Suzanne’s felt rug is finished, here are some pictures and a brief explaination!

I’ve just don’t have enough time in the day to write a detailed post about how I felted my sister Suzanne’s rug but hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of what the finished rug is like, I LOVE the fact that it is reversible! I did upload more pics of the work in progress to FB if you are interested, thanks everyone for your positive comments as I progressed throughout the afternoon.

Starting size 1m x 2m (39.37″ x 78.74″) – I laid the design out in merino on top of a fine wool and cotton fabric base prepared at Mehmet Girgic’s studio in Turkey.

Design laid in merino wool on top of a base prepared at Mehmet Girgic's studio in Turkey

Note the areas where I have left uncovered, these will become textured white parts in the finished design, again I have uploaded a detailed picture to FB. Mehmet makes the bases from approx 6 fine layers of undyed wool covered with a sheet of tightly woven cotton muslin. This is wet out and stamped until the wool fibre is starting to penetrate the fabric but no shrinkage has occured. I bought quite a bit of this base material from him several years ago and this was a piece left in my stash.

Working the reverse of the rug with my new fulling roller and stretching the edges with a pliers

Niki Collier and I will be selling beautiful hand made fulling tools to our own designs shortly, the grooved roller that I used in the final stages of this rug is one of them and it worked wonderfully to spot full and even up the edges. I also pulled with a pliers to stretch a bit where necessary, these ones are just jewellery pliers that I picked up in Aldi for a song! Pin It

The last picture I’m sharing today is one of the finished rug. In actual fact the rug is fully reversible and if you head on over to FB you can see the reverse side, I love the subtlety of the design blending with the natural wool on the back. For those of you with a mathamatical bent the lay out size was 100cm X 200cm and the end size 72cm X 140cm. Using an online percentage calculator this means that the rug shrunk 28% widthways and 30% lengthways, I did work it slightly more in the lengthwise direction as I wanted to get the best shape and size possible for Suzanne!

 

Suzanne's new felt rug!


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Large felt rug, an excercise in logistics

The large felt rug that I am in the process of making is an interesting if challenging excercise in logistics! 

Adding some wool over the stitched centre line

Adding the border

From the samples that I did I worked out that my initial layout would need to be over 3m by over 2m and eventually decided to stitch two long lengths of rug base together (prepared in master Turkish rug maker Mehmet Girgic’s studio) and lay the design on top.  I also decided to try and work initially on my three large tables moving and folding the rug to accomodate the place I was working on at any given time.  This meant that my back would not be under as much pressure as if I were working on the floor but laying out and getting the design to the rolling stage has taken almost two weeks by now. 

Working by hand

 

Apologies for the lask of words but all my energies are taken up by rolling at the moment!  More pictures of the rug in progress tomorrow ………

Scrambled brain ………

So many ideas, thoughts, impressions, happenings, exhibitions, commissions (promise to felt your sleeveless top tomorrow Patricia, just getting new bubble wrap this afternoon for the job), meetings etc. at the moment and although my brain is not actually scrambled I just can’t seem to write quickly enough to document everything as I would like to.  Apologies yet again for all those unsent emails over the weekend, I have just been totally tied up with American visitors and catching up with jobs delayed last week because of the golf matches that I absloutely had to attend in my position as Lady Captain.  Unfortunately for the golf club (but fortunately from my work perspective!) the club got knocked out of everything we played in last week so I am looking forward to a slightly quiter time on that side of things, now I hope to have time to finish some felt as I really need to earn some money quickly!! 

Jacob's fleece with Mehmet's rug base and Icelandic wool

A few pictures from my scrambled weekend …….

Raw unscoured Jacob’s fleece which I combined with Icelandic wool and a rug base (base prepared at Mehmet Girgic’s workshop in Turkey) to be sewn into a new laptop case/satchel for me!

Wool and mohair 'yarn', a by-product of the weaving process at Cushendale Woolen Mills

Funky ‘yarn’ picked up at Cushendale Woolen Mills over the weekend, the mohair on the right is now knitted into one of my new style crazy cowls and is available for sale throught Clasheen Uncut!  I am delighted to have found a fun project that I can work on in the evenings when taking a break from felting and fulling and hope to build a collection of funky knitted cowls as a simple way of supplementing my felting income.

Chair pad incorporating Icelandic wool, rug base and strips of woven waste

This week is going to be a busy felting week once I get awful paperwork and bank stuff out of the way today.  Tomorrow I am going to be spending all day felting a sleeveless jacket for a client in the States and on Wednesday one of my closest relations arrives in the morning to discuss a rug which I will be felting her as a comission, exciting times ahead!  This seat pad is a small experiment to see how much clarity is lost in the blue shades of Icelandic wool when combined with a natural white rug base from Mehmet and I also included some strips of the woven waste picked up at Cushendale just for the heck of it.

Don’t forget you need to get your entries off pdq to Chrissie if you want to enter her Waterfall jacket competition and if you are thinking of subscribing to a new felting magazing why not give the Australian publication ‘Felt’ a go?  Talking of things from the other side of the world I recommend keeping an eye on the Convergence blog to really get you in the festive mood!

Finishing the felt backpack

I decided not to attend the optional evening talk which was organised on day one of Lyda Rump’s workshop as I really wanted to get started laying out my backpack.  The resist had been cut out of laminate floor underlay as usual and I started by rolling the handle and also the dreadlocks to attach to the bottom of the bag and to use as a closure.  The ends of the handle and the dreadlocks were left dry so as to make it easier for them to felt into the middle of the bag when I added them at layer two.  It took me 40 minutes of pondering before I realised how to go about laying out my inside pocket and then I laid out one layer of the bag as well before calling it a night.  At breakfast the next morning fellow Irish felter Maureen Cromer pointed out that the way I had positioned the pocket was not how Lyda had explained the day before so so much for all my efforts that evening!  I had a word with Lyda at the beginning of day two and although my way would have worked I decided to start again as I really wanted to learn the simplest and most efficient method, that was why I was there!!  Lyda places the bag template on the working surface, covers it with the bubble wrap, lays the full 3 layers of the pocket, positions the pocket resist on top of it, lays the first layer of the back of the bag and then removes the resist from under the bubble wrap and places it on top of the layer of wool.  Then she folds over the wool around the edge of the resist and lays out the first layer on the other side of the bag.  Try it with a piece of paper on your table, it works and is a simple way of positioning the pocket in the correct place internally.  The glass nuggets and the bag straps were lightly needled in after layer 2 (this was C1 wool) and then the final layer of merino with it’s silk and gauze surface decoration was laid.  To skip to the completion of the bag, I rolled, re-wet with hot water, rolled and rolled again to fully finish the felting process and ensure that the backpack was as tough and rugged as possible without loosing the integrity of the beautiful merino, silk and gauze finish.  When I was sure that the package was shrinking and holding together as per usual I cut out the resist and at the very end I cut a tiny cross on top of the glass nuggets and then worked the area with my fingernail to widen the opening and expose the glass.  The final technique was to shave the surface of the bag like Mehmet Girgic does with his rugs and this leaves a beautiful finish allowing all the fabrics, fibres and glass to be shown to the best advantage.  Because I really worked hard on fulling my backpack the finished bag has handles that actually have shrunk more than I intended.  As I am tall the bag now sits very high on my back so for the moment I am wearing it as a shoulder bag until I make extension loops to add to the ends of the straps!  Holly Angle took some good quality photos of the bag so as soon as I get them via email I will post them here and to Flickr.

Still recovering from frenetic felting sessions!

Design laid out and ready to fill in on our wall hanging

Design laid out and ready to fill in on our wall hanging

Gosh, we had some action packed sessions in Drumlea this week!  I am still recovering and expect it is going to take a couple more days before I fully recharge!!  Our game plan had been to divide the pupils up into 3 different groups, one to start work on the collaborative wall hanging, the second to make vessels and the third to work on felt balls.  The idea behind this was that I would never cope with all 26 pupils working on their first 3-d project at the same time and obviously we needed to get working on the wall hanging or else we would never get it finished!  Well the vessels went very well, so did the balls but we nearly had a mutiny about the subject matter for the wall hanging.  At the beginning of the session we had taken the top 5 suggestions from everybody, I wrote them down on a sheet of paper and then every pupil voted for their favourite 3 items.  Problems, problems, problems.  I had already explained that in order for the design to stand out when felted in the landscape format that the pupils preferred (taking account of how much the base we were using would shrink) I only wanted to incorporate the top 4 items from the wish list.  In order of preference these were the name Drumlea, the school crest, a football and in joint fourth place either a sun or a rainbow.  Discussion ensued about how we would make our descision and it was agreed by the pupils that everyone’s name would go into a hat, one name would be drawn out and that this pupil could choose the final item to be depicted on the wall hanging.  The name was drawn, the pupil was choosen and he in turn choose the rainbow (or was it the sun), mayhem ensued!  The pupils who were actually meant to start laying out the design didn’t want the rainbow (or sun) and pretty much stuck in their heels.  Eventually after a lot of discussion I showed them how we could incorporate both items if we changed the layout of the hanging from landscape to portrait, agreement at last!  The school crest morphed into a leafless tree, the rainbow is huge and the whole thing looks great now that the colours have been filled in.  Clare should be emailing me some pictures of the next stage and I will post them here as soon as they arrive.  Next time I go to Drumlea we are going to add a date to the piece, wet it out and then roll for several hours wrapping it tightly in the large plastic woven mat that I got from Mehmet.  Happy hours!

Over the weekend I will write a little bit about our 3-d work and post images of some of the super vessels the pupils created, check out my Flickr account if you simply can’t wait!

Pictures of finished rug and ‘Creative Blog Award’

The finished rug!

The finished rug!

This morning as promised I was able to take a photo of my completed rug!  I know that this type of angled shot distorts the shape somewhat but I think that it is quite obvious how the sky area has shrunk more from left to right than the bottom section demonstrating clearly that the way we lay down the fibres makes a huge difference.  You should also be able to see how textured the areas are that were left uncovered with the coloured wool, the inside of the leaping animal for example is really crinkly and textured.

Close up of leaping animal

Thanks Irene for honouring me with this ‘Creative Blog Award’ !

For those who bring unique and creative elements to their blogs. For those who incorporate art, music, creative writing, photo’s, and other beautiful visual effects into their website. For those who put a unique spin on things and come up with new ideas. This award is for the artsy, the funky, the inventor, and even the rebel. This award is for those creative individuals who stand out from the crowd.”

The rules are:

1. The winner must copy this Award to their own blog
2. Link to the blog from whence you received the Award
3. Nominate a minimum of 7 other bloggers
4. Link to the nominated on your blog
5. Leave comment about the award on the nominated blogs.

The blogs that I would like to nominate are Deb Seeger, The Wolly Way, Her Majesty Margo, I’m a Ginger Monkey, A Hole in the Basket Primatives, Pretty Ditty and Jane Bo.

Second rug making workshop over and Mehmet returns home

Yesterday our second rug making workshop with Mehmet Girgic ended and another happy bunch of novice and experienced feltmakers went home with completed projects.  Again it was really interesting to see how everybody’s style was totally individual, over the weekend I will upload more images and you will all see exactly what I mean.  At this workshop I had the opportunity, space and time to make a large rug myself and took the decision to work using a style totally alien to me!!  My inspiration came from a book about Mexican houses that I have with pictures of some beautiful pottery tiles  and my central motif is a large leaping animal, possibly a deer.  Other motifs from the tiles surround this central animal but the background is pure Clasheen, a mountainous scene executed using the colours that I see around me very day!  The result is a very naive scene that I am both very happy with and strangely undecided about, it is SO unlike anything that I have previously done that I am really not 100% sure what I think of it.  Anyway, I will get the images up over the weekend when I have time to take breath and you can all make up your own minds!  Mehmet and I had an uneventful trip to Dublin airport this morning and discussed our planned group trip (which I will organise) to his workshop in Konya which I hope will take place in the Autumn.  Watch this space!

Our beautiful felt rugs (and bag!)

A happy group of felters!

A happy group of felters!

At last my internet connection is working again and I can show you the beautiful results of our first rug making workshop with Mehmet Girgic.  We spent a fantastic weekend working and learning the Osman technique and I am sure you will agree from the accompanying photo that all our effort was time well spent.  One of the most fascinating aspects of the workshop was that you can give everyone the same raw materials, in this case a 2100mm X 1900mm rug base and different coloured carded wool, but no two people end up with remotely similar pieces.  Traditional rug making motifs did come through in several different people’s work but due to all the various colour permutations each of these rugs had a totally individual style.  Matthew, who had no previous experience made a fantastic rug and really everybody regardless of how long they had been felting left the weekend with a great sense of achievement. 

Because of the space constraints with 8 others working on such a large scale I decided to make a smaller piece at the weekend workshop and a bigger rug this week.  In actual fact this proved to be a great choice as Mehmet showed me how to convert my smaller piece of flat felt into a strong and attractive seamless carpet bag.  I will explain the process over the course of my next couple of posts, now I am off to upload a few more images to flickr and prepare myself for tomorrows felting and fulling of my bigger rug!!

Rug making workshops and submission

Yesterday I was down in Woodbrook House with Giles organising the layout of the room for Mehmet Girgic’s rug making workshops.  The bases that he is bringing over from Turkey are actually a lot larger that we used in Germany so while this has the advantage of a much bigger finished rug it meant a bit of a headache getting the room set up.  More tables, countless measuring sessions, moving things around and hopefully we are ready to roll.  I am really looking forward to his trip now but due to a couple of unavoidable cancellations need to get 3 or 4 more people booked in for the second workshop in order to cover my expenses bringing Mehmet to Ireland.  I will be under quite a bit of financial pressure unless these places are filled so if you think that you might know anyone interested at this late stage please ask them to contact me asap!

Submissions close this week for an exhibition called ‘Organic Geometry’ and I was hoping to finish mine this morning.  I know that I am putting myself under a lot of pressure this week (HSE child protection training on Tuesday and Wednesday) with Mehmet’s arrival on Thursday and all the work involved before he actually gets here but I really hope to get my submission completed and in on time.  Ann Mulrooney is curating the exhibition for the Crafts Council and it is to be held at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, opening mid April.  Wish me luck!!

Loads of felting news to report …

Yesterday was

Felted fingerless mittens
Felted fingerless mittens

 a day and a half!  Early in the morning my delivery of short fibred merino arrived from Filzrausch and boy was I excited.  I really wanted to get stuck in and felting straight away but I knew that I had other things that I just had to get sorted.  As soon as I logged on to the internet I had a message from Mehmet and thank goodness his visa and passport had finally been approved from the Irish Embassy in Ankara and he is available to travel!  This has been an absolute nightmare for me (wasn’t telling everyone) because I had never appreciated what it entailed getting your visa if you are travelling on a Turkish passport and I was afraid we might just have run out of time.  Anyway, all is well for the two workshops, Mehmet arrives next Thursday with the rug bases, the rolling mats are on their way and the wool is also on it’s way, from Wollknoll in Germany.  Margo made a rug with Mehmet last year and has some great images of the group’s work in progress and the finished rugs on her blog, they really take me back to the course Carmen and I did last September and I just want to get stuck in again! 

My second gorgeous event was opening my bartering package from Anna.  The scent was amazing as I opened the box and a fantastic selection of hand made cosmetics lay ensconced in tissue paper, bath bombs, lip balm, hand cream and after shave balm, I was blown away by how amazing they were!  We are now going to trade some more of these goodies in exchange for a felt scarf or necklace, what a nice way to do business.

Next on the adgenda was the tidy up I am trying to give the whole house, not just for my guests staying during Mehmet’s course but for my own sanity as well.  On January 1st I signed up to an amazing system at FlyLady designed to prompt me to organise my day and sort out my mess, I think that it could be working but we will just have to wait and see!  At the moment I am just doing the baby steps but check it out because if any of you are messy and a procrastinator like me you NEED to see this!  Do I sound like a crank??

Talking about procrastinating I finished the mobile that I had started the night before, check it out on my Flickr account, also two of the bags that I finished.  One of the other things that I really need to get a handle on is my Etsy shop.  I did make my first sale last week, horray, but I just need to really concentrate on uploading more items and getting a good shop front going.  The big problem is that you can’t upload images from Flickr and it seems to use a lot of battery power uploading from the camera, hopefully I will get it streamlined soon.

Eventually I got to try out the new wool, brilliant.  I tried a necklace first and then was inspired to make the fingerless mittens pictured.  The wool is so beautiful to work with, very soft and tactile and amazingly fast to felt.  These were the first mittens that I have made and had I thought about it better in the laying out stage I could have saved myself a lot of time by making them both at the same time.  This would have entailed laying out a much longer length of fibre wrapped resist and felting to the stage where I cut out the hole for my thumb.  At this stage I could have cut the hollow tube in two meaning that the mittens would only have to be finished seperately for a couple of minutes.  I would also have the advantage of both mittens having the exact same thickness, as it is one is a little thicker than the other because I was too lazy to weight the wool!  Ah well, will just have to make another pair!!