Fish skin and felt, a perfect combination!

Yesterday I spent the whole day stitching and finishing the fish skin and felt bag I have been working on, it’s one of my favourite projects from the new book because as well as being created from colours I love I just know how handy it is going to be when travelling!  Amazingly I added a zip to the inner pocket, I don’t want any disasters with my passport and tickets so the safer I can keep them all the better.  The stitching actually took six hours, I couldn’t believe it but at least I am happy with the final result and hopefully the book should be finished by the end of this week (tomorrow is our deadline!) so I will be able to reveal it in all its glory then!!!  My thumb and one other finger feel a bit strange today, slightly tingly but nothing to worry about, now that I know what a thimble is for maybe I need to invest in one, what do you think?

Carmen is here today and we are working away together.  I have been writing and editing this morning upstairs but I am heading down now for a bowl of goulash and then it’s back to the needle, need to stitch some simple pieces of jewellery together!

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More preparation for my US adventures and a little light felting relief …..

Gathering the felting materials to bring with me on Tuesday evening is not a problem, getting into the studio and negotiating the tables as I left them for felting the large rug is.  I am just going to have to grit my teeth and do a little bit of tidying up as I go along, at least it will make things more organised when I return home but I HATE tidying as you all must know by now! 

This morning I wrote and emailed off an article re. ‘Felt Naturally’ in Silkeborg as requested by Grima (the Danish felting association) and then I called over to Carmen for a bite of lunch and to deliver some Icelandic felting wool to one of her workshop participants as ordered for a community project in Wexford.  Writing about the fabulous time I had at the felt symposium in Silkeborg refreshed my mind about some of the techniques learnt and shared there, I can only hope that participants in my workshops in US will have half the fun that I had and also learn something new to boot.  It is absolutely amazing to think that at this exact time next Sunday participants will be finishing their bags during the second day of the first Complex Felt Bag workshop at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, northern California!!!

Since picking up my new iPhone 4 yesterday afternoon I have been trying to get to grips with some of its features, hopefully Blas from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco (felt accessories and felt vessel workshops the first weekend of October!) may be able to help me with getting used to the phone and will give me good tips.  Apparantly the tarriff that I am on here in Ireland is totally prohibitive in the US but probably I will be able to access a computer somewhere in Loomis and keep you all updated with progress at the first workshops!  I felted a simple little iPhone cover when I got back from Carmen’s and once it is dry I am going to stitch on a little closure using some soft and supple fish skin from Iceland.  Alan sparked off the idea for the opening on the cover so as soon as I have it all assembled I am going to try to take the picture and upload it straight to the internet from the phone, wish me luck!

Large felt sculpture workshop!

The second felt workshop that I participated in at ‘Felt in Focus’ was fairly large felt sculptures with Anna Gunnarsdottir from Iceland.  This was a brilliant experience and taught me a totally new way of looking at resists!  As with Lyda’s complex bag workshop I am going to cover what we did over several posts and this is also a good way for me to revisit all that I learnt over the 2 days.  (Please bear with me as I am having computer problems, it keeps closing and I think that I need to get it ‘attended’ to by an expert or else I will go potty!)

Two of Anna's felt sculptures

Two of Anna's felt sculptures

Anna’s large sculptural pieces are amazing and it was very exciting to learn the technique of felting large objects, my head is now full of shapes and I am just waiting for the arrival of Icelandic wool to really go crazy experimenting at home.  Once everyone had introduced themselves and explained what they hoped to get out of the workshop Anna explained and demonstrated how she stitches layers of plastic resist together to form the template for her felt objects.  I was lucky that reknowned Irish felter Elizabeth Bonner had participated in the first workshop so I had the advantage of watching her work progress and learn from any observations and tips.  The biggest help to me was knowing that creating a symmetrical template was easiest and then stitching straight up the central line as opposed to joining the layers with a curved line would be the simplest option.  Anna encouraged everyone to think outside the box when deciding on our shape and I although I had toyed with the idea of using my backpack template this proved too large to deal with in the two days allocated.   My choice therefore was a bit like a rounded figure of eight on it’s side, complete with two bumps on each surface that I intended embellishing with horse hair.  This workshop was also a great opportunity to experiment with new fibres and fishskin.  Anna had a great selection of horse hair and dyed salmon, wolf fish and cod skin, other participants had brought raw fleece and various found objects to play around with.  To be cont …. including pictures of my template and work in progress!

Waterlily felt for Bag Lady Swaps

Bag Lady Swaps taster

Bag Lady Swaps taster

This collage of images is a taster for Sylvia, my swap buddy from Bag Lady Swaps to show some of the raw materials and the colour scheme that I used to create the felt for the bag I made her.  If you look closely at the various images you can see pale pink and blue merino, a small section of green and pink silk fibres, pink prefelt and some of the finished water coloured blue felt.  The movement and watery colour in the felt was achieved from a couple of base layers of dark blue wool, a mixture of lighter blue merino laid on top and then quite a bit of light blue silk to finish off with.  I got the parcel posted today and included a couple of little extras one of which was a matching key ring.  The key ring I was especially happy with because I added a little fish cut out from dyed fish skin and I thought that it looked great!!  Because Sylvia has obviously got a few days to wait until the parcel arrives I am not going to post an image of the finished bag until I know she has received it.

Fabulous sari silks and threads!

FIBRE ALERT I have just recieved some amazing products from an excellent Australian site http://www.essentialtextileart.com .  I discovered them on line whilst doing a search for nuno felt and boy am I glad I did!  Thanks Susan, for your prompt and friendly service, I will definitely be recommending you to my friends.  My order consisted of  packets of sari loom ends, sari silk fibres, sari ribbon (basically strips of sari fabric) and a mixed packet of coloured suede fish skin, great for embellishing!!.

Needless to say I just had to get stuck in immediately to some felting.  I decided to use one of the sari loom ends and a sari ribbon to create a beautiful long wall hanging in nuno felt.  This is really a piece that needs to be lit from behind to fully appreciate the textures and I think that I need to experiment with a simple light box and see how this works for me.  I promise to post a picture on this blog as soon as I have mastered the concept!