Prefelt frenzy and thanks!

Thanks to all my friends and family who attended the opening of the Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery in Thomastown yesterday.   Special thanks to my mother Lynette, my sisters Suzanne and Lizzy, my partner Alan and my friends Cathy, Martin, Eileen, Remmy, Duncan and Helena who all make the effort to attend, a great turnout!  The exhibition continues until 31st January and as work is sold I can replace it with newer pieces.  A second opening has also been organised for 6th December and another 5 artists are joining us then in the run up to Christmas.  This was the first time that Kozo have invited artists to participate in an open selection and the work seemed to be very favourably received by both the public and the press.

With all the coming and going over the last few days I decided to felt something simple and quick this morning, prefelts seemed the obvious choice.  I had promised my students that I would have some prepared for their next lesson and of course as soon as I started making them I have been having all sorts of wild ideas of what I myself would like to use them for.  Now I want to spend all my time preparing some funky colour schemes and know that I will be in a frenzy over the next few days to prepare a wide selection of colours!  For those of you not sure what I mean by prefelt it is a piece of felt in the making which you stop fulling and shrinking as soon as the fibres are holding together into an obvious piece of fabric.  This lightly felted piece can then be cut into any shape and laid on top of loose wool roving or batts, wet out and felted fully as normal.  The big advantage of using prefelt in a design is that because it has already started to mesh together into a fabric your design edges will be very clean cut and sometimes this is exactly what you require.  Anyway, I am having fun making quite large pieces in solid colours (so far!) and embellishing part of each prefelt heavily with either tussah or mulberry silk.  Tomorrow I will continue making some more pieces and on Tuesday or Wednesday start cutting some of them up to use in some vessels I have been brooding over!!

Invitation, felted vessels, necklaces and beading

Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery

Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery

I was very excited to see an image of one of my felt necklaces used on the invitation to the Winter Exhibition that opens at Kozo Studio and Gallery next Saturday.  This will be the second selected exhibition that I am participating in this month and I would love to meet any of you blog followers if you are free to come to the opening.  Please make sure to come and introduce yourselves if you are able to make the journey!

My days never seem long enough at the moment but I have to say that I am really enjoying all the felting!!  Today I made 2 amazing neckpieces using silk jewels (a bit similar to sari loom ends) and merino, the silk really crinkled up beautifully as the wool was felting so tomorrow I need to make a couple of brooches to use with them as closures.  These will be going to Kozo along with a couple of necklaces and some vessels that I made over the last few days.  I decided to use a much bigger resist than usual for these vessels (piece of laminate floor underlay used in the middle of my felt package to stop the fibres felting as a flat piece and create an ‘envelope’ instead) and have made one large bowl which I then beaded and one taller bowl with very organic grooves.  The beading was quite interesting, I love the glint of light on the seed beads and because of the result was not SO adverse as usual to plying the needle!!

Off now to try and put some images on my new Etsy shop and sort out the policy re. P&P etc., will check back in here and post the link if I am successful!!

Felt, fibres and findings

Yesterday I had a great day at the Knitting and Stitching Show at the RDS in Dublin.  Carmen and I left at 7 o’clock to beat the worst of the traffic and we arrived at the RDS by about 9.30am.  Because we were both doing a stint helping and demonstrating on the Feltmakers Ireland stand we were lucky enough to get in free!  It was a great day.  I had never actually been to any big fibre event before being so new to felting but Carmen had prepared me well!!  What surprised me the most was that I did not go too mad buying things, I have a habit of jumping in like there is no tomorrow and I could have ended up with a truck load of bits and bobs that never would have been used had I not restrained myself.  The absolute best stands for me to pick up more unusual items were Art Van Go and Twisted Fibres, both had BEAUTIFUL fibres for felting (or any other type of textile art) and I was smitten.  It was great to see Stephanie from the Yarn Room in Co. Wicklow absolutely snowed under with customers, I really didn’t get any time to chat to her properly as obviously sales take priority over everything else!  So, what did I buy?  Pink Pig notebooks to embellish with felt for Christmas presents, handmade paper to make gift tags and cards, 2 beautiful wooden stamps, gorgeous hand dyed silk roving, seed beads, 2 huge buttons, a piece of coarse scrim to felt into a wall hanging, some findings for jewellery making, wire for using with beads and finally some more Pink Pig notebooks!  The Feltmakers Ireland stand was totally mobbed for all of the day.  If people have never seen felt being made before the attraction is usually instantaneous, many new people joined up and many old friends visited the stand.  I was delighted to meet some people local to the South East and I think that all the upcoming courses on the workshop page are going to be totally full before long judging by the interest at the show.  It was lovely to met some people who are following my activities on this blog, I hope that you all had a great day in Dublin!

Drum carding machine is magic!

I finally succumbed to the lure of Carmen’s new drum carding machine!  To date I have been more than happy with the variety and quality of commercial fibres on offer but finally I have tried mixing my own and have to confess that I could become hooked!!  The carder has been left in my possession for 2 days and I am live a devil possessed, my favourite mixture of fibres is merino and mulberry silk and I am frantically carding as much as possible before I give the machine back.  I also carded some of the beautiful Jacobs wool that I got a present of, still not sure that all the work is for me but it will be nice to make something with wool that I have washed, picked over and carded myself.  The biggest problem I find is that it is very tough on my back and although I love the idea of preparing all my own fibres it is not really the best option for me.

What can  I say about the beautiful woven bag that I recieved from Martina in the swap??  Pictures to go up as soon as the weather permits me to take a good image.  The colours are perfect for me, a rich russet with black highlights, really beautiful with an organic hemp and cotton outfit I have from Blue Fish in Taos, New Mexico.  thanks a million Martina!

Funky felt neckpieces, button magic, interesting poll

Enjoyed a busy but fun couple of days and still only 15.53 Irish time!  Carmen and I drove to Dublin yesterday morning to join in the Feltmakers Ireland Wednesday session, my first time actually managing to attend.  It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new like-minded people who all love their felting.  Because we were helping with some paperwork in preparation for our stand at the 2008 Knitting and Stitching Show not much actual felting was created.  Elenor did make a beautiful bowl to demonstrate what we might be asked to do on the stand, why not come along between Thursday 30th October and Sunday 2nd November to check out the Feltmakers stand and stock up on all the goodies on offer at the show?  It takes place at the RDS in Dublin and if you click here you can get all the details and information about the wonderful demos and workshops that are on offer.  I will be doing my bit on the stand from 12.30 until 3 o’clock on Thursday and would love if you called over to introduce yourselves!

Once we said our goodbyes to the rest of the gang Carmen and I had a wander around a few of the shops in Blanchardstown.  Coming from the country I have to say that although I prefer shopping locally in a more boutique type setting it is nice once in a while to catch a few of the larger chains.  We browsed a couple of the bigger stores, had a bite to eat and then hit Borders book shop!  First we had an after dinner coffee upstairs in Starbucks, then we headed downstairs to look at the magazines and explore the craft and textile sections.  Carmen bought a book with some crocheting patterns and I found an absolute darling book called ‘A Passion for Buttons’!!  One of my biggest problems with felting is that although I enjoy looking at other peoples embellished work I find that for me it is the felt that counts.  Obviously other people might want a bit more embellishment and I do have a great stash of beautiful vintage buttons so I am going to do my best adding a few to some select pieces for Christmas.  Visit my Flickr account to see the necklace I made last night copied from an idea in the book, for some reason I am having problems uploading images directly to the blog this afternoon. 

Today I got up early and I had the whole morning to work on some funky new styles of neckpieces and also to make two vessels.  I actually made 4 neckpieces, 2 lattice type and 2 from an idea that I saw in a book recently, any of them would make very nice presents for a friend or even yourselves!  This weekend I intend putting a new page up on this blog showing images of work for sale or else linking to the same work on my Flickr account.  Because I am still waiting for my Etsy shop to be operational I think that this is the simplest way of allowing everyone to see what I have for sale at any given time and if you then see an item that you like but would prefer another colour scheme than all you have to do is ask!  If I have the fibre available then I will be able to make a commissioned piece for the same price.

Vessels and seamless bags are my absolute favourite items to make along with anything in nuno felt.   Why not take the poll below and let me know what you are most interested in?

Fibres at last!

Today I tracked down the parcels that Carmen and I have been waiting 2 weeks for, they had got bogged down in Gorey of all places!  Anyway, instead of spending a full day felting I hot footed it to Gorey this morning and was thrilled to discover that all the books, fibre, bits and bobs from Wollknoll and the RUGS had finally made it safely to Ireland.  A big relief. 

I decided when I eventually got home that I really needed to tidy the studio up a bit (more than a bit if truth be told) before I could even get the box into the room.  A couple of hours later I spent a really enjoyable time unpacking and sighing over all the wool and little extras that I had bought on my recent trip to Germany.  Obviously I then needed to actually try out some of the wool, a scarflet, couple of corsages and a piece of flat felt to be made into a bag for ‘Bag Lady Swaps’ later and I am ready to call  it a day. 

This weekend, internet connection permitting, I am going to finish my posts about the rug making workshop with Mehmet Girgic.  Next on the adgenda is to put up a page about the classes I am running for the winter and then I need to put up some items on my Etsy shop, ah well, it is best to be busy!!

Making cords the Australian way!

Before I discuss the new way that we learnt of making cords at the Anita Larkin workshop, I just want to say that all the techniques we tried over the weekend ultimately unite and allow you to create exciting scupltural 3 dimensional pieces of felt!  At first it seems that learning how to make cords is very basic at a workshop for people who have all felted before but you are never too late to learn new techniques.   Most of you are familiar with making cords and probably everyone has their favourite method.  How many can there be you might ask but I certainly learnt a totally different method from Anita than any I had seen used before.  Lay out a long layer of very fine fibres in a diagonal and then lay a second layer on top of these in the opposite direction, also diagonally.  If you want to make a thicker section lay some more layers in that place and then dry felt the fibres by lightly moving your hands over them as with wet felting.  Using your spray bottle VERY lighlty wet along only the edge of the fibres and then roll them gently into a log shape.  If you are going to be attaching this rope to another piece of felt leave the ends dry for the moment.  Using the minimum amount of warm water lightly wet the sausage shaped fibre log and with soapy hands roll it very lightly on your bubble wrap, blind or sushi mat.  As far as I can see the biggest difference is in the way the fibres are laid on the diaganol and the volume of (or lack of) water used.  This seems to make a very solid and strong cord.  Shapes that were started as in the previous post may be added on at any time once the cord starts to hold its shape or the cord itsef may be attached to another piece of felt that you are in the process of making.  Next post I will discuss inserting wire into felt and wrapping a solid object in felt.  I also want to post a few more images of work that I have completed recently to keep the blog a little bit visual!

Australian versus European wet felting techniques

Thanks very much to all of you who are sending me emails and posting such nice comments on my blog, it is really nice to get feedback from my peers so please keep it up!

As promised I am going to write several posts over the next week or so about the various different aspects of sculptural feltmaking that I learnt at the Anita Larkin workshop last weekend.  I was a bit physically tired when I got to Dublin and probably that made certain things seem very difficult to master.  Day 1 was actually more successful for me than day 2 but obviously mistakes and disasters are also informative so hopefully I can learn something from them as well!

We started the first day by making felt balls, a TOTALLY different method than any I have ever used or heard of to date.  Using merino roving we laid out a square shape using several thin layers of wool (approx 5) on a bamboo blind and then ‘dry’ felted it for a few seconds.  This was done by placing the palm of our hand on the pile of fibres and slightly moving our hand in a circular motion.  Next we folded up the corner of two sides to form an angle and lifted the pile in our hands.  The rest of the wool was shaped into a ball by rotating the fibres around this angle, a bit like wrapping or rolling a wan ton.  Careful attention was paid to the last fibres completing the ball making sure that they did not form any ridges.  The resulting ball was then held VERY LIGHTLY in one hand and dunked into hot water for no more that a second.  When lifted out of the water we then used our other hand to very carefully stroke the ball with soapy fingers.  The idea was to form a skin on the ball but to have the inside fibres basically almost totally dry and unfelted.  At this pre pre felt stage the balls were amazingly light and spongy.  Anita explained to us that at this stage if we kept lightly wetting, soaping and rolling or working the ball by hand the fibres would always move to the centre and form a ball.  HOWEVER, because the outside skin was barely formed and the inside was not felted at all we now had the option of forming any shape we wanted, amazing!  By manipulating the ball in various ways an almost infinite number of shapes can be made.  I made a star fruit shape by placing the ball between my two index and middle fingers and squeezing and working it into shape.  If I cut it into a cross section it would look like an X, hope you can visualise this from my explanation.  As the shape is forming you can suspend work and decide to attach it to another piece of felt aided by a wire brush.  Why not try making a shape for yourself and we can learn more on the next post tomorrow!!

Felting marathon!

I feel as if Carmen and I have just completed a felting marathon.  I am actually working full steam ahead for next week’s Green Energy Fair but as we had a bank holiday in Ireland today, felt was on the adgenda!  It is really great to share ideas and fibres with other felt makers and today we completed an amazing selection of items.  Carmen made a beautiful vessel and then I showed her how I had made some bracelets and a felt ring, away she went!  A glass of wine and a veggie lunch later we really were gripped by a creative surge.  At the end of the day I had made, strung and sold a beautiful necklace for a commission plus sold a second necklace I had made in the same colour scheme.  Bangles or bracelets were really my thing today and this evening 9 completed bracelets lie drying on my kitchen table.  I used some gorgeous orange, plum and wine coloured merino wool and highlit certain areas with wine and orange mulberry silk.  The results are almost flame coloured, as the fabric is drying the silk is shining even more.  Carmen worked mainly in natural colours and made some really interesting bangles and a ring, decorating several of the items with beads made in contrasting colours, great work. 

Experimenting with sculptural pieces

Over the last few days I have been thinking of ways to add an extra dimension to my work.  Yesterday I created a sample piece that incorporated some strips of laminate underlay as resists.  For those of you who have never felted before a resist is just a piece of something (eg. supple plastic, laminate floor underlay or oilcloth) that the wool fibres will not adhere to during the felting process.  This means that where ever you position the resist a pocket within the finished piece will be created.  I decided yesterday to make a two tiered piece of felt with a darker background and a light wool and linen foreground.  Within the top layer I also incorporated three strips of resist, the idea being that when I removed them at the end I wanted to insert either wire or some other thin items.  My intention had been to play around with the final insertion and possibly try twisting the wire into some interesting combinations.  Even though I thought that my piece was fully shrunk and felted before I removed these strips, the ends of these hollow tubes bonded together slightly when I did the final rinse and throwing.  Today I am going to try to open up the tubes but I actually think that next time I will insert the wire or whatever as soon as I remove the laminite resist.  Will update you on progress as soon as I get the next piece finished.