Life, Kentucky and Michigan updates!

Important events have unavoidably taken over in recent days and weeks so I'm way behind updating things here, many apologies if you've been waiting for a blog post. It's hard to believe but after only three full days at home I'm now sitting at the boarding gate in Dublin Airport awaiting my flight to Portugal. Tomorrow I meet the other participants for a wonderful week of shibori under the tutelage of Joan Morris (my first non working holiday for a long while!) and then next Saturday my own felting and eco printing workshops start at Dominio Vale do Mondego. Please excuse me if I upload a selection of pictures from both the Kentucky and Michigan workshops in the same post, I feel that if I don't I am never, ever going to catch up!!! Thanks a thousand times to great buddies Jan Durham and Dawn Edwards respectively for hosting me once again, it was a pleasure visiting you as always! I also really enjoyed teaching at the Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival in KY, it was my fourth year on the trot and thanks a million to master dyer Roo Kline of Moonwood Farm for sponsoring the gorgeous fibre we used in class. Now for a selection of pictures………

KSFF

Jan's two day workshop in Lexington
Day one with Dawn in Plainwell MI
Day two in MI, the rain had stopped by then and I was able to take a photo of each participant with a piece of their work. Great job ladies!
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Marvellous Michigan, felt, fun, friends and ice cream!!!

I am so excited to be heading back to teach and stay once more with Dawn, Morry and Micah in Plainwell MI, it really does feel like my home away from home!!! Sue, Shirley, Kristi, Peggy, Patty and a few others who’ll remain nameless all know that although I don’t have a sweet tooth I’m OBSESSED by the wonderful Plainwell Ice Cream, Art and Judy watch out, I hope that you have a tonne of butter pean in the making as I write this post. In addition to sorting out loads of FeltUnited stuff and many silk salvaging trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army store, most importantly Dawn will be hosting my MI workshop ‘Wrapped in Felt’ on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May. This is the first weekend of my upcoming US trip, what a fantastic way to kick off this amazing visit!

Sue and Shirley with their marvellous large felt vessels!

Sue and Shirley with their marvellous large felt vessels!

Aren’t these vessels felted by Sue and Shirley at last year’s event just fabulous??? I can’t wait to see what ideas they both come up with this year! I’ve created an event page for the workshops on FB and the full details of what we’ll be covering are on here on the workshop page of the blog. Amongst other things I’ll be sharing a way of felting vessels using an open instead of a closed resist, when I first tried out this method at Dagmar Binder’s 6 day masterclass in Scotland last year it was a totally ‘DUH’ moment for me. It’s revolutionised the way I think of resists now and made it so much easier to create shapes that I was struggling with or could only conceive in my mind before. There’ll also be the opportunity and facilities (for those that want) to make some small natural bundling experiments on silk and felt using leaves, onion skins, tea leaves and rusty metal. This is a wonderful and totally non toxic way of adding another dimension to your textile art, I love having a selection of my own naturally printed fabric to select from when I’m planning a nuno felting frenzy! Speaking of nuno felting, as with last year, participants are free to lay out a large piece of felt, maybe a wrap, wall hanging or yardage for a vest and then I’ll explain the steps that need to be taken so the piece may be felted in the dryer and brought back to class the next day felted, fulled and ready to share with the group! Obviously if anyone wants to felt their piece by hand during the workshop that’s also possible, the tumble dryer method though takes all the hard work out of the process and allows one to enjoy the designing and laying out process so much more!!! There’s a public laundry (is that the correct word in the US?) just up the road from our venue for those people staying overnight. a trip to Plainwell Ice Cream in the evening is also essential for anyone from out of town so I’ll leave you today with a picture showing some of the amazing flavours available for you to enjoy!

Yummy flavours at Plainwell Ice Cream!

Some of the yummy flavours available at Plainwell Ice Cream!

 

Felting, reflecting, unwinding and preparing…..

It’s back to a full working week here at Clasheen after all the fun and excitment of my super trip to the US. I’ve a lot of large nuno wraps to get felted and delivered before Thursday, I’m reflecting on the fantastic time I had staying with Jan and Dawn meeting so many old fibre friends and making new ones, I’m trying to spend time unwinding with Alan and I’m also trying to get sorted and prepared for my Friday departure to teach in Portugal!!! The weather here in Ireland has been WET ever since I’ve arrived home, aparantly it was glorious and hot during my absence but now it’s so wet I can’t even get outside to take a picture of the first wrap that I’ve finished. Instead here’s a picture from Plainwell, not everyone is here in this shot (a few people had to leave early) and not everyone is holding their work, you will get an idea of the scale of some of the projects however! Until tomorrow…..

Happy faces near the end of our two day felting workshop in Plainwell!

The two day Plainwell felting workshop is over, what a brilliant and fun experience!!!

I had such a blast at the two day felting workshop organized by the wonderful Dawn Edwards in Plainwell, Dawn’s been loading pictures to her Facebook page like crazy and I’ve been loading others to my public page as well as to my profile. Please check them out there because I’m just enjoying a little unwinding time with Dawn, Morry and Micah before heading back to Ireland on Wednesday and really don’t have the brain power to blog properly now!

We spent a wonderful day yesterday enjoying a fantastic trip on the Star of Saugatuck out on Lake Michigan, strolled around Saugatuck town itself, ate dinner serenaded by a brilliant band and then headed back to Art and Judy’s for more butter pecan ice cream at Plainwell Ice Cream!!! This morning Dawn and I were early risers, it was 5 for $5 day at the Salvation Army and boy did we have fun!!! Obviously I was constrained by weight/baggage limitations but all the same I snagged 17 beautifully coloured silk shirts or skirts to either wear or nuno felt, 1 totally new denim jacket, 2 cotton shirts and 3 vintage brooches. I also snapped up a Christian Dior silk top (again only costing $1!) but gave it to Dawn because I thought that she might find a home for it, she also snapped up 70 silk shirts and 2 pelmets!!!

Very quick studio and US update this morning!

I really have run out of time to prepare and pack for my trip to the US first thing on Tuesday morning, I’ll be leaving Clasheen to travel to Dublin on Monday night so thanks George for coming a day early to stay in the house and mind Rex! Today is the official opening to the public of the new retail space at Duckett’s Grove, I’ll be in the studio giving felting demonstrations and have decided to felt some new flowers to use as samples for my flower workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in two weekends time. I’ll also be having a good think about exactly what way I want to lay out the space, the contracts are now ready to be signed so as soon as I’m back home from my travels I’ll be getting everything sorted urgently. Tomorrow I hope to write a short post about what we will be covering at the workshops in Lexington next weekend and Plainwell at the end of the month, watch this space!

American workshops – a guide to the raw materials required by participants!

My flights are booked, new linen trousers purchased and I am SO excited now about my upcoming workshops in America, meeting old friends, making new ones and simply having the best of fun with like minded fibre nuts!!!  From 13th to 16th May I will be participating and teaching at The Tin Thimble’s wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat, on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May I will be with my amazing friend Dawn for two days of workshops in Plainwell, MI and then on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th May I will be meeting and staying with online fibre friend Jan Durham and facilitating two days of workshops in Lexington KY, how fantastic is that for an adgenda???  

On the Friday participants in both MI and in KY have the option of taking a workshop titled ‘Simple vessels, purses and other three dimensional objects incorporating found objects’ and on the Saturday a workshop titled ‘Nuno mosaic and other interesting possibilities for wearable felt accessories’.  Participants attending both workshops have the option of designing and felting larger and more complex vessels, bags, sculptural items, bigger nuno projects or indeed an art piece for the wall.  As a result I have been toying with the correct materials list to publish for each workshop, eventually I have decided to provide a ‘minimum fabric and fibre requirement’ list for some of the projects participants may want to make and hopefully this will cover most potential eventualities!  In this way each individual participant will decide for themselves what exactly they want to make and what materials then need to bring with them at a minimum,. I know from personal experience that I can never bring too much fibre and embellishment items with me when I attend any workshop so limiting myself can be a challenge, it may also bring unexpected rewards at times!!!  Each participant will need to bring their usual felting equipment, bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  For participants felting nuno mosaic or large nuno wraps it is really best to have two long lengths of bubble wrap bigger than the starting size of the silk used, plastic trash can liners are OK too in an emergency so if you have a roll of them please just bring them along!  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishments, inclusions, leather off cuts and artificial glittery fabrics with me for everyone to share as well as some of the mohair waste which I am currently experimenting with in some of my three dimensional work!  Enough of the waffle, hopefully the following will be a guideline and I am always happy to answer any questions directly so please feel free to email me if you have a major concern …….

Clutch bag, vessel, iPad cover and smaller three dimensional items will need 80 – 150g of fibre.

Larger and more complex bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.

A nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!

A large nuno wrap (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.

A mosaic nuno scarf will need a total minimum of 1m silk chiffon but this needs to be in at least 3 colours ie. 1/3m from a roll of three different colours, adding a small amount of a clashing colour can work wonders!  Incorporating vintage scarves into nuno mosaic is wonderfully effective and a beautiful way of bringing old fabrics back to new life, to see what I mean check out Marni’s wonderful scarf from last year’s Tin Thimble workshop, isn’t it beautiful?  These scarves will also need over 100g good quality merino preferrably in two colours.

A large nuno mosaic wrap will need 2 – 3m silk fabric in mixed colours and a total of up to or over 200g good quality merino, again two colours of fibre is ideal.

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre.  The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials???

Felting workshops for Michigan uploaded at last, lock down and Irish and International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships!

Finally, at last I have managed to upload details about the two 1 day workshops I will be facilitating in Michigan this May to the workshop page and amazingly this time they have not caused everything else to hop all over the place or disappear altogether!!!  Our venue is now confirmed as the Presbyterian Church in Plainwell, a wonderfully welcoming space and only about 15 minutes drive from Kalamazoo.  I am so looking forward to staying with Dawn again and meeting up with some of you who participated in the workshops at the KIA last Fall or attended the Weaver’s Guild talk on my last evening.  This trip I will be offering 2 one day workshops, on Friday 20th May we will work on ‘simple vessels, purses and other three dimensional objects’, on Saturday 21st the title will be ‘nuno mosaic’.  Participants attending both days will have the option of felting more complex projects, check out the full listing at the bottom of the workshop page to get all the details!

I’m in a bit of a lock down situation at the moment, felting hard, writing and working for as long as possible each day on projects for the book which Chrissie and I are trying to put to bed.  Deciding not to turn on the television until after 9pm each night (if at all!) has definitely helped, I NEVER wanted a ‘box’ here at all but Alan really needed to keep up to date with the progress during the last local election campaign and once it arrived it was like a virus!  Today I have been working on some accessories using a combination of short fibred merino and hand dyed silk fabric.  Thanks Heather for the silk, you may remember it was that stretchy funny stuff you gave me a present of in October and although I found it really didn’t give me the result I was seeking when nuno felting (the stretch I think) it is combining wonderfully with the wool in this different sort of project, wait ’till the book is out!  PS Heather has a give away running on her blog at the moment so if you hurry you might be the lucky winner of one of her latest new scarves!!!

Lastly I urge you to check out the Irish and International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships which are taking place about 40 minutes drive from my house the first weekend in June!  More about this exciting event anon …..