Back in the felting saddle at last and new companion blog Clasheen Uncut!

I had just written a long post about my first felting workshop o f 2010 and aggh, the internet connection went while I was uploading the data and for some obscure reason the whole post was lost bar the tags.  Forgive this extremely short and abbrigged version but I am terrified that the link will go again and  just want to update you on Saturdays return to the felting saddle!!!

On Saturday printmaker and papermaker Sylvia joined me in the morning for her first felting experience.  Luckily the water was back in time although since I’ve been on the computer this morning my immersion has given up the ghost, loads of loud electricial noises and now the wretched thing appears to have stopped functioning.   Thankfully the kitchen range keeps the downstairs of the house realtively warm while the central heating is not working so once Sylvia had selected her wool this is where we decided to lay out her vessel.  She used a combination of apple green, teal and white Icelandic wool with some blue mulberry silk, white cotton gauze and white tencel tops (at least I think that they are tencel!) for surface decoration.

Sylvia working the inside of her felt vessel

 

If any of you would like to have a go felting with the Icelandic wool it is GREAT for vessels.  I am offering simple felting kits and wool for sale through my Etsy shop, just let me know if there is any special colour that you require. 

Sylvia with her beautiful completed felt vessel

 

I am sure that you will all agree Sylvia’s finished vessel is amazing, what a great first felting project. 

Before the internet connection gives up the ghost I just want to announce my new blog Clasheen Uncut!  This is the place where I will ramble about all my non felting projects so why not pop over and have a look if you can spare the time.

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The first snow of 2009 and a brilliant felt vessel!

My view this morning!

It’s really unusual to have snow this early in the year on the ridge opposite the front of my farmhouse.  Sometimes, the larger peak Mount Leinster does have a dusting in mid November but normally we only have it on the whole range in the thick of winter (if at all) so I was delighted to wake up to this pretty picture first thing this morning!

Hilary joined me just before half past ten to felt for the first time, our project was a simple felt vessel.  We had a chat about the basics of felting over a warming freshly ground coffee (part of a Going Green swap package from Chaimama via Ravelry) and then got stuck in selecting and weighing fibre.  The Icelandic wool batts (available from my Etsy store) are excellent for sculptural felt and it is important to have roughly the same amount of fibre on each side of your resist hence the weighing!  Hilary decided to make a round vessel with the main colours being my favourite apple green in combination with a gorgeous turquoise.  We sub-divided the wool into four equal piles giving us two layers to lay out for each side prior to any surface embellishment.  Once the two layers were laid and wet out lightly Hilary then added some turquoise mulberry silk and some swirls of wool in another complimentary turquoise/greeny shade.  As I have mentioned before using more soap than usually advised coupled with a lot less water seems to work really well with the Icelandic wool. 

Hilary sealing the edges

Once Hilary’s vessel passed the pinch test I cut out a very small hole to release the resist.  As you seal and work the cut edges the opening will always widen so a good tip is never to make the initial cut too big!  When sealing the edges use a lot of soap on your hands, this helps you to make a nice clean edge.   Now the vessel was worked by hand both on the bamboo blind (we had started with bubble wrap and progressed to the blind as the fibres started felting together) and in very hot  soapy water in the sink.  Hilary also threw the felt onto the table to help shock and full it, then kept stretching it to form the final shape and help the wool form the memory.  Finally all the soap was rinsed totally out of the felt, the vessel was reshaped, the texture and form admired and all that was needed were a few images to mark a great mornings felting!

Hilary with her stunning first piece of felt!

 

 

For some reason the image uploader is playing up this evening so check out my Flickr images for a larger shot of the finished vessel, the texture is beautiful!

Ready to prepare the felting kits at last!

I was supposed to be going to a finance workshop (associated with the tourism course) tomorrow but as my fever is definitely back with a vengeance I have decided to stay at home.  Initially I was thinking of laying out and starting a larger garment flu permitting, but since the postman has just arrived with my large order of Icelandic wool guess what I’ll be doing in the morning???  Realistically I need to have a total overhaul of the studio as since I have returned from our holiday it is actually impossible to move around inside it at all, I kid you not.  While Alan and I were swanning around all those gorgeous National Parks and Monuments in Northern California my house guests were tidying the house and putting stuff away in ….. you’ve guessed it, the studio!  It was brilliant to come home to such a tidy and friendly house everywhere else but now that the time has come I am dreading ploughing through all the junk (aka washing, recycling, boxes, fabric, fibre, you know the sort of stuff) that has been accumulating in my workspace for ages.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that hopefully by the end of the weekend my studio will be tidy, my felting kits will be prepared, everything will be uploaded to the internet and all will be calm and organised chez Nicola.  I have also realised that of course I need to upload rug bases and plastic felting mats on Etsy as well as the new wool, why on earth I have been hoarding them here is beyond me especially as I imported them from Mehmet with the express intention of using some and selling the surplus!

The light was not so good today but here is a close up shot of the scarf that I made yesterday.  You can see how nicely the ponge silk has ruched during the felting process and the mulberry silk gives a gorgeous sheen to the surface of the felt.Surface texture and sheen

Mystery of the lost post, incorporating pongee silk and the Clasheen Winter Swap

Well, I have just spent an extremely frustrating and puzzling time trying to locate my blog post and images of the printing on felt from yesterday.  I knew that it had gone live thanks to your welcome comments so imagine my surprise this morning when I was giving a bit of a demo on blogging to a couple of colleagues from the tourism course and discovered that it had gone!  I double checked that I had published it as a public post, kept opening and closing the website until finally I decided to check out my date setting (Alan’s spring clean is not as good as earlier envisaged!!) and voila, the problem is now solved.  This got me to thinking how many of my other posts will now reappear? Time will tell.

Yesterday afternoon I made a stunning merino and ponge silk scarf in black, dark turquoise and light turquoise.  I tore the ponge into squares and strips and laid them in a design on top of the soft merino and then covered the rest of the surface in light turquoise mulberry silk.  The ponge felted into the merino beautifully and the mulberry silk adds a sophisticated sheen to the whole scarf, definitely a design to be repeated.  This will be uploaded to my Etsy store tomorrow morning and hopefully will find a home as quickly as the nuno wrap which Carole bought yesterday, thanks Carole!

Before I sign off for the afternoon (fever has returned and I am just going to call it a day) why not check out the Clasheen Crafty Swap pool on Flickr to see the fantastic goodies that participants have been exchanging in our current Autumn swap?  The Winter Swap is now open for sign ups so if you didn’t know about it before or you have been a little bit apprehensive about joining don’t!  In order to participate you just need to join our group on Flickr (only takes a minute or two to sign up) and then Flickr mail me with your details, everyone welcome so please tell your friends as well.

Felt vessels and images of felt ring

Margaret's natural felt vessel

Margaret's natural felt vessel

Here are the images as promised of the beautiful felt vessels that Margaret and Bridann made with me at the beginners felt workshop on Saturday.  Because they had learned how to make a piece of flat felt in the morning it was a simple step forwards to try out three dimensional work in the afternoon.  If you are new to felting and working by yourself or learning from a book I definitely would recommend practicing the flat felt for a couple more times but as I was there to help keep an eye on the edges of the vessels and any other likely trouble spots we just progressed naturally into this type of work.  Margaret decided to work in natural coloured wool, a soft white for the inside and a gray on the outside.  The outside was embellished with white mulberry silk and although this blended in very well with the grey wool it would show up much more clearly if the finished piece was shaved with an electric razor. 

Bridann's striking felt vessel

Bridann's striking felt vessel

Bridann decided to use a round resist to creat a bowl shaped vessel.  She worked in shades of blue and teal highlighting the outside layer with yellow merino and light blue mulberry silk.  This was a very good colour composition and I am sure you will agree that both ladies created amazing work for their first day felting!

Blue felt rings

Blue felt rings

Also as promised here is an image of my new design felt ring, more images in my Flickr images.  I am also going to be uploading these rings (and hopefully) a lot more pieces to my Etsy shop over the next day or so.  I have a mountain of work just waiting to go up online but it seems to take forever to get it sorted out and I have to say that I have been procrastinating a bit!  Now that I am felting full time I really need to get a regular income so have just decided that I REALLY need to my online sales sorted out as soon as possible.

Felting classes, carded fibres and swap images

Hand carded fibres

Hand carded fibres

Here is an image of some recently carded fibres, don’t the colours just glow!  These particular rolls are a mixture of merino, alpaca and mulberry silk.  The orange coloured one was a particular favourite of mine, now it has been incorporated into the BIGGEST felted vessel that I have made to date and I am delighted with the result.  Tomorrow morning, weather permitting I am going to take some shots of it and post them up, it is a very organic shaped ribbed vessel in orange/green/brown tones and I think I feel a series coming on!

Tonight I teach the first in a series of beginners feltmaking classes, back off to tidy again, will it never end.  One other thing that I am going to do before I resume the tidying up is to upload more images to my Flickr account, click here to check out images of some great swap packages that I have received and another image of recently carded fibres.

Drum carding machine is magic!

I finally succumbed to the lure of Carmen’s new drum carding machine!  To date I have been more than happy with the variety and quality of commercial fibres on offer but finally I have tried mixing my own and have to confess that I could become hooked!!  The carder has been left in my possession for 2 days and I am live a devil possessed, my favourite mixture of fibres is merino and mulberry silk and I am frantically carding as much as possible before I give the machine back.  I also carded some of the beautiful Jacobs wool that I got a present of, still not sure that all the work is for me but it will be nice to make something with wool that I have washed, picked over and carded myself.  The biggest problem I find is that it is very tough on my back and although I love the idea of preparing all my own fibres it is not really the best option for me.

What can  I say about the beautiful woven bag that I recieved from Martina in the swap??  Pictures to go up as soon as the weather permits me to take a good image.  The colours are perfect for me, a rich russet with black highlights, really beautiful with an organic hemp and cotton outfit I have from Blue Fish in Taos, New Mexico.  thanks a million Martina!