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!

 

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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?

 

First felt picture and a couple of spring flower inspired nuno neck felt pieces

I can't actually write about the internet problems I've been having over the last week and a half for fear I'll jinx things again, if you follow me on FB you'll know what I'm talking about! I'll post a few pics instead and just mention that I WON'T be in the studio at Duckett's Grove on Easter Saturday or Sunday but I will be there on bank holiday Monday. I'll also be the Borris Food and Craft Market on Saturday morning, we won't be open on Good Friday at all. Now for the pics……

Last Saturday Ulrike joined me at Duckett's Grove for her first felting experience, the result, an absolutely gorgeous picture with a very definite underwater feel.
The picture was laid out with the intention of having the green circle at the bottom left hand side, once it was felted however, Ulrike decided that the other way up made the most pleasing composition. I think I have to agree! Last night I felted 6 flowers and today a long nuno felt scarf plus four short nuno felt neck pieces inspired by spring flowering bulb. These are all fully reversible, I like them best worn with a little bit of both sides showing!
Daffodil inspired neck piece
Grape hyacinth inspired neckpiece
Crocus inspired neckpiece
 

 

Yummy alpaca and embellishing fibres!!!

Check out this yummy box of fibre I received from Roo Kline this week complete with beautiful handmade shawl pin!!! Roo and Elizabeth from Alpaca Fiber Solutions are the amazing sponsors for my nuno felt neckpiece workshop at this years' Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, we are going to have a ball!

I can't wait to dive in but I so want to felt something special with this, I'll be bringing the samples along with me to all my upcoming US workshops.

Alpaca of this quality is a total pleasure to work with, it's not a fibre easily accessed here but once you know a good supplier…..keep them!

On the everyday side of things my current project is coming along really nicely at the Gaelscoil in Carlow, to date I've worked with 300 pupils and by next Monday afternoon another 150 will have had their first experience felting! As a result I've not actually done a lot of felting at home myself over the last two weeks as my fingers are all wrinkled by the time I leave Carlow and my back's aching, I've been trying out a few polymer clay ideas instead. Thanks Elaine (editor of the polymer clay section at Craft Gossip) for linking to the post I wrote recently about my first 'official' necklace, it's always nice to get a thumbs up. I'll be facilitating a felt flower workshop at Duckett's Grove on Saturday so I plan on felting quite a few flowers and other small items then! I'll leave you with a link to a picture of a flower head piece that Mary felted this week (Mary was one of my super students at the VEC recently), I think that it's gorgeous.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=425275637551011&set=a.114109508667627.19391.100002057342575&type=1&theater

 

 

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions…..

Laying out some Fimo against a nuno felt wrap last night to try and select the colours I wanted. Of course I realised as soon as my order of polymer clay arrived that I didn't get half enough blocks of soft subtle colours and I only ordered one white and one translucent block, silly me. The green that I got is much sharper in colour than I expected also so this afternoon I headed into Carlow after teaching to stock up on some more light colours and white. The Fimo is much more expensive there than online but at least I can now work again and do some more experimentation this evening, tomorrow I'll be felting the complimentary pieces in the morning then assembling all the jewellery in the afternoon. At least that's my plan anyway and I'll really try to stick to it!

 

Nuno felt sample

Tomorrow is my last session with the parents' group at Carlow VEC. We're going to be working on nuno felt samples so after the last class I brought home some of the wool that the VEC have provided, I just wanted to see how it would react when combined with ponge silk. I'll be bringing a selection of my own supplies and new nuno scarf kits tomorrow also, some of the participants fell in love with the feel of the short fibre merino and want to invest in some for future use at home.

Anyway, here's a picture of the finished sample I laid out this morning, silk side uppermost. I'd actually forgotten how nice it is to experiment with supplies that I don't usually work with! I loved how easily the coarse wool fibres migrated through the silk, it's really quick compared to finer merino and perfect for beginners to get a feel for the nuno technique.

I also love the finished texture of the sample, it would work really well in different colours as a window treatment but it's definitely not soft enough to wear against the skin, for that I'll stick to finer fibres! You can check out some more images of this piece in progress on my Nicola Brown – Clasheen page, the link to bring you there is on the right hand toolbar.