Felting, eco printing and upgrade at Clasheen (the final one!)

Rather later than planned, here’s the final post about the current upgrades at Clasheen and a little pictorial review of the last few weeks. As mentioned previously, I’ve been working on creating a library area in the room which links the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom making it a comfortable suite for friends to stay and workshop participants to relax and refresh. It’s also a lovely bright area for me to read in when I have a minute, at last I have more than enough shelving (combined with the shelves already downstairs) to store my reference books and thrillers. Here’s a picture of one small area as I started to add the books, the little cupboard Jonathan created is specifically sized to store my printer and paper.

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On the work and friend side of things April has ben a very, very busy month, what’s new!

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I’ve been felting and printing a lot as I work towards creating pieces for my solo show in August and the FORM photo shoot which took place yesterday. Here’s an example of eco printed silk combined with fine black merino, it won’t be one of the pieces I display but it is good to be back in the studio getting my hands soapy! I’d also like to say a big thank you to the new FORM designmade in Carlow lineup for electing me as their new chairperson.

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Wonderful textile artist and great new friend Kim Thittichai  visited Clasheen for a fun few days. Aren’t these beautiful flowers that she brought me so cheerful? I love them.

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I absolutely loved being a helper at the first Lyda Rump workshop organised by Maureen Cromer in Dublin on behalf of Feltmakers Ireland, such fun during the day and a delicious meal and company in the evening!!! Lyda is a wonderful felt maker and textile artist, we’ve spent time together now in Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Denmark again and now Ireland again, it was great to catch up, thanks Maureen and Terry for your hospitality too!

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After spending time with Kim and Lyda I finally managed to get some intensive sampling done in advance of my ten day residential felt and eco printing retreat this summer. One of the things we’ll be covering is the possibility of mordanting fabric using natural materials, as opposed to using more traditional metallic based powders. Here are two samples using the same printing materials but different pre treatments prior to bundling and printing. The piece on the left was mordanted with Symplocos and the one on the right with pomegranate, both bundles were boiled in the same pot at the same time, used the same big leaves, are exactly the same lambswool fabric and the results couldn’t be more different! Join me from 15th to 25th July to learn more!

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Thank you Klara and Irish Country Magazine for selecting one of my blackberry and rose printed silk cushions for your feature ‘Outside In’ this month, I’m delighted!

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Thanks also to Dorota for your impeccable sewing as usual, I love the sample apron you made me and I’m looking forward to printing it and seeing how it comes out. I’m also very happy with the latest batch of cushions, this one is blackberry on Symplocos mordanted lambswool.

Finally for today, here’s a lovely picture of great buddy Dawn Edwards who’s just arrived from Michigan on her third visit to Clasheen, it’s great to have her back!!!

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Pam MacGregor workshop part one……….

The three day sculptural workshop that I attended with Pam MacGregor over the weekend was fantastic, really well worth participating in. Thanks Pam and thanks Feltmakers Ireland for making it happen, thanks Maureen and Terry for the great accommodation! I'm just working on felting a different stopper for my vessel this afternoon, I'm not 100% happy with the quality and dimensions of the one shown here so as soon as I have the new one finished I'll post a picture. For now here are a couple of pictures Pam took, I love the shadow in the first image!

 

 

RIP Rex and an update of recent activities

Apologies for the lack of posting these last few weeks, my beloved Rex started suffering from bad heart problems unexpectedly and unfortunately I had to put him to sleep last Monday. He was a real character, inherited from my neighbour Tom Doran (who died aged 90 when Rex was 6) he'd lived at Clasheen all 14 years of his life, those of you who'd met him will know how quirky he was!


Meeting Tom and Rex at Clasheen
Jumping to catch a ball, one of Rex's favourite pastimes!
Although I didn't usually let Rex up at the table Dawn DID manage to capture this picture during her visit last April, wonder how that happened???
Merridee and I relaxing mid August, although Rex was not well by then he did want to participate in everything we were doing! Alan dug a grave in a nice spot between the oak plantation up above my house and the ever expanding grove of eucalyptus trees, RIP Rex Doran 2000 – 2014.
In addition to the trauma with Rex I've had a really busy time since Merridee and Keith's departure home to California. In brief I've been working on an order of naturally printed silk scarves for the Old House Gallery in the UK, had an individual piece and a collaborative piece accepted for an upcoming Feltmakers Ireland exhibition, attended a full day Creative Island training session, been juried in to the Glucksman Gallery's Christmas design and craft fair plus been working on some new ideas for felt and silk naturally printed accessories. The collaborative piece is interesting if a little time consuming in the conception and construction, it's a felt neck piece incorporating moisture reactive smart technology. Thanks Niki Collier and Cheryl for the opportunity to work together! I'm also working on dates and venues for my trip to the US and Canada next spring, do please shout out loud at the end of this week if you haven't heard back from me, it's been manic here and I'm really trying to get everything under control as soon as I can. Kentucky friends Dianne and Mike are also arriving tomorrow to visit for a few days, fun ahead but not too much time at the computer yet again!
I'll leave you today with two images of a Tshirt I printed over the weekend, it may be worn with either side to the front.
I'm currently experimenting with using cotton, linen and other fibres as a background for my natural printing, it's a different preparation process (that's where I'm doing a lot of experiments) and I'd like to offer it as a more advanced technique next year to students who've already taken an introductory natural printing workshop with me. More anon………….
 
 
 
 
 

 

The journey and story behind one naturally printed felt wrap!

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.

 

Naturally printed/dyed nuno felt wrap, advance notice of another Vancouver workshop and a special gift of eucalyptus leaves!

Yesterday my mother, sister Suzanne and I had a lovely time attending the opening of 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World' at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin followed by a delicious late birthday dinner at new restaurant the Hot Stove, Parnell Square. It was lovely to catch up with friends from both Feltmakers Ireland and the Northern Feltmakers, I hope to have more time to chat with them and exhibition visitors when I invigilate on Tursday 22nd. The exhibition was brilliantly organised and curated, congratulations to Gabi McGrath, Sheila Ahern and all the committee for the brilliant job that they did! Thanks too, Christine Maxwell for the wonderful gift of a full truckload of eucalyptus leaves, collected on the way home and soon to be put to good use!!!

Because of the light during the opening and the fact that I was talking so much, photographs did not feature highly on my agenda even though it had been my I intention to take pictures of everything! As a result I'll post two pictures from my original submission (although this piece may be worn in many other ways) plus the written blurb that I had to include. The tumble dryer nuno felting technique followed by natural printing/dyeing that I used to create this wrap is the technique that I'll be teaching at all my Canadian workshops at the beginning of October. I've also added one last day to the Vancouver schedule, Thursday 10th (thanks a million Sara!) and promise more details of all my upcoming workshops over the weekend, I just need to catch breath today and tomorrow then it's back to business as usual on Saturday!

One note, I titled the piece 'Second Skin', after days of thought and chatting through my title choices with a friend. I was horrified to discover only last week that this is also the title of one of India Flint's beautiful books, apologies to India, there must have been some kind of unconscious thought process going on here. Anyway, here's the first photo of the wrap, silk side out…..

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and the submission details…..

TITLE: Second Skin

DESCRIPTION & INSPIRATION: Soft, fluid, sophisticated, envelope yourself in this shimmering naturally dyed reversible nuno felt wrap and dream your way to far away places. My inspiration for this iridescent piece came from the raw materials themselves, merino, bamboo, Firestar and silk to create the felt and eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves to impart the bush like colours and subtle eucalyptus scent. I love the way ultra fine merino feels like suede when felted and I wanted to create a luxurious piece which smells wonderful and feels like a second skin when wrapped around the body.

MATERIALS: Felt – Super fine merino, bamboo fibre, Firestar, silk fabric

Mordant and dye bath – Vinegar, rust, eucalyptus leaves, onion skins, tea leaves, copper pipe

TECHNIQUE: Nuno felting and natural printing/dyeing utilising plant materials that give a substantive colour (don’t fade even when used without a chemical mordant)

YEAR MADE 2013 DIMENSIONS: 1940 mm X 440 mm

METHOD OF HANGING: Displayed on a mannequin or draped on a plinth

 

I'll leave you today with two pictures from my meal last night, I know that I don't usually post anything here that's not felt related but they made such petty picture on the plate that I think they could be used for inspiration!

Rabbit in a wonderful light pastry
Chocolate marquise, meringue and fabulous boozy cherry with cherry cream!
 
 

 

 

Little felt brooch tutorial as promised!

You may remember that I promised to post (especially for Fiona!) a felt brooch tutotial, these were was what all of us in Feltmakers Ireland were teaching during the ‘Learning Curve’ sessions at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin last week.  Thanks Holly for giving me permission to share your instructions,  here they are in my own words as an abbriviated list, I am assuming that everyone knows how to lay out the fibre but if not please refer to my basic flat felt instructions over on the tutorial page.  For these brooches we worked between bubble wrap and used beautiful short fibre merino batts, of course you could use tops/roving but the batts are just so quick and easy it’s not funny!  Anyway, don’t be afraid to experiment with the dimensions and fibres/fabric that you use, here is the process …..

  • Lay out a 10cm (4″) square of one colour, wet out with soapy water and fold in the edges to make more even, put aside.
  • Lay out an 8cm (3″) square of a complimentary or contrasting colour, wet out and fold in the edges as above.
  • Place the smaller square on top of the larger and position a round or oval resist on top somewhere making sure to leave some space around the outside to allow you to trap it completely with wool.  For my resists I like laminate floor underlay best but any kind of flexible plastic eg. bubble wrap is fine.
  • Cover the resist totally with a couple of layers of wool, add in blobs of other colours randomly remembering that a clashing colour often provides an interesting point of contrast.
  • Place a piece of fabric on top, we used muslin or scrim, and lightly wet.
  • Roll a few little pieces of merino in your fingers and position them as surface decoration, circles or crosses look good I think.
  • Rub your brooch between the two layers of bubble wrap for 5 minutes on side one, 5 on side two and 5 on side one again.  For the purpose of the workshop I just asked everyone to count out 300 rubs X 3, easy peasy!  Just check once or twice to make sure that it is both soapy and wet.
  • After 300 rubs remove the brooch from the plastic and rub it in your hands.  If you are using the short fibred merino you can get quite aggressive at this stage, it only will take a few minutes to full and finish it.
  • Once it has shrunk by about 1/3 cut a small cross into the top of where you positioned your resist, push and seal the cut edges outwards with your fingers.
  • Remove the resist, rinse and stretch the brooch into shape.
  • Stitch on a brooch back and wear with pride!

On a larger scale and with a different design these pieces make wonderful framed landscapes, pressies anyone???

Little brooch ready to felt

New ideas learnt at the weekend jewellery making workshop I attended!

This weekend I was really lucky to be able to participate in an Angela O’Kelly jewellery workshop organised by the committe of Feltmakers Ireland, it was wonderful!

Colourful and tactile bracelet formed from fabric paper, paper, plastic, felt

Angela is great fun and such an inspirational jewellery designer, I’ve stolen an image from her website to give you an idea of the designs she explores but head on over there to check out some of her amazing textile, fibre, semi and precious metal pieces, just beautiful.  Obviously it’s not going to be possible to give you a blow by blow account here of all the techniques we covered, there were many!  Instead I’m going to share with you the most important lessons I took away from the weekend so here goes ……

  • How to make some of your own jewellery findings
  • A simple way of making a stiff ‘nest’ from yarn and glue which can then be used as a starting point for further embellishment
  • The beauty and versatility of paper yarn
  • How to ‘spin’ your own paper yarn
  • How to work with gold and silver leaf

….. and the most important thing I learnt and really must try hard to remember, I need to use felt as the starting point of a design sometimes and not as the end point!