Thanks to all my friends and family who attended the opening of the Winter Exhibition at Kozo Gallery in Thomastown yesterday. Special thanks to my mother Lynette, my sisters Suzanne and Lizzy, my partner Alan and my friends Cathy, Martin, Eileen, Remmy, Duncan and Helena who all make the effort to attend, a great turnout! The exhibition continues until 31st January and as work is sold I can replace it with newer pieces. A second opening has also been organised for 6th December and another 5 artists are joining us then in the run up to Christmas. This was the first time that Kozo have invited artists to participate in an open selection and the work seemed to be very favourably received by both the public and the press.
With all the coming and going over the last few days I decided to felt something simple and quick this morning, prefelts seemed the obvious choice. I had promised my students that I would have some prepared for their next lesson and of course as soon as I started making them I have been having all sorts of wild ideas of what I myself would like to use them for. Now I want to spend all my time preparing some funky colour schemes and know that I will be in a frenzy over the next few days to prepare a wide selection of colours! For those of you not sure what I mean by prefelt it is a piece of felt in the making which you stop fulling and shrinking as soon as the fibres are holding together into an obvious piece of fabric. This lightly felted piece can then be cut into any shape and laid on top of loose wool roving or batts, wet out and felted fully as normal. The big advantage of using prefelt in a design is that because it has already started to mesh together into a fabric your design edges will be very clean cut and sometimes this is exactly what you require. Anyway, I am having fun making quite large pieces in solid colours (so far!) and embellishing part of each prefelt heavily with either tussah or mulberry silk. Tomorrow I will continue making some more pieces and on Tuesday or Wednesday start cutting some of them up to use in some vessels I have been brooding over!!
This collage of images is a taster for Sylvia, my swap buddy from Bag Lady Swaps to show some of the raw materials and the colour scheme that I used to create the felt for the bag I made her. If you look closely at the various images you can see pale pink and blue merino, a small section of green and pink silk fibres, pink prefelt and some of the finished water coloured blue felt. The movement and watery colour in the felt was achieved from a couple of base layers of dark blue wool, a mixture of lighter blue merino laid on top and then quite a bit of light blue silk to finish off with. I got the parcel posted today and included a couple of little extras one of which was a matching key ring. The key ring I was especially happy with because I added a little fish cut out from dyed fish skin and I thought that it looked great!! Because Sylvia has obviously got a few days to wait until the parcel arrives I am not going to post an image of the finished bag until I know she has received it.
An amazing tip learnt during the Anita Larkin workshop concerns the use of a wire brush! People had brought different sized brushes to try, but for fairly small pieces of work a suede shoe brush seemed perfect. We used these when repairing a seam or depression caused by uneven rolling, attaching an object or closing the hole created when removing the plastic around a resist (explanation re resists Anita’s way to follow in another post). I hope that I can explain what we did clearly but if it is not obvious enough please let me know. The type of ridge/depression I am talking about is that created by uneven pressure when rolling a ball or a cord, often a problem for me and I am sure that most of you know what I am talking about. Once you notice a ridge or depression forming at the pre felt stage use your wire brush gently to fluff up the fibres on either side of the problem area. Holding the piece of felt lightly in your hands (or on the table if easier) smooth the fibres with your fingers and encourage them to move towards each other. It is important that if the ridge goes in one direction you make the smoothing action in the opposite direction, ie. at a 90 degree angle to where the ridge is lying. Keep smoothing very gently for quite a few minutes and you will notice that the ridge or depression magically seals over. This method of fluffing up the fibres with a wire brush also allows you to attach a prefelted object to another piece of felt, just fluff up the side where you wish to make your join and work the seal very slowly and carefully. Next time that I write a post I will discuss Anita’s method of making cords and inserting wire into felt.
I did want to mention today however that on Saturday I attended an excellent one day workshop about silk paper making facilitated by Tunde Toth. This workshop was organised by the South East Textile Group and took place at our usual venue in the Demense Yard at Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. Tunde is an artist working from the Kozo Gallery in Thomastown and specialises in different types of paper making. She brought a great range of fibres for us to work with, initially we made a basic silk paper and then got really stuck in using inclusions and dyes as we became more experimental. I found the whole process really inspiring as depending on the thickness of the paper made I feel it will be possible to insert the silk paper into a piece of felt at the early part of the felting process. Already I have made a couple of experiments with silk paper that I made on Saturday, more on this subject as soon as I have finished writing about the scupltural feltmaking weekend with Anita.
I had a great time today at the Demense Yard, Castlecomer with the ‘South East Textile Group’. We meet one Saturday a month and either one of the members or an invited guest hosts a workshop. Today Jean (one of our founder members) showed us all how to create and use a lino print and in the afternoon we were using a printer to transfer images to a special medium and then iron them on to various fabrics.
As my drawing is dreadful I decided to use the lino cutting as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of creating a tag or logo for my work. I created a simple logo using my initials and some lines. Once I had gouged out the lines a bit deeper than my first attempt I was very happy with the end result, thanks Jean for a great tutorial.
The printer here at Clasheen has just run out of ink so I jumped at the opportunity to use the group’s new printer and transfer some images on to the special paper that Jean had brought. Deciding not to draw anything myself, I used some fantastic images of African women from a recent issiue of a fashion magazine that I had. Armed with these as I was going home, I spent the hour driving home planning how I would incorporate them into a piece of nuno felt. My biggest concerns were should they be colour fast once I started to wet felt and would the image shrink too much and become unrecognisable once shrunk and fulled. FANTASTIC success!!! I wanted to experiment with a wallhanging so I ironed one of the images onto a piece of white muslin and then laid it on a large piece of apple green commercial needle felt. This needlefelt is new to me and came from Wollknoll in Germany, usually I would create any prefelt from scratch but have been wanting to experiment with larger pieces in a limited time frame. I then laid out apple green, navy and marine blue merino on top of all but the actual image. These colours were chosen as they picked out the main colours in the clothes the African ladies were wearing. A little white and red wool to highlight and away I went and wet the wool. No problems with the dye from my printed muslin running and because I had positioned the fabric on top of the needlefelt it did not actually distort too much when fulled. I am so pleased with the result and hope to take a photo tomorrow once I decide whether to embellish the piece further or just leave it as it is. I would welcome feedback if anyone feels like making a comment as soon as I post the image of the finished piece!
My love affair with felt continues. Yesterday my delivery of fibres and equipment arrived from Germany, seventh Heaven! Already I have managed to create 2 new scarves and tonight I will be tutoring again, probably do some really light and supple marino creations. Have now attended the Artlinks morning on blogging for beginners, I hope I can put it into practice.
Carmen lent me her sander (yes a Black and Decker sander) and I have been playing around with it at the early stages of the felt making process. You need to be careful to have a light sheet of plastic between you and the fibres, otherwise the holes in the plate of the sander will suck up the wool or silk. Last night I made a Nuno felt scarf and also tried to use some prefelt cutouts on top of Bheda wool, a course wool that felts really well. The prefelts were not make from 100% wool and the sander definitely helped to secure them into the feltmaking process. Will keep you updated.