I’ve been having great fun dyeing cotton gauze under Jan Durham’s expert eye. It’s my first time getting to grips with Procion MX dyes are really they’re not difficult to use, the biggest problem was having to wait overnight (it could have been longer) before opening the bundles and seeing what I’d achieved!!!
Rinsed, washed again and ready to hang outside
I like the idea of dyeing my own fabric to nuno felt into, I don’t think I’ll be doing this every week when I get home but I’ll definitely order some of the colours I like best and make an effort to experiment further. I’m not the tidiest person as regular followers of this blog know by now but I was able to keep myself totally dye free, luckily Jan’s husband Bruce was away yesterday though because if he had been around he mightn’t have been so happy about the dye I managed to spill all over the white counter top!
Once the bundles had time to absorb all the dye I rinsed them in cold then hot water before putting them through a wash cycle in Jan’s great big washing machine. The weather’s been a lot drier today (the rain this last few days has been just like Ireland!) so I was able to hang everything outside to dry. I ironed the smaller scarves but the larger piece in the second picture I decided not to bother ironing! I’m going to nuno felt it into a shift dress hopefully, I had planned to do it here but I actually think I may need to keep it until I get home and then I have my full selection of short fibred merino to work with.
My head is a little clearer now and my body a little less tired so here goes with continuing on from my first post about Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Denmark. We started day one by drooling over the wonderful household textiles Charlotte had brought to discuss with us and listened to her explaining the techniques used while jotting our own notes in the workbooks supplied. I was totally captivated right from the start as all the techniques could be applied to many different weights of fabric/fibre. This meant that what we would be covering during the two days applied as much to sculptural work or clothing as to the household textiles that we were going to be making, the methods used have so many uses it is quite amazing! Mainland European felters seem to work a lot more with prefelt/needle felt than we do here in Ireland and while I chose to work in my favourite short fibred merino (I brought Kap merino from Wollknoll with me) it was fascinating to see others stretching and working with commercially prepared needle felt.
Charlotte had brought some great images of underwater creatures and coral with her and because I knew that I wanted to felt something three dimensional a black, white and acidic yellow sea cucumber (or is it a sea slug? Is there a difference???) seemed the perfect kicking off point for me. Of course as soon as I opened my suitcase with all my many kgs of wool I discovered that I had left the black on my kitchen table so had to think laterally and decided to substitute with turquoise instead! Cutting out a template was the easy part and this I covered with gauze to give the piece some extra stability, at least that was the idea, more on that later!!! I wanted clear edges between the white and the turquoise wool so decided to roll a LOT of cords dry before dunking them in soapy water and ‘painting’ them on, my idea being that when the felt was wet out the lightly rolled edges would move together but the slight edges would prevent the colour ‘bleeding’ and merging together too much.
Laying out the first side prior to infilling with colour
My second shibori experiment on St. Patrick’s Day was this simple cowl, again felted using merino, cotton gauze and silk.
Spice shibori cowl
This time my design had a hole at one end through which the cords pull through from the opposite end to close the cowl, hope this makes sense! I love the combination of cerise, orange and raspberry wool as I think it gives the cowl a lovely warm and spicy feel. The cords were very easy to incorporate into the body of the felt and this is a design I am planning to play around with a little, possibly make my next cowl a little longer and a little narrower. Check out my Flickr photos for a full range of images from both sides of this piece.
Yesterday morning my latest order of silk arrived from Wollknoll and boy am I EXCITED! When Lyda Rump was here for our workshops in February she was saying that they now were dying some fantastic wool similar to that which I usually get from Filzrausch, a short fibred19 micron merino. I asked Sonja Fritz is she would be able to include a kg of various colours with my order for silk and I was blown away by the subtlty of the shades and how beautifully soft and easy this ‘Kap’ wool is to work with. There was a PERFECT rose shade (I have never got anything quite as beautiful in this colour before) and it just cried out to be felted with one of Lyda’s gorgeous hand dyed silk chiffon scarves.
Hand dyed silk chiffon with the softest nuno shibori
Again I decided to experiment with a little shibori. My aim with this scarf was to emphasise the gorgeous colours from Lyda’s dying so I decided just to add wool at either end and not cover the chiffon completely. This created a fantastic and light scarf which would be an amazing present for someone allergic to wool, only the silk would be touching the skin when you throw the scarf around your neck! I have uploaded both these shibori pieces and my recent Zebra cobweb felt scarf to my Etsy shop this morning so if you are looking to treat yourself to a little uplifting pressie now is the moment!
My felting experiments yesterday were fun, fun, fun. Amazingly I had decided to experiment with a shibori felt wrap/cowl affair only to discover when Carmen arrived that shibori was also what she had planned to do and neither of us had breathed a word of our intentions beforehand, incredible!
Working the shibori wrap
Anyway, as part of the ‘Secret Swap Exchange’ I am participating in on Ravelry I needed to make a whimsical cowl for my swap buddy using yellow as the base colour. Thanks to some shibori tips from Chrissie Day I decided to tackle this project for some St. Patrick’s Day fun and here is what I have come up with! Using cotton gauze as a base I laid out a layer of short fibred merino which I then embellished with loads of gorgeous gold and maroon coloured mulberry silk. When the fibres were starting to penetrate the gauze fabric but before the piece was shrinking I tied glass nuggets into the felt securing them with rubber bands. I continued felting and fulling as usual and when the piece was totally shrunk undid the little bundles and pushed out the glass nuggets. Some of the resulting bubbles I left as was while others got pushed through to the other side to add contrast and interest to the surface detail. When I put the wrap on my manequin to take some photos it was interesting to see how reversable it actually is and to play around with the many ways it is possible to style it around the neck.
Nuno neck wrap - merino and silk side out
Hopefully my swap buddy will like her new neck wrap and for more images and some detailed shots of the gauze side please check out my Flickr photos.
If any of you want my fool proof receipe for English Sherry Triffle (with my secret Irish ingredient instead of sherry!) head on over to Clasheen Uncut where I am going to post it a little later in the day.
Yesterday morning was extremely wet and windy, this morning was lovely and bright with wisps of mist on the mountains, neither were great for trying to take any sort of photo with a small digital camera. However, I know from your comments that at least several of you are looking forward to some shots of the nuno felted wrap (which might actually become a banner) so here goes and please bear with me and the quality of the images!
Nuno felt wrap/banner against the sky
Firstly I had difficulty finding a suitable branch to hang the felt from especially since the sun and shade was so strong and I was trying to get as clear a shot as possible. Eventually I decided to just do my best and not worry unduly that the felt is kind of draped and the design is probably not the easiest to see, I’m sure you all get the picture! Note to myself, scrap the leaves at the edges if repeating this experiment as I am not sure that they really add anything to the finished nuno felt at all.
Detail from nuno felt wrap/banner
I love the open texture of the gauze after all my felting and rolling and you can see in this image a ‘leaf’ on the left hand side which was laid out on this side while the main piece of needle felt from which I cut the design out is actually felted through the gauze from the other side. This gives a nice bubbly effect to the surface and in fact if I was going to make another piece like this I would only lay my design on one side of the gauze and I wouldn’t add any of the loose ‘leaves’ to the sides either but possibly try some other kind of edging. At the time I thought that they were a good idea (obviously!) but on reflection they are only a distraction if you want to wear the wrap and don’t do a huge amount if you hang the nuno like a light felt banner. I do have a couple more pictures on Flickr but if the light is better over the next couple of days I may try and photograph the wrap again this time in it’s entirity.
No water again! I don’t know what is wrong this time because all seemed to be running smoothly when the plumber left on Wednesday. However, after one long bath, two machine washes and loads of washing up all in the space of a couple of hours this morning no water came out of either tap and I did want to have everywhere nice and clean for tomorrow morning’s nuno felt workshop. At this stage I am not going to fuss about it as luckily I do have my heat but I will just have to walk down the lane later today and collect some water to heat up for out felting experiments tomorrow. Unfortunately I gave my mother her large double handled bucket back yesterday morning so small washing up bowls and lots of trips are all that I can see once more on the horizon!
Speaking of water have you ever shrunk your favourite jumper in the washing machine by mistake? If so check out Clasheen Uncut where I go through the 20 minute process (I kid you not) of upcycling an old jumper and turning it into an eco chic and practical shopping bag!
As mentioned previously, I was furious with myself for not buying any hand dyed silk laps at the Knit and Stitch Show in Dublin last year. Basically they are like a really huge silk hankie and perfect for adding vibrant colour and texture to any felt project but especially felt wearables.
Hand dyed silk laps and cotton gauze
This year I didn’t make the same mistake and although the photo doesn’t do the silk laps justice (they are sitting on top of the hand dyed cotton gauze) I am sure you can see why I was attracted to the colours! To make my nuno felt wrap I stretched the hand dyed cotton gauze on my kitchen table and then laid out a thin and uneven layer of short fibred merino on top. The gorgeous peacocky purples and pinks of the gauze and the silk seemed to cry out for complimentary and contrasting colours of merino so I used various shades of plum and blackberry along with a couple of splashes of hot orange to up the ante!
Silk, merino and cotton gauze wrap
There was a lot of rubbing and rolling involved to finish the wrap but I love the final textures and sheen from the surface. Obviously the wrap is reversible and may also be worn tied around the waist like a sarong! Possibly I could have ended up with even more texture if I laid out the merino even lighter but I did want to make sure that it would be possible to wear the wrap around the waist and if worn this way didn’t want the fabric to appear see through! More images on Flickr.
My flu appears to have abated somewhat so I am taking this opportunity of posting about the very exciting top that I felted for myself this week while getting fed and minded like a baby at Carmen’s! I really hate sewing and for a long time have wanted to make some stylish felt wearables for myself but until Sigrid Bannier’s recent trip to Ireland have always resisted the mental thought process that needs to happen before confidently handling such large scale clothing projects. In tandem with this, for the last 5 months I have been desperately trying to think up my response to the international call for submissions for a juried travelling exhibition portraying the impact of human actions on the environment. ‘The Climate is Changing’ should be a challenge that I can rise to given the Green Party aspect of my background but until I finally crystallized my thoughts during a recent hike through Lassen Volcanic National Park my brain seemed absolutely dead as to how I could interpret my ideas into a piece of felt. Without giving too much away I have also been totally inspired by an interview with Thomas Horst (my absolute favourite American felter to date!) and his details of how to make a felted coat, I can’t recommend enough buying the Fall edition of ‘Living Crafts’ to check this out for yourselves. Thomas uses an electric sander a lot in his work and for the project detailed in the magazine the wool used shrinks by 25%. This got me to thinking that if I rubbed or sanded my work for a significantly longer period of time than I usually do and coupled this with cooler water and less rolling would I achieve a strong and finished felt garment with less shrinkage than I usually build in? The answer is YES! This means that now I have a felting method that achieves a gorgeous surface finish and doesn’t need the gigantic resists that I was always imagining would be required if I needed to allow 50% shrinkage for larger wearable articles. The unusually styled cropped top that I made for myself during the week is a generous size, has a gorgeous high neck and is made from just over 200g of the softest merino. I laid it out on a backing of cotton gauze for drape and stability and used some of the gorgeous silk hankies and twists that I got in Denmark as surface decoration, with a little manipulation (read more concentration cutting up the cotton gauze!) this would have made a wonderful reversible nuno top. Now I have a clear idea of how I am going to proceed to create my submission. Forgive me if I don’t give a total step by step description or an idea of the shape of my garment but I need to get the application sorted out first and one of the conditions is that no details or images of the work have been talked about or published prior to the juried stage of ‘The Climate is Changing’.
I decided not to attend the optional evening talk which was organised on day one of Lyda Rump’s workshop as I really wanted to get started laying out my backpack. The resist had been cut out of laminate floor underlay as usual and I started by rolling the handle and also the dreadlocks to attach to the bottom of the bag and to use as a closure. The ends of the handle and the dreadlocks were left dry so as to make it easier for them to felt into the middle of the bag when I added them at layer two. It took me 40 minutes of pondering before I realised how to go about laying out my inside pocket and then I laid out one layer of the bag as well before calling it a night. At breakfast the next morning fellow Irish felter Maureen Cromer pointed out that the way I had positioned the pocket was not how Lyda had explained the day before so so much for all my efforts that evening! I had a word with Lyda at the beginning of day two and although my way would have worked I decided to start again as I really wanted to learn the simplest and most efficient method, that was why I was there!! Lyda places the bag template on the working surface, covers it with the bubble wrap, lays the full 3 layers of the pocket, positions the pocket resist on top of it, lays the first layer of the back of the bag and then removes the resist from under the bubble wrap and places it on top of the layer of wool. Then she folds over the wool around the edge of the resist and lays out the first layer on the other side of the bag. Try it with a piece of paper on your table, it works and is a simple way of positioning the pocket in the correct place internally. The glass nuggets and the bag straps were lightly needled in after layer 2 (this was C1 wool) and then the final layer of merino with it’s silk and gauze surface decoration was laid. To skip to the completion of the bag, I rolled, re-wet with hot water, rolled and rolled again to fully finish the felting process and ensure that the backpack was as tough and rugged as possible without loosing the integrity of the beautiful merino, silk and gauze finish. When I was sure that the package was shrinking and holding together as per usual I cut out the resist and at the very end I cut a tiny cross on top of the glass nuggets and then worked the area with my fingernail to widen the opening and expose the glass. The final technique was to shave the surface of the bag like Mehmet Girgic does with his rugs and this leaves a beautiful finish allowing all the fabrics, fibres and glass to be shown to the best advantage. Because I really worked hard on fulling my backpack the finished bag has handles that actually have shrunk more than I intended. As I am tall the bag now sits very high on my back so for the moment I am wearing it as a shoulder bag until I make extension loops to add to the ends of the straps! Holly Angle took some good quality photos of the bag so as soon as I get them via email I will post them here and to Flickr.