It’s a red letter day, the new website and video launch, Showcase begins!

Thanks 1000 times to Patrick McHugh and Peter Martin for all their hard work over the last few weeks, my new website is finally ready to reveal, six hours before my first time participation at Creative Island in Showcase!!! After the show finishes we have some tweaking to do; the product and fashion photo shoots will take place, the shopping cart will go live and I'll be working hard to update the workshop section to reflect all the exciting classes and residential retreats that will be happening during 2015.

Stand C13 at Showcase 2015, almost ready for action!

Stand C13 at Showcase 2015, almost ready for action

Clasheen (the blog) will be fully interpolated within the new web domain as opposed to linking to the whole of the old site, from here forwards the website is nicolabrown.ie to reflect my new branding and positioning. I couldn't have done all this without the marvellous guidance of Eddie Shanahan, a push from Mary Whelan, incredible support from the aforementioned Mary, Emer Ferran, Emma Mc Grath, Kieran Comerford and all their relevant teams, thanks to you one and all!

It's too late tonight to work further on embedding the new video here, I'm posting this link instead. I hope that you enjoy it and get a little feel for what living and working at Clasheen is all about, I ansolutely love what I do and really hope that you can get a sense of this plus an appreciation for the beautiful rural countryside where I live!!! I'd really appreciate any comments, feedback, likes and shares both on YouTube and on Facebook, this will help with getting the video ranked on search engines. Thanks friends, I'm off to sleep now and be bright and bushy tailed for the opening of Showcase in the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michigan and Kentucky workshop updates plus a beginners and improvers day at Duckett’s Grove next Saturday!

I’ve been so mentally tired after my exciting days at the Gaelscoil working with the pupils on our large felt wall hanging that I have to admit I’d totally forgotten to post full details about my upcoming MI and KY workshops here on the blog, stupid. In fact I thought that I’d already done so, even stupider!!! I’m so excited about my whole trip back to the US, I actually think that I get more and more excited each visit as I just LOVE spending time with such great friends, facilitating the workshops and meeting new fibre fanatics just adds to the excitement! The workshop page is now updated to include the full ‘Wrapped in Nature’ description for both the MI and KY workshops, links to my Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival classes (I need to alter a couple of details plus my bio via the organisers but the basics are correct!) and information about next weekends flat felting and bag making session at Duckett’s Grove. This coming week I promise to tie down the full details about my Loomis workshops at The Tin Thimble (watch out Emma and Sharon!) but in this post today I’m going to concentrate on both my regular MI and KY venues.

I’m thrilled to be returning to both Plainwell and Lexington and want to say thanks a million times to the fabulous Dawn Edwards and Jan Durham for being such good friends and wonderful hosts!!! I’m so looking forward to catching up with returning participants and meeting new felters in MI and KY, one of the biggest joys of these trips is the opportunity to meet and make friends with blog readers and Facebook buddies, it’s just amazing how the internet allows us connect in the first place. This will be the first time that I facilitate my new workshop ‘Wrapped in Nature – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape’. It’s hard for me to express how inspiring it is to live surrounded by the beauty of the rural Irish landscape, I only have to look outside my windows at Clasheen to find my fingers itching to create and when I travel overseas my senses just seem to go on full-time overload!!!

Inspiring views above Berea!

Inspiring views above Berea!

It’s actually been very difficult this year to confine myself to short workshop descriptions, I don’t want to miss a technique out that participants may want to try but on the other hand I don’t want the descriptions to be so vague that no one knows what I’m talking about either! I think that maybe the best thing to do is post the full workshop description here as well as on the workshop page and then I’m happy to answer any questions about individual projects if you’d like to send them my way via email.

‘Wrapped in Nature’ – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape

Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage
Age Level: Adult although younger students welcome by arrangement

Class Description: During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative piece of felt using the natural landscape as a starting point. Some participants may choose to felt a purely decorative art piece such as a large vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may take the opportunity to work on a nuno felt wrap, vest, complex bag or jewellery.

Over the course of the two days there will be time to explore and discover techniques or materials that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will share with participants how she has been experimenting with natural printing on silk, felt and occasionally prefelt over the last year. This simple dyeing/printing process uses a selection of readily acquired onion skins, leaves (especially eucalyptus), tea leaves and rusty metal, wonderful patterns and colours may be achieved on fabric. Nicola has also been experimenting with using open-topped resists for vessel making and some of her bags since participating in a masterclass with Dagmar Binder last summer. The finish is very smooth on the open edges and this method opens up the possibilities for creating different shapes much easily than with the more often used closed resist method. Another technique that may be relatively new to participants is the tumble dryer method of nuno felting. This technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and eliminates all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues! We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two.

Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art!

 NB: Participants who are not able to attend on both days may possibly book one day by prior arrangement although the projects they complete will not be as large or complex as those created over both days of the workshop.

 

Relax, unwind and recharge your felting mojo!

FELTING RETREAT AT CLASHEEN

Relax, unwind and recharge your felting mojo!

Come and join me at Clasheen from 7th – 10th August for a fun filled felting extravaganza. This recession busting mid-week break is the ideal opportunity to tackle new projects or work towards perfecting techniques in a fun and creative atmosphere. The emphasis during the retreat will be on participants having fun, extending their felting practice and sharing techniques, for those wanting a structured experience I will demonstrate and share my method of incorporating raw fleece into bags and rugs as well as share how I use the tumble dryer to felt larger nuno projects. I will be on hand to guide and answer any questions for the less experienced felter; I’ll also be felting myself and am really looking forward to working on a new jumper/dress idea! Participants are free to use my studio from early morning until 11pm and there’s a wealth of interesting plant material and old rusty bits of iron around for anyone wanting to try out a little bit of eco bundling or rust dyeing!

The total fee for this residential retreat is E220 incl comfortable shared accommodation on site, DIY breakfast and lunch (from a well stocked kitchen) plus a catered evening meal with wine to help us unwind in the evenings, vegetarians are welcome!

Felting equipment and materials are not included in the fee but I will have a good selection of short fibred merino, silk, raw fleece and other natural undyed wool available for participants to purchase for individual projects as well as bubble wrap and laminate floor underlay available by the metre.

This retreat is suitable for participants with all levels of felting experience, the emphasis for the retreat will be fun, fibre, felt, food and friends!

TIMETABLE

Tuesday 7th – Participants arrive from 11 am to check into the accommodation, welcome snack at 12.30, felting starts at 2pm and continues until 6pm, dinner at 7pm, felting until late if desired

Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th – Felting officially starts at 10pm and continues until 5pm, dinner at 6.30pm, felting until late if desired

Friday 10th Check out is by 10am – Borris Country Market takes place on Friday morning and Cushendale Woollen Mill is just 6 miles away at Graiguenamanagh, this is a wonderful spot to visit, gorgeous locally produced and dyed yarns as well as weaving!

Please email me asap if you would like to reserve a place, confirmation of booking will be on receipt of the full fee via PayPal or cheque.

Duckett’s Grove official opening a big success!

Dawn and I have had a busy time of it since Chrissie Day and Nigel headed home on Tuesday morning. We’ve taken loads of pictures, I finished a lot of stitching while Dawn caught up with emails and facebook, we delivered my felt to Duckett’s Grove yesterday afternoon, collected mum’s car (because with Danish friend Kirsten arriving we couldn’t all fit in my pick up truck!), got up early again this morning for the official opening of the new craft and gallery shop, felted in the studio for the first time, was interviewed for the paper, filmed and interviewed for today’s RTE News, collected Kirsten from the bus and then headed home to Clasheen in time for an early supper and to watch the slot on the 6 o’clock news!!!

Dawn in front of my vessels at the opening of Duckett's Grove

It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Edel Galvin from Carlow County Development Partnership had asked me if I would do a little felting demo in my new studio after the speeches and before I knew what was happening the footage was shot and I had my short moment of fame. The invited guests at the opening really seemed to appreciate the quality of the work displayed and it’s wonderful to finally have a local Co. Carlow venue to sell high-end craft from.

The fact that I have just secured a studio in the complex is really, really exciting. There may well be more workshops available in the future but currently there are 4 local artist makers who will be working from Duckett’s Grove and I feel privileged to say that I am one of them!!! I did think that I would be getting the keys today but there is still a bit of paperwork to complete so although I did get to felt inside the space for the first time today it will be another week or so before it is officially handed over to me! If you’d like to call in and say hello before I head to teach in the US I’ll be there all day on Sunday 6th May and hope to have a workshop schedule prepared for the rest of the summer, there will also be a big craft market in the grounds of Duckett’s Grove and all the studios should be open to the public!

Having fun felting for the first time in my new studio at Duckett's Grove!

Check out Dawn’s facebook page for loads of images of the buildings and the opening, she was snapping away and has some lovely shots.

Special offer, $10 off ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February!

Great news from Blurb in my inbox this morning, $10 discount when you order ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February if you enter the promo code SAVE10 when you checkout!!! I’m adding Blurb’s terms and conditions for the offer after the following preview of the book.

*Offer valid through February 27, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A USD $10, GBP £6, EUR €7, CAD $10, or AUD $10 discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of USD $50, GBP £30, EUR €40, CAD $50, or AUD $50. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

I’m nuno felting like crazy, or am I just going crazy???

Yesterday evening I felt as if I had finally lost the plot. I have so many things that I need to be doing as well as so many things that I should be doing but my brain just went into melt down and I didn’t seem able to get anything accomplished! Finally and with a sense of relief, I realised what the problem was. Chrisse has the most amazing wearable nuno projects to share with everyone in our next book (just wait until you see some of her clever designs!) and I had got stuck in a great big rut since Christmas feeling that I needed to felt some large, stylish garments too. With my impatient temperment and total lack of sewing skills I am never going to be able to draft patterns like Chrissie and the miriad of fantastic seamstresses out there, why was I trying to be someone that I’m not??? The new designs that I was working on have been floating around in my head for well over a year and are all based on simple shapes and rectangles, easy peasy in my mind but not easy peasy to bring to fruition as things have turned out. My eureka moment came last night when I realised that I had been nuno felting these new wearable designs like mad over the last few weeks but just wasn’t enjoying myself, it was way too stressful and I couldn’t concentrate properly or relax and just settle in to the process. Having fun and enjoying my felting is what it is all about for me. I love sharing tips and techniques when I teach and to not enjoy my work was a new experience for me, as a result I have decided to go back to basics and write about the sort of nuno felting I most love to create myself! I’m leaving the larger garments to others at the moment but I have decided to take lessons this year and get to grips with pattern drafting and using my sewing machine to the best of my ability too!!! Taking the amazing workshop with Lisa Klakulak last summer inspired me to stitch into my felt and lose my greatest fear of sewing so I think that with a bit of determination there should be no reason I can’t master a few really basic patterns. From my perspective there will be plenty of new projects and ideas in the book that I haven’t written about before and loads of helpful tips about the various tools I find that make life easier. As with ‘From Felt to Friendship’ the new book is about our experiences nuno felting, where we get our inspiration from, what we find works and what we find doesn’t. I hope that it will give people an insight into how we work as well as being inspirational and fun, I know anyway that I can’t wait to try out some of Chrissie’s ideas and projects for myself!!!

 

 

Market, craft fair and running repairs on large felt rug!

It’s been another busy weekend for me!  On Friday morning I set up my stand for the first time at Borris Farmer’s Market, it’s always easier to repeat a display so I wanted to get in early and have time to decide exactly how best to show off the felt.  Flowers proved to be the favourite seller on the day, I priced them at E15 each, 2 for E25 or 3 for E30.  This didn’t allow much profit per unit but keeping the price down meant that I sold more overall, I think it was the right way to go and worth remembering for the future!

Setting up the felt flowers in Borris

On Sunday Alan gave me a hand unloading and setting up my space for ‘A Taste of Carlow’ before heading off to catch up with some paperwork.  The weather was HORRENDOUS while we were unloading the truck, wet, cold and very windy!  It was a little chaotic at the beginning when setting up, I chose to display my felt in an open sided marquee which was definitely colder there than in the individual wooden huts available.  My reasoning was that the open sided display area would hopefully attract more browsers.

A Taste of Carlow

I was sited opposite the band area, beside the christmas tree and next to the wonderful organic food vendors, also the toilet was close by and when you are manning a stand by yourself this is a BIG consideration!!!  Once I had set up everything to the best of my ability given the weather constraints the organisers came around and apologised, several stand holders had arrived late and there was no space left for them.  Some of us who had come early in order to set up properly had to shift sideways and allow them cram in beside us so that was a bit of a pity, but live and let live, it wasn’t the end of the world!  Luckily the rain had eased off by about 2.30 so although the beginning of the day started badly for some people (several display stands blew down, one actually shattered!) the public did come out to support the event, all was well that ended well.  It took a while before anyone started buying but by the end of the evening I was very happy with the event.  There was a great Christmas atmosphere and bustle about the place, quite continental in feeling.  Obviously I wanted to make sales and I did, the biggest benefit however was meeting potential students and making contacts with sheep breeders, it was also great to catch up with old friends!  Check out this picture of Roisin modelling the felt snood her sister treated her to for Christmas!  Roisin learnt to felt with me recently and is really looking forward to participating in one of the hat making workshops I will be organising at Clasheen for Dawn Edwards.  Watch out Dawn because Roisin is a very talanted felter with a great head for design, it will be interesting to see what sort of concepts she has dreamt up by April!!!

Roisin modelling her new felt snood!

Yesterday I travelled to Dublin to help my mother with prep for some more hospital tests.  Before travelling home this afternoon I had to call in to Sylvia and effect some running repairs on her large felt rug.  Followers of my blog will remember that Sylvia commissioned a big rug from me last year, unfortunately her new rescue dog found some very interesting smells worth investigating recently but luckily only pulled off a bit of surface wool, no irrepairable damage was done!!!  I managed to needle felt (I know!) matching wool into the few damaged areas and Sylvia is now going to spot wash, hoover and steam clean the entire rug.  By the time this is done I don’t think that anyone will be able to tell where the  new areas of wool are, hopefully the steaming will remove any other attractive scents so I’m guessing that this is the only repair I will have to make, fingers crossed anyway.

I’m off now to put some food in the oven, walk REX and hopefully catch up on a bit of felting too.  I would like to have some new work ready for my second week at Borris Farmer’s Market this Friday!