Yesterday morning I drove Lyda back to the airport and after a quick call to Ikea, McDonalds (a girl’s got to have some junk food ocassionally doesn’t she??) and the library in Carlow I returned home to Clasheen ready for a hot bath and bed. I am physically tired but mentally exhilarated after our weekend workshops and I am so looking forward to getting silly household chores out of the way so that I can start laying out some samples for my newest felt project. I still have to finish fulling my complex felt sculpture but that is on hold for a couple of days until I get the house tidied and the well (STILL no water of my own) back in proper working order. Now on to the ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop with Lyda on Friday.
We started the morning oohing and aahing over some of Lyda’s beautiful scarves and inventive felt jewellery. These fun pieces of jewellery gave us the freedom to discover how different colours, fibres and fabrics combined together without the stress of laying out a bigger project and it was very satisfying to have a gorgeous felt accessory at the end of each experiment!
Gold threaded fabric, turquoise beads and felt necklace strung on rubber cord
Lyda encouraged us to incorporate artifical fabrics into our layout and these had some amazing results in the finished felt, you either loved each piece or you hated it, no middle ground! During the morning I suddenly remembered that I had a large artificial fabric wrap donated to me by a friend to repurpose and the metallic weaving combined with black was perfect to cut up into pieces to see what the result would be if it were felted into a background of short fibred merino. As you can see from the picture on the left it formed a good bond with the wool fibres and crinkled nicely during the felting process! I thought it was interesting the way the mixed fibres in the weave affected the finished shape. My lay out of wool and fabric for this piece was square but as I felted them together they shrank very much more in one way than the other. This ended up as an interesting twisted rectangle shape which I further embellished with turquoise stones and strung on a black rubber tube. My brief to myself over the weekend was to try our new things, to stitch or bead some work and to complete some projects and not leave them on the long finger for finishing later, whether you like this piece or not it is finished and it is beaded!
Argh, I am so annoyed and frustrated because when I uploaded this post for some reason the second half of my writing and the image to accompany it was deleted. I don’t know what actually happened and unfortunately I have to rush to the bank so don’t have time to write any more right at this minute. I will however leave you for the second time, this time with a picture of my merino, stone, fabric and bead pendant minus the longer and more instructive description!
I am delighted to announce that Lyda Rump will be facilitating two seperate felting workshops here at Clasheen next February! Lyda is a fantastic textile artist who is gifted at passing on her experience. You may remember that I attended a brilliant workshop of hers at Felt in Focus last July where I learnt a lot about creating complex felt bags and ended up making a funky felt backpack.
Lyda with one of her large felt bags
During the two day workshop Lyda shared many of her interesting bag designs with us utilising multiple resists and we also learnt simple techniques for incorporating and positioning inclusions such as glass beads accurately within out felt. Lyda loves including items from a treasure trove of silk, fibre, fabric and artificial glittery mesh into her bags and recently has been experimenting with new designs incorporating knitted or crocheted sections into the shoulder area. These newly designed bags remove a lot of the weight from the straps making them extremely well balanced and comfortable for anyone unable to carry heavy weights. When I tried on one of them in Denmark I was absolutely amazed at how light the bag felt, it was almost like wearing an item of clothing and not like carrying a heavy bag at all! Lyda has also recently designed a ‘scarf/sling’ as a stylish and wearable accessory for anyone recovering from various surgeries or needing a little extra support for their arm/upper body area, a totally neat idea. I also fell in love with different pieces of felt jewellery that Lyda had with her, especially a silk and felt necklace that Suzanne, one of the Irish contingent snapped up as soon as she saw it!
Our first workshop ‘Felt Accessories’ will take place on Friday 5th February and the second, ”Complex Felt Bags or Backpacks’ will take place over two days, Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February. These workshops are a brilliant opportunity to learn and have fun with a truly gifted tutor. To provisionally reserve your place please email me as soon as possible with your preference (full details will go up online over the next week or two), I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the experience!
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 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.
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 …..
After a great breakfast and a morning assembly all the participants in Lyda Rump’s complex bag workshop met in our classroom. We oohed and aahed over the amazing bags that Lyda had brought to show us (check out some of them here in her gallery) and discussed how it is possible to make a felt soft to the touch but strong and hardwearing. For most of her bags Lyda uses an inner layer of a strong wool (such as C1) sandwiched between two layers of merino. Each of the layers is weighed out meticulously, for mine the body of my backpack weighed 97g per layer and there was extra wool for the straps, inner pocket and the dreadlocks. We looked at all the design merits of the various bags, inner and outer pockets play a big part as do double bags reminescent of saddle bags. Lyda is also experimenting a lot with incorporating knitting (or crochet) into her bags. This makes them more like a wearable piece of clothing and reduces the pressure on your shoulder if you use the knitting like a sleeve that the body of the bag is attached to, very funky and individual, check out the orange coloured bag at the bottom of gallery 1. After we had a look through some of Lyda’s sample books and images from other bag workshops everyone went into the trader’s hall to investigate what wool was available for purchase suited for the inside of our bags. I choose Norwegian C1 wool from Ullform and selected colours that would match or complement the Filzrausch short fibred merino that I had brought with me to make my bag with, this was to match a long scarf that I had made the night before I had left for Denmark.
My long merino and silk scarf
My idea was to have the main body black and use subtle blends of turquoise and green wool, silk, gauze and glass to add texture and interest. Lyda always gets her students to make a sample first, this enables her to see how people usually felt and allows them to try out colour combinations, new wool and new techniqes.
My first felt sample
Here is my first sample, check back again for my next post where I go through the pros and cons of this piece!