Houston eco printing workshop in pictures and Portugal calling!

Apologies for the delay in posting pictures from Houston TX, my U.S. trip to date has been a whirlwind of activity and I don't want to miss one second of the fun! Thanks Barbara and Ed for another wonderful visit, I really enjoyed myself and loved spending time with four legged friends Maggie and Lucy too.

Our one day intensive eco printing workshop was really productive, a lovely group of ladies and some super results from the printing pot. Below are a selection of pictures of participant's work, it's only a small representation of what was achieved on the day but it's impossible to post everything and when I'm working it's also difficult to take as many shots as I'd like. All the rest of my U.S. workshops are sold out but if you'd like to join me for a fantastic residential week or two of felting and eco printing in Portugal now is the time to contact Karin and grab one of the last remaining places. Non felting partners are welcome too!

Next post, Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival update.

 

 

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A picture rich blog post from Kentucky!

I've been having a wonderful time as usual with Jan, Bruce and Kevin in Lexington, Kentucky! This is going to be another picture rich blog post, there are just not enough hours in any one day to document the fun I'm having both facilitating workshops and spending time with friends. Participants at the wonderful Kentucky Sheep and Fiber festival workshops last weekend felted super flowers, clutch bags and landscapes, all of these were created using gorgeous hand dyed alpaca and amazing embellishing fibres sponsored by Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions. Everyone was really amazed to handle and have the opportunity to sample a new fibre, it's lustrous looking and behaves a little like silk, the components are fibre from rose stems and ground pearl dust from the pearl industry!!! Anyway, here are some photos of what has been happening in this neck of the woods to date, on Friday and Saturday I'll be facilitating my final two day workshop, felting on day one and natural printing on day two.

Thanks Leedra for forwarding on a picture of your dry felt, the button your husband made is perfect with these colours!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Beautiful felt flowers!

I love this picture taken after my workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber festival today, check out the beautiful smiles and fab felt flowers. We started our first flower just using short fibre merino but adding plenty of bamboo for embellishment, the second flowers included a stem, silk, bamboo and loads of lovely alpaca locks from generous sposnors Alpaca Fiber Solutions! I'm heding for an early night now, well done with the flowers ladies, I look forward to seeing some of you again next weekend.

 

Michigan and Kentucky workshop updates plus a beginners and improvers day at Duckett’s Grove next Saturday!

I’ve been so mentally tired after my exciting days at the Gaelscoil working with the pupils on our large felt wall hanging that I have to admit I’d totally forgotten to post full details about my upcoming MI and KY workshops here on the blog, stupid. In fact I thought that I’d already done so, even stupider!!! I’m so excited about my whole trip back to the US, I actually think that I get more and more excited each visit as I just LOVE spending time with such great friends, facilitating the workshops and meeting new fibre fanatics just adds to the excitement! The workshop page is now updated to include the full ‘Wrapped in Nature’ description for both the MI and KY workshops, links to my Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival classes (I need to alter a couple of details plus my bio via the organisers but the basics are correct!) and information about next weekends flat felting and bag making session at Duckett’s Grove. This coming week I promise to tie down the full details about my Loomis workshops at The Tin Thimble (watch out Emma and Sharon!) but in this post today I’m going to concentrate on both my regular MI and KY venues.

I’m thrilled to be returning to both Plainwell and Lexington and want to say thanks a million times to the fabulous Dawn Edwards and Jan Durham for being such good friends and wonderful hosts!!! I’m so looking forward to catching up with returning participants and meeting new felters in MI and KY, one of the biggest joys of these trips is the opportunity to meet and make friends with blog readers and Facebook buddies, it’s just amazing how the internet allows us connect in the first place. This will be the first time that I facilitate my new workshop ‘Wrapped in Nature – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape’. It’s hard for me to express how inspiring it is to live surrounded by the beauty of the rural Irish landscape, I only have to look outside my windows at Clasheen to find my fingers itching to create and when I travel overseas my senses just seem to go on full-time overload!!!

Inspiring views above Berea!

Inspiring views above Berea!

It’s actually been very difficult this year to confine myself to short workshop descriptions, I don’t want to miss a technique out that participants may want to try but on the other hand I don’t want the descriptions to be so vague that no one knows what I’m talking about either! I think that maybe the best thing to do is post the full workshop description here as well as on the workshop page and then I’m happy to answer any questions about individual projects if you’d like to send them my way via email.

‘Wrapped in Nature’ – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape

Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage
Age Level: Adult although younger students welcome by arrangement

Class Description: During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative piece of felt using the natural landscape as a starting point. Some participants may choose to felt a purely decorative art piece such as a large vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may take the opportunity to work on a nuno felt wrap, vest, complex bag or jewellery.

Over the course of the two days there will be time to explore and discover techniques or materials that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will share with participants how she has been experimenting with natural printing on silk, felt and occasionally prefelt over the last year. This simple dyeing/printing process uses a selection of readily acquired onion skins, leaves (especially eucalyptus), tea leaves and rusty metal, wonderful patterns and colours may be achieved on fabric. Nicola has also been experimenting with using open-topped resists for vessel making and some of her bags since participating in a masterclass with Dagmar Binder last summer. The finish is very smooth on the open edges and this method opens up the possibilities for creating different shapes much easily than with the more often used closed resist method. Another technique that may be relatively new to participants is the tumble dryer method of nuno felting. This technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and eliminates all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues! We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two.

Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art!

 NB: Participants who are not able to attend on both days may possibly book one day by prior arrangement although the projects they complete will not be as large or complex as those created over both days of the workshop.

 

Yummy alpaca and embellishing fibres!!!

Check out this yummy box of fibre I received from Roo Kline this week complete with beautiful handmade shawl pin!!! Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions are the amazing sponsors for my nuno felt neckpiece workshop at this years' Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, we are going to have a ball!

I can't wait to dive in but I so want to felt something special with this, I'll be bringing the samples along with me to all my upcoming US workshops.

Alpaca of this quality is a total pleasure to work with, it's not a fibre easily accessed here but once you know a good supplier…..keep them!

On the everyday side of things my current project is coming along really nicely at the Gaelscoil in Carlow, to date I've worked with 300 pupils and by next Monday afternoon another 150 will have had their first experience felting! As a result I've not actually done a lot of felting at home myself over the last two weeks as my fingers are all wrinkled by the time I leave Carlow and my back's aching, I've been trying out a few polymer clay ideas instead. Thanks Elaine (editor of the polymer clay section at Craft Gossip) for linking to the post I wrote recently about my first 'official' necklace, it's always nice to get a thumbs up. I'll be facilitating a felt flower workshop at Duckett's Grove on Saturday so I plan on felting quite a few flowers and other small items then! I'll leave you with a link to a picture of a flower head piece that Mary felted this week (Mary was one of my super students at the VEC recently), I think that it's gorgeous.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=425275637551011&set=a.114109508667627.19391.100002057342575&type=1&theater

 

 

 

 

 

Alpaca nuno felt neckpiece

Since meeting Roo Kline of Moonwood Farm at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival last May I’ve often meant to work with the fabulous samples of alpaca fibre she gave me, I never seemed to find the right moment however as 2012 just seemed to be so crazy and I wanted time to think of something nice that I would felt for myself! I often took the bag of lusciously soft alpaca out of my special stash box but until today when I also pulled out some deep purple ponge silk from another box at almost the same time I couldn’t make my mind up what to make.

Luscious hand dyed alpaca locks and shimmery firestar laid out on top of rich purple ponge silk

Anyway, suddenly the hot oranges and purply pinks of the alpaca called out to the rich purple silk, immediately I decided to felt a small neckpiece and couldn’t be happier with the result. Susan McFarland of Susan’s Fiber Shop gave me a gift of some glittery bits at the festival too, amazingly the colours matched the alpaca perfectly so this really is a Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival neckpiece!

The pic below will give you an idea of what the finished neckpiece is like, I couldn’t get a great shot however because the light was fading and the wind was rising. I’ll be teaching nuno felting at the festival this year so if you’re interested in felting something similar why not come along and join me? Next week I’ll felt a simple closure and include a beautiful large glass bead made my Toni Lutman in CA, I didn’t take a pic of the bead yet but the colours just sing against the purple and orangy gold.

Alpaca, firestar and ponge silk neckpiece

U.S. flights booked, residential workshop in Portugal filling up nicely, felting tools posted, Dawn’s materials have arrived and CRAFTed is underway!

It’s very busy here this week and will be until Dawn Edwards and Chrissie Day arrive so I’m going to post briefly with bullet points today!

  • I’ve just confirmed my flights a few minutes ago for my U.S. trip in May. I can’t wait to be back facilitating workshops in Lexington KY with Jan Durham on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May, at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival on Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th May and in Plainwell MI with Dawn Edwards on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May. Visit the workshop page for all the details.
  • Karin and I now have participants from the U.S., Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Iceland arriving to participate in the week long felting extravaganza in Portugal so there are only a few places left now! Here’s a link to the flyer with all the details. Flyer Felt workshop
  • Niki has personalised where requested and packed our first batch of felting tools and they are now en route to their new owners, thanks Rem (Niki’s husband) for bringing them to the post office yesterday. This first flush of orders came from Ireland, England, Austraila, right across the U.S. and Canada, wow!!!
  • While our ‘niki & niki’ tools went out in the post yesterday other felting materials came in by courier! I had placed an order with Wollknoll recently so the merino roving for Dawn’s two ‘Fantastic Felt Hats’ workshops in Borris on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd April has now arrived as has the short fibre merino I need to bring with me to U.S., wool that I ordered for my current CRAFTed project came too and lastly I got some more ponge silk in chocolate brown for myself. I need this to nuno felt some more scarves for the new retail outlet which is opening shortly at Duckett’s Grove.
  • My collaboration with students at Rathnure NS for CRAFTed for the Crafts Council has changed shape somewhat. I was meant to have 26 six and seven year olds to work with but the school principal didn’t want one class to be split up so now I’m working with 35 pupils!!! It’s a very big group of little bodies, I think that Taragh (their teacher), Mary (a wonderful helper) and I will have our work cut out for us but it’s definitely going to be fun in the process! I’ll leave you with a picture from our first session last Wednesday, the pupils had never felted or handled wool before so were amazed at how it came together to form a strong fabric. These first pieces were all laid out on needlefelt; the children choose a couple of colours of wool to lay on top of the needlefelt, then added shapes of mohair off cuts and/or metallic fabric, some added swirls of natural and artificial knitting yarn and then all but one child added a generous sprinkling of shiny firestar!

Some of the first pieces of flat felt from senior infants and first class at Rathnure NS