Felt flowers adorn my garden!

This morning I finished the last of the 36 felt flowers for my sister’s lamp and as the latest batch are drying on the range I thought it would be fun to take a picture of some scattered amongst the leaves of my beautiful purple burning bush! 

Felt flowers for Suzanne's lamp

I didn’t find the flowers as tedious to felt as I had been expecting.  Maybe it was the fact that I was only working on 36 and not 450 as previously for Sculpture in Context but anyway I enjoyed playing around with the colours and I hope that Suzanne will be happy with the result.  This afternoon I am intending on punching a very small hole in the centre of each flower then   unscrew the bulbs and refit them around the felt.  I am consistently amazed at how versatile and wondrous a fabric felt is, the fact that wool is fire resistant means that these little lamp shades will be perfectly safe.  When the lamp is fully assembled I promise to take some pictures before it wends its way to Suzanne in Dublin!


Exciting news re. felting wool, Clasheen Autumn Swap and last chance to view Sculpture in Context

There never seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in all the things that I really want to do.  Luckily my flu is now 90% over so I am starting to plough through all the paperwork and outstanding letters/emails etc. that built up over the 4 weeks while I was away from home.  My exciting news of the day however concerns the Icelandic wool that I will soon be selling from my Etsy store, I haven’t linked through this time because I need to wait until the wool arrives and get the images uploaded first!  The colours are fabulous and as well as offering different weights of the wool for sale I also intend putting some fun kits together with clear (hopefully!) instructions on how to make various different items.  The Icelandic wool is superb for structural work, bags, vessels, sculpture, light shades etc. and also could be used for warm scarves although would not be as soft as merino when worn directly against the skin.  Please let me know what you think about putting felting kits together, I was thinking along the lines of …..  beginners flat felt, simple felt vessel, felt purse, felt flower, felt necklace, felt brooch etc. and then a kit with instructions for a first nuno felt scarf using the fantastic short fibred merino I import from Filzrausch.  I would include all the raw materials including embellishments and any findings, clear but simple instructions and enough bubble wrap and resist where necessary to complete the project.  All comments gratefully received!

This Thursday is the deadline for all Clasheen Autumn Swap packages to be on their way across the globe!  If you have been one of our gang participating this time please remember to get your goddies out and then to leave a message of thanks and pictures to the Clasheen Crafty Swaps pool on Flickr as soon as you receive your own package.  If for any reason you are going to be a day or two late getting to the post PLEASE just leave a message on our message board.  Everyone understands if a delay occurs (so long as it is not every time!) and it just relieves the pressure on both ends of the swap.

Next Monday I will be taking down my felt ‘Cascade’ from Sculpture in Context so if you have not yet visited the Irish National Botanic Gardens in Dublin to view the exhibition now is your last chance.  Check out this article from the Irish Times.

Article in the Irish Times

Article in the Irish Times

Images from Sculpture in Context and meeting with black bear!

Thanks so much to fellow ‘Sculpture in Context’ exhibitor Elaine Prunty for including my felt flowers among her favourites from the exhibition, you can check out some great images on this post from her blog.  Elaine is a very talanted glass artist and it is really interesting to go back through her blog and follow the progress of her ‘seven year old tree’ from conception to installation! 

Alan and I are just about to hit the road again having spent a couple of great days walking through some of the most amazing giant redwoods ever.  On Friday we met a black bear twice, he or she was calmly picking blackberries from the briars and only about 7m away from us, quite surreal!  We also have had great fun watching giant seals, sea lions and elk, the wildlife is absolutely fabulous in this part of the world.  This morning we are heading over the border to Grant’s Pass in Oregon and from there we will be travelling down to Lava Beds National Monument and then on to Lassen Valley Volcanic Park.  Hopefully I will be able to pick up a new camera somewhere along the way, at Sears I was told to check out K Mart as they might have the Panasonic Lumix model that I am on the lookout for.  On the fibre side of things my crochet journey continues, one of the books that I have picked up on my travels is ‘365 crochet stitches a year’ and at the moment I am experimenting with a shell pattern from October 20th and using the remainder of the silk/cotton/wool mix from Noro.  To be cont …..

At last ‘Cascade’ is installed and Clasheen Autumn Swap

Well at last ‘Cascade’ is installed in the Great Palm House at the National Botanic Gardens thanks to a lot of help from Alan!  Thanks also to everyone who sent me emails and comments with suggestions about the stringing and transportation of the felt flowers.  I eventually wound the strands around old election posters of Alan’s and secured both ends with packing tape, it worked a dream!  I must say that we nearly came to blows on Wednesday night and I was beginning to wonder if the project would ever come to fruition but come Thursday morning everything looked a lot more hopeful and all went extremely smoothly in the actual installation thank goodness.  We arrived at the Botanic Gardens a little after eleven in the morning and Ana Duncan, Beatrice and everyone concerned with the organisation of the exhibition was a great help as were the horticultural staff working in the Palm House area itself.  We had no problem accessing the gantry and Alan ended up lying way up overhead dropping down a piece of string through the gantry floor weighted with a small fishing weight!  I then attached individual strands of flowers by means of a swivel hook before Alan pulled the whole thing up from above.  Although he needed to be careful not to pull to quickly or else the strands would wrap around each other this only happened once during the whole process and we managed to sort the problem out without too much fuss.  By about half past two we had the bulk of the long strands installed and had a welcome break for a spot of lunch.  (If you do go to see the exhibition the restaurant/coffee shop is excellent, I actually had never had anything to eat there before and realised that I had been missing out on some really great home cooked food and cookies!)  Feeling refreshed we then went back to the Palm House and I started attaching shorter strands of flowers from some of the surrounding foliage.  The main body of the installation is approx 3.5m long and the lower strands just serve to continue the cascade down to a level where everyone will be able to view and enjoy the felt including the many children who have great fun running around in the garden.  We finished the work by about five o’clock when I positioned some loose felt flowers amongst the lowest plants to ground the whole installation.  Alan thought that the flowers could be a bit bigger but overall I am pretty happy with the result.  I think that the masses of small flowers do what I proposed in my submission but obviously I will need to let the public be the deciders of that!  I was so wrapped up in installing the work that I didn’t think to take any photos but Sculpture in Context opens on Wednesday night and providing I locate my camera (which I have mislaid since last weekend) I intend taking images which I will then post to the blog and Flickr.

Clasheen Autumn Swap  – sign up today!

Sorry about the really late notice for those of you not checking the Clasheen Crafty Swap group regularly on Flickr but sign ups for this swap close tonight as I want to get partners assigned before I leave home on Tuesday afternoon for our holidays.  This swap is all about spoiling your partner on a budget, a little bit like a Green meets New Year de-stash swap with a difference! We will create a thoughtful but inexpensive package using mainly items that we already have in our homes or can buy locally and add in a little hand made gift that we have created ourselves for our swap buddy. Using the list below for guidance select at least five items that you already have at home and then let your imagination do the rest ……..

Old craft magazines or book you no longer need
That gorgeous soap or body lotion that you have never opened
Buttons and beads
Fibre (the more the merrier!!)
Hand made paper
Greeting cards
Jewellery that you have never worn
Ribbons and bows
Scrap leather
Your favourite tea
etc., etc., etc.

If you want to sign up for the swap please go to our sign up page on Flickr and make sure to also add your likes and dislikes to the relevant page.  Packages then need to be sent by Friday 16th October (any earlier is a bonus!) giving everyone plenty of time to make their hand made gift and put together their package.

Feeling frustrated and grumpy with the felt flowers!

Whatever gave me the idea that stringing the felt flowers would be the last task of completing my piece for Sculpture in Context and however did I get the idea that this part of the project would be fun???  As posted previously I had decided to string the flowers on clear nylon thread but before too long it became obvious that this thread was not strong enough to deal with my rough handling.  The felt flowers themselves are very light but there is no point putting together a piece if I am going to be worried about it’s durability for the whole time I am away in the States.  One trip to an old fashioned hardware and I came home armed with strong fishing line and little lead weights which I am adding to the last flower on each strand.  This time the nylon is plenty strong enough but the difficulty is dealing with approx 3.5m of line and attaching 14 to 20 flowers per strand without the whole caboodle getting totally twisted and knotted together.  Patience is definitely NOT one of my strong points but as Sigrid pointed out time and time again during her workshops it is the repeated simple actions done well that create the best and most satisfying work.  At this stage I now have 14 strands assembled and have decided to have a slice of melon to cool my nerves!  Hopefully Alan will arrive towards the end of the afternoon because he will be helping me make the wire frame for the flowers to hang from, I will keep you posted!!

Catching up with news, felt lampshade workshops, any felters in California?

Well I have so much news to write about and only so much time to do it in!  Sigrid travelled back to Germany on Thursday after a wonderful 2 weeks together here at Clasheen and since then I am trying to catch up on household chores, complete my 450+ flowers for ‘Sculpture in Context’, submit a proposal for a craft exchange to Norway and make and submit my entry for an international felt exhibition ….. all these have to be completed before Thursday 27th, some by August 24th!  On September 2nd ‘Sculpture in Context’ opens and on the following morning Alan and I fly to San Fransisco for a 4 week road trip, woo hoo, I am really excited to be travelling to the States for another vacation!

OK, let’s take all these things in order and then I will follow up with some more detailed posts over the coming week to bring you all up to speed with events here in Ireland as well as posting about Anna Gunnarsdottir’s wonderful 2 day ‘felt sculpture’ workshop at ‘Felt in Focus’

Sigrid Bannier’s 2 day felt lampshade workshop went brilliantly, each participant made at least one completed piece with some creating several items over the course of the weekend.  The most useful knowledge gained from this workshop for me was realising how you could adapt basic light fittings and put them to many uses when deciding how to create your lampshades or light fittings. 

Anne with her finished felt lampshade

Anne with her finished felt lampshade

Some participants came armed with a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve and Sigrid was very good at enabling people see how their thoughts could be turned into reality.  Other people had no preconcieved ideas and let Sigrid’s photos and the basic lamp fittings dictate what their finished piece would be like.  The simplest ideas often work the best and by hanging a very fine piece of light coloured felt in front of a wall light beautiful effects can be achieved.  Gerd (who had only felted once before!) incorporated fresh rushes (a type of grass found in boggy ground) into her wall piece and initally had intended creating two lampshades using this method.  Half way through the process she decided to keep the felt as one piece to hang in front of her double height window allowing the natural light to shine through the felt and reveal the gorgeous pattern created by the vegetation.  More images of work in progress and finished pieces from this workshop may be found on  Flickr and when Carmen and Patricia have finished their flower covered shades I promise to take pictures and post them as well!

This is just an off chance but are any of you living in the upper part of California and if so would you be interested in me delivering a felt workshop during the month of September???  Alan and I will be travelling to San Fransisco on 3rd September for 4 weeks and participants from a local Irish stone symposium will be staying in my house for the duration.  This is a win win situation as my friend and well known sculptor Eileen MacDonagh has organised participants from the symposium to house sit during my trip, for these people they get a great location and free accomodation for the month while I get my house minded and my dog fed!  Alan and I are collecting a car in San Fransisco and our intended route extends northwards to encompass amongst others Napa, Mendocino, Redwood National Park, Lava Beds National Monument then travels south through Lassen Volcanis National Park, Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake and returns to San Fransisco via the Big Sur coastline.  If any of you are interested in the possibility of me teaching a felting workshop please email me asap and we can discuss the various options.  It would be absolutely amazing to meet some followers of the blog in person so do please contact me or leave comments if you live anywhere near where we are travelling and who knows we might get time for a coffee and a chat!

Pictures of nuno felt tunic in progress and great news re. Sculpture in context

Here are a couple of images of my nuno felt tunic in progress.  I laid out the Filzrausch wool very finely on a base of light cotton fabric making sure to keep the brightly coloured circles and stripes large enough to be visable in the felted article.

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

Unfortunately the images don’t do the felt justice as the weather outside is very dull and the light inside was against me!  I am very happy with the texture on this side of the top, it is nice and crinkly with straight but wavy edges, hope you can understand what I mean!  You know from previous posts how much I hate sewing (although I really admire and appreciate others work!!) so I am just trying to think of the best way to stitch up the sides and elongate the armholes a little. 
The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

I used a template from Felting Fashion as a guideline and feel that for my shape, being above average height, I could have cut out the armhole section about 3 inches deeper and longer.  Ah well, I will just have to experiment and eventually will get a template to fit me a bit better, isn’t that half the fun of felting, the experimental kind of stuff!

Great news on my ‘Sculpture in Context’ submission.  The large felt hanging  ‘Cascade’ that I submitted has been accepted for the exhibition so now all I have to do is make hundreds of flowers to go towards the work.

Site visit to the gorgeous botanic gardens

One of the beautiful Australian plants in the Curvilenear Range

One of the beautiful Australian plants in the Curvilenear Range

On Saturday I went for a site visit to the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin.  This beautiful space, free for the public to enjoy (safe parking 2 Euro) is going to be the venue for ‘Sculpture in Context’, a site specific exhibition that takes place throughout September and part of October this year.  Proposals need to be in by Friday of this week at the latest and at this stage I am really not sure if I will be finished in time.  I hate being late with anything but with Craft in the Classroom and a few other projects that I have been trying to put to bed I really could do with another week to get things together.  Yesterday I spent the day felting at Carmen’s again and this morning worked on another sample piece which I had wanted to take photos of today.  Just my luck, the wind was SO strong that I couldn’t photograph outside at all and the light inside was NOT what I needed. 

The aptly named 'Bird of Paradise'

The aptly named 'Bird of Paradise'

Tomorrow morning I am going to have another go at things but if I am not successful then I will have to re-evaluate as the submission really needs to be in the post by the afternoon.  Off now to do a bit of housework (Yeuck) in order to free my time up somewhat tomorrow!

One idea clarified and great news about an Arts Grant from Carlow Co Council

One of the ideas that I have been playing around in my mind with for Sculpture in Context is a really large felt cobweb sparkling with dew and catching the early morning sunlight.  To this end I have been thinking of ways to make the cobweb strong but not too thick, it needs to be strong enough to withstand the weather but fragile looking enough to suggest delicacy and light.  Tomorrow I am going for a site visit to the National Botanic Gardens and hope to find a likely spot to place the cobweb when designing my submission, stretched between some trees or draped over a suitable shrub in a slightly sheltered space would be ideal.  I would love to work on a much larger scale than I usually do so yesterday I decided to utilise one of Mehmet’s rug bases as a sample piece and see how it would felt into a finished form.  My reasoning was that the cotton backing would add strength to the strands of the web and I think that I have proved the point pretty successfully.  Check out this image of the sample piece hanging from one of the trees at the entrance to my front field.

Sample cobweb

Sample cobweb

The cotton backing from the rug base meant that the felt when fulled is strong and surprisingly flexible.  In the photo I have just draped the piece over some branches of the tree, for a bigger piece my intention would be to secure the edges of the cobweb with either wire or strong fishing gut allowing a little bit of leeway for swaying in the wind.  I also would like to string some clear glass beads and add them to the felt, these would add to the suggestion of sunlight falling on dewdrops. 

Detail of the centre of cobweb
Detail of the centre of cobweb

My other bit of news today is that yesterday I got confirmation from the Arts Office in Carlow Co Council that I was awarded a grant of E200 to go towards my trip in July to the international felting symposium ‘Felt in Focus’.  This takes place in Denmark and I am very excited as I have also been notified by the organisers that I have secured places on both the top two workshops from my wish list!  Will post more info during the next couple of weeks about the symposium.

Too many ideas and not enough time

I am finding it hard at the moment to clarify my ideas and get my thoughts on paper for several proposals and submissions that I need to get sorted out before the end of next week. In addition I am making a submission for a big 6 month project, deadline mid May and also making several entries for the RDS National Craft Competition, deadline also during May! Possibly if I had a formal art education this is the type of thing that I would be schooled in but as I haven’t it is something that I just have to wing myself. For me the problem is not my lack of ideas at the moment, rather the reverse. Ideas seem to be floating around my head in ever increasing circles and I really need to clarify and work on just a couple of themes in order to get my submissions/proposals finished in time. Today I am going to have to knuckle down and do some serious work towards my proposal for Sculpture in Context, I do have some clear thoughts for this one but need to see if I can make a mock up of the sculpture that I would like to submit just to make sure that I am not talking on too big a project (as if!)  Carmen has a couple of days off for Easter so I think that I will call in to her this afternoon and we can get some work done together, tomorrow I will probably work myself at home and try and get some paperwork done as well as a lot of felting time permitting.