Glass beads glisten against the shimmering silk and merino felt …….

Glass beads glistening against the silk and merino felt

I hadn’t intended posting any photos of new work that will be going in the book but couldn’t resist this shot demonstrating how the glass beads glisten against the felt in this silk/merino scarf!  It is pretty bright lightwise this morning so maybe the colours are slightly bleached but you can really see how the high percentage of silk in this fibre combination (50% silk 50% merino) shines when felted and how it also lends a great sense of movement to the piece. 

As many of you know already I have been having HUGE computer problems that still are not sorted two weeks after I started to seriously try and address the issue.  My techy guru posted me an external drive last week when he was having difficulty transferring things remotely and would you believe it my flies are just refusing to transfer over to this new drive for me too, URGH, a lot of work to do today so no felting I fear!  The up side of things will be that once I get all the problems ironed out Chrissie and I will be finally able to share our files online, see the layout of the book, edit and adjust things to our heart’s content, in short, do all the necessary to put the thing to bed, bliss!  Thanks for all your positive messages and comments about this upcoming publication, I hope you won’t all be disappointed!!!  I am also going to be uploading a HUGE amount of photos to Flickr during the day, this will mean that I don’t have to store them anywhere else, at least that’s the idea, hoping it will work.  Some of these photos may be old work I never blogged about before and some of them may be new or unseen, not sure yet exactly what files I still have lurking on the computer!

Gorgeous gauze for shibori experiment

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.

More felt accessories – how to make a stunning felt brooch or pendant

Carmen and I spent a happy and productive afternoon continuing our experimentation with merino and artificial fabric.  Both of us have stiff backs after all our exertions during the complex bag workshop (just wait until you see the pictures when I post about that!) so we decided to stick with small projects today and have some fun together. 

Midnight I brooch prior to beading

 

If you are interested in creating an experimental brooch or pendant like the one pictured on the left here is the process.

  1. Lay out a rough square of merino approx 6″ X 6″
  2. Wet it lightly, soap and flatten to remove the air
  3. Lay a small wad of dry wool in the centre and then place your stone, glass nugget or other found object on top
  4. Cover the insertion with dry wool
  5. Needle lightly through the dry wool into the wet to secure (don’t worry if you don’t have a needle, just leave this stage out)
  6. Lay another layer of wool over the whole front
  7. Cover this with strips or a larger square of artificial fabric, be inventive and try out anything!
  8. Wet out, soap and felt by rubbing directly on top of the front and back of the bundle, you don’t need to roll your work
  9. When fully felted cut a small cross over the insertion and using your finger nails push out the cut edge to expose your glass, stone or found object
  10. Rinse, shape and bead or embellish as required

HAVE FUN!  More pictures of work I created during and after Lyda’s visit are now uploaded to Flickr.

Surface details and inclusions in felt, tutorial for simple felt slippers!

One of the most striking aspects of Dutch felter Lyda Rump’s work is her beautiful attention to texture and surface detail.  At both our accessories workshop and the complex bag workshop on 5th, 6th and 7th February learn how you too can enhance your work  during the actual laying out of your fibre and by embellishing your felt once it reaches the fulled stage.  Including items such as stones and glass pebbles while you lay out your fibres can lead to all sorts of exciting surface possibilities which really enhance the finished felt.  Layering strips of silk, artifical fabrics and other fibres on the top layer provide additional depth whilst further embellishing with stitches and small glass seed beads once the felt is fulled add interest and movement to the finished felt.  On Friday 5th we will be using our imagination to create fun and stylish felt accessories with Lyda and learning all those finishing touches that go to make jewellery, scarves and other felt accessories so special.  This is a great workshop if you have never felted before, come along and leave with some beautiful completed pieces!  I will have wool, silk, glass nuggets and beads on hand and Lyda is bringing some of her gorgeous hand dyed silk with her.  If you have been looking at some fabric or beads in your stash and are looking for inspiration about how to include them in your felt look no further!  Bring everything along and if you have some glittery fabric or mesh bring it along too!!  The two day complex bag workshop on Saturday and Sunday will explore the art of creating strong and beautiful multi pocketed bags and backpacks.  If you are a beginner/improver and are worried that this workshop might be too advanced for you think again.  Felting one of these bags is more involved than creating a piece of flat felt (that’s why they are called complex bags!) but Lyda is a brilliant teacher and I have participated in one of her workshops where an almost total beginner left with a very beautiful and perfectly felted bag.  If you would like to attend either workshop places are booking up now, please contact me asap to reserve your place.

Now on to that tutorial for the simple felt slippers that I made (when waterless) to use up an old piece of felt in my stash.   This project is not designed to be complicated, just an easy way of utilising a well fulled rectangle of felt and an excellent way for a beginners workshop to leave with a lovely warm and comfortable pair of slippers at the end of the day.  You could paint the bottoms with Latex to make them more durable if you wanted, I get mine from Wollknoll.  Measurements are fluid but just remember to cut out your felt a couple of inches bigger that you think you need to allow for the stitching.  This is especially important with the width, I would have needed my piece of felt to be quite a bit bigger all round if I wanted the slippers to fit my own foot! 

Divide in thirds and cut like so

Divide your felt in thirds and cut as per the image.

Round ends and stitch to close

Round the ends and stitch to close.  Pinch the back together and stitch up, voila!  Your first slipper!!

Oops, just lost my internet connection but back again …. in case I lose it imemdiately you can check out my Flickr images for some more pictures of the slippers in progress, even for a bad stitcher such as me they only took about 5 mins from cutting to finishing!

Oops again, lost my electricity this time ….. Just a quick not of warning, check that you have flipper the felt over before stitching your second slipper otherwise you will end up with two right feet like me!

Images from Sculpture in Context and meeting with black bear!

Thanks so much to fellow ‘Sculpture in Context’ exhibitor Elaine Prunty for including my felt flowers among her favourites from the exhibition, you can check out some great images on this post from her blog.  Elaine is a very talanted glass artist and it is really interesting to go back through her blog and follow the progress of her ‘seven year old tree’ from conception to installation! 

Alan and I are just about to hit the road again having spent a couple of great days walking through some of the most amazing giant redwoods ever.  On Friday we met a black bear twice, he or she was calmly picking blackberries from the briars and only about 7m away from us, quite surreal!  We also have had great fun watching giant seals, sea lions and elk, the wildlife is absolutely fabulous in this part of the world.  This morning we are heading over the border to Grant’s Pass in Oregon and from there we will be travelling down to Lava Beds National Monument and then on to Lassen Valley Volcanic Park.  Hopefully I will be able to pick up a new camera somewhere along the way, at Sears I was told to check out K Mart as they might have the Panasonic Lumix model that I am on the lookout for.  On the fibre side of things my crochet journey continues, one of the books that I have picked up on my travels is ‘365 crochet stitches a year’ and at the moment I am experimenting with a shell pattern from October 20th and using the remainder of the silk/cotton/wool mix from Noro.  To be cont …..

Finishing the felt backpack

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.

Complex felt bag workshop continues

I know that you have already seen an image of my first sample but here is a close up so hopefully you will be able to follow what I am talking about! 

Close up of sample 1

Close up of sample 1Sample 2

Lyda had brought a great selection of glass nuggets with her for us to share (apparantly cheap and easy to get in Ikea, roll on July 27th when the first store opens in Ireland!) so I decided to felt in 4 different colours to see which would work best with my wool selection.  Just by matching the nuggets up beside the raw wool I thought the the green colour would be best but also incorporated black, clear and frosted green.  I also covered one of the nugets with green gauze before covering with more wool thinking that it could prove an interesting contrast in textures when the glass was exposed.  In the close up above you can see how much shinier and visable the green glass was compared to the frosted glass and indeed these were nothing like as good as the black, black was by far the best contrast with clear glass second!  The other thing of note in the close up is how the silk chiffon that I used on top of the merino was almost totally submerged into the top layer of wool, useless for the bag as you would not have had any idea it was there at all!  I also used gorgeous silk hankies and silk twists on the reverse of the piece but again these just blended into the background.  What did stand out brilliantly however were the strips of green gauze (bottom right of image), I had never incorporated gauze into my work before and it was a revelation so off I went back into the traders hall (had to ration myself here!!) to try and get some turquoise gauze.  Unfortunately they did not have it in this colour but luckily I found some gorgeous pongee silk in just the right shade of blue.  Although by this stage everyone else was well underway laying out the wool for their bags I made the decision to make a second sample in order to discover exactly how the pongee would look against the black, blue and green for my backpack. 

Sample 2

Sample 2

With this sample I laid out the wool a lot thinner than in my first piece (everyone else’s work was much thinner than mine in sample 1) so it felted quicker but Lyda said to stick with how I usually worked and to lay it as per my first sample.  I loved the effect of the pongee silk against the merino so with a happy heart started to lay out my backpack!  To be continued …..