Another rose hip felt vessel and more free machine embroidery pictures

Apologies for not posting final pictures from the weekend’s free machine embroidery workshop yesterday, tidying up just got in the way!  Seriously, the massive back kitchen/garage restructuring that I have undertaken this week is really coming along famously and I didn’t want to break stride and get sidetracked by the computer, I would NEVER have headed back to the devestation that is my garage otherwise!!!

My mother’s birthday in on Sunday and she has requested a companion piece to the little rose hip vessel (one of the pieces in ‘From Felt to Friendship’) I gave her for Mother’s Day earlier in the year.  Luckily she requested this ages ago (as she requested the original vessel!) and I was able to put some orange, red and black merino aside in a bag so fingers crossed I can make a nice piece this morning, a welcome change from all the tidying and cleaning going on chez Clasheen!  This afternoon I am playing in the last big ladies golf competition of 2011 so thinking of this I have put aside this morning for felting the vessel and hopefully a couple of new bracelets to stitch at the weekend.  I really feel that because I have invested so heavily in my machine I need to get to grips with the technicalities pdq because I obviously need to be selling work to justify the initial cash outlay.  My intention is not to stitch every piece of felt from now onwards rather understand the possibilities and see where that leads me!  Now on to some more pictures and info from Arlene Shawcross’s brilliant free machine embroidery workshop last weekend.

The finished bracelet photographed against the granite stone wall I used for inspiration

On Saturday evening when I returned home after the first day was over, I had a look in my studio to see if any of the beautiful glass buttons I brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last October would suit the colours of the bracelet which I had been stitching.  The loop closure is not the widest because I felt I needed to keep it in proportion to the delicacy of the stone wall design so I was delighted to discover the smallest of the buttons was a beautiful grey/blue glass with a band of deep green and iredescent gold, perfect.  It was a bit (or a lot fiddly!) to attach the button and after a failed attempt myself I have to confess that Arlene was brilliant and stitched it on for me, thanks Arlene!  Big strong hands are a huge advantage sometimes (excuse the pun) but for some jobs especially ones involving detailed sewing I just get very frustrated, ah well, one step at a time I suppose.

My next experimental project was to stitch on a dissolvable paper, very interesting.  Arlene has gorgeous samples and I thought this would be a very interesting way of creating interesting pieces to sandwich between two layers of perspex or glass, my mind was humming!  With this method I didn’t need to cross over each line of stitches to the same degree as I had with the Romeo, the second stage of the process is wetting out and removing some of the paper so being selective with this ensures that the remaining paper ‘bonds’ everything together anyway.  Adding paint to your brush and washing it lightly over the surface of the stitches and paper leads to interesting effects if you don’t make it too wet, as the water/paint dries the remaining paper stiffens around the stitching.  I loved this distressed look and will be experimenting further, below is an image of one of the pieces that I made.  The final piece that I created used a very sticky backed plastic, problems, problems with this one but a very impressive final result even if I do say so myself!  I’m going to add a few selective beads to this piece, frame it, photograph it and then blog about it so until then I’m not going to write any more about it here.

A close up of the stitched, dissolved and dried paper sample

I never thought the day would arrive ……

Many of you know that any kind of sewing has always brought me out in a dreadful sweat and for donkeys years I have sworn NEVER to stitch for pleasure.  I did however break the habit of a lifetime this summer in order to participate in Lisa Klakulak’s wonderful workshop at ‘Felt in Focus’, it was time to stretch my mind!  I always admired Lisa’s beautifully detailed sculptural pieces and free machine embroidery on thick pieces of hand rolled felt just seemed to attract my attention this year, once I actually got to grips with it I actually found that I quite enjoyed the experience!

Selling 4 of the 5 stitched felt seascapes I had on exhibition during Kilkenny Arts Festival made me realise that there is definitely an appreciation for this type of textile art.  I never thought the day would arrive but I decided this week to invest (heavily as  it turned out!) in a specialist straight stitching machine which has the capabilitiy to stitch through amazingly thick layers of felt effortlessly.  This means that not only can I sew through multiple layers of wool but I can also stitch right up to and around thick sections of felt and in this way emphasise and enhance highly textured surface details.    John from Sewing Machines Ireland in Waterford provided expert assistance in my choice of machine.  He said that he wouldn’t dream of supplying me with a machine unless I subjected it to rigorous testing and see if it would be suitable for the type of work I was thinking of so off I went armed with felt on Wednesday afternoon, the intention was to try out a second hand industrial Pfaff complete with knee lift.

Felt prior to stitching

In the event the Pfaff was great but John suggested a new machine he had in stock might actually be even more specifically suited to what I had in mind, drum roll please for the Janome 1600P QC!!!  It is like sewing with a Rolls Royce, incredible, even I liked using it!!!!!  I’m not going to bore you with all the features which make this machine so special for me but suffice to say I can stitch over CRATERS and MOUNTAINS effortlessly and I suspect it would take a total blundering idiot to break it, it weighs a tonne.  For anyone intending in sewing anything other than a straight stitch this is not the machine for you.  Because I knew that the only other possible use I would put it to would be to stitch up the seams of some simple nuno felt clothing it appears as if it is a match made in Heaven!  Anyway, I bit the bullet and invested in the Janome, I am not regretting my descision and have already finished stitching one piece as per the posted pictures.  I will however have to get my finger out, making a return on such a big investment (big for me!) means a heavy work schedual over the coming months and getting my Big Cartel shop stocked but you might ask what’s new???  I love my work!

Felt with free machine embroidery

Beautiful felt ring arrives in the post!

By the time you read this I will be part way through my two day workshop with Charlotte Buch at the ‘Felt Naturally’ symposium in Denmark! 

Beautifully packaged treasure

Last week I fell totally in love with a little ring created by Kate aka Tastykaeru and I was thrilled that it arrived in the post right on time to wear for my early morning departure to Grima’s exciting felting get together.  Opening the package just confirms my thoughts that judicious beading and stitching can really add another dimension to hand rolled felt.  Kate’s Etsy shop is a pleasure to browse through, jam packed with gorgeous but simple embellished jewellery and at such amazing prices it is difficult to decide where to start!  Green being my FAVOURITE colour to wear for the last few seasons I finally decided to break the bank and buy this little beauty!!! 

Nestling in the black satin

I am still swooning at this wonderful box full of surprises!!!!

My fantastic swap package

I discovered to my horror over the weekend that I only have until the end of this week to finish three sculptural pieces ready for a joint exhibition in June (need to get to the venue beforehand) and complete my submission for the RDS and Crafts Council of Ireland National Crafts Competition.  This has really put me under tremendous pressure especially as yesterday the large piece that I was working on turned into a total disaster and eventually I just cut it up in frustration.  Imaging then my delight with this beautiful upcycled box of gifts from Jasmine aka Natures Whispers that I recieved as part of the Spring Clasheen Crafty Swap, it really made my day seem brighter!  It is hard to describe how perfectly Jasmine captured my personality and likes and dislikes when preparing this amazing swap package to post to me so I am just going to let some pictures do the talking and will blog properly about the AMAZING and unusual fibres (vicuna, possum, cashmere and angora!!!!!) as soon as I get a chance to try them out!  

I love this text and the hearts!

It is also incredible to think that Jasmine only started starting felting her amazing nuno scarves earlier in the year having followed my tutorial here on the blog and to say that what she sent me blew me away is an understatement.  The wonderful scarf is felted from merino, bamboo, silk tussah and angora; the silk, angora and bamboo were dyed with daffodils and the merino with lilac twigs from Jasmine’s garden.  Each end of the scarf has beautiful embroidery and shisha mirror work (instructions enclosed so I can try it myself!), I really, really must try stitching again as this extra detail totally finishes the scarf beautifully.  I don’t know if Jasmine has ever seen a picture of me in one of my Blue Fish linen pieces but I have collected a whole collection of pieces in combinations of straw and green and this scarf compliments them perfectly!  Check out my Flickr photos to see more pictures of this fantastic bundle of gifts and see what else was enclosed in the beautiful upcycled box but for now I leave you with a couple of images of my amazing new scarf!!! 

Beautifully felted and embellished scarf from Jasmine

Stunning detail