Happy New Year from Clasheen!

The final eco bundles of 2014 are bubbling away on the stove, two sample felt vessels and a selection of ultra fine merino scarves.
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Latex soles for felt slippers, cold spell continues and Happy New Year!

Last night I decided not to light my wood burning stove first thing this morning and try to get some household chores out of the way as a less expensive way of keeping myself warm!  Needless to say it wasn’t long before I decided on a little textile diversion and in the continuing absense of water had a go at painting latex on the soles of some warm felt slippers which I had made for myself earlier in the year.  Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will realise it is these little finishing touches that I find very difficult to get out of the way, add in a touch of sewing and they really are my worst nightmare come to life!  Anyway, I made the slippers last spring using some gorgeous gotland (which someone has now told me might shrink further as I wear them) and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t wear them until I had added a latex sole for extra durability and waterproofing qualities. 

Painting latex on the soles of felt slippers

They also need one stitch at the back of each heel, this is to hold the tongue of felt (just visible in the picture) into a nice decorative curl, somewhat Turkish looking is what I am aiming for.  I havn’t used latex before but believe that I need to paint about 5 layers to achieve a really good sole, Tone from Ullform in Norway also said that she sprinkles a layer of ground maize (hope I have that right!) over the final coat and that this adds quite a bit of grip to the bottom of the sole. 

The heavy wind and rain from yesterday has finally abated, now we just have sleet here and snow on the mountains surrounding Clasheen.  Thankfully I managed to speak to the friend who services my Rayburn and he gave me a couple of tests to carry out which indicates that my central heating system is actually working.  I still don’t have any heat in the rads however but have now got a man organised to check the pump in the well tomorrow morning so hopefully if we can get the water going and the pressure tank up and running things might get back to normal soon.  I can only keep my fingers crossed!  Obviously from all the messages that I am receiving many of you from all over the world have your own weather difficulties, some actually having drought and excessive temperatures, the exact opposite to what we are having here.  It is nice to feel part of a wider community although obviously I would prefer if no-one had any problems in the weather department at all!

Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.  Enjoy any festivities that you have planned for this evening and hopefully we will all have a fantastic time felting and enjoying our various art practices throughout 2010!

Comments, felting problem discussed and Clasheen New Year Stash Swap

Thanks everyone for responding to the last few posts that I have published in relation to the road sign.  I have to agree with those of you who said that it did NOT explain what I was doing, I know it doesn’t but I also agree with those of you who said that it would stand out especially because of the colour!!  My thinking at the moment is that I will make a second sign in complimentary colours and the text will read ‘Nicola Brown – felt’.  This could be a permanant feature at the top of the lane and would hang above the studio open sign which could be brought inside if I wanted a day to myself!  I don’t have any passing traffic (because I am in such a rural area) so from that point of view anyone actually driving to see me would know in advance that felt is my thing.

Among the comments was a question from Deb Seeger, a brilliant textile artist who has returned to felting since following this blog, a great compliment, thanks Deb!  You can see Deb’s profile by clicking here and follow the link to check out her work, I particularly like ‘Kissy Fish’ and ‘Heart of Gold’.   Anyway, Deb’s question was in relation to a piece of felt which seemed to seperate into 2 distinct layers when it was felted.  It might be that the inital layers were not laid out thinly enough and this could be the problem, it is definitely better to lay many thin layers of wool in opposite directions (especially if you are using tops) rather than just two thick ones and I would recommend using bubble wrap to aid the felting process.  Another possibility, although I may be wrong in my analysis (still waiting for pics to see clearly) would be if two different types of wool were used for the piece of felt, this actually happened to a friend when she used two different types of wool when making a pair of slippers.  The early warning signs were there when the wool (ordered from the internet) arrived as it did say it was not suitable for felting!  The colour was GORGEOUS however and she decided to go ahead with the slippers, this wool was to be the outside colour and if I remember correctly a black merino was to be the lining.  Using the resist method the slipers were started and worked on for many hours.  It appeared as if the top colour wouldn’t take the water properly but still she persisted – the end result was a soggy mass of one colour and perfectly felted ‘socks’ in the lining colour!  This might not be what has happened in Deb’s case as from the comment it sounds as if there are 2 distinct layers of felt so one solution would definitely be to needle the top layer in place.  Another idea (if the piece is not fulled too far) would be to fully dry the piece, roughen up the texture of the felt with a wire brush where you want the fibres to join, wet out again with hot soapy water and then give it a go with an electric sander before rolling and fulling again as normal.   I hope that this is of some help and if anyone else has had this problem we would love to hear your solutions!

Sign up is now open for the Clasheen New Year Stash Swap!

This is the time for New Year’s resolutions and what better incentive to help you tidy up your stash (if like me it is getting out of hand!) than to make up a nice parcel for your swap buddy full of the goodies that you have been hoarding but never getting around to using. Try and select items that you know your buddy will find a home for using their profile to guide you. Things like yarn, buttons, ribbons, pins, jewellery, zips, stickers, unused presents, paint sticks, craft wire, anything and everything that could find a home with someone else.  We also will be swapping one seasonal receipe as usual and a small little extra.  If you want to sign up for the swap please check out our dedicated Flickr swap group and sign up before Friday 16th January and I will let you know who your swap buddies are over that weekend. Packages need to be sent no later than Friday 6th February meaning that most people should recieve theirs before Valentines Day on February 14th!

Lastly, Happy New Year everybody!