Taking pictures of nuno felt and an opportunity to help make a difference

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!

U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse

5 hectic days at Clasheen!!!

I’m just catching up from 5 HECTIC days at Clasheen!!! I really can’t write everything down because I still have so much work to plough though this week and not enough time to do it so apologies if you are expecting an email response, it will be another few days before I get my backlog cleared. Suddenly everything seems to be coming together all at once so highlights which will all be blogged about individually as soon as I get a minute include…..

  • exciting news about an AMAZING week long residential felting workshop on a bio-dynamic estate in Portugal this June (tba later this week)
  • the launch of some beautiful new wool products for felters and knitters/crochet artists with Chrissie Day (this will be taking place during the late summer)
  • the development and launch of some pretty amazing felting tools with friend and designer Niki Collier
  • the completion of my neighbour’s house upgrade which I have been working on frantically, this means residential felt and fibrerelated holidays at Clasheen!!!
  • the continued work on our nuno felting book, Chrissie and I are just in the process of getting an ISBN number which means that we will be able to be stocked on Amazon etc.
  • a potential new venue for my fall US workshop trip

Whew, I’m buzzed just sharing the potential of these events with you!!! ‘Till next time…..

A tip to enhance texture in nuno felt and KY and MI workshop details are finally online!

I have managed to get through a lot of the clearing, re-organisation and tidying chores that I blogged about on Monday, not all of them obviously but I have made a dent in the never-ending pile! Thanks for all your encouragement both via comments and through FB, they are definitely much needed to keep me going, I HATE tidying!!!

As promised, the full workshop descriptions for the KY and MI workshops in May are now up on the workshop page and I am hoping that we will have a mix of both experienced and improving felters attend. Beginners are really welcome too so please don’t feel you don’t have enough felting under your belt to book a place, everyone is welcome and it makes for a really fun and creative time if we have groups of mixed experience!

I have also started to transfer some of my felt pouches across from Big Cartel and into my Etsy shop, only time will tell if this has been a wise descision.

Finally for today, Rhonda was wondering how I achieve so much texture in some of my nuno felt pieces. This is something that I will be writing about in the new book with Chrissie but a great tip is to wet out and soap your fibres before you lay out any of your embellishment. Taking this idea a little further for projects such as nuno bags or cushions (items where you have a couple of layers of wool in addition to your fabric), try rubbing the base layer of wool through your bubble wrap to create a ‘skin’ on the surface before laying out your fabric on the top, then wet and soap the fabric lightly and rub again through the bubble wrap. By working like this the wool fibres underneath don’t have as much opportunity to travel through the fabric and this helps to create more texture! You do need to be careful though to rub longer than roll however using this method, otherwise you could try fulling with the tumble dryer, this elliminates both the rubbing and the rollling process!!! I’m going to be discussing my experiences nuno felting using the dryer thoroughly for my section of the new book and I will also be talking about it at the workshops in Lexington and in Plainwell!

Textures in a nuno felt scarf

Special offer, $10 off ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February!

Great news from Blurb in my inbox this morning, $10 discount when you order ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February if you enter the promo code SAVE10 when you checkout!!! I’m adding Blurb’s terms and conditions for the offer after the following preview of the book.

*Offer valid through February 27, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A USD $10, GBP £6, EUR €7, CAD $10, or AUD $10 discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of USD $50, GBP £30, EUR €40, CAD $50, or AUD $50. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

I’ve just had a great couple of days felting!

Now that I’ve made the descision to stick with felting my favourite nuno accessories and home accents all the pressure is off for my section of the new book.

Heart cuffs and brooches, a few of the many!

Yesterday was good fun, in the morning I did a little stitching on some cuffs and brooches for the market tomorrow and in the afternoon Kate Ramsey arrived and we felted and chatted together at the kitchen table. I was experimenting with some beautiful Portugese rare breed wool (more in another post) and Kate worked on some of her gorgeous flowers and scarves.

This morning it was back to nuno felting and just before Carmen arrived I had a brainwave about a new design for a bag!!! It was great to have someone with an objective eye to bounce ideas off so after about half and hour of discussion and drawing I set to and started laying out the first section. Thanks to a swap I did with Carole Dysart just before Christmas I have a lovely big bag of silk off cuts; some hand dyed, some textured, some heavy, some shiny and some with sparkly threads running through the weave. I selected a large pile of pieces ranging in colour from pinky blues through to lovely apple green and chose a turquoise Kap merino from Wollknoll to use as the base. This bag is felted in two pieces, one nuno and one regular felt, it’s not quite finished yet but when Carmen was leaving she did say that it was her favourite ever of any bag I have made to date! No more info now because the design will definitely be in the book. For those of you who are asking, Chrissie and I hope to have all our writing and projects for the book completed and edited by the middle of March, it will then be published and available as a hard copy and eBook before the end of the month.

I’m heading off now to catch up with some paperwork, grab a bit to eat and pack the car for tomorrow morning.

 

As a result I had an idea for a new bag design this morning, totally out of the blue but I am really thrilled with how it is turning out!!! Carmen was here felting with me and I was able to bounce ideas off

I’m nuno felting like crazy, or am I just going crazy???

Yesterday evening I felt as if I had finally lost the plot. I have so many things that I need to be doing as well as so many things that I should be doing but my brain just went into melt down and I didn’t seem able to get anything accomplished! Finally and with a sense of relief, I realised what the problem was. Chrisse has the most amazing wearable nuno projects to share with everyone in our next book (just wait until you see some of her clever designs!) and I had got stuck in a great big rut since Christmas feeling that I needed to felt some large, stylish garments too. With my impatient temperment and total lack of sewing skills I am never going to be able to draft patterns like Chrissie and the miriad of fantastic seamstresses out there, why was I trying to be someone that I’m not??? The new designs that I was working on have been floating around in my head for well over a year and are all based on simple shapes and rectangles, easy peasy in my mind but not easy peasy to bring to fruition as things have turned out. My eureka moment came last night when I realised that I had been nuno felting these new wearable designs like mad over the last few weeks but just wasn’t enjoying myself, it was way too stressful and I couldn’t concentrate properly or relax and just settle in to the process. Having fun and enjoying my felting is what it is all about for me. I love sharing tips and techniques when I teach and to not enjoy my work was a new experience for me, as a result I have decided to go back to basics and write about the sort of nuno felting I most love to create myself! I’m leaving the larger garments to others at the moment but I have decided to take lessons this year and get to grips with pattern drafting and using my sewing machine to the best of my ability too!!! Taking the amazing workshop with Lisa Klakulak last summer inspired me to stitch into my felt and lose my greatest fear of sewing so I think that with a bit of determination there should be no reason I can’t master a few really basic patterns. From my perspective there will be plenty of new projects and ideas in the book that I haven’t written about before and loads of helpful tips about the various tools I find that make life easier. As with ‘From Felt to Friendship’ the new book is about our experiences nuno felting, where we get our inspiration from, what we find works and what we find doesn’t. I hope that it will give people an insight into how we work as well as being inspirational and fun, I know anyway that I can’t wait to try out some of Chrissie’s ideas and projects for myself!!!