sister who is living in Dublin, her daughter was getting married very shortly and she'd had been searching for months to find a special piece to compliment her mother of the bride dress. As soon as she saw the wrap Kate knew it was the one, love at first sight! It looked amazing on her at the Glucksman and I was so excited that someone would be buying it to wear on such a special occasion. As soon as Kate decided to purchase the wrap her sister stepped in with a lovely surprise, she bought it as a gift for an upcoming 'special' birthday and off the piece went to the States, nice surprise!
Last week I got a lovely email from Kate with stunning pictures as promised from the wedding. I was so touched with her message and asked her if I could share part of the email and some of the pictures. As soon as I saw them I understood exactly why the eucalyptus, black tea and onion skin wrap complimented her silk outfit so beautifully, I think that the colours were divine together.
In Kate's words, 'I wanted you to know that it made me feel so extra special that day! It really looked like it was meant to be with my dress. Everyone loved it and I of course, told them the story. Not only did I love the look, but the feel of the fabric was so soft and comfortable. We had a blizzard the night before the wedding and it was so cold and windy. It just felt so cozy in my wrap!!
Your work is so beautiful and I really appreciate your art. Thank you for making me feel so beautiful on one of the most important days of my life. I know it was heaven sent!!'
Thank you so much Kate for taking the time to write to me, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the day so much and from the wedding pictures it's obvious that everyone else did too!!! I look forward to having you visit Clasheen next time you're in Ireland and sharing the magic and simplicity of natural printing with you.
This week has had many ups and downs, very poor or no Internet connectivity and heating problems, yet again, have nearly proved to be my mental undoing! I can only apologise to those of you who may be waiting for an email or FB response to a question, sorry, I really hope that the broadband provider can get whatever is the problem sorted by the beginning of next week. The intention had been to upload a bunch of wraps and wall hangings to the new store, post upcoming. Irish workshops online and invoice participants for Dawn's fabulous nuno felt hat workshop, instead it's now half past eight tonight and I still haven't had a long enough connection to do so. C'est la vie! I'm not going to harp on about it any more because I might explode, instead, I'm going to post pictures of a few different ways to wear one of my shortest felt wraps, this one has a ruffle which may be worn either up or down.
Eucalyptus leaves from Co. Wicklow, rose leaves from my garden and blackberry leaves from the hedge up the lane!
Yesterday I spent the day printing nuno felt wraps, one silk scarf, a vintage silk skirt and a wall hanging, that is when I wasn't cuting myself with metal or catching the top of one finger in my tongs! I was very happy with the results of the silk scarf (a welcome but unexpected result!), skirt and wall hanging but although the wraps printed well they didn't have as dark colour a base colour as I was looking for so back to the felting table today.
The scarf had been bundled with eucalyptus leaves and wrapped around a copper pipe about a week ago and then I discovered that there just wasn't space to add it to the dye pot at that time. It sat in the studio and the silk got greener and greener (a bit like my hair!), once I took it out of the pot yesterday and opened it up I was thrilled with the speckles, a welcome surprise!
One of the joys of natural printing is the unbundling, although it is possible to predict to a large extent the results when using familiar organic materials, water and pot etc. there's always that unknown element that pops up to surprise on occasion!
Here's a detail from the wall hanging, this will either be heading to a gallery or onto my new online shop, the shop is what I'll be finishing this week as soon as I have the last of my Showcase orders fulfilled.
Merridee and I had great fun tracking down a big copper pot in California last September. Finally we sourced a lovely one at an antique shop in Auburn, both of us were interested to see how it affected the results of our natural printing and dyeing during the felting retreat we facilitated at Lake Tahoe. The colours of the vegetation appear softer when simmered in the copper so yesterday I borrowed a fantastic antique jam pot from my buddy George, I'll have to source one myself now as we are both very happy with the way this wrap turned out. Here's a close up shot for you to look at, please bear in mind that the wrap needs to be rinsed out and ironed still but you can see the peachy tones and softness of the colours I think.
The second wrap was bundled with the same two varieties of eucalyptus and the same black tea, the only difference was the addition of some onion skins and the fact that the pot was aluminium. Check out how dark this is, it was simmered for exactly the same amount of time, amazing! In both pieces as they dry the bamboo sings out against the wool, I'll take photos of them when they're finished and ironed.
Yesterday I felted then naturally printed my first wrap of 2014!
Over Christmas I had collected leaves and seed pods from a variety of different eucalyptus trees, it's fascinating to see how these are reacting with the different fabrics I'm currently printing on in advance of Showcase later in the month. I also used my old staples of onion skins and tea leaves for some of the silk scarves, it amazes me every time how these simple kitchen ingredients impart their colour onto the silk or felt. This wrap is not rinsed or ironed yet so no photos of the complete piece, I just wanted to share a couple of pictures with you though to demonstrate how incredible the power of nature is! Doesn't this print remind you of a tree?
Apologies for the lack of posting over the last week or so. Rex had an accident the Wednesday before Christmas and the normally hectic round at this time of year (market, pop up shop, Christmas celebrations and family time) has revolved around making sure he is comfortable and not left by himself for too long. In typical border collie style he was chasing a car up the lane in the dark and came back on three legs, although X-rays showed no broken bones the vets think that it may be soft tissue damage and take as long if not longer to heal. Anyway, today I'll be felting a wrap and getting a pot on for a bout of natural printing this afternoon, eucalyptus leaves also make a seasonal decoration for the front door!
I hope that you are all having a wonderful holiday season whatever your beliefs, stay safe and best wishes for a fabulous felt filled 2014!!!
I don’t think it’s going to be possible to write long posts over the next couple of months, please bear with me during this time, short and snappy will be the name of the game! I’m crazy busy at the moment thankfully and don’t want to miss the opportunity of having a successful time selling this festive season, I really need to keep the cash flow moving. In addition to my regular gigs at Borris Food and Craft Market each Friday and Duckett’s Grove at the weekends I’m teaching a lot and taking up my duties for FeltUnited, I LOVE doing this so all is good but it’s just that I then need another 12 hours every day to felt and produce new work!!! From 8th December to 23rd December inclusive I’ll be participating in the Christmas Village at Mount Juliet, On Sunday 9th December it’s the Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair (link below), on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December I’ll be at the annual fair in Borris House and then for approx 2 weeks in the run up to Christmas as a member of Creative Carlow I’ll also be participating in their pop up shop, phew!!!!!
Last Friday design student Norma joined me for work experience, she’ll be helping for 10 days totally over the coming weeks and her next session is the weekend after next. Katie joined me yesterday for work experience this week, she’s a 4th year transition student and actually my great friend Sharon Jackson is her art teacher! She’s definitely choosen a week where we’ll be out and about a lot, 2 sessions with Borris Active Retirement, one birthday party for a group of 9 year olds and then the market on Friday, I’ve then got the weekend at Duckett’s Grove to myself.
Thanks to you all for your lovely messages, comments and emails about Dawn’s and my promotion to FeltUnited, we hope to do you all proud and really appreciate the support. I’ve got to fly now, bundles to unwrap and a nuno felt wrap to throw!
OK, it’s not totally blowing up a gale outside but it is pretty difficult to take pictures of completed pieces for the book without everything almost heading over the fence and into the field, nuno felt can be so lightweight, help! I’ve been trying to wrap up so many things today, I’m not finished by a long shot and in fact can’t see much light at the end of the tunnel yet. I have however managed to get some washing done and out in the wind to dry and shortly I’ll be taking a break before returning to the computer in the evening. I feel like I’m tied to the thing at this stage and would love to be in the studio felting instead, not a hope this weekend unfortunately!!!
I'm offering a large collaged nuno wrap in colours of their choice to the winning bidder in the Helping Herd auction. This image is just to illustrate the sort of wrap I'm talking about!
For those of you following me on FB you may have seen that I’m part of the Helping Herd, a group set up to raise funds and help Chris and Christina Silver of Earth Art Cashmere to get back on their feet after a fire devestated their farm in Novia Scotia. An online auction is currently underway (until midnight on April 27th) for some beautiful hand made goods and supplies that have been donated, I’m offering a large collaged wrap which I will felt to order for the winning bidder. Please consider donating something to help this worthwhile cause or placing a bid on one of the items that are already online, I wouldn’t blog about this if I didn’t feel it was important to support other fibre producers and artisans when something as dreadful as a fire has impacted on their livelyhood.
Finally for today I’m heading back outside to try and take some photos again, wish me luck!
For the first time yesterday I felted a wrap in a ‘new to me’ colour combination, turquoise, chocolate and copper. Today I felted a larger wrap using some of the same fabrics but adding a few small pieces of gold metallic mesh too. Unfortunately the light was very strong today and it was difficult to get good pictures, time was against me too as I’m still trying to gather stuff for my trip to Bulgaria but here are a couple of photos just to give you an idea of what they turned out like!
Ponge silk, hand dyed silk chiffon, cotton gauze and bronze fabric
Two chocolate, turquoise and bronze and/or gold wraps