Little felt brooch tutorial as promised!

You may remember that I promised to post (especially for Fiona!) a felt brooch tutotial, these were was what all of us in Feltmakers Ireland were teaching during the ‘Learning Curve’ sessions at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin last week.  Thanks Holly for giving me permission to share your instructions,  here they are in my own words as an abbriviated list, I am assuming that everyone knows how to lay out the fibre but if not please refer to my basic flat felt instructions over on the tutorial page.  For these brooches we worked between bubble wrap and used beautiful short fibre merino batts, of course you could use tops/roving but the batts are just so quick and easy it’s not funny!  Anyway, don’t be afraid to experiment with the dimensions and fibres/fabric that you use, here is the process …..

  • Lay out a 10cm (4″) square of one colour, wet out with soapy water and fold in the edges to make more even, put aside.
  • Lay out an 8cm (3″) square of a complimentary or contrasting colour, wet out and fold in the edges as above.
  • Place the smaller square on top of the larger and position a round or oval resist on top somewhere making sure to leave some space around the outside to allow you to trap it completely with wool.  For my resists I like laminate floor underlay best but any kind of flexible plastic eg. bubble wrap is fine.
  • Cover the resist totally with a couple of layers of wool, add in blobs of other colours randomly remembering that a clashing colour often provides an interesting point of contrast.
  • Place a piece of fabric on top, we used muslin or scrim, and lightly wet.
  • Roll a few little pieces of merino in your fingers and position them as surface decoration, circles or crosses look good I think.
  • Rub your brooch between the two layers of bubble wrap for 5 minutes on side one, 5 on side two and 5 on side one again.  For the purpose of the workshop I just asked everyone to count out 300 rubs X 3, easy peasy!  Just check once or twice to make sure that it is both soapy and wet.
  • After 300 rubs remove the brooch from the plastic and rub it in your hands.  If you are using the short fibred merino you can get quite aggressive at this stage, it only will take a few minutes to full and finish it.
  • Once it has shrunk by about 1/3 cut a small cross into the top of where you positioned your resist, push and seal the cut edges outwards with your fingers.
  • Remove the resist, rinse and stretch the brooch into shape.
  • Stitch on a brooch back and wear with pride!

On a larger scale and with a different design these pieces make wonderful framed landscapes, pressies anyone???

Little brooch ready to felt

Felting production underway as I really want to wow everyone in Carlow on 4th December!

I finally took the plunge and have booked a stand for the ‘Taste of Carlow’ event happening in Carlow town on Sunday 4th December.  This artisan craft fair will be restricted so that ALL the artists and producers present are guaranteed to come from Carlow town or the surrounding county.  If you would like to support local small businesses, me included, please do come along and say hi on the day!  It would be wonderful to see everyone buying their presents and festive food locally, we really need your support to boost our Carlow and Irish economy!!!

From now on I have a plan of action in place and will be felting like crazy to have enough good quality items for my stand and from my studio here at Clasheen.  Last night I felted some flower brooches with stamens, this morning I am working on a merino and local Jacob’s wool shopping bag with inside pocket and am planning to release a pattern for this bag if it works out the way I am hoping.  Last night I designed and printed gift vouchers for felting felting workshops and over the next few days I will be writing up a tutorial for some simple beginners items and packaging them with the necessary raw materials to make up little diy kits for pressies!  Thanks Chrissie for your helpful advice re. time and house managment, hopefully I have started as I mean to go on!!!

If you click on the link below it will bring you thorough to a pdf file listing all many events in the county over the next 6 weeks as well as links to accomodation if you are travelling from outside the area.

‘Taste of Carlow’ and other seasonal events happening to celebrate Christmas in Carlow!

Felting crazy, I’m having a busy few days but who’s counting?

I’ve been felting a lot, working on a comission and trying to finish some pieces over the last few days.  Today I have also had to finalise my presentation for the Crafts Council (promoting a craft business through social media, to be delivered at the RDS tomorrow), been to Cushendale Woolen Mill, filled up the truck, been to the bank, taken some pictures and uploaded 6 brooches to my Big Cartel store.  I’ve also taken the decision to change the default currency in the store to Euros.  This is an effort to reduce my stress levels (ha, ha!) and save some time, hopefully it will mean I actually get more work online for sale, that’s the idea anyhow!  On Friday I will be at the Knit and Stitch Show having a good look at all the lovely goodies on offer as well as facilitating a mini workshop at the ‘Learning Curve’, please give me a buzz or call to the Feltmakers Ireland stand if you are at the show and we can have a coffee!!!

Special offer for October and an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch version of our book is now available to download!!!

Because of all my computer problems yesterday and the fact that I am really trying to knuckle down and get some felting done this week I didn’t fully appreciate what Chrissie was up to until I got an email saying that ‘From Felt to Friendship‘ is now available to order as an ebook!  What this means for anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch is instant gratification, no postage, a cheaper option than the hard copy book and all available at the press of your finger!!!  Click here to order directly through Blurb, the ebook costs $23.99, thanks Chrissie for setting this up.

Felt bracelet

I did manage to upload two bracelets to my Big Cartel shop this morning and to celebrate this relatively stress free occurance (as opposed to yesterday’s nightmare!) have decided to offer 15% discount on all sales through to the last date in October.  To avail of this special offer please enter the code OCTATCLASHEEN when you reach the checkout.  More products will be finding their way into the shop each day this month, at least that is my plan and I am sticking to it for the moment.

Finally I did get a kind of business page set up for Clasheen on Facebook yesterday.  It’s titled ‘Nicola Brown – Clasheen’ and I would really appreciate your support (obviously only if you like it!) by clicking the ‘like’ button, I’ve even added a button on the sidebar to the right just to make things easier for you!

Studio restructure almost underway and interview with Carmen re. Istvan Vidak’s upcoming visit to Ireland!

For those of you who have been following my back kitchen and garage restructuring project on Facebook I am sure you’re not surprised I haven’t posted here to the blog for a few days, for those of you who are not following the progress I hope to be back to blogging normality some time over the next week!!!  Basically I have taken out ALL the old presses from what was the utility room, refitted them in the garage (I’m loosely using the word refitted here!), painted the walls in what I call ‘Virgin Mary Blue’, assembled gorgeous stainless steel topped freestanding units to go in the old space, put together cupboards and drawers to fit underneath them, added a wall mounted cupboard with funky plastic sliding doors and without further ado I now have a beautiful working back kitchen for storage, washing up and laundry duties, woo hoo!!!!!

Back kitchen underway

On Tuesday Patsy and James return to finish the plumbing and then it’s time to change around and remove some of the furniture and storage solutions from the studio, now that I have the space in the garage to fit them that is.  When that is done I will have a spacious, easy to move around studio to work in, that’s the end goal anyway and I can’t wait to get stuck in to some serious felting them!

On the felting side of things I will be driving Carmen up to the airport on Wednesday to collect master Hungarian felter Istvan Vidak, he will be staying with Carmen for a master class, an exhibition and an artist’s talk.  Carmen came over for dinner the other evening and I interviewed her about the trip, this article has been the first I have had published online at Technorati, have any of you ever written for them yourselves???  For those of you who are interested in what we discussed below is a copy of the interview and if you do like the text please visit the article on Technorati and hit the FB like button, share it on FB and maybe retweet it too if you don’t mind, thanks!

INTERVIEW WITH CARMEN SANCHEZ PARDON

Between 13th and 16th October 2011 Carmen Sanchez Padron will welcome Hungarian master felter Istvan Vidak to Guatastudio in south east Ireland for an exhibition, evening talk and a 4 day hands on felting workshop. I invited Carmen to join me for dinner at Clasheen in order to find out more about this exciting series of events.

One of Istvan's beautiful and decorative bagsCarmen explains that by working with dyed and undyed natural wool, Istvan will share the techniques used to create traditional Mongolian bags; wet felting, embroidery and finishing with braided horsehair or wool cords and tassels. Designed to be hung on the wall and hold household items, these beautifully decorative bags add a colourful and dramatic twist to any traditional or contemporary interior.

Participating in workshops with visiting international artists provides a fascinating insight into how felt is currently made in other countries with a longer felting history than Ireland. I asked Carmen where one might view some of Istvan’s work and to this end she has organised an exhibition in The Norman Gallery, Rathnure, Co. Wexford opening at 6pm on Thursday October 13th and continuing until 5pm on Sunday 16th.  This is an excellent opportunity to see top quality pieces felted by an aknowledged master and Carmen adds that an artist’s talk titled ‘Following the Felt Route’ will take place in the same venue at 7pm on Saturday 15th, all are welcome.
During the 4 day felting workshop participants may choose to embellish their bags with Mongolian designs as taught by Istvan and I think that it will also be interesting to see if anyone is inspired to work with traditional Celtic motifs. This is what I did myself at a workskhop Carmen hosted last year with Vanda Roberts, another expert felter from Hungary. Vanda’s workshop focused on the creation of strong functional felt which was then stitched carefully leading to either raised or depressed areas in the felt. I used a wonderful piece of bronze age rock art sited locally at Rathgeeran near Clasheen, Ballybrack, Co. Carlow as the spring point for my design, the bag was felted in charcoal and grey to echo the colour of the granite and simple black leather handles were attached to compliment the felt.

I asked Carmen why she had chosen to invite these particular felt artists to Guatastudio and she explained that she was initially attracted to this style of felting after participating at a symposium titled ‘Gift of the Lambs’ in Hungary during July 2010 and again during July 2011. Attending classes with both Vanda and Istvan led her to invite them back to Ireland where we are lucky to have the opportunity to view their work have the opportunity to participate in the workshops.

I wrapped up the interview by thanking Carmen for her time and wishing her a successful experience hosting this fascinating felting master.

 

 

Little felt vessel

The weather was appalling at the weekend, very wet and windy, definitely not the perfect conditions for capturing photos outside.  I did manage to take a couple of pics of the little rosehip inspired vessel I made my mother for her birthday so here it is.  Apologies if the exposure isn’t the best, I ran outside when it was only drizzling and not totally lashing as we say here in Ireland!

Little red vessel

I also thought that the colour was appropriate given that this weekend celebrated ‘Felt United’, the third international day of felt and the colours for this year were red, blue and purple.

Beautiful bags, hat and jacket in progress this afternoon …..

After a really busy morning manhandling the cupboards in my old utility room I spent a very enjoyable afternoon in Borris with the felting ladies from the Active Retirement Group.  This is now my fourth session working with the group and we had a 3 hour session today in order to get some bigger projects underway.  Dorothy is felting a body warmer, Betty a hat and Myna, Una, Jo, Ann and Mary are all felting bags, some with integrated handles and all with optional inside pockets!  Jo’s bag is almost finished, Dorothy’s first large piece of yardage is done and everyone else is at the rubbing and rolling stage with their bags.  I’m EXHAUSTED now so I’m just going to leave you with a picture of Mary’s bag when it was laid out and a close up view, the handles are going to be wonderful with it!  ‘Till tomorrow …..

Mary with her bag laid out and ready to felt

Close up of Mary's beautiful bag