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!

Duckett’s Grove official opening a big success!

Dawn and I have had a busy time of it since Chrissie Day and Nigel headed home on Tuesday morning. We’ve taken loads of pictures, I finished a lot of stitching while Dawn caught up with emails and facebook, we delivered my felt to Duckett’s Grove yesterday afternoon, collected mum’s car (because with Danish friend Kirsten arriving we couldn’t all fit in my pick up truck!), got up early again this morning for the official opening of the new craft and gallery shop, felted in the studio for the first time, was interviewed for the paper, filmed and interviewed for today’s RTE News, collected Kirsten from the bus and then headed home to Clasheen in time for an early supper and to watch the slot on the 6 o’clock news!!!

Dawn in front of my vessels at the opening of Duckett's Grove

It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Edel Galvin from Carlow County Development Partnership had asked me if I would do a little felting demo in my new studio after the speeches and before I knew what was happening the footage was shot and I had my short moment of fame. The invited guests at the opening really seemed to appreciate the quality of the work displayed and it’s wonderful to finally have a local Co. Carlow venue to sell high-end craft from.

The fact that I have just secured a studio in the complex is really, really exciting. There may well be more workshops available in the future but currently there are 4 local artist makers who will be working from Duckett’s Grove and I feel privileged to say that I am one of them!!! I did think that I would be getting the keys today but there is still a bit of paperwork to complete so although I did get to felt inside the space for the first time today it will be another week or so before it is officially handed over to me! If you’d like to call in and say hello before I head to teach in the US I’ll be there all day on Sunday 6th May and hope to have a workshop schedule prepared for the rest of the summer, there will also be a big craft market in the grounds of Duckett’s Grove and all the studios should be open to the public!

Having fun felting for the first time in my new studio at Duckett's Grove!

Check out Dawn’s facebook page for loads of images of the buildings and the opening, she was snapping away and has some lovely shots.

Studio restructure almost underway and interview with Carmen re. Istvan Vidak’s upcoming visit to Ireland!

For those of you who have been following my back kitchen and garage restructuring project on Facebook I am sure you’re not surprised I haven’t posted here to the blog for a few days, for those of you who are not following the progress I hope to be back to blogging normality some time over the next week!!!  Basically I have taken out ALL the old presses from what was the utility room, refitted them in the garage (I’m loosely using the word refitted here!), painted the walls in what I call ‘Virgin Mary Blue’, assembled gorgeous stainless steel topped freestanding units to go in the old space, put together cupboards and drawers to fit underneath them, added a wall mounted cupboard with funky plastic sliding doors and without further ado I now have a beautiful working back kitchen for storage, washing up and laundry duties, woo hoo!!!!!

Back kitchen underway

On Tuesday Patsy and James return to finish the plumbing and then it’s time to change around and remove some of the furniture and storage solutions from the studio, now that I have the space in the garage to fit them that is.  When that is done I will have a spacious, easy to move around studio to work in, that’s the end goal anyway and I can’t wait to get stuck in to some serious felting them!

On the felting side of things I will be driving Carmen up to the airport on Wednesday to collect master Hungarian felter Istvan Vidak, he will be staying with Carmen for a master class, an exhibition and an artist’s talk.  Carmen came over for dinner the other evening and I interviewed her about the trip, this article has been the first I have had published online at Technorati, have any of you ever written for them yourselves???  For those of you who are interested in what we discussed below is a copy of the interview and if you do like the text please visit the article on Technorati and hit the FB like button, share it on FB and maybe retweet it too if you don’t mind, thanks!

INTERVIEW WITH CARMEN SANCHEZ PARDON

Between 13th and 16th October 2011 Carmen Sanchez Padron will welcome Hungarian master felter Istvan Vidak to Guatastudio in south east Ireland for an exhibition, evening talk and a 4 day hands on felting workshop. I invited Carmen to join me for dinner at Clasheen in order to find out more about this exciting series of events.

One of Istvan's beautiful and decorative bagsCarmen explains that by working with dyed and undyed natural wool, Istvan will share the techniques used to create traditional Mongolian bags; wet felting, embroidery and finishing with braided horsehair or wool cords and tassels. Designed to be hung on the wall and hold household items, these beautifully decorative bags add a colourful and dramatic twist to any traditional or contemporary interior.

Participating in workshops with visiting international artists provides a fascinating insight into how felt is currently made in other countries with a longer felting history than Ireland. I asked Carmen where one might view some of Istvan’s work and to this end she has organised an exhibition in The Norman Gallery, Rathnure, Co. Wexford opening at 6pm on Thursday October 13th and continuing until 5pm on Sunday 16th.  This is an excellent opportunity to see top quality pieces felted by an aknowledged master and Carmen adds that an artist’s talk titled ‘Following the Felt Route’ will take place in the same venue at 7pm on Saturday 15th, all are welcome.
During the 4 day felting workshop participants may choose to embellish their bags with Mongolian designs as taught by Istvan and I think that it will also be interesting to see if anyone is inspired to work with traditional Celtic motifs. This is what I did myself at a workskhop Carmen hosted last year with Vanda Roberts, another expert felter from Hungary. Vanda’s workshop focused on the creation of strong functional felt which was then stitched carefully leading to either raised or depressed areas in the felt. I used a wonderful piece of bronze age rock art sited locally at Rathgeeran near Clasheen, Ballybrack, Co. Carlow as the spring point for my design, the bag was felted in charcoal and grey to echo the colour of the granite and simple black leather handles were attached to compliment the felt.

I asked Carmen why she had chosen to invite these particular felt artists to Guatastudio and she explained that she was initially attracted to this style of felting after participating at a symposium titled ‘Gift of the Lambs’ in Hungary during July 2010 and again during July 2011. Attending classes with both Vanda and Istvan led her to invite them back to Ireland where we are lucky to have the opportunity to view their work have the opportunity to participate in the workshops.

I wrapped up the interview by thanking Carmen for her time and wishing her a successful experience hosting this fascinating felting master.

 

 

Stunning printed silk for nuno felting, new online store about to go live!

At the moment it just seems to be a roller coaster ride, organising my American workshops (sorry about the lack of details yet, trying to pin everything down in reverse order time wise!), sorting out my new online store, ploughing through the ever mounting paperwork and housework (on the back boiler yet again!!), attending to my golf club duties (unpaid I might add) and trying to get some time to actually felt and be creative.  Spending time felting is the one thing that keeps me sane and although Alan can’t understand why I feel compelled to get into the studio when so many other things need to be done I just would go totally mad if I didn’t get a little time to play around with fibres!

English Garden wrap/scarf

On Saturday morning I drove into Carlow town with Alan as we had a washing machine of his in the back of my truck which needed some repairs, my truck is very handy for hauling stuff around!  Anyway, while I was on this mission of mercy I managed to call into a nearby shop for a couple of minutes to check out their t-shirts and have a look at some of the latest summer accessories.  I was lucky enough to have the very good fortune of snapping up three stunning printed silk scarves, absolutely perfect for the pictured nuno felt wrap!  I laid out short fibred merino and silk fibres on one side of the silk scarf roughly following the colours in the print though not being totally confined by colour at the same time!!  It did take me longer than usual to lay out the fibres but I definitely think that the results have been worth the effort, I love the finished colours and texture! 

Detail showing both the silk side and the fibre side out

During the course of this week I promise to launch my new online store and this wrap/scarf will be one of the special items I am offering to launch my summer collection!!!  Here is a close up shot to show how I followed the colours and shapes printed on the silk when laying out my fibre.

Wild weather and today’s workshop

I am still tidying the studio in preparation for today’s workshop, just taking a quick break (aka escaping from the clutter) to write this quick post.  Three ladies who attended one of the recent starter sessions have booked for the day to make large wall hangings or framed flat felt.  We will be calculating how much wool we need in relation to their finished size and experimenting with different types of fibre for embellishment.  One participant is bringing along her retrievers hair and I also have horse hair, more dogs hair, raw fleece and some raw alpaca in my stash. 

It is great to finally start to see some light around my long work table in the studio!  Following on from my mentoring sessions on Wednesday I am really making an effort to put my paperwork in order and start 2010 with a clean slate.  One piece of advice that has stuck in my mind from the Business mentor was to pay myself a wage every week without feeling guilty.  In this way he explained it is easier to set work related targets and stick to them, if I have a poor week financially I am still to take the payment and just organise a bit more work for the following week!  Let’s see how this goes, I like the sound of it and have decided to get someone in to help me clean the house and studio two or three times a month.  That will be a big incentive!!

Ready to prepare the felting kits at last!

I was supposed to be going to a finance workshop (associated with the tourism course) tomorrow but as my fever is definitely back with a vengeance I have decided to stay at home.  Initially I was thinking of laying out and starting a larger garment flu permitting, but since the postman has just arrived with my large order of Icelandic wool guess what I’ll be doing in the morning???  Realistically I need to have a total overhaul of the studio as since I have returned from our holiday it is actually impossible to move around inside it at all, I kid you not.  While Alan and I were swanning around all those gorgeous National Parks and Monuments in Northern California my house guests were tidying the house and putting stuff away in ….. you’ve guessed it, the studio!  It was brilliant to come home to such a tidy and friendly house everywhere else but now that the time has come I am dreading ploughing through all the junk (aka washing, recycling, boxes, fabric, fibre, you know the sort of stuff) that has been accumulating in my workspace for ages.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that hopefully by the end of the weekend my studio will be tidy, my felting kits will be prepared, everything will be uploaded to the internet and all will be calm and organised chez Nicola.  I have also realised that of course I need to upload rug bases and plastic felting mats on Etsy as well as the new wool, why on earth I have been hoarding them here is beyond me especially as I imported them from Mehmet with the express intention of using some and selling the surplus!

The light was not so good today but here is a close up shot of the scarf that I made yesterday.  You can see how nicely the ponge silk has ruched during the felting process and the mulberry silk gives a gorgeous sheen to the surface of the felt.Surface texture and sheen

Experiments in felt, success and disaster!

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!!

Rush, rush, rush (and crochet neckpiece)

Crochet neckpiece

Crochet neckpiece

Well, although the snow has kept me off the roads yesterday and today I still have a mountain of things to do ….. paperwork, receipts for Mehmet’s workshops, massive tidy up of studio, prepare application for funding to Carlow Co. Council, get dates sorted for my own workshops, the list goes on! My biggest achievement over these couple of days has been a large nuno shawl/scarf, the completion of some projects for the procrastinators challenge and this soft crochet neckpiece. I bought the wool from Stephanie after the textile taster day on Saturday and I am very happy with how easy and soft it was to work with. The felt ball/button makes a sympathetic closure and I am now inspired to crochet a few more items when I have time on my hands but no way/space to felt, in front of the fire would be a good example! Anyway, will definitely post re. making cords for handles next time, just too tired tonight.

Craft Gossip and feedback please for felted road sign

Interesting Craft Blog

Interesting Craft Blog

Many thanks to Linda Lanese from Craft Gossip who has just written an article about me and put it up on the internet!  Craft Gossip have all the latest news from real crafts people telling you about the real stuff.  They scour the net looking for the best craft ideas and projects and review them for you.  Craft Gossip have divided their blog into many sub-blogs covering topics including knitting, crochet, bath and body,  jewelry making, scrapbooking, sewing craftsrecycled craftsneedleworkedible crafts, indie crafts and of course felting.  Each of these sub-blogs are managed by their own dedicated editor so you know that you are getting personalized attention, click here if you would like to meet the editors.

FEEDBACK PLEASE I started my felted sign last night having decided on  ‘Studio open’ for the wording.  It would be great if some of you could leave a few comments regarding what wording you find works best for you personally, I am still not sure should I have felting on the sign, felt, studio, my name or any combination of the above!  Please leave a comment on this post if you have ANY advice or words or warning.  Thanks!

Finishing some felting items and swap news

Yesterday I put the last finishing touch to some of the items that I have sent out in the Autumn swap.  These necessary but fiddly touches really defeat me sometimes so it was really good to have a deadline to work towards, things like putting poppers on bags and sewing pin backs to brooches, all the little SEWING details!  Anyway it inspired me to get out those bowls of felt beads that I have just waiting to be put to use.  In the afternoon Carmen arrived and we spent the time happily sewing beads around the edge of a hand dyed silk scarf (Carmen) and stringing several simple but attractive necklaces (me).  Today I actually have a couple of things to do outside the house but intend on spending some time tidying out the studio, or at least starting it in preparation for a marathon day tomorrow.  I have organised a neighbouring farmer to help me for a couple of days before next Thursday, he has some fiddly but essential outdoor tasks and I have those essential but horrible indoor tidying tasks to complete before the first of my evening classes starts next week.  I am also going to be finalising Mehmet Girgic’s workshop dates today so keep your eye on the blog, they will go up as soon as they are organised.

By now all of out Autumn swaps should be in the post.  I have a small confession to make, I missed the post yesterday so appologies to my partners, they are posted now but you will be getting your parcels one day late and I really have no excuse except confusion and distraction!  Next time for the swap I may set up a group on Flickr to run everything through.  Things were a bit confusing here and I actually am involved in a couple of swaps (really enjoying them!) but operating through my Flickr account would mean that I would have less chance to miss anyone out or have any errors. 

My swap package arrived from Anna, thanks SO much Anna for the fantastic painting and the great cards.  I actually admired the painting on Anna’s painting blog at the weekend so was absolutely amazed when it arrived in the post yesterday!!  I am also looking forward to making the delicious sounding bread, it should tase great made in the Rayburn.  Please email me images of your swap packages as they arrive if you want to and I will set up a page on the blog so others can see them as well.