No rest for the wicked….. felters, jewellers and painters that is!

Emma, Leiko and I have had an active and fun day for the start of the Mount Juliet Christmas Village experience! It’s another early morning tomorrow as I need to finish setting out my wares at Duckett’s Grove, we’re expecting over 7000 for the annual craft fair based on last year’s numbers. It’s been cold but not freezing here all day, I’m glad though that I brought my felted fleeces to sit on, they make for a much warmer experience whenever we get a chance to sit!

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New felt jewellery designs

I’ve been taking some time both last weekend and this to work on new (to me) jewellery designs while I’ve been in the studio at Duckett’s Grove. Almost by happy accident I came up with an idea for a flower bolo, already two of these have sold so I think this is a step in the right direction. I’ve also felted two bangles and four rings in strong modern shapes yesterday and today, these are in strong sharp colours with clear defining lines where the colours meet, no blending of shades. Finally I felted some flowers with stylised petals, some for brooches the rest for the bolos and the smallest for rings. I’m going to try uploading a couple of pics in a minute, this new WordPress app is proving a godsend since I’ve been away from the computer almost all of the past week.

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A few pictures of my samples and Horst visit update!

Unfortunately I was so engrossed in trying out different techniques that I don’t have images of any actual finished items to share with you from the weekend jewellery making workshop, I don’t really have any finished items!  OK, to be strictly truthful I do have one paper yarn ‘nest’ which I completed and it is now hanging from a tree but it’s not my favourite piece so I’m not showing it, sorry!  Here however are a couple of pictures of two pieces I am happy with, the jewellery back is probably my favourite individual item but Angela did have to help me finish it!!!  The other point to note is that while I don’t like my own paper yarn ‘nest’ I do see the potential of the technique, more to follow when I return from US, I have plans for a ring and some other items using this as a starting point.  Now for the pics …..

Paper yarn and felt brooch with stainless steel brooch back

Fake gold leaf gilding on merino felt

McSweeney media have sent out extensive coverage to the press this morning of my participation at the Irish and International Sheep and Wool Festival including a big write up about Horst’s upcoming trip to Clasheen and the first ever display of his couture garments outside the US!!!  There are three spaces that still need to be confirmed for his ‘Large Felt Garment’ workshop which we will be facilitating together from 17th to 19th June at The Studio in Bennetsbridge, Co. Kilkenny.  If you have been waiting until the last minute to either confirm your booking for Horst’s workshop or make a descision now is the moment, everything needs to be totally finished and all monies collected before I head off to California at the beginning of May!  Please email me asap if you have any questions or forward me on the balance of your course fee if you have not already done so, thanks to all of you who already have.  Martin and Jill, owners of The Studio have kindly offered excellent B & B accomodation on site and I have emailed all actual and potential participants with the details.  In case I have missed anyone out please let me know if you never got the message, with all my recent computer woes I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have made a couple of errors!

New ideas learnt at the weekend jewellery making workshop I attended!

This weekend I was really lucky to be able to participate in an Angela O’Kelly jewellery workshop organised by the committe of Feltmakers Ireland, it was wonderful!

Colourful and tactile bracelet formed from fabric paper, paper, plastic, felt

Angela is great fun and such an inspirational jewellery designer, I’ve stolen an image from her website to give you an idea of the designs she explores but head on over there to check out some of her amazing textile, fibre, semi and precious metal pieces, just beautiful.  Obviously it’s not going to be possible to give you a blow by blow account here of all the techniques we covered, there were many!  Instead I’m going to share with you the most important lessons I took away from the weekend so here goes ……

  • How to make some of your own jewellery findings
  • A simple way of making a stiff ‘nest’ from yarn and glue which can then be used as a starting point for further embellishment
  • The beauty and versatility of paper yarn
  • How to ‘spin’ your own paper yarn
  • How to work with gold and silver leaf

….. and the most important thing I learnt and really must try hard to remember, I need to use felt as the starting point of a design sometimes and not as the end point!

Gathering the fibres …..

The next task was to narrow down my fibre choices and decide which colours would best compliment the scarf I had chosen to work with. 

Starting to select fibres and colours

The picture on the left shows my initial collection of fibres laid out surrounding the scarf, hand dyed gold silk, a 90% grey/10% pink alpaca combination, creamy/white undyed merino, baby blue merino, sunflower yellow merino some embroidery silks of my grandmothers peeking out at the bottom right and some beautiful merino and silk combinations at the bottom left.  I didn’t get a picture of the silver dyed linen fibres but they were a perfect match to tie in with the blue/grey and baby blue silk of the scarf.  Eventually I decided to keep things ultra simple and let the colours of the silk sing out against a natural white merino and use a little of the silver linen for additional surface detail.    

Once I had narrowed everything down to the bare essentials I cut my template from 1mm plastic echoing the shape of the jewellery pouch and making sure that it was large enough to allow me lay the biggest flower motif against the template without cutting into the design.  I did sketch the provisional layout of the silk pieces but decided to give myself some freedom as I laid out the bag and go with the flow if necessary, what’s new!  To start with I placed the largest piece of silk right side down on the template and then started to lay out my merino.  I wanted this piece of silk to be a beautiful surprise on the inside of the bag and needed it to be oversized for the impact I wanted to create.  At this stage of the day I was beginning to realise that I might not have enough time to get everything laid out fully, we had to exit the building at 5pm and were to bring our pieces with us to a different venue for the morning of day 2, panic!!!  Once the first layer of merino was in position around both sides of the resist I laid out some more pieces of silk fabric and covered them with a layer of plastic resist.  One of these resists I covered with baby blue merino before laying another resist on top.  My idea for this stemmed from a  beautiful large chunk of blue lace agate that my grandmother often wore and all us girls envied.  It wasn’t her most precious piece of jewellery by any means but the one we all wanted to touch and get an opportunity to wear as children, we just loved the lacy lines in shades of light blue and grey!  I wanted to expose both the blue merino and the silk underneath as two seperate layers, maybe I am not explaining this well but you will see what I mean when I post the final pictures.  By the end of the afternoon I had covered the resist with several layers of merino and was ready to bring it home with me to lay out the surface decoration later that evening.  More tomorrow ……..

Combining felt and ribbons, felt Christmas presents and catching up with emails

During the summer I received two balls of a ribbon yarn during one of the Ravelry swaps that I participate in.  As I understand it these would normally be used as quirky additions when knitting, crocheting or weaving but for me they make the perfect yarn to use when stringing fun felt necklaces!  The ribbon that I have is approx 1cm wide and space dyed in hot orange, yellow, pink, red and blue.  This makes it the ideal cord for stringing simple felt beads in a mixture of these colours, the necklaces are fun, light (as well as light hearted!) and look good with pretty much anything you throw them on with.  This morning I just need to finish making a couple of these (hope to take some pictures later) and then I am off to deliver some jewellery and scarves to Earthworks in Thomastown.  

Tomorrow morning I have another felting workshop here at Clasheen and then in the afternoon I intend making my sister Suzanne’s Christmas present!  She has a nice little antique table in her hall and is looking for a simple runner to put on the top as a protection for the phone, keys and accumulated clutter that always seem to gravitate to this spot.  Over the weekend I need to reassess all my other present giving requirements too and make a list of what gifts I need to felt or crochet, these will be worked on starting from next Monday. 

My last major task before the middle of next week is to plough through all my emails and written correspondence that have been accumulating over the last couple of weeks.  With the arrival of my trees and being initiated as the new Lady Captain of Borris Golf Club things have really been slack in the paperwork (and virtual paperwork!) department as there have just not been enough hours in the day to get through everything that needed to be done.

Felt flowers and felting kits

This morning I had put time aside to take photos of my new felting kits and put them up on Etsy.  I am SOOOO frustrated as I write because now that I have found my camera I can’t find it’s charging station so uploading them will have to wait until Sunday or Monday when I can borrow Alan’s camera again.  As a result I have spent the latter half of the morning making a selection of felt flowers which are now drying on the Rayburn (range).  After lunch I am going to settle down and add beads, buttons and brooch backs, whatever grabs my fancy for each individual flower.  You know how difficult I find it to do the small sewing projects that finish a piece, wish me luck because I know it will be very easy to get distracted by another more ‘urgent’ felting piece and I really do want to get these flowers finished and ready to go!

Making felt jewellery is really fun, doesn’t take a lot of materials and is a great way to experiment with colour combinations that you otherwise mightn’t use.  Tomorrow I am teaching the felting section of the ‘Pick up your Kneedles’ series of workshops, this is in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, a gorgeous rural part of the country.  Possibly we will make jewellery at the workshop or maybe participants will want to make some flat felt or a small vessel.  To date several of the participants have attended each workshop and their skills have been progressing very well, each time is a mixed bag of experience but whatever we make we will definitely have fun!