Triton’s Horn, American update again, developing a working title and starting to sample or fine tune our first pieces

Thanks Dawn for giving me permission to publish your image here and I know that everyone will join me in saying congratulations.  Triton’s Horn is a wonderful piece of felt and I am so looking forward to seeing it in reality when I visit Michigan this October! 

Triton's Horn by Dawn Edwards

For those of you wondering why I have not been advertising dates as promised for my American workshops in September/October I have been having a few (read panicing here!) blips with finding out the correct info for my Visa application.  At last I have the relevant data as of Friday morning and have been told I may travel under the Visa Waiver Programme providing I have some relevant letters with me to produce in case of questioning.  Whew, that is a HUGE load off my mind and now I am going to contact all my great friends and co-organisers during this week to re-open talks about potential workshops and venues.  You WILL be the first to read confirmed details here and as a little taster I can reveal that I will be facilitating a ‘Complex Felt Bag’ workshop on 25th and 26th September at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA and a ‘Nuno Mosaic’ workshop on 27th September, also in The Tin Thimble, another ‘Complex Felt Bag’ workshop on 11th and 12th October in Kalamazoo, Michigan and a ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop on 13th October, also in Michigan.  San Fransisco and hopefully Berkeley workshops will take place between 29th September and approx 8th October with something special in the pipeline for World Felt Day on 2nd October, watch this space!!!

Continuing on from yesterday, the next thing participants at Jeanette’s workshop did was sit down quietly for about 20 minutes to write down the thoughts and feelings evoked by talking about our objects and memories.  At this stage we were also looking for a working title, this was not set in stone but could be ammended and adjusted through out the course of the process.  Initially I jotted down ‘Isabella on my mind’ as a provisional title and by the end of the weekend decided to run with ‘In search of Isabella’ which I now hope to develop further into a body of work inspired by my grandmother and possibly other relatives in both Scotland and Ireland.

Natalie holding one of granny's beautiful silk scarves

Although I had brought quite a selection of granny’s silk scarves with me the one pictured here being held by Natalie is the most evocative for me colourwise, therefore this is scarf that I choose to cut up and rework into a new piece.  It was a very nervous moment for me cutting into the beautiful hand rolled silk but once Jeanette had encouraged me to wield the sissors all was well and I got stuck in with a good will.  Because I had such strong memories of my grandmother and a clear idea of where I wanted to go it was not difficult to select a bag as the project I wanted to felt basing the shape on the little suede jewellery pouch of hers I had brought with me.  I know that sampling can be a very important part of any project but because I have been working a lot recently on bags and inclusions I decided to jump straight in and cut out the template having already planned where I was going to use the various cut outs from the silk scarf.

I wanted to use the largest flower motif intact in the inside of the bag and then nestle various pieces of silk within the wool before adding surface detail with more silk flowers and strips of the rolled edges.  My idea was that the bag would be equally beautiful inside and outside, seen and unseen, and I was further going to embellish the surface with both raw and dyed flax (linen) fibres.  To be cont …..

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Preliminary report from an outstanding ‘Felt and Nostalgia’ workshop and congratulations Dawn!

Over the next few days I am going to blog about the wonderful experience I had this weekend attending Jeanette Sendler’s ‘Felt and Nostalgia’ workshop in Dublin.  Primarily I am going to be talking about the pieces I made myself and explain a little bit about the thoughts and emotions that went into selecting the shapes and inclusions that I worked with.  To fully appreciate how thought provoking this experience was one would need to attend Jeanette’s workshop oneself and although I don’t want to give the impression that you will be learning here what I learnt over the last two days I do want to share with you how this experience will carry forward into my feltmaking in the future.

Suzanne displaying one of Jeanette's pieces

We started our first day by talking about and examining how Jeanette incorporates items from the past into her felt and reworks them for others to enjoy in the future.  We oohed and aahed over some of her beautiful work before sitting in a circle and brainstorming about putting our working concepts together.  The items I finally selected to bring with me as a starting point for my work all related to my father’s mother Isabella Whitecross-Urquhart, a Scottish lady who ultimately moved with my Irish grandfather to Jersey via Ireland.  They included some beautiful silk scarves, a brooch she often wore, the little suede pouch she stored a bracelet in and some dyed and undyed flax fibres.  These fibres were relevant to me because Ella’s (her pet name although ‘pet’ is a relative term!!!) father was a linen merchant and I wanted to include reference to the linen business in both Ireland and Scotland.  Everyone who wanted to spoke about their chosen items and the memories that they invoked, listened to and sharing stories was very moving and not something to share outside the group without express permission from the individuals.  It did become clear to me however how much of my past is present in my every day life here in Ireland and that this is not necessarily the case with everybody, I am lucky.  Maybe this is one explanation for the fact that members of my immediate family are very unemotional.  Possibly it is because we carry the past around with us wherever we go and we don’t feel it necessary to talk about it or discuss it ever, it just is.

Yesterday evening when I returned from the workshop (I had been intending to stay another night in Dublin but the Monday felting session I wanted to attend elsewhere had been cancelled) imagine my delight to discover on page 9 of the latest edition of ‘Felt Matters’ a beautiful picture and an article titled ‘Triton’s Horn’.  This seemed to tie totally in to the idea of felt and nostalgia because  Dawn had felted a wonderful conch (pronounced conk!) shaped hat inspired by memories of her uncle Tom and aunt Dot and actually felted initially around a conch shell which had belonged to her aunt!  With Dawn’s permission I will post a picture of the beautiful creation here tomorrow but for those of you with access to the IFA’s magazine, check it out, you won’t be disappointed.