Yesterday Rami completed two great sculptural shibori pieces, both were laid out and felted to the prefelt stage then tied and felted again until they were finished. I’d be happy to call either piece my own especially since one features my FAVOURITE colour combination (some might say obsession), light green and black!!!
A selection of Rami’s work to date
Today we concentrated on big boy toys. By this I primarily mean electric tools to help hasten the felting process or achieve specific end results easily, obviously we’ve been using the ‘niki & niki’ felting tools daily but I think that goes without saying by now. I really don’t have time to write up each method we used, thanks must definitely go though to Horst for sharing his method of felting using a combination of sander, washing machine and tumble dryer, check out Rami’s sample below to see the soft and tactile end result. We also tried out Horst’s way of utilising a plasterer’s float to felt cords and if you’re interested in the tumble dryer method for nuno felting large pieces ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ gives step by step instructions! At the moment there are a string of felt beads in the washing machine (another technique, pics later maybe) and I’ve got to rush to write up my submission to ‘Beauty in Nature’ and pack the relevant pieces to deliver to the Crafts Council tomorrow.
Soft and tactile attachments
Rami and I’ll be heading to Borris Market in the morning then visiting Philip at Cushendale Woollen Mill, Alex at Grennan Craft School and then going to Kilkenny where we’ll check out the National Craft Gallery, stroll around the grounds of Kilkenny Castle and in general have a browse and a bite to eat!
I got a bit sidetracked yesterday, having mentioned that I was going to felt 100s of attachments for a new wrap I decided instead to adapt and finish a Horst style jacket and matching bag! This jacket was another ‘blank’ which Horst was good enough to leave with me to do as I wished with, the second of 2 demo pieces from our workshop. I decided to keep things simple and wanted something that I would wear for everyday use in colder weather, this meant adding a couple of pockets, adjusting the collar to frame my face and decorating the pockets and framing the edges with black merino thereby adding some depth of colour. In addition I wanted to practice using Horst’s method of felting bags again, it’s not a method that I’m going to use for all my work but I do find the pebbly texture interesting, the layout very quick and I wanted to experiment with dying again and end up with a piece to compliment the jacket.
Bag prior to dying and jacket prior to dying and fulling
At this stage I think I have a confession to make, my name is Nicola and I am addicted to acid dying!!! OK, only half joking, but I can’t believe how Horst’s recent workshop has totally demystified the process and allowed me to just throw things into the pot and watch the magic occurring. I’m not scientific about it at all, not measuring the level of the water versus dye powder etc. (Jacquard acid dyes I bought with Heather at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last year) but for me this adds to the experience, instinctively I appear to be getting the result I am looking for so onwards and upwards! My only reservation about the dye pot yesterday is that although I used ‘olive’ as my deeper colour I didn’t think that the powder looked olive at all in the packet and it certainly wans’t olive when I added it to the dye bath, rather a nice deep rust colour, complimentary but not my original intention. Talking to experienced dyers I know that the powder doesn’t necessarily look like the resultant liquid but I do wonder if this was mispackaged??? I’m not a bit concerned however, I love the results, more pics over on Flickr!
My new HUGE dye bath is on the gas cooker, pot and cooker both purchased in advance of Horst’s large felt garment workshop and now taking pride of place in my kitchen for the last few days! I’m not 100% sure whether I like the nuno felt I was working on yesterday but I’ve decided to go ahead and dye it anyway. This morning I have made a new Horst style bag as well as adjusting and redesigning a long sleeveless jacket. These are both spinning at the moment and as soon as they are done I’ll take pictures prior to dying all the pieces and a couple more once I am happy with the colours achieved. I’m going to use up the last of the pumpkin/gold mixture from the other day and then add olive to the pot hopefully giving me nice graduation of colour. Fingers crossed …..
I’ve been to the library, discovered I’ve won some gorgeous hand spun from my buddy Heather, run a wash, stocked up on brown soda bread and milk as well as 100 dressmakers pins this morning (more in a minute) and now I’m ready for a FULL DAY felting and possibly dying too, woo hoo! I still need to catch up on emails, paperwork and many more other household tasks left over from the manic last weeks but for today that is it, no more procrastinating but rather creating and playing with fibre!!!
Nuno texture and merging colours
On Friday I shared with Gerda an experiment in nuno felting using a technique I hope to offer in workshops this Autumn. Basically it involves using a tumble dryer for some of the steps therefore meaning that anyone with physical limitations or a tendency to get tired rubbing and rolling will have this stage of the process either eliminated altogether or cut down to no more than ten minutes in total! Chrissie and I will be publishing a new book prior to Christmas (click here to check out a preview of our first book From Felt to Friendship if you are interested in what we have been up to so far) and this time concentrate on simple ideas for designing and felting your own clothing with a view to flattering your personal shape, not that ‘perfect’ shape we all aspire to but most of us never achieve!!!
Anyway, back to Friday and the nuno top I made. Working in white ponge silk and undyed 26 micron I laid out a front and back side of my top basing the design on a scaled up version of a favourite wardrobe staple. By using only white raw materials for the main layout area I was able to lay out the fibres really quickly, get on to the felting, piece my top together (thanks Gerda, you kept me sane, bought more much needed pins this morning!) and then have great fun dying using Horst’s wonderfully simple method of achieving graduating colours with no stress at all. Having the correct equipment now for my studio and working with Horst again over the course of our large felt garment workshop as well as observing friends Jan Durham, Dawn Edwards and Sharon Costello from The Tin Thimble in action during my US trip has given me the confidence to set up my dying station in the kitchen and just ‘get on with it’ myself.
My plan for the next few days is to felt and dye at least two pieces to be used for the fashion show at Felt in Focus next week, I leave for Copenhagen on Friday so I’m off now to get started!!! Thanks Cristina for house sitting while I will be away, Rex will be thrilled.
After Horst’s workshop Gerda had a few extra days to stay over in Ireland before flying home to South Africa on Sunday so I invited her to stay at Clasheen for a couple of days, boy did we have some fun felting and dying Horst style!!! It’s going to take me about a week to finally unwind after all the excitment of the last few weeks but for now check out the sleeveless vest I felted and dyed with gold and pumpkin acid dyes in my kitchen. It’s great to finally have a HUGE dye pot and the confidence to actually try some experiments out for myself! ‘Till tomorrow …..
I think that the faces say it all!!! Safe travelling to Horst, Gina and Kirsten, all heading for mainland Europe first thing tomorrow morning allowing me time to upload ALL the images of our amazing workshop!
Me, Lorraine, Horst, Tracy, Kirsten, Gerda, Natasha, Sigrid, Kirsten and Trisha!!! Ness and Niki completed the group but had to leave earlier.
So sorry not to be getting a minute to update you yet about all the wonderful designs in progress and about the fun and the inspiration abounding in Horst’s large felt garment workshop. Incredible work has been taking place but by the time we are getting home every night food and bed is the only option. My computer is in the area I put aside for Horst and Gina and I don’t want to disturb them at the crack of dawn but I promise a full update and pictures tomorrow as soon as the workshop is over and we all get a minute to catch our breaths!!!
It’s 12.30 at night and I have finally made Horst and Gina’s beds, Kirsten’s will just have to wait until tomorrow evening! I still have about another hour of organising/tidying to go but I must say that Dawn’s ultimate method of shoving everything into a closet or chest of drawers when you run out of time is getting more appealing by the minute, my only problem is that I don’t have enough storage to hold everything, pity, hmm!!!!!
I did get to have a lovely lunch and chat with Cristina earlier in the day (lunchtime I think but the hours are now blurring into one) and then had a surprise phone call from the wonderful Australian felter Pam de Groot. Would you believe that Pam was at Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh at the same time that Cristina and I were sorting out a lot of the logistics for Horst’s workshop? We did manage to meet for a coffee and a chat however in Kilkenny and discovered that we are both booked in for Lisa Klakulak’s workshop at Felt in Focus!!!
WOW, it’s all go here trying to get everything organised for Horst’s workshop next weekend, big dye pots, cooker, sanders, plastic, tables, you name it and I’m trying to track it down!!! Cristina is being great as usual and I am heading over to the studio on Tuesday to deliver the wool and equipment needed, go through the daily menus and make sure we have as much as possible sorted before I pick up Horst and Gina on Wednesday. Sigrid (Germany), Gerda (Portugal) and Kirsten (Denmark) are all arriving at various stages on Wednesday too so it is going to be pretty hectic if I don’t get myself into gear and sort out my house pdq! Off now for another bout of tidying ….. I’ll leave you with a picture of Horst’s garments from last week’s Sheep and Wool Festival in Kilkenny.
Horst's wonderful garments caused a big stir in Kilkenny!