Brief felt, eco print, website and Showcase Ireland update

I’ve not had much time to blog recently, please bear with me and don’t think that I’m not working quietly away at Clasheen! Here are the most recent updates in brief………..

Felting – finally, after a lot of hard work and frustrated sampling the large felt sculpture I’m currently working on is starting to take shape. It’ll be felted from merino and bamboo fibre, the bamboo adds wonderful sheen and texture to the surface of the felt.

Banana fibre gives an interesting sheen and texture to felt

Eco printing – I’ve had a lot of pots on the boil over the holiday season and since the new year. The contents have been mixed, a couple of small felt sculptural pieces, plenty of lovely super fine merino scarves and several batches of paper which I’m printing to incorporate into Showcase invitations.

Onion skins and black tea eco printed on paper

Patrick is working hard on the new website, I worked hard to write and collate a lot of the new information. The website should be live sometime next week, obviously I’ll post here as soon as it is but the blog will link to the new domain name anyway.
 
Showcase Ireland – A lot of my work is ready for Showcase but there’s also a lot more to do! I hadn’t fully appreciated how a lot of European companies closed down from before Christmas right through until after the new year. As a result I won’t have any of my new promotional material (with the new website details and new email address) for another few days, cushion liners are somewhere with the courier, silk is on its way, many things are in transit. I’m really excited that Philip Cushen of Cushendale Woollen Mill is weaving a run of lambswool for me this week too, I’ll print it at the weekend and Dorothy will stitch it into cushions at the beginning of next week.

One of the five varieties of eucalyptus planted at Clasheen

To round things off today I’ll leave you with a picture of eucalyptus leaves against a blue winter sky. This eucalyptus is one of five different varieties I have planted in a grove to the back of the house and I’m interested in the way the leaves have started to change colour, you can clearly see ribs and veins. The three trees of this variety have slso started to get tall so I’m thinking now I’ll have to curtail their growth sooner rather than later, if I don’t I’ll never be able to reach the leaves when I need them for printing!
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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Nuno felt wrap and scarves

The weather has been a lot brighter today after a very wet start this morning, good news for me as it meant that I could snap a few pics outside of my nuno scarves and the wrap I felted earlier this week.

Simple scarf combining ponge silk, merino and silk throwster's waste

Simple scarf combining ponge silk, merino and silk throwster’s waste

I’ll start with one of a simple scarf, this was felted combining ponge silk with some of Leiko’s beautiful hand dyed superfine merino and embellished with hand dyed silk throwster’s waste, a welcome Christmas present from Carmen. I love teaching this scarf as a beginner’s nuno felting project, it’s always successful and such a beautiful way to learn a new technique! The second picture is of a large mosaic style scarf felted combining my own hand dyed cotton gauze (dyed under the watchful eye of Jan Durham and written up in this post last spring!), more of Leiko’s merino and a whole selection of different weights of silk fabric. Good friend Carole buys silk pieces by the weight in the US and then we do a swap for mohair off cuts from Cushendale Woollen Mill, Cushendale is a wonderful source of locally produced knitting yarn and weaving just down the road from me here at Clasheen. I totally forgot that I needed to send Carole another pack of these goodies so many apologies, I’ll head over to Philip Cushen next week and get them in the post to you asap.

Mosaic style nuno felt scarf

Mosaic style nuno felt scarf

Anyway, I also had a small pack of beautiful hand dyed teeswater locks and some firestar fibre in my favourite shades of acidic green, it’s strange to say that although I’m not a glitzy kind of gal at all I really do love the sheen and shimmer from the firestar!!! The printed silk in this scarf was part of my stash from the US, in fact I remember buying it in the Salvation Army on a foray with Sharon of the Tin Thimble but it could just as easily have been from one of the many trips I made with great friends Dawn or Merridee either, I LOVE these silk gathering events!

Firestar adds a shimmer in places

Firestar adds a shimmer in places

If you’re interested in seeing more images of these pieces plus some photos of a large green wrap I made on Tuesday please check out this album on FB and do like Nicola Brown – Clasheen while you’re over there, only of course if you do like what you see!!!

Home, natural dyeing/printing, unexpected presentation taking up my time…..

I’m home safely after a wonderful time in California! It was great to be back at The Tin Thimble catching up with old friends both before, during and after the three days of workshops plus put faces to the friends I’ve previously been in touch with through the blog, FB and various other forms of social media, I’m not going to mention everyone by name but you all know who you are!!! My intention had been to write a long and proper post yesterday about the workshops and my trip with Merridee and Keith to Lake Tahoe, unfortunately I just don’t have the time so apologies in advance to those of you who were expecting all the low down about the exciting work that was created during my three days of teaching. An unexpected opportunity arose while I was away (thanks Paula for getting in touch to alert me!) so yesterday I had to make a presentation in relation to an exciting art project and this morning I got a call asking me to come back in tomorrow and discuss a few of the points raised during this session. Fingers crossed everything will work out, I’ll keep you posted once I know the outcome!

My own naturally printed chiffon with goodies I bought at The Tin Thimble, glass beads by Toni Lutman and beautiful hand dyed merino by Carin Engen and Laurie Simoni

As regards other work since I’ve been home I printed two lengths of silk chiffon on Monday evening then last night I filled two pots with silk and leaves in preparation for a natural printing and dyeing session today. One of the pots contained a tea solution, the other a vinegar and water mix. I’ve now bundled everything up and all the pieces are simmering on the Rayburn, most of the bundles contain a variety of eucalyptus leaves but two I wrapped using Cotinus leaves from my garden. I also sprinkled some of the fabric with tea leaves and wrapped one of the pieces in rusty metal, I LOVE opening these bundles, pictures next time, I promise. During my stay in CA I spent time with Merridee, Sharon and Nika Ivanoff experimenting more with this method of colouring fabric, thanks Nika for the wonderful leaves you brought last Saturday for us all to share not to mention the wine, chocolate and strawberries, we loved them all!!!

Emma and I are just sorting out dates for workshops in The Tin Thimble again next spring, keep an eye out over the next week or so as we hope to have everything sorted by then!

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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Settling in to Dagmar’s workshop at Big Cat Textiles

After our introductory day observing and sampling how Dagmar Binder lays out her fibre I decided to felt a small neck piece in the evening, this time using some of my favourite short fibre merino from Wollknoll instead of the 21 micron roving which I used for the class piece, pics of both samples are in Monday’s post. I was far happier with the results, the surface texture of the felt was much smoother and I always like the way I can blend the colours as I go along. As a result I decided to use the short fibre wool for the rest of the week, maybe if I had used a 16 or 17 micron roving I would have had a similar outcome but for me I wanted to use the fibre that I have most affinity and feeling for and didn’t want to have to buy extra wool when I already loved the colours of what I had in my stash!

Don’t the colours just sing?

Our task for day two was to felt a scarf/neck piece incorporating resists using some of the techniques learnt about laying out fibres in different directions and subsequently playing around with the flexibility of the various attachments. I choose hot orange for the main colour and added red, purple and small amounts of yellow wool as well as pieces of silk fabric, gold silk fibre and red linen fibre for surface decoration. The silk I snapped up in a charity shop in Edinburgh so yes, you can get LOADS of silk there too if you look in the skirt and blouse sections instead of the scarf, I’ve done it!

I had a concept for my neck piece which didn’t work out quite as I had planned. Those of you who know me and my style of working understand that drawing and planning to the Nth degree is just not part of my creative process, rather I start with a concept and let the colours and fibres speak to me during the layout stage out and adjust my design organically as I go along.

The perfect length to throw around my neck

As a result I ended up with rather a nudibranch styled piece, surprise, surprise!!! As I was adding some silk pieces to the main body of the felt I was actually thinking of the speckles on a trout, once I got to the fulling stages however I totally changed the shape of the ‘tail’ end (it had 6 resists in it during the layout) the end result is quite shrimp like in places so overall the piece is very piscine in nature.

I’ll leave you with a picture of it sneaking up my cotinus, make up your own mind about the nudibranch influence but I can attest that it does seem to have a life of it’s own! Tomorrow I’ll blog about the wall hanging and vessel I made on days three and four, I’m particularly happy with my large felt vessel.

Nudibranch like neck piece at large!

Two nuno felt wraps using the same fabrics but different coloured merino

Yesterday I was very busy felting! I’m going to be away unexpectedly next week (thanks George for stepping up to the mark at zero notice to house and Rex sit, Annette I’ll be in touch about July!) so I need have to have a batch of wearables ready for the golf club tomorrow morning. While I’m away there’s going to be a fashion night there so thanks must also go to Lady Captain Eileen Kelly who’s going to organise someone to display and look after my pieces! My beautiful new cotton gauze arrived on Tuesday afternoon from Charlotte Buch so I decided to felt some nuno wraps combining this with short fibre merino, ponge silk and sari silk from my stash. Killing two birds with one stone I also took pictures of the process, these pieces took a long time to lay out but were fulled in the dryer and that’s how I could felt more than one in a day. This processes is one I will be exploring in the new book with Chrissie and is wonderful for anyone who finds nuno felting either tiring or time consuming!!! Talking of time I must dash now, here’s a close up shot of the finished wraps, note how using the same fabrics but a different colour fibre results in complimentary but very different end results.

Turquoise and apple green merino combined with the same silk and cotton surface fabrics offer two different end results

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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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