Lovely memories from the KSFF!

I'm a bit bogged down with paperwork and emails this week, submissions to complete for both the Glucksman Gallery (done) and Creative Island for the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (coming along) mean a lot of time spent in front of the computer. It was a welcome surprise to find this lovely picture in my inbox this morning, thanks Roo from Moonwood Farm for your great photography skills. Here are my fabulous students from day two at the Alpaca Fiber Solution stand (generous sponsors of the materials for my Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival workshops) showcasing the gorgeous alpaca clutch bags they felted, lovely memories!!! For those in the know, with the progression of their respective businesses Roo and Elizabeth are now working individually, Roo's yummy fibre is available from her Artfire store and Elizabeth's from her Etsy store!

 

 

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!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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.

 

My Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival workshops 2013

I accidentally deleted the previous post as I was just about to publish so forgive me now if I'm brief.

On Saturday 18th May I'll be facilitating a full day nuno scarf/neckpiece workshop at the KSFF and on Sunday 19th a half day fun felt flower class, two classes if we get enough sign ups over the next couple of months! Roo Kline from Moonwood Farm is sponsoring the yummy hand dyed alpaca and delicious embellishing fibres we'll be using for the nuno felt workshop and I'll be bringing some of my favourite short fibre merino from Ireland as well as a selection of different fabrics for participants to choose from. Thanks to Roo's very generous sponsorship this class will only cost $100 per participant including all fibre, fabric and embellishing materials, thanks Roo!!!.

The short fibre merino I'm bringing with me is also what we'll be working with for the flowers on Sunday, here's a picture of some which were completed during the 2012 classes, so stunning and colourful. The price for the flower workshop is $30 per person plus $10 for the materials, participants can expect to make 3 flowers each during the class!

 

Keep an eye out on the KSFF website as booking for all their great classes should be possible shortly, as soon as I know that it's live there I'll post a link here on my workshop page.

 

U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse