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!!!

 

 

Packing my bags, link to pictures and new workshop announcements!

Well, I just need to spend about another half an hour on the computer and then I am off to pack all my workshop supplies as well as sort out some clothing for my imminent US trip!  I can’t believe the time has finally arrived to hit the road but really with all the work on the book recently as well as trying to sort out things for my solo show in August my brain has just been stuffed to the brim.  I have also just finalised everything in relation to the house and Rex, thanks Alan and everyone else who will be taking turns staying here, walking Rex and keeping  things safe during my travels, you know who you are and you are all MUCH appreciated.

Now, I had been going to write a post about felt accessories and nuno mosaic in advance of my workshops at The Tin Thimble CA, Plainwell MI and Lexington KY but you are just going to have to forgive me, I have no more time.  Instead I am going to direct you to the various sets in my Flickr photos (don’t forget there a couple of pages of sets!),  the images there are by no means an exhaustive grouping of what it is possible to felt but at least if anyone is sitting on the fence about making a last minute decision about travelling to Loomis (there are a couple of places left at The Tin Thimble) this might help you make your mind up!  Please email Emma if you would like to join us or Dawn if you might be able to make Plainwell.

Before heading off I want to remind everyone in Ireland about the fun short workshops I will be facilitating at the Sheep and Wool Festival for the June bank holiday weekend as well as announce a series of workshops for the summer which are going to take place at The Yarn Room in Ashford, Co. Wicklow.  I am pasting the details for these workshops at the bottom of this post but please check the workshop page at The Yarn Room over the next week or so to check the price and further detalis and to book a place, alternatively email Stephanie and she will sort you out!

Finally I want to thanks all of you who have ordered our book, as mentioned before Chrissie and I are THRILLED!!!  Thanks for the wonderful comments we are recieving from those of you who have already recieved your copies, I am SO JEALOUS as I have not got my own copy yet, but roll on Tuesday, it should be waiting for me at The Tin Thimble!  I do intend to blog throughout the time I am away so this is not a firm goodbye, just be prepared my posts may be a little patchy for a while!!!  Adieu.  Now for those workshop details …..

Saturday 16th July 2011

WET FELTING – REVISITING THE BASICS with Nicola Brown

At this one day workshop beginners and improving felters will have the opportunity to revisit the basics of wet felting and learn some simple new techniques to add to their repertoire.  Working with a selection of colourful merino and adding beautiful silk, linen and other vegetable fibres to enhance and embellish the surface design participants are encouraged to bring along any old beads, buttons, ribbons, yarn and other found objects to incorporate into their felt if desired!  Nicola will have a selection of glass nuggets, embellishing fibres and unusual fabric with her and everyone is welcome to include these as surface detail in their felt too.

NB Beginners and improvers wishing to participate in the nuno felt workshop on Saturday 23rd July are encouraged to attend this ‘revisiting the basics’ day as it will be an excellent opportunity to practice laying out the very fine layers of fibre needed to master the nuno felt technique!

Saturday 23rd July 2011

NUNO FELT SCARF with Nicola Brown

At this one day workshop participants will have the opportunity to discover for themselves the wonderful technique of nuno felting.  Learn how beautiful textured effects and ultra lightweight yardage and accessories are achieved by felting together very small quantities of wool with a fabric such as silk or cotton gauze.  A basic silk or cotton fabric is included in the price for this workshop but if participants would like to bring along any additional lengths of silk (minimum 1.8m in length) or rolled edge silk scarves with them Nicola will help them transform these into beautiful textured nuno felt!

NB It is advisable for participants to have some previous felting experience prior to this workshop so beginners wishing to attend are urged to try and make the wet Felting workshop on Saturday 16th July if at all possible.

DATE TO BE CONFIRMED

UPCYCLED, RECYCLED AND FELT ACCESSORY AND INTERIOR ACCENT WORKSHOP with Nicola Brown and Cristina Garcia

Working with materials as diverse as plastic, paper, leather, vinyl, metal, old woollen jumpers, denims and hand rolled felt (to name but a few!) learn how to create wonderful wearable accessories or interior accents for the home.  Nicola and Cristina have a wealth of experience reworking old loved clothing and found objects into beautiful, functional and decorative objects such as jewellery, bags, mobiles or other interior accent items!  Plenty of raw materials will be provided for participants to work with on the day but please bring along items like old beads, buttons, ribbons, yarn, broken jewellery and other found objects from your stash as well as previously felted jumpers and old denims if you have any!  Fancy paper may also be brought as Nicola will have a laminator on hand to help with the creative process and although we will have one to share if you have a sewing machine please bring this along too.

NB To felt a jumper in the washing machine and get the shrinkage you are looking for it is necessary for it to be made from a high percentage of hand washable wool or a wool/mohair/cashmere mixture.  Just bung it and some other clothes in a 40 to 60 degree wash and if you feel it hasn’t shrunk enough run it through a second cycle, when felted you should be able to cut the fabric without the wool unravelling!

So much felting news to share, so little time …..

I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha)  to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!!  Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow.  Here goes ……..

      • THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant!  Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards.  If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
      • Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
      • Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog.  Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience.  In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!!  There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.

        Horst's latest line of felt purses!

Workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA and questions answered about how to order your book!

I am just about to update everyone on my workshops in California but before I do that let me give you a little info re ordering our book, Chrissie and I are getting a lot of questions about where and when it will be available to purchase.  We are self publishing through Blurb, this means that the book will be available to buy online as soon as we have the final projects uploaded and edited!!!  Because of the extremely tight time schedual I am under at the moment the book will be available to order sometime from the middle of next week but it may be that I have to do a little revision to text, images etc. from US if I discover any small errors when I get the hard copy.  This means that if you are really keen to get your hands on nyour own buy it next week, if you want to wait another couple of weeks and get a revised edition (if it needs revision) please do so!  I am going to be ordering my own first copies and having them sent directly to Loomis as there won’t be time to get them posted here before I leave on my travels, I can’t wait for both the book and the travels!  If you live in US and are participating in any of the workshops and order a copy prior to my arrival ,of course I would be delighted to write a personal dedication in the book for you!!!  I believe the books will take approx 7 to 10 days to arrive from the time of purchase, hope this answers all those questions.  Now on to the CA workshop update …..

You may remember that I was to be joining other teachers for a wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat in Downieville but this has been changed to two workshops with me in house at The Tin Thimble in Loomis because finances were preventing people booking a longer extended stay with accomodation.  Emma has posted all the details to their website but I have also cut and copied the main info from there and included it here at the end of this post.  If you live anywhere within striking distance of Loomis do please come along, we are going to be having SUCH FUN!!!  Last year was brilliant and I have to say that I am really looking forward to spending some extra time myself with Sharon.  I have so many ideas in my head and Sharon (Emma’s mum) is the master of adding a few judicious stitches into almost finished felt, I am hoping she will help me translate some of my ideas into gorgeous, simple, wearable clothing!  Anyway, enough writing for the moment, scroll down to read the info and if you would like to book your place please email Emma asap.

Felted Accessories – Friday, May 13 10:30-5:00
Fun and funky or subtle and sophisticated, let your imagination run wild when designing and creating gorgeous felted accessories to adorn the body!
During this one day workshop participants will experiment incorporating glass nuggets, stones, fabric, leather, beads, buttons and found objects with wool creating unique wearable accessories. Each person will felt a collection of pieces which may include a combination of rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, scarbes, simple belts, small purses (or one large one), neckwraps, sleeveless mittens, flowers or whatever else takes their fancy.
Nicola will bring a selection of unusual fabrics with her from Ireland including metallic meshes and sequin or glitter studded polyester in addition to some of the ‘mohair waste’ fiber which she is currently experimenting with in her work. Participants will be free to use these as accent materials but are also encouraged to bring alongany old bits and bobs they like from their stash, incorporating these into the felt lead to truly personal one off pieces of wearable art. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $150
Special 2-Day Nuno Mosaic Workshop – Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 10:30-5:00 

Discover the possibilities of creating your own wonderful multi hued and textured fabric using the mosaic nuno technique. Working over two days participants will have the time and opportunity to plan, design and felt either a beautiful piece of wearable art or else a stunning decorative or functional textile for the home. Suggestions for wearable projects include a large ruffled wrap, mini skirt, folded oragami style top or complex panel perfect for inclusion in any one off piece of clothing, ideas for interior design include a beautiful wall hanging or an unusual and stylish table runner. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $250