The journey and story behind one naturally printed felt wrap!

Last year a call went out to Feltmaker Ireland members inviting submissions for a curated exhibition titled 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World'. Regular readers of this blog may remember that I was delighted to have a large naturally printed nuno felt wrap accepted, the timing was extremely tight but I managed to felt and print it in the week between trips to the US and Portugal! A visitor to Borris a Food & Craft Market saw images of the wrap on display at the National Botanic Gardens and wanted to buy it, between the jigs and the reels we never managed to actually meet up again (she was a one off visitor!) so in November I brought the wrap with me to the Glucksman Gallery Christmas Fair. Enter Kate!

Kate was on holiday from the US visiting her sister who is living in Dublin, her daughter was getting married very shortly and she'd had been searching for months to find a special piece to compliment her mother of the bride dress. As soon as she saw the wrap Kate knew it was the one, love at first sight! It looked amazing on her at the Glucksman and I was so excited that someone would be buying it to wear on such a special occasion. As soon as Kate decided to purchase the wrap her sister stepped in with a lovely surprise, she bought it as a gift for an upcoming 'special' birthday and off the piece went to the States, nice surprise!

Last week I got a lovely email from Kate with stunning pictures as promised from the wedding. I was so touched with her message and asked her if I could share part of the email and some of the pictures. As soon as I saw them I understood exactly why the eucalyptus, black tea and onion skin wrap complimented her silk outfit so beautifully, I think that the colours were divine together.

In Kate's words, 'I wanted you to know that it made me feel so extra special that day! It really looked like it was meant to be with my dress. Everyone loved it and I of course, told them the story. Not only did I love the look, but the feel of the fabric was so soft and comfortable. We had a blizzard the night before the wedding and it was so cold and windy. It just felt so cozy in my wrap!!

Your work is so beautiful and I really appreciate your art. Thank you for making me feel so beautiful on one of the most important days of my life. I know it was heaven sent!!'

Thank you so much Kate for taking the time to write to me, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the day so much and from the wedding pictures it's obvious that everyone else did too!!! I look forward to having you visit Clasheen next time you're in Ireland and sharing the magic and simplicity of natural printing with you.

 

Fabulous saree silk from Canada and upcoming felt jewellery workshop at Berkeley Forest House!

Forgive me if I don't post many words over the next two weeks. It's full steam ahead at Clasheen trying to finish the studio re-organisation plus felting new work to bring to the Glucksman Gallery for the craft fair taking place from 8th to 10th November. If you'd like to attend the opening (or indeed any day of the fair) you can download and print your free admission ticket directly from the Glucksman, if you don't it'll cost you €5 on the door! The following weekend I'm facilitating a two day felt jewellery class inspired by the textile collection at beautiful Berkeley Forest House (outside New Ross, Co. Wexford), details about this workshop in my next post but if you're interested in learning more and/or booking a place please email Alexis directly.

Currently I'm making some jewel coloured nuno felt scarves for the festive season. These are inspired by my recent visit to Vancouver and Winnipeg and incorporate some of the stunning saree silk that I brought home. This silk is wonderful to work with, I love how it melts like butter into the merino and unusually for me I love the bling as seen here at the end of one of the scarves!

 

Fabulous felted and printed scarves from Vancouver and tomorrow is FeltUnited Day at last!!!

I'm here in Winnipeg now preparing for this weekend's two day felting and natural printing workshop, I'm really excited to be felting here tomorrow in celebration of FeltUnited Day 2014!!! We had a wonderful time yesterday at the one day event in Vancouver so ably organised by Sharon Gerhart, congratulations ladies on all your marvellous creations, you really were a fun group! Here's a pictorial rich review of what we got up to, for the first time ever I think I actually managed to take pictures of everyone unveiling their scarf.

Smiling faces all round as Sharon helps Chelsea open her scarf, this first successful unveiling really sets the tone for the whole group!
Judith bundled her scarf a little differently from everyone else and got a really nice clear design against the natural white background.
Debbie smiling as she shakes out the leaves and madrone bark from her scarf. Who knew until yesterday in that madrone was actually another name for arbutus, a tree I can get my hands on in Ireland??? Not me!
A group photo before Judith, Debbie and Chelsea head for the ferry then the rest of us head back to do some more unbundling!
Intense examination of Hayden's results.
One section of her scarf…..
….. looking good Hayden!
A stunning all over print from Sharon our intrepid organiser.
Bamboo fibre doesn't take the colour so lends a gorgeous tracery of white against some of the Silver Dollar eucalyptus prints.
Seed pods add another whole dimension to the design.
We're all pretty excited as Sheila unrolls her scarf, by this time we know she'll have a great outcome…..
….. and here it is!
Hayden helping Irma.
Super prints on Irma's scarf, Silver Dollar eucalyptus, black tea and onion skins.
Sheila and Sharon intent as they watch Ann unwrap her scarf.
Another nice example showing the bamboo fibre standing out strongly against the printed felt.
A final photo and a lot of happy smiling faces, Irma, me, Sheila, Sharon, Hayden and Ann!

 

 

 

Naturally printed/dyed nuno felt wrap, advance notice of another Vancouver workshop and a special gift of eucalyptus leaves!

Yesterday my mother, sister Suzanne and I had a lovely time attending the opening of 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World' at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin followed by a delicious late birthday dinner at new restaurant the Hot Stove, Parnell Square. It was lovely to catch up with friends from both Feltmakers Ireland and the Northern Feltmakers, I hope to have more time to chat with them and exhibition visitors when I invigilate on Tursday 22nd. The exhibition was brilliantly organised and curated, congratulations to Gabi McGrath, Sheila Ahern and all the committee for the brilliant job that they did! Thanks too, Christine Maxwell for the wonderful gift of a full truckload of eucalyptus leaves, collected on the way home and soon to be put to good use!!!

Because of the light during the opening and the fact that I was talking so much, photographs did not feature highly on my agenda even though it had been my I intention to take pictures of everything! As a result I'll post two pictures from my original submission (although this piece may be worn in many other ways) plus the written blurb that I had to include. The tumble dryer nuno felting technique followed by natural printing/dyeing that I used to create this wrap is the technique that I'll be teaching at all my Canadian workshops at the beginning of October. I've also added one last day to the Vancouver schedule, Thursday 10th (thanks a million Sara!) and promise more details of all my upcoming workshops over the weekend, I just need to catch breath today and tomorrow then it's back to business as usual on Saturday!

One note, I titled the piece 'Second Skin', after days of thought and chatting through my title choices with a friend. I was horrified to discover only last week that this is also the title of one of India Flint's beautiful books, apologies to India, there must have been some kind of unconscious thought process going on here. Anyway, here's the first photo of the wrap, silk side out…..

fibre side out……
and the submission details…..

TITLE: Second Skin

DESCRIPTION & INSPIRATION: Soft, fluid, sophisticated, envelope yourself in this shimmering naturally dyed reversible nuno felt wrap and dream your way to far away places. My inspiration for this iridescent piece came from the raw materials themselves, merino, bamboo, Firestar and silk to create the felt and eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves to impart the bush like colours and subtle eucalyptus scent. I love the way ultra fine merino feels like suede when felted and I wanted to create a luxurious piece which smells wonderful and feels like a second skin when wrapped around the body.

MATERIALS: Felt – Super fine merino, bamboo fibre, Firestar, silk fabric

Mordant and dye bath – Vinegar, rust, eucalyptus leaves, onion skins, tea leaves, copper pipe

TECHNIQUE: Nuno felting and natural printing/dyeing utilising plant materials that give a substantive colour (don’t fade even when used without a chemical mordant)

YEAR MADE 2013 DIMENSIONS: 1940 mm X 440 mm

METHOD OF HANGING: Displayed on a mannequin or draped on a plinth

 

I'll leave you today with two pictures from my meal last night, I know that I don't usually post anything here that's not felt related but they made such petty picture on the plate that I think they could be used for inspiration!

Rabbit in a wonderful light pastry
Chocolate marquise, meringue and fabulous boozy cherry with cherry cream!
 
 

 

 

BC, Canada – felting and dyeing workshop details!

Today I’m delighted to give you the details of the first workshop in Canada, tomorrow I hope to have the info re. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Thanks a million Sharon Gerhart for inviting me to teach and getting a venue sorted so quickly, this is going to be an active and super fun day!!! The workshop will take place within shouting distance of Vancouver at The Loafing Glass Studio, 9060 184th Street, Surrey, BC on Thursday 3rd October. The class will run from 10am sharp until 5pm, please contact Sharon ASAP if you’d like to book a place, the numbers to ring are 604-916-7633 or 778-298-8545. And now for those details…..


NATURALLY NUNO – a beautiful scarf inspired by and printed with natural materials!

During this fun one day workshop participants will create a simple white nuno felt scarf in the morning using the no roll tumble dryer method then print/dye it in the afternoon using a selection of easy to find natural plant materials and rusty metal.

This super easy technique of nuno felting will transform your arts practice if you’ve never tried it before and is ideal for anyone who finds the traditional rubbing and rolling hard on their body. We’ll work in white and add a selection of un-dyed embellishing fibres to the scarves, everyone can enjoy the process of laying out the wool knowing that this will be the biggest design decision of the morning!

In the afternoon we’ll transform the scarves by bundling them together with a selection of simple, easy to find natural plant materials then they’ll be tied together and either steamed or cooked in plant enriched water for a couple of hours. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how to achieve different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on the method chosen prior to putting the pieces in the dye pot. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the scarves also create different designs in the finished pieces.

Participants are encouraged to bring along previously completed felt (bags and vessels too, not just wearables!) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk and these may all be included in the dye pot providing we have space!

Short little felt, natural dyeing and polymer clay update

I've had a very busy but extremely enjoyable few days. Firstly Liga Valg and I headed to Ennis Creative Arts Centre for a wonderful two day polymer clay workshop with fabulous Seattle artist Ronna Sarvas Weltman and then as soon as I arrived home Anita came to stay for two days of intensive felting and natural dyeing! My electricity went late this afternoon and has only just come back so I'm not going to write any more now as I'm tired but here are a few pictures which I hope will keep you happy until the next post! That one will contain the promised info about all my upcoming interntional and Irish workshops.

 

Anita with her first ever naturally printed and dyed felt, two beautiful nuno felt scarves and three flat felt samples. Great job Anita!!!

Undoing one of the scarves, it's always a very exciting moment, will there or won't there be fabulous colour from the inclusions?
One of my sample pieces from the workshop with Ronna, I learnt so much and am now very excited about designing a limited collection to compliment my felt. Ronna was a marvellous instructor, very generous and so knowledgeable, I absolutely ADORE her jewellery!!!
Finally my funky ring, I love it but unfortunately unless I loose some weight it's just a tad too small for the finger I intended to wear it on, 'cest la vie'!
 

 

 

All set for nuno felting tomorrow!

Jan and I spent a very active, happy and tiring day trawling Lexington for printed silk then headed over to Masterson Station Park so that I could check out the workshop space for the weekend and say hi to Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor. To say that I was excited to get first dibs on their AMAZING fibre would be an understatement, if you've signed up for either of my workshops this weekend you're in for a BIG treat!!! Everything with the exception of some naturally coloured black cloud like fibre is hand dyed in a beautiful range of contrasting and complimentary colours. For the weekend I selected luscious alpaca locks, bamboo tops, silk hankies and Firestar, the colour range is glorious! Roo and Elizabeth are also going to offer all my students a discount on any fibre they purchase from them during the festival and I've already bought a massive bag of goodies to use myself when I get home. Anita, who's minding my studio while I'm away, is also going to get a lovely slice of heaven! Pictures tomorrow, until then adieu.

Lexington and the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, here I come!

I've got a little lay over at Chicago Airport on my way to Blue Grass, Lexington so thought I might write a short blog post and upload it later when I have an Internet connection. My wonderful stay with Dawn in Plainwell Michigan is over, our two day felting and printing/dyeing workshop was a blast, I spent such fun time with friends and once again I had a BRILLIANT time, thanks so much Dawn and Morry for having me!!! Now I'm en route to stay with Jan and Bruce, great friends and always a hoot to stay with too, I'm really looking forward to catching up with them later tonight!

This weekend I'm teaching at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival then next weekend it's the workshops that Jan is organising and running. These have always been great fun and Jan is a master at putting on a super lunch too, there are a couple of places left so if you'd like to join us please don't forget to email Jan or pick up the phone!!! Tomorrow we'll head over to the festival grounds and check out the space I've been given to teach in for the festival, last year there was plenty of room but not too many tables so fingers crossed well have enough for the classes. On Saturday I'm teaching nuno felt scarves/neck pieces working with alpaca locks, silk and fabulous embellishments, on Sunday I'll be teaching felt flowers. I'm really looking forward to catching up with both Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor tomorrow too, they're sponsoring the fibre and embellishments on Saturday via their business 'Alpaca Fiber Solutions' and I'll definitely be buying some of their deliciously dyed materials to bring home to Ireland myself.

Next week Jan and I will be doing some natural printing and dyeing together to check out the local flora and fauna, on Thursday evening I'll be facilitating this topic at a private workshop so fingers crossed we'll find some interesting plants or dried material to work with! I'll leave you now with a picture I love of Dawn taken at our last lunch today, she's wearing one of her Nuno felt scarves which she dyed during the workshop last Saturday and its closed with one of Anne Murphy's (Eala Enamels) wonderful enamel brooches. A little bit of America meets a little bit of Ireland!

 

Alpaca and silk nuno felt shrug/wrap, one final picture before I finish my packing!

I wanted to take some pictures of my latest shrug/wrap before I packed it away but it's so windy here today that I could only photograph it worn one way. It wouldn't oblige and stay put to show it worn as a shrug but here's a shot of it pinned with a vintage pin I bought (on one of my Goodwill forays with Dawn!) just to give you a little idea of how it finished up on Friday. This is one of the pieces I've felted using some of Roo and Elizabeth's beautiful alpaca locks, I'll be working with them in my nuno workshop at the KSFF and sharing the technique used here (tumble dryer method) in MI, KY and CA, details on the workshop page for anyone wanting to make a last minute booking!

 

Nuno felting with alpaca and/or merino in anticipation of my KY classes!

I decided not to go to my studio at Duckett's Grove today, rather I'm staying home and felting some more pieces to bring with me on my travels. Yesterday I made myself a very simple but much needed nuno felt scarf as well as preparing three pots of naturally printed and dyed silk bundles.

So far I've only had time to open up the bundles I steamed in the microwave, unfortunately the eucalyptus leaves from a new source left almost no imprint but the onion skins gave fantastic colour and a light dusting of tea leaves also imparted a soft, warm colour. I'll open the other bundles this afternoon and see what the results of these are like. They were simmered in two differen pots (stainless steel and aluminium) and although my intention was to include rusty metal in the aluminium pot I obviously got a bit distracted (a lot on my brain?), I discovered last night that I had included one rust wrapped bundle in the stainless steel saucepan as well. Uugh. Anyway, whatever the outcome I'm sure they'll be interesting, it's just that I wanted to have an obvious difference between the two pots, ah well, c'est la vie!

On the felting side of things I'm going to make a nuno felt wrap/shrug today using some of the fantastic alpaca and embellishing goodies I got from the wonderful Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor of Alpaca Fiber Solutions. I met Roo and Elizabeth at the Kentycky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington last year and they very kindly are sponsoring all the fibre for my nuno felt scarf/neckpiece class at this years festival on Saturday 18th May, thanks a million girls!!! There are several places available for this workshop so if you're interested in nuno felting with alpaca do please check out the website asap and book your place, the cost for this workshop is an impressive $120 including all the necessary silk, alpaca and embellinshing materials! Here's a picture of a simple neck piece I felted two weeks ago using ponge silk, alpaca locks, Firestar and bamboo. Roo is a MASTER at dyeing and I just love the way the different fibres compliment and play against one another, for once the pink and lavender colours in these two pictures are an accurate representation of the actual felt itself! Check out the close up shot, don't the colours just sing?