Jeanette Sendler workshop cont ….. adding the surface design and felting the bag

Everyone was pretty tired and hungry at the end of day one and straight after the workshop finished a few of us went for a tasty Italian meal nearby with Jeanette.  Refuled and ready to go again I drove straight back to Alan’s small Dublin pad and proceeded to lay out my surface design and felt my bag.  As already mentioned I had made some provisional sketches giving ideas of where I wanted to position my silk fabric and flax fibres.  It quickly became obvious to me that I needed to adjust the positioning slightly if I wanted to get a balanced and pleasing look once the resists were opened up and the other layers of design exposed.  I spent quite a bit of time cutting around the edges of one of the flower motifs and some more time cutting out small splashes of red and grey silk which I laid out underneath some of the silver flax.  If anyone is interested in ordering dyed flax I bought several different colours online from Filzrausch.  The last descision I made was choosing to lay out three strips of the hand rolled edge of the scarf on the front of the bag, my design was now complete and I was ready to felt. 

Felting the bag did not take long at all.   Because it had already been wetted out and left sitting in the trunk of my truck while I ate my food the wool fibres were nicely relaxed and everything came together very quickly, probably no more than 30 or 40 minutes rubbing and rolling in total!  Even though I started the project with the intention of using less wool and having a slightly more ‘flexible’ bag than usual I still worked the wool firmly and finished when I was happy that plenty of shrinkage had occured.  I was really happy with how the silk combined beautifully with the wool and almost melted into the front of the bag.  Next time I will post some pictures from the workshop and write about a wonderful exercise (with trees and yarn!!!) we all did outdoors at the start of day two!

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Exciting news re. felting wool, Clasheen Autumn Swap and last chance to view Sculpture in Context

There never seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in all the things that I really want to do.  Luckily my flu is now 90% over so I am starting to plough through all the paperwork and outstanding letters/emails etc. that built up over the 4 weeks while I was away from home.  My exciting news of the day however concerns the Icelandic wool that I will soon be selling from my Etsy store, I haven’t linked through this time because I need to wait until the wool arrives and get the images uploaded first!  The colours are fabulous and as well as offering different weights of the wool for sale I also intend putting some fun kits together with clear (hopefully!) instructions on how to make various different items.  The Icelandic wool is superb for structural work, bags, vessels, sculpture, light shades etc. and also could be used for warm scarves although would not be as soft as merino when worn directly against the skin.  Please let me know what you think about putting felting kits together, I was thinking along the lines of …..  beginners flat felt, simple felt vessel, felt purse, felt flower, felt necklace, felt brooch etc. and then a kit with instructions for a first nuno felt scarf using the fantastic short fibred merino I import from Filzrausch.  I would include all the raw materials including embellishments and any findings, clear but simple instructions and enough bubble wrap and resist where necessary to complete the project.  All comments gratefully received!

This Thursday is the deadline for all Clasheen Autumn Swap packages to be on their way across the globe!  If you have been one of our gang participating this time please remember to get your goddies out and then to leave a message of thanks and pictures to the Clasheen Crafty Swaps pool on Flickr as soon as you receive your own package.  If for any reason you are going to be a day or two late getting to the post PLEASE just leave a message on our message board.  Everyone understands if a delay occurs (so long as it is not every time!) and it just relieves the pressure on both ends of the swap.

Next Monday I will be taking down my felt ‘Cascade’ from Sculpture in Context so if you have not yet visited the Irish National Botanic Gardens in Dublin to view the exhibition now is your last chance.  Check out this article from the Irish Times.

Article in the Irish Times

Article in the Irish Times

Felting workshop and new design of felt ring

Great first pieces of flat felt!

Great first pieces of flat felt!

Bridann and Margaret arrived this morning for our beginners felting day at Clasheen. Neither had wet felted before although Margaret had done a little needle felting and has bags of wool waiting at home for her to get cracking with the wet felting. We started the morning with a coffee and chat about the basics of felting and had a look at various types of wool and animal fibre before getting started on their first flat piece of felt. Experimenting was the order of the day to enable both ladies to get a feel for the fibres and they each decided to mix two colours for their base, Bridann chose grey and pink while Margaret chose orange and brown. I had a selection of prefelts, silks, various animal fibres and wool to select from and add as embellishment to the top layer. It was great seeing the pieces come together and Margaret who thought she had chosen ‘safe’ colours was amazed at how vibrant her finished piece of felt actually was! After a spot of lunch we started on their first 3-dimensional piece, Margaret chose to make a tall vessel and Bridann a round bowl. They really produced amazing work for their first 3-dimensional pieces and tomorrow I will upload the images. For some reason today they will not go in the position I want them to on the blog, the wonders of technology!

When we had lunch I demonstrated a simple 3-d felt flower and for some reason that inspired me to create a new style felt ring myself after the workshop was over. I used the gorgeous soft short fibre merino from Filzrausch and had great fun playing around with some simple colour combinations, blue, teal, a spot of yellow and a black centre. I made the ring piece from dark green wool and it looks as if the rings are flowers growing from the dark green stems!

Loads of felting news to report …

Yesterday was

Felted fingerless mittens
Felted fingerless mittens

 a day and a half!  Early in the morning my delivery of short fibred merino arrived from Filzrausch and boy was I excited.  I really wanted to get stuck in and felting straight away but I knew that I had other things that I just had to get sorted.  As soon as I logged on to the internet I had a message from Mehmet and thank goodness his visa and passport had finally been approved from the Irish Embassy in Ankara and he is available to travel!  This has been an absolute nightmare for me (wasn’t telling everyone) because I had never appreciated what it entailed getting your visa if you are travelling on a Turkish passport and I was afraid we might just have run out of time.  Anyway, all is well for the two workshops, Mehmet arrives next Thursday with the rug bases, the rolling mats are on their way and the wool is also on it’s way, from Wollknoll in Germany.  Margo made a rug with Mehmet last year and has some great images of the group’s work in progress and the finished rugs on her blog, they really take me back to the course Carmen and I did last September and I just want to get stuck in again! 

My second gorgeous event was opening my bartering package from Anna.  The scent was amazing as I opened the box and a fantastic selection of hand made cosmetics lay ensconced in tissue paper, bath bombs, lip balm, hand cream and after shave balm, I was blown away by how amazing they were!  We are now going to trade some more of these goodies in exchange for a felt scarf or necklace, what a nice way to do business.

Next on the adgenda was the tidy up I am trying to give the whole house, not just for my guests staying during Mehmet’s course but for my own sanity as well.  On January 1st I signed up to an amazing system at FlyLady designed to prompt me to organise my day and sort out my mess, I think that it could be working but we will just have to wait and see!  At the moment I am just doing the baby steps but check it out because if any of you are messy and a procrastinator like me you NEED to see this!  Do I sound like a crank??

Talking about procrastinating I finished the mobile that I had started the night before, check it out on my Flickr account, also two of the bags that I finished.  One of the other things that I really need to get a handle on is my Etsy shop.  I did make my first sale last week, horray, but I just need to really concentrate on uploading more items and getting a good shop front going.  The big problem is that you can’t upload images from Flickr and it seems to use a lot of battery power uploading from the camera, hopefully I will get it streamlined soon.

Eventually I got to try out the new wool, brilliant.  I tried a necklace first and then was inspired to make the fingerless mittens pictured.  The wool is so beautiful to work with, very soft and tactile and amazingly fast to felt.  These were the first mittens that I have made and had I thought about it better in the laying out stage I could have saved myself a lot of time by making them both at the same time.  This would have entailed laying out a much longer length of fibre wrapped resist and felting to the stage where I cut out the hole for my thumb.  At this stage I could have cut the hollow tube in two meaning that the mittens would only have to be finished seperately for a couple of minutes.  I would also have the advantage of both mittens having the exact same thickness, as it is one is a little thicker than the other because I was too lazy to weight the wool!  Ah well, will just have to make another pair!!

Special wool on order!

I am really looking forward to my delivery of a special wool from German company Filzrausch .  This is the short fibre merino that I saw for the first time with Sigrid and Ingrid Bannier at the workshops in November and what they use for almost all their jewellery making.  It is amazingly quick to felt and soft making it very comfortable to wear against the skin.  The cost is a bit more expensive that other merino but I am hoping that I will more than make up for this extra cost in the time saved and the scope of the projects that I intend to tackle.  Carmen had bought any wool that the sisters had left after the workshops and I got a little bit from her.  This afternoon I made some felt beads, a flower, a ball and a piece of flat felt, in all they took me probably a third of the time that I would take normally, amazing!  Watch this space, the wool should arrive at the beginning of next week hopefully.

One thing that I didn’t mention yesterday is that when I make prefelts I don’t lay the fibres out anything like as thickly as usual.  This is because the prefelt will be cut and laid on top of whatever piece I am working on and I don’t want the felt to end up too thick in those sections.  If however, you wanted a very textured piece, a wallhanging for example, maybe you would want the prefelt to be thick and to stand out a little from the rest of the background.  Anyway, it is nice to experiment a bit so you will find out what thickness suits your style of work yourselves!