Good news, disappointing news and some beautiful felt too!

I’m sorry I didn’t get to blog yesterday. The morning just seemed to rush past and in the afternoon I started a new series of workshops with Borris Active Retirement, Leiko arrived back mid day too and what with one thing and another I never got to fire up the computer at all. I’m now waiting at Duckett’s Grove for one of my US blog readers to arrive (Hi Mary!) and after that I’ll try and pick up a winter jumper (sweater) in Carlow and see if I can find some more props for the studio.

The big news I’d like to share with you all today is that I received a call yesterday confirming that my submission for an exciting school arts projects has been selected subject to confirmation of the funding!!! This was the submission that I frantically worked on last week, it’s a fantastic opportunity to work with 480 pupils plus teachers creating 4 large textile panels, felt based but with plenty of other materials too I think! I don’t want to jinx anything at this stage but as soon as we get the financial go ahead I’ll let you know the full details.

On the opposite side of things I didn’t have my work selected for the Crafts Council’s upcoming ‘Beauty in Nature’ exhibition. This was a big disappointment but a good lesson not to count my chickens before they’ve hatched!

I’ll leave you today with two images, Joan, Mary and Mary with their beautiful first flat felt pictures and Dorothy modelling the amazing sleeveless jacket she felted during our last series of workshops and stitched during the summer. Congratulations ladies!

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Finishing the nuno felt tunic and Art@work

Thanks so much to all my inspirational ‘fibre friends’ who left comments on the blog and Flickr, as well as those of you who emailed me directly with advice and inspiration about finishing the sides of my nuno felted tunic. It is truly amazing to think how small the world is when you ask a question one day and within a couple of minutes of asking replies start to come in from the other side of the world! I wish that I could have some of you right here in my studio, I guess if that were the case I wouldn’t have to keep asking the questions!!  Hopefully I will get a bit of time next weekend between canvassing (for Alan’s campaign of course) and actually put needle to fabric, this is the bit I dread the most but needs must and I am determined to finish the tunic and get it to the wearable stage.

Alan is off to a meeting shortly and I am going to take the opportunity while he is out to sit down and prepare my submission for Art@work. To quote Philip Delamere (Arts Officer at Roscommon County Council) “the Art@work residency programme has continued as a significiant outlet for contemporary arts practise to be integrated into the fabric of the community throughout County Roscommon.” You may remember recently that I paid a site visit to the participating businesses for 2009, now I need to put my thoughts to paper and decide which images to send and support my submission. The collaborative project from 2008 has just won the ‘Best Sponsorship by Small to Medium Enterprises’ section in the Allianz Business to Arts Awards so congratulations to the Arts Office of Roscommon County Council and participating businesses Arigna Fuels, Bank of Ireland, FDK Engineering, Feelystone, Gleeson’s Guesthouse and Molloy’s Bakery. The artists involved in 2008 were Michelle Browne, David McCarthy, Catherine Donnelly, Carl Giffney, Cathal Roche and Rebecca Walter, well done to everyone.

Another question, is felt an art or a craft?

Recently I submitted my interest in participating in a particular exhibition this summer but was not actually sure if ‘felt’ would be an acceptable medium for the event in question.  I did give the organisers my blog address and links to my Flickr photos, yesterday I got their response; I am welcome to exhibit ‘art’ as opposed to ‘craft’, their definition of craft as being something functional.  Now some of you might be a bit annoyed not to be free to exhibit whatever you like but in fact I did find their definition of craft as very interesting and by extension helpful.  Time and time again I feel that ‘craft’ takes a second place to ‘art’ yet textiles in some form or other may be on display in a fine art exhibition and I am never sure where the boarders cross.  Thanks to Brandon and Mary for making the distinction clear as far as their show is concerned, I now know exactly the direction to take when preparing my work for submission!

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.

Mad days, last chances and thanks!

Well, today was a mad day and I definitely think that yesterday must have set the target for a totally crazy week!  I completed my submission for ‘Organic Geometry’, an upcoming exhibition at the National Craft Gallery.  My new laptop wouldn’t send either documents or jpegs to the printer or to a cd, my old one took 25 mins to boot up and my Rayburn decided that it was time to have a seizure, possibly the result of letting my oil get to a dangerously low level recently.  Got the Rayburn serviced, (thanks a million Michael and Philip of Nolan Heating Services, super fast service) eventually got my proposal printed off, drove to Kilkenny and brought my memory stick to the chemist to get the necessary images printed and on disc.  Finally got sorted with the proposal and got stuck in dreadful traffic on the way home where the new Kilkenny bypass is under construction.  While stuck in traffic had a phone call from a logistics company based out the far side of Dublin saying that a package had arrived for me from Turkey but that Customs would not release it until the paperwork was personally signed by me, a fee paid and the correct documentation processed by them.  They emailed me the paperwork and naturally my internet connection decided to pack up before I had details of where I needed to send the thing.  Talked to my sister over the phone and got her to log into my email account, got the details and then had to take the decision to get up before 5am this morning in order to drive to the company (they seem to work 24/7) as I needed to be in Tallaght, Dublin for a 10am start, my first day of Child Protection Training in preparation for Craft in the Classroom!  Eventually got all that sorted out, hopefully Customs will release the parcel as I need it for this weekend’s rug making workshops!!  Another day of training in Dublin looms tomorrow and then I need to finish sorting the house out for Thursday evening, does this sound like a more relaxing day???

Tonight is the last chance to sign up for the Clasheen New Year Stash Swap and if you are enjoying following any Irish blogs from anywhere in the world please consider nominating them in the relevant catagory before 6pm Irish time tomorrow.

A big thank you to fellow fibre artist Nancy from Enee Fabric Design for her lovely post recommending my blog.  After the 2 days that I have had it was a fantastic boost!  Thanks also to all of you who have taken the time to either comment or send me an email wishing me fun and luck with Mehmet Girgic’s rug making workshops.  I am going to take oodles of pictures for you all to drool over so please forgive the lack of felting content today, I am about to drop into bed!!

Rug making workshops and submission

Yesterday I was down in Woodbrook House with Giles organising the layout of the room for Mehmet Girgic’s rug making workshops.  The bases that he is bringing over from Turkey are actually a lot larger that we used in Germany so while this has the advantage of a much bigger finished rug it meant a bit of a headache getting the room set up.  More tables, countless measuring sessions, moving things around and hopefully we are ready to roll.  I am really looking forward to his trip now but due to a couple of unavoidable cancellations need to get 3 or 4 more people booked in for the second workshop in order to cover my expenses bringing Mehmet to Ireland.  I will be under quite a bit of financial pressure unless these places are filled so if you think that you might know anyone interested at this late stage please ask them to contact me asap!

Submissions close this week for an exhibition called ‘Organic Geometry’ and I was hoping to finish mine this morning.  I know that I am putting myself under a lot of pressure this week (HSE child protection training on Tuesday and Wednesday) with Mehmet’s arrival on Thursday and all the work involved before he actually gets here but I really hope to get my submission completed and in on time.  Ann Mulrooney is curating the exhibition for the Crafts Council and it is to be held at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, opening mid April.  Wish me luck!!