Workshop pictures, Gaelscoil, Mount Juliet Christmas village…..

Once again I’m very busy, some of you might even ask what’s new? Unfortunately we don’t have wireless internet yet in the studios at Duckett’s Grove and this is meaning that I’m actually incommunicado for much of the week at present. The upside however ensures that I’m getting through my work in a more structured fashion, felting and updating the blog from Clasheen during the week and teaching/felting smaller projects at the studio for the weekends. Having Leiko living here too (in Tom’s house beside me) means that Rex isn’t lonely and my house isn’t untended while I’m away either, especially good as lambing season is just about tostart and I don’t want to lock Rex up all the time I’m away either.

Sharon, Helen, Tracy, Aideen, Anna, Lynsey and Jenny with their gorgeous felt flowers

This past weekend I facilitated two lovely workshops. On Saturday I had a fun group of family and friends for a surprise hen party/baby shower to felt flowers and on Sunday friend Paula and her daughter Sorcha made beautiful flat felt to be stitched into clutch bags. The Sunday session was my way of saying thanks to Paula for ensuring I submitted a proposal to Gaelscoil Eoghain Ui Thuairisc, as a result I start work this week on a large art project with 480 national school children!

 

Paula and Sorcha with their fabulous felt clutches

Emma Jane Champley and I also got good news this week, written confirmation that we’ve been accepted for two stands side by side at the Mount Juliet Christmas Village, a 16 day extravaganza which runs from 8th to 23rd December inclusive. Leiko’ll also be helping us man the fort and showing some of her latest designs so if Irish made high quality jewellery, felt, paintings and Christmas cards are of interest to you look no further!

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Exciting news – Leiko and I are organising a joint felting retreat at Clasheen!

Now that wonderful Japanese felter Leiko Uchiyama has moved next door we’ve started planning a series of workshops to deliver together designed to compliment our individual strengths. Our first three day felting retreat will take place at Clasheen from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th November inclusive and this will be the first time in Ireland that Leiko is offering a full workshop to learn her ‘pine needle’ technique! She’ll be teaching this on Tuesday (and Wednesday morning/afternoon for larger projects), I’ll be concentrating on naturally printing/dyeing on Wednesday then felting large nuno wearables and household textiles using the tumble dryer on Thursday, fine felt without fabric or cobweb felt is also an option with this method. The emphasis on all three days will be learning new skills, creating beautifully felted and finished pieces inspired by nature and having fun in a relaxed, peaceful, rural setting. Simple, tasty home cooking will be the order of the day and shared rooms are on site in comfortable farmhouse accommodation! A maximum of 5 residential places are available for the retreat but we will also be able to accommodate a few additional participants for the printing/dyeing day on Wednesday. I’ll post the prices etc. over the next day or two, stupidly I left them at home and I’m now in Duckett’s Grove and felting here for the rest of the day.

I’ll leave you with an image of a simple necklace I made this morning. I liked this tiger wire fitting which I bought last year in CA so now need to research the best place to buy these at a competitive price in Ireland.

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Reflections on our open evening at Duckett’s Grove and workshops next weekend

The sun finally shone yesterday evening so after a long day preparing and tidying up it was very pleasant for us artist makers to relax, have a chat to visitors and explain what we’re up to in the courtyard at Duckett’s Grove. Thanks to all my friends old and new who travelled to help us celebrate our new venture and thanks Marion Byrne for the wonderful gift of some Jacob’s fleece, much appreciated!!! The evening was actually quieter than I expected but the bonus was that as makers we were able to have a proper conversation with our visitors and not be dashing around like headless chickens all the time. I’d also set up a few laid out but unfelted flowers on one of my tables. This proved a good idea because no matter how many times I explain to people what wet felting entails it’s only when they can see and touch the raw materials beside the finished piece that the process becomes a little easier to understand and visualise.

Next Saturday I’ve a beginners and improvers full day workshop taking place between 10am and 4pm and on Sunday there are 2 places left in the afternoon for a fun felt flower workshop. Please email me if you are interest in attending and having some fun creative time!

Marie’s wonderful bag is finished and our relaxing creative retreat is underway!

Briefly…..

Marie’s wonderful felt bag with integrated handle and flap is finished, here’s a photo prior to beading! I love the shape of it and the fact that she made the handle extra long so that it would sit comfortably across her body as opposed to hanging with all the weight (pretty light anyway) resting on one shoulder.

Marie’s beautiful bag

We’re now about to start the second full day of our felting retreat at Clasheen. These last couple of days have been filled with fun, friends, felt and food not to mention a glass or two of wine to accompany Keith’s wonderful cooking in the evenings!!! We may not have truly Portugese style weather here in misty Ireland however the sun finally decided to show a brief appearance yesterday and I believe the forecast is great for today. To date we’ve mordanted a variety of silk and cotton with either vinegar or washing soda and created eco bundles some of which we opened yesterday. Today we’ll be opening more to check how an extra day immersed in the now rusty coloured liquid that they were simmered in will have affected the results.

Dock leaf and tea leaves bundled around a rusty pin

Aside from the eco bundling everyone has been working on a variety of individual projects, I’m trying to post a few pics each night to facebook so do head over to Nicola Brown – Clasheen and my personal page to check them out. Today I hope to finish laying out and felt a nuno shift/jumper that uses some of the cotton gauze I dyed under the watchful eye of Jan Durham in KY earlier this year. It took forever yesterday to calculate the template and get my fabric cut to shape (thanks Dagmar for all your tuition in the template department at Big Cat Studios!) but now I’m underway I don’t think that the actual felting will take too long. I’m going to sign off now as I have a big more computer work to get out of the way then back downstairs before everyone else arrives to start another day of action!

It’s another busy weekend

It’s another busy weekend on the felting and teaching front. Yesterday I had the market, Duckett’s Grove and organising stock for the Country Fair at Borris House, today I had an enjoyable felt bag workshop (can’t wait for finished pics Marie!), tomorrow and Monday I’m back at Duckett’s Grove and also on Monday I’m really excited that US friends Merridee and Keith will be arriving to stay!!! Our felting retreat starts on Tuesday but I will have time then to keep you all updated each day as I’ll be near the computer each day too. I’m plotting and planning my own projects for next week, Eco printing and a nuno felt shift/jumper are top of my list!

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Felting extravaganza in Portugal, part three!

As promised yesterday, I’m going to continue blogging about our wonderful residential week felting in Portugal and today concentrate on our trip to the Museu de Tecelagem dos Meios (the textile museum in Meios) and the pieces we made using the natural Bordeleira fleece from Dominio Vale do Mondego.

Watching a weaving demonstration at the Museu de Tecelegam in Meios

We started Wednesday morning by heading off to nearby Meios, this is a small village approx 1km away from Trinta, site until recently of 40 different wool processing and weaving factories. At Meios there’s a very interesting small museum with wonderful old tools and pieces of weaving equipment on display as well as huge working looms on the upper floor. Eelco and I had already been there on the Saturday prior to the workshop commencing and had found out that Wednesday morning would be the time to go if we wanted to see one of the largest old looms in action! These big looms were only ever operated by men, having seen one working I would never presume that a female could work one (even though I usually believe in equality for all), the physical effort required in the upper body to move the heddle was enormous!!! Alan and I went back for a further visit when he arrived to join me, we learnt that traditionally women did all the spinning and loading the flying shuttles, the men did all the weaving. Back downstairs after our demonstration everyone had fun trying on some of the gorgeous locally produced clothing and browsing the rugs and blankets for sale. The simple floor rugs, shepherd’s blankets and marriage blankets are woven at the museum, if they are to be brushed (as in the case of the natural white wedding blankets) they go one of the remaining working factories at Trinta and then come back to be sold on site. I also discovered some wonderful locally produced hand forged knives (you could easily cut off your finger with these!) and scissors, I bought two knives and a pair of scissors for myself plus some knives to bring home as gifts to Ireland.

Someone wanting a little bit of early lunch too!

Once we returned to base we had an early lunch so that everyone could have a head start in the afternoon selecting and starting to work with the freshly shorn Bordeleira fleece. We headed down to the stables and had the pick of gorgeous brown or white fleece, some people choose to felt smaller pieces while others wanted to felt a whole fleece. Because the climate and terrain is so different to Ireland there were lots of seed heads and various bits of dried vegetation in the fleece. At home our wool may be muddier but we definitely don’t have anything like the amount of little bits to pick out before we can get stuck into the serious besiness of felting! Once participants had selected their fleece everyone worked outside cleaning and sorting, this took quite a while depending on each individual animal that the fleece had come from.

Picking through the raw fleece prior to felting

Next two very fine layers of carded Bordeleira wool were laid out on the side of the fleece that would have been next to the sheep’s skin and everything was felted together using a lot of soap at the early stages of the process. Depending on previous experience and the size of the pieces some of these pieces took a lot longer than others to felt, this in normal, it’s not a race!!! I had laid out a slightly trimmed smaller fleece the night before and was able to finish it late on the Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a picture of it as it’s finishing drying, it’s on my chair at the kitchen table at Clasheen now and is a delicious contrast to the shaggy Norwegian wild mountain sheep fleece I felted last year!

Tomorrow I’ll write about nuno felting and our wonderful time eco dyeing with Terriea!

My fleece felted and drying in the sun