This is just a quick post to clarify details of the hollow punches that I use to cut out my thick felt beads. The punches are often sold for use with leather and a good place to check out if you are looking to buy one is eBay, here is the link for our neck of the woods. I bought my set at a motor factors but Carmen got hers in Spain and they were much more expensive than mine but they do punch much better!
Green punched necklace
The edges seem to be very sharp and definitely cut out a nice crisp circle, the thick felt can be difficult to cut through and you need to have a piece of hardwood as a backing to lay the felt on as you work. Carmen’s set also has punches with a wider diameter than mine, if you do order a set try and go for one with sizes up to 30mm. When making the felt pad to punch for beads I like to lay out several different colours of wool and it is a good idea to have either a white or a yellow layer somewhere to provide a bit of contrast. I’m not sure why this image of a necklace I made before Christmas has been inserted so small but if you want to have a proper look at it check out my necklace set at Flickr. This green necklace is an example of a thinner pad punched in small beads and strung with sreen seed beads for contrast.
Yesterday afternoon I called over to Carmen’s house to see how her new studio is progressing. Her partner Peter has spent the last couple of weeks working almost full time on this shed conversion and I must say that the results look great! This was a modern barn with open sides and no concrete floor, now it is a beautiful cladded building with 4 huge windows, a wooden stable style door, shelving, electricity, water and plenty of wall and display space. Peter is now making metal topped tables and then Carmen is all set to go, the only thing that will be left to do is landscape the outside a little bit! Anyway, I toured the studio and then we had a great lunch of fish soup followed by fresh fish and veg. I had said to Carmen that I would help with some organising and tidying up in the studio but since Peter was working on the tables we decided to experiment a little with some more felted jewellery. I showed Carmen how I made the blue felt rings and then I tried making a ring by felting around a large glass mosaic bead. this actually worked out very well although you do need a big hand for the ring to look totally in proportion! When I got home I decided to use the same method of trapping the glass but this time surrounding a marble. This ring also worked well but again I would like to have a little less wool surrounding the glass and therefore end up with a slightly smaller ring. I am going to take some pictures later today and hope to get them online tomorrow or even this evening. Let me know if any of you have and ideas, maybe I just need to start with a smaller marble to get a finer end result.
My felting disaster is another thing altogether! Carmen got a new book for her birthday and one of the projects was felting around a ball. Now I know that many of you have done this before using Beth Beede’s method but I have always prefered starting any of my 3 dimensional work using a flat resist. Anyway, I decided to give the ball method a go and try to make the fruit bowl as demonstrated in the book. I didn’t have any elastic bandage to wrap around the wool wrapped ball so decided to go for Beth’s method of using cut off tights, a VERY difficult manouver if you are working by yourself. My colour scheme was a big success, shades of red and maroon with some orange highlights, red muslin (felted in beautifully) and some gorgeous silk in shades of maroon and wine. My bowl decided that it would like to become a hat and after I had shaped it on my hat block I realised (as this was actually the first time that I had used the block) that it would be HUGE on my head. Now I am back to the stage of having a fruit bowl or deciding whether to cut up the felt or punch into it and create some jewellery. Ah well, another day another hat, I really need a lesson in how to make a proper and comfortable but most importantly wearable hat!!
This morning my order arrived from Wollknoll containing a wide range of beautiful coloured silks that I am going to be using in some mosaic nuno wallhangings and hopefully some clothes! This is the technique that Sigrid Bannier taught recently to Feltmakers Ireland members and friends, one workshop in Dublin the other in Kiltealy. We laid out chopped up pieces of silk chiffon in random or organised designs on top of light see through plastic, covered it with 2 layers of very fine merino, more light plastic, wet it down and felted. We overlapped the silk pieces slightly where they met so that there were no gaps in the coverage and this made the resultant fabric beautifully tactile and supple. The colours were wonderful all over but in some cases especially interesting where the neighbouring silks overlapped. Sigrid explained to us how to create a long skirt in a tube form and then use a large button or brooch as a closure. I think that I might try this as an exciting Christmas/New year project (it would be a talking point at openings!!) and commission a nice button from Hillary Jenkinson at the Demanse Yard, Castlecomer for the fastening.
The other thing that I am excited about today is that I met some very nice people today in Borris, they were planning to contact me at some stage as they are interested in some felting workshops. It was quite by chance that the topic came up as I was actually representing my partner Alan (he is a Green Party County Councillor) at the opening and blessing of a new playground which serves children from all the neighbouring communities. The young children staged a Nativity play, there were a few short speeches, we all went outside to the play area and then the longest serving member in the group cut the ribbon. At that stage everyone was invited back inside for a warm spiced punch (non-alcoholic!) and a bit of networking and chat. It turned out that the committee members had seen one of the recent newspaper articles profiling my change of career and had discussed contacting me re. demonstrating to the younger children, teaching some workshops at their summer school and also doing some workshops with the leaders and teachers in the play school. It was great to hear this as one of my intentions in the New Year had been to put some proposals together to present to local community groups so here I am already on my way!
Craft in the Classroom is going to be stepping up a gear after Christmas as well, my HSE Child Protection Training takes place on 13th and 14th January and at the beginning of February I get to meet my teacher in Leitrim and learn all about the class that I will be working with. Mehmet Girgic is arriving on 15th January and staying until 23rd so all in all January will be a very busy month. Don’t forget for those of you living in the vicinity of Wicklow that I am also teaching felting workshops on 31st January in the Old Courthouse, Tinahely, we actually have a day lined up with tasters in felting, knitting, spinning and crochet, book your space by clicking here!