Booking open for my felting workshops at The Tin Thimble, Loomis, CA!!!

I am delighted to say that booking is now open for the two felting workshops I will be facilitating at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, Northern California this Fall!  We will be kicking off the fun with a two day Complex Felt Bag workshop on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September followed by a Nuno Mosaic workshop on Monday 27th September. 

Detail from a recent bag

I am really looking forward to meeting owners Emma and her mother as well as blog readers and friends from Ravelry who are hoping to book into one or even both of the workshops!  It constantly amazes me how the internet brings us all together in a virtual sense and it is always fascinating to meet up in reality and confirm friendships forged online.  Lasy year I had the pleasure of meeting expert nuno felter Nancy Schwab at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco (dates and venues for the general San Fransisco area to follow in a week or so!) and earlier this summer Jamie and Blas from Urban Fauna paid a visit to me here in Clasheen as part of an extended Ireland and England road trip!!!  Mosaic nuno felting was actually the topic I covered in San Fransisco last year and if you are wondering what on earth it entails and would like to see some pictures why not check out this post from October 2009?

Pictures of the gorgeous scarves from our nuno felt workshop today!

Alison and Ann with their first gorgeous nuno felt scarves!

Today Ann and Alison joined me here at Clasheen for a refresher day working on nuno felt scarves.  Over a coffee we examined some work that both had done since their last session and discovered that sometimes they needed to work the fibres into the fabric further before progressing on to the throwing stage of the process.  We then moved into the studio where a lot of debating went on before they decided on the colours to work with for the first scarves of the day.  Alison worked her turquoise based scarf in short fibred merino while Ann’s first scarf was felted using merino tops, both scarves were felted into a base of ponge silk.  Keeping the layout of the fibres light and leaving small open spaces within the wool meant that both scarves had wonderful texture when they were felted.

In the afternoon two more scarves were laid out, Alison’s on silk chiffon this time and Ann’s on ponge silk again.  Because we didn’t have a lot of time in this session and because it is interesting to try out new equipment I ‘allowed’ Alison and Ann to try my electric sander and see for themselves how this can really speed up the felting process!  Usually when I am teaching I don’t use the sander but because we were on a tight time schedual and because they have a clear understanding of the nuno process I thought that it would be interesting to let them try the sander out for themselves and see how powerful a tool it can be used in the correct fashion.  Check out these beautiful scarves that they felted in the afternoon, all in all a very productive and enjoyable day! 

More beautiful scarves!!!

Nuno felt experiment

Weather permitting I will take some photos tomorrow morning of the nuno felt wrap I made recently using cotton gauze as the fabric and some commercially produced needle punched merino as the wool.  This was another experiment I tried out at the start of my water difficulties and although the needle punched sheet was merino and the end result does look very pretty it does not appear to be as soft against the skin as my usual merino fibres would be. 

Cutting out shapes in the needle felt

 

From a design perspective it did work quite well however.  I laid the needle felt on my cutting mat and with a rotary cutter sliced out my design.  I wanted it to be reminiscent of foliage and removed leaf shaped pieces which I then added to the reverse of the gauze at both ends and in selected places along the side.  The cotton gauze that I was using was a gorgeous apple green and I decided to add small oval shapes in several places formed from hot orange, pink and plum coloured merino.  Actually felting the wrap took AGES!  The lay out was quick enough but the time saved by using the needle felt was totally eaten up and overshot by the length of rubbing and rolling I had to do to get the fibres to migrate through the gauze. 

Wetting out the gauze and needle felt wrap

 

The ovals of fibre needed a huge amount of rubbing but this was probably because I almost dry felted them in my hands before laying them out on the gauze.  Eventually however everything came together nicely and after a couple of hours rolling the wrap was felted and finished.  When I take the photos you will see how nice this nuno felted piece looks against the light.  In actual fact I think that with a little bit of adjusting it would make a beautiful panel to hang from the trees although with our ongoing weather conditions here in Ireland maybe that would not be the most practical option!

Don’t forget that if you live anywhere within striking distance of me and would like to experiment making nuno felt I have a 2 hour workshop on at Clasheen, Borris, Co. Carlow this coming Saturday morning!  Please contact me asap to reserve your place.

Fantastic nuno mosaic felting workshop at Urban Fauna Studio

I had a WONDERFUL time at Urban Fauna Studio on my last full day in the States!  Blas and Jamie have a superb set up, wonderful fibres, yarns, books and notions etc. all neatly laid out in a small but practical space in a quiet part of the Mission district in San Fransisco.  Alan and I arrived in the city during rush hour (I guess that should be rush hours!!) on Wednesday evening and I have to say it was only then that I discovered how far downtown San Fransisco actually was from the studio, although we had driven through the city at the beginning of the holiday I really didn’t realise that it was so big.  Luckily Alan is someone who likes to study all the local maps from an area as soon as we arrive and boy was I happy when he found out that the Muni light rail system could practically drop me from our hotel on O’Farrell Street to Urban Fauna’s door, all for the cool price of only $2, a lot less stressful than driving! 

Blas outside Urban Fauna Studio

Blas outside Urban Fauna Studio

I duly arrived on Thursday morning looking forward to meeting proprietor Blas and scoping out the facilities in advance of the participants arrival for our class at 10am.  Unfortunately Blas’s wife Jamie was tied up so I will just have to wait until next summer and their trip to Ireland before meeting the other half of this great fibre duo.  I was very impressed with the quality and selection of fibre and yarn available to purchase as well as interesting books, notions and other covetable items and more than impressed with how Blas manages to keep this relatively small space totally clean, tidy and organised, if only my own studio was half as tidy I would be in 7th heaven!  While Blas headed off to the local shop to pick up some fresh fruit and teas I made myself at home, first selecting some yummy and unusual fibres to bring home with me and then setting up the tables and laying out a couple of samples of my felt that I had brought with me from Ireland.  First to arrive was my online friend Nancy Schwab, the person actually responsible for putting me in touch with Blas and Jamie in the first place!  Nancy is a great nuno felter and had brought some of her beautiful scarves for everyone to drool over and this was interesting for all the participants to see as neither Flo, Nancy W-B or Laura had actually wet felted before.  We had a really fun group (two Nancys, Flo, Laura and Blas) and everyone was totally more experienced in dying fabric and fibre than I am and between them there was a gorgeous selection of hand dyed and bought silk to select from to create the nuno mosaic with.  I explained how Sigrid Bannier pioneered the technique and suggested that for the total beginners a double ended scarf would be a good project to tackle, plenty of opportunity to experiment with colour but not as large a piece to lay out as experienced felters Blas and Nancy S were going to attempt. 

Laying out the mosaic design - Nancy Schwab

Laying out the mosaic design - Nancy Schwab

Using a guideline of three different colours everyone started to chop up their silk and lay out their patterns, a bit like making an overlapping jigsaw!  As you can see from the image of Nancy laying out her design everywhere the silk colours overlap another colour is created.  In this way a complex design is created and additional depth is acquired from whatever colour wool is used on the reverse to felt everything together.  As we started to work everyone began to appreciate that this method of working opens up the door to amazingly complex details, particularly as everyone seemed to be a dab hand at dying silk in the first place a whole new avenue of textile design is now on the horizon.  Before lunch I showed everyone how I would lay out two fine layers of merino on top of the overlapping silk and everyone managed very well with varying degrees of thickness and different qualities of wool.  Blas actually used a yak/merino mix that has to be one of the softest fibres I have ever touched, needless to say I bought some to bring home for myself and some as a present for Carmen as well!  Anyway, we wet out the first end of the scarf and started rubbing and massaging to help the fibres migrate through the silk.  After lunch around the corner in a super Japanese place (FANTASTIC food and amazingly cheap) everyone got stuck back into their work and continued to lay out more silk to complete their piece before rubbing and then rolling in bubble wrap around a short piece of pool noodle.  Once we were totally sure that the wool was migrating through every layer of silk the felt could then be dipped into extremely hot water and then either thrown on a towel or rocked and rolled on the table to continue the felting process.  Once I was happy that the work was fully felted each piece was given a final rinse and then proudly worn for a fun filled photo session!  The nuno mosaic technique does use a lot more elbow grease than straight nuno felt and takes longer to create but I am sure you will agree from the photos here and on Flickr that the amazing results were more than worth the effort! 

Beautiful results form our nuno mosaic workshop

Beautiful results form our nuno mosaic workshop

I promise that tomorrow I will put up the post ‘American wrap up – Yosemite, Castle Air Museum and fantastic killer whales!’ but for now I am off to create a nuno felt scarf all for myself!

Nuno mosaic workshop confirmed for San Fransisco!

Thanks so much to fellow felter Nancy Schwab for helping me organise my first felting workshop in America.  Nancy contacted Jamie from Urban Fauna Studio and hey presto, we are up and running with a nuno mosaic day on Thursday 1st October at her gorgeous studio and fiber boutique!  I must say the images on Jamie’s website make me want to drool so I can only imagine what I will be like in reality when presented to all that gorgeous fiber and yarn.  Isn’t it amazing the virtual connections that the internet enables and how wonderful it will be to actually meet some online friends in the flesh at last!  Thanks also to Tobie, maybe we can get together anyway at Jamies and hopefully this will be my first felting experience of many in the States.  If any of you are interested in securing a spot in what promises to be a fun day please just click here to go directly to the booking page!

Brilliant start to the felting workshops and images of the felt basket!

Today we have completed our first day of Sigrid’s workshops and everyone left extremely happy with the result of all their efforts!  Three of the participants were total beginners and the other three visitors were experienced felters.  The workshop today was ‘mosaic nuno’ and Sigrid had organisied a simple way of ensuring that the beginners also completed a mosaic nuno project but didn’t have such a difficult time laying out the work! 

Anne's silk chiffon and merino ready to get creating!

Anne's silk chiffon and merino ready to get creating!

We used silk chiffon and merino tops, the beginners were aiming to have the nuno felt block at either end of their scarves and the experienced felters would have the nuno throughout the whole length.  Each participant selected 3 pre-cut lengths of silk chiffon and then cut, overlapped and arranged the silk into a pleasing pattern or random design.  Two very light layers of merino tops were overlaid before the long process of wetting out, rolling and fulling began, longer than usual because the silk was cut into small pieces and sometimes overlapped several times in the one spot. 

Liz, Dee, Linda, Sigrid, Anne and Linda with their great scarves! (from the left)

Liz, Dee, Linda, Sigrid, Anne and Linda with their great scarves! (from the left)

Check out this great picture of some of our participants, beginners Liz, Dee and Linda together with Sigrid and Anne (to the right of Sigrid) wearing the fabulous scarves they created today!  Tomorrow we are felting with found objects, hopefully I will get to post some more pictures in the evening and give you a flavour of all that we are learning.

Just as an aside, if you link through to my Flickr images you will see the trellis felt shopping basket (or string bag!) both as a piece of flat felt with precise cuts and felted further and formed into the finished basket.