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!!!

 

 

ArtL!nks profile updated

I’ve just updated my profile on ArtL!nks this afternoon but why oh why can’t I upload my new avatar or profile picture?????  It’s SOOOOO frustrating to spend hours constantly editing and resending info only to have NOTHING make a difference at the end of the day, ugh!  Anyway, enough moaning.

Alan is tied up until late tonight and my weekend workshop had to be postponed unfortunately (broken wrists and other similar last minute problems!) so I’ve taken the opportunity to tidy the kitchen and get some internet essentials out of the way.  A large tray of seasonal vegtables are roasting in the oven and I’ve already made a yummy smoked bacon, tomato and garlic topping to use as a base for a puff pastry tart later.  Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll get a good walk up the mountain and spend the rest of the day felting, nuno felting anyone???

Colours and textures in a recent nuno felt scarf

Musings from the exhibition to date and new nuno felt wrap today

It’s been very interesting and revealing invigilating at Grennan Mill Craft School, each of the 6 artists needs to either man the show for 3 full days or 6 half ones, I have chosen to do 3 full days.  If I wanted I could nominate someone else to do my stints but for me a lot of the pleasure at this stage of the process is to meet the public and see how people engage with all the work on display.  It has become increasingly obvious as the days go by that people either love the felt or hate it (maybe hate is too strong a word!), there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground at all.  I love watching everyone’s expressions when they first enter my space, many people are totally surprised when they discover the vessels and sculptures are wool, they know that they appear tactile but they often think that they are ceramic none the less!

Stitched seascape

It has also been interesting to discover that even if people do like these non functional pieces they may not have a place in their homes to display them.  After I sold my only stitched seascape on the first day several people said that they were interested in hanging this type of work in their home, in fact I actually got a commission for a framed piece during the course of the opening evening.  As a result of this I decided to spend Monday and Tuesday working and finishing some more wall pieces, I framed them yesterday morning at Grennan and two of the four sold during the day, actions speak louder than words sometimes!

Today I spent a lovely time at Carmen’s with her and an Argentinian fibre friend Patricia, we started with a big breakfast, felted all morning, had a delicious stew for lunch and then stuffed ourselves on pancakes before more fibre related fun in the afternoon!!!  Getting totally away from vessels and seascapes for the day I planned and felted a large wrap using some of the beautiful silk my Auburn friend Merridee dyed for me at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA recently.  This was an experiment using the tumble dryer method, a technique I want to work on further before offering it as an option for workshops but this might be a good time to say that it entails NO rubbing or rolling making it perfect for larger projects and anyone who might find the methodology of traditional nuno a little time-consuming or dare I say it even boring!  I would like to stress though that I don’t find rubbing and rolling boring, relaxing and therapeutic would be my personal take on this process but I suppose it’s horses for courses isn’t it and who doesn’t want to make a larger piece but with a lot of the effort removed and in a fraction of the time???  I’m not going to blog further about this method until I have fine tuned my timing but I will definitely include a couple of projects in the next book Chrissie and I are publishing (nuno clothing, out before Christmas!), for now here is a picture of todays finished wrap.

Nuno felt wrap

Nuno felting today!

I’ve been to the library, discovered I’ve won some gorgeous hand spun from my buddy Heather, run a wash, stocked up on brown soda bread and milk as well as 100 dressmakers pins this morning (more in a minute) and now I’m ready for a FULL DAY felting and possibly dying too, woo hoo!  I still need to catch up on emails, paperwork and many more other household tasks left over from the manic last weeks but for today that is it, no more procrastinating but rather creating and playing with fibre!!!

Nuno texture and merging colours

On Friday I shared with Gerda an experiment in nuno felting using a technique I hope to offer in workshops this Autumn.  Basically it involves using a tumble dryer for some of the steps therefore meaning that anyone with physical limitations or a tendency to get tired rubbing and rolling will have this stage of the process either eliminated altogether or cut down to no more than ten minutes in total!  Chrissie and I will be publishing a new book prior to Christmas (click here to check out a preview of our first book From Felt to Friendship if you are interested in what we have been up to so far) and this time concentrate on simple ideas for designing and felting your own clothing with a view to flattering your personal shape, not that ‘perfect’ shape we all aspire to but most of us never achieve!!!

Anyway, back to Friday and the nuno top I made.  Working in white ponge silk and undyed 26 micron I laid out a front and back side of my top basing the design on a scaled up version of a favourite wardrobe staple.  By using only white raw materials for the main layout area I was able to lay out the fibres really quickly, get on to the felting, piece my top together (thanks Gerda, you kept me sane, bought more much needed pins this morning!) and then have great fun dying using Horst’s wonderfully simple method of achieving graduating colours with no stress at all.  Having the correct equipment now for my studio and working with Horst again over the course of our large felt garment workshop as well as observing friends Jan Durham, Dawn Edwards and Sharon Costello from The Tin Thimble in action during my US trip has given me the confidence to set up my dying station in the kitchen and just ‘get on with it’ myself.

My plan for the next few days is to felt and dye at least two pieces to be used for the fashion show at Felt in Focus next week, I leave for Copenhagen on Friday so I’m off now to get started!!!  Thanks Cristina for house sitting while I will be away, Rex will be thrilled.

Excellent first workshop in Lexington!

After a VERY eventful time of it getting from Grand Rapids to Lexington via Detroit (rain, lightening, tornado warnings so change to flight path and very bumpy flight) I finally arrived safely and happy to get my feet on stable ground once more.  Jan, Bruce and son Kevin live in a really nice green area only ten minutes drive from the airport (just as well since I was so delayed!) and the church, where our workshops are taking place is about 500m from the house, another perfect set up!

Yesterday we had the larger of the two workshops, 11 participants many of whom had extremely limited felting experience, 1 day mostly!  It could have been a stressful experience for all concerned but instead everyone relaxed, concentrated and produced really amazing pieces, an iPad cover, three large bags underway, four flat pieces of felt (two being stitched into purses overnight) and two beautiful large nuno scarves/wraps underway too.  The less experienced felters who made the flat felt pieces are mainly nuno felting or making small vessels today and the experienced and more experienced felters making larger pieces from yesterday are continuing to work on theirs so I am really hoping to have good pictures at the end of the day and share with you all the beautiful pieces made here in KY.

Workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA and questions answered about how to order your book!

I am just about to update everyone on my workshops in California but before I do that let me give you a little info re ordering our book, Chrissie and I are getting a lot of questions about where and when it will be available to purchase.  We are self publishing through Blurb, this means that the book will be available to buy online as soon as we have the final projects uploaded and edited!!!  Because of the extremely tight time schedual I am under at the moment the book will be available to order sometime from the middle of next week but it may be that I have to do a little revision to text, images etc. from US if I discover any small errors when I get the hard copy.  This means that if you are really keen to get your hands on nyour own buy it next week, if you want to wait another couple of weeks and get a revised edition (if it needs revision) please do so!  I am going to be ordering my own first copies and having them sent directly to Loomis as there won’t be time to get them posted here before I leave on my travels, I can’t wait for both the book and the travels!  If you live in US and are participating in any of the workshops and order a copy prior to my arrival ,of course I would be delighted to write a personal dedication in the book for you!!!  I believe the books will take approx 7 to 10 days to arrive from the time of purchase, hope this answers all those questions.  Now on to the CA workshop update …..

You may remember that I was to be joining other teachers for a wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat in Downieville but this has been changed to two workshops with me in house at The Tin Thimble in Loomis because finances were preventing people booking a longer extended stay with accomodation.  Emma has posted all the details to their website but I have also cut and copied the main info from there and included it here at the end of this post.  If you live anywhere within striking distance of Loomis do please come along, we are going to be having SUCH FUN!!!  Last year was brilliant and I have to say that I am really looking forward to spending some extra time myself with Sharon.  I have so many ideas in my head and Sharon (Emma’s mum) is the master of adding a few judicious stitches into almost finished felt, I am hoping she will help me translate some of my ideas into gorgeous, simple, wearable clothing!  Anyway, enough writing for the moment, scroll down to read the info and if you would like to book your place please email Emma asap.

Felted Accessories – Friday, May 13 10:30-5:00
Fun and funky or subtle and sophisticated, let your imagination run wild when designing and creating gorgeous felted accessories to adorn the body!
During this one day workshop participants will experiment incorporating glass nuggets, stones, fabric, leather, beads, buttons and found objects with wool creating unique wearable accessories. Each person will felt a collection of pieces which may include a combination of rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, scarbes, simple belts, small purses (or one large one), neckwraps, sleeveless mittens, flowers or whatever else takes their fancy.
Nicola will bring a selection of unusual fabrics with her from Ireland including metallic meshes and sequin or glitter studded polyester in addition to some of the ‘mohair waste’ fiber which she is currently experimenting with in her work. Participants will be free to use these as accent materials but are also encouraged to bring alongany old bits and bobs they like from their stash, incorporating these into the felt lead to truly personal one off pieces of wearable art. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $150
Special 2-Day Nuno Mosaic Workshop – Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 10:30-5:00 

Discover the possibilities of creating your own wonderful multi hued and textured fabric using the mosaic nuno technique. Working over two days participants will have the time and opportunity to plan, design and felt either a beautiful piece of wearable art or else a stunning decorative or functional textile for the home. Suggestions for wearable projects include a large ruffled wrap, mini skirt, folded oragami style top or complex panel perfect for inclusion in any one off piece of clothing, ideas for interior design include a beautiful wall hanging or an unusual and stylish table runner. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $250

Felt and recycled material mobile for Earth Day and beautiful nuno mosaic!

Happy Earth Day!  Today is Earth Day and to celebrate I am throwing open my studio this afternoon and sharing a simple way of making a beautiful waste felt and recycled material mobile.  This pledge ticks the ‘recycling and waste reduction’ box and is my way of joining others aiming to achieve ‘A billion acts of green’.  In the evening I will be joining Cathy, Martin and other green friends for a walk to the summit of Mount Leinster followed by a party and some great music, Kiwi with an Irish twist!!!  Check out this event here on Facebook and do come and join us if you are free.  Places are limited to 6 for the mobile workshop but because I only made the pledge on Wednesday I am not actually sure if anyone will be joining me.  If not never fear, I am going to make my own mobiles anyway and take some pictures of the finished pieces so you can all share the process online tomorrow!

Sharon's beautiful nuno mosaic wrap

Due to circumstances beyond our control plans have changed for my workshops with Sharon and Emma of  The Tin Thimble, Loomis, CA.  Instead of us heading off for the fibre retreat as planned, we now have 3 days of workshops happening at the wonderful studio in Loomis instead, a special two day nuno mosaic workshop and a one day felted accessories workshop.  Details of both workshops as well as a full materials list will be posted here and to The Tin Thimble’s website later today or early tomorrow but for now I am going to share two pictures of Sharon’s amazing nuno mosaic wrap from last year.

Stunning textures in Sharon's wrap

This stunning piece of wearable art was felted during one highly intense day, imagine the possibilities for a designing and creating a beautiful origami style jacket, wrap around skirt or large wall hanging when having the opportunity to play around with this technique over two days???

Pictures of my recent nuno felt top!

Slowly, slowly I am finally starting to get back to basics with my newly working computer and all the attendant software.  Things like Office 2007 were all wiped out and I had a major panic because I couldn’t find any discs even though I knew that I had purchased all the bumpf.  Anyway, without boring you totally sensless I finally managed to find some old emails from Microsoft, realised I had purchased the software online, found the 25 digit product key and voila, I am back in business this morning!  Initially I couldn’t get any of the pictures from my phone onto the computer but now that I have updated everything I can finally proceed as if the last 4 weeks never happened, I wish!!!

Folded and stitched nuno felt top

 

You probably remember I blogged recently about my Japanese inspired folded and stitched top but wasn’t able to upload any pictures at that time, well here they are.  The first shot shows the top from the front, this is the kind of loose style of clothing I enjoy wearing myself so hopefully I will get plenty of wear out of this now that I have finally put it together into something wearable!  The second image is the top from the back.  I think you should be able to see how beautifully this piece of ponge silk was dyed by Lyda Rump, I echoed the colours by selecting short fibred merino in complimentary shades and also added silk fibres making the top reversible if desired.

The back of the top

A little about our new book and just a glimpse of some raw materials from yesterday!

Working on our new book has really forced me to write down ideas as they come into my head and document projects on paper more than I would otherwise tend to do, for me a lot of my documentation is through this blog but sketching more is really helping me clarify ideas and leading me to explore them in a more systametic way than I have being doing previously.  Chrissie is brilliant at this anyway and I really look forward to seeing some of her sketches and musings when she comes to stay with me in April for our final efforts to put the book to bed and get it available online.  I don’t want anyone to get the idea our book is going to be the bee all and end all of felting techniques, it’s not!  Rather it is an idea of how we both work as well as a demonstration of how we translate our thoughts and ideas from the inspiration stage into the finished felt item.  

Stunning 50/50 silk merino blend from Cloverleaf Farms

I love gathering up my raw materials at the start of any project, the possibilities seem endless at this stage when all the beautiful fibres and colours are gathered together just waiting to be selected.  Sometimes however, I find that having a wide selection of different fibres to work with can bring on its own worries and often just getting started is challenge enough for one days work alone! 

Yesterday was one of the good days.  In the morning I selected some stunning 50/50 hand dyed silk/merino roving which I bought at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival from the wonderful Joan Berner of Cloverleaf Farms, one of my all time favourite suppliers now!!!  I wanted to use it for a very special project and demonstrate how a small amount of luxurious fibre could create the most beautiful scarf imaginable!  Although I am not showing you a photo of the finished article imagine the glistening sheen of clear glass beads against the wonderful and subtle variations of colour in this blue based combination which Joan has called Sapphire.  I based the scarf’s design and colours on the beautiful blues and greens in the clear waters off La Gomera in the Canaries and Kos in Greece.  Wearing this piece (if I keep it for myself!) will bring back happy memories of holidays shared with Alan, the glass beads are NOT sewn in after the scarf is felted, wait for the book to see how I include them in the lay out stage!!!The second piece I felted yesterday is waiting on my table now to be transformed into a sleeveless vest/wrap type of affair, probably NO sewing again but maybe a couple of judicious stitches around the collar region, I’ll have to wait and see how it drapes once I cut out the armholes and put it on my manequin.  Again I loved gathering the supplies for this one, originally I had a big pile of silk fibre and hankies, beautiful Blue Faced Leiscester, linen fibres (all of these hand dyed) and some different colours of silk chiffon fabric.  In the end I felted this piece using ‘Chili Pepper’ BFL roving from Joan, silk hankies, silk fibre (again from Joan!), two colours of silk chiffon and then added a fine layer of orange merino because I wasn’t sure that I had enough BFL to make the vest strong enough.  Chrissie is really the master at the nuno felted jacket, I did however want to include a wearable piece requiring minimal stitching in the book, I know I could have done a bigger seamless project but really that’s not what I do every day, this type of felting is much more suited to my organic kind of style!  Anyway, here is a glimpse of some of the raw materials before I made my final selection.  Technically this wasn’t a nuno piece having more fibre than fabric, today I hope to felt a highly textured nuno wrap, one of my all time favourite projects! 

Hand dyed BFL and silk from Joan teamed with some lightweight silk chiffon

Revelation leads to a new nuno felt top!!!

OK, WordPress is behaving extremely funnily at the moment so forgive me if this the pictures in this post are not where I wanted them and they don’t have any captions. This morning I had a revelation, you all know by now how much I avoid sewing if at all possible, sometimes I like to add a few judicious hand stitches (I know stitching enhances felt wonderfully) but in general I avoid sewing like the plague!!!

Anyway, I ADORE the simplicity of Japanese design and one of the most read textile books in my library is ‘SAORI Self-discovery through Free Weaving’ by Misao jo and Kenzo Jo. My good friend Cristina lent me a few books last weekend and one of them is an absolutely wonderful book by Rutsuko Sakata, written in Japanese so unfortunately I can’t even give you the title here but believe me, I need to get a copy NOW! The pictures of Rutsuko’s work are beautiful and the line drawings inspirational. I was browsing through the book one more time at breakfast when suddenly I had a revelation! Last year I felted a beautiful piece of hand dyed silk with the intention of cutting and reassembling it into a kind of fitted sleeveless top (based on a well worn one from my wardrobe) prior to throwing it to hide the stitches and shrink it to fit. The silk was dyed by friend and master textile artist Lyda Rump and once I had incorporated a really fine layer of merino overlaid with silk fibres and felted them together the resultant nuno felt rectangle was so beautiful I baulked at cutting into it at all! Armed with a diagram from Rutsuko’s book I pulled out the nuno felt from my studio, folded it at the edges (a bit like origami but simpler!), pinned it and then tried it on, incredible, I now had the bones of a jacket/shrug that I know I will wear, fantastic!!! Anyway, I then found some perfectly matched thread (a Christmas present from Carmen!), added a couple of stitches to each side and voila, the top is completed. It’s raining horribly this morning so no pictures of the finished piece on the manequin, as soon as it stops I’ll take a few, for now off to felt and document another bag design for the book!