Another ArtL!nks vessel underway

This morning I started my largest ArtL!nks vessel to date, the template I am using is a couple of inches bigger all round than my dustbin lid or trash can lid as those of you would say in the USA!  I know that part of my original proposal was to set up a seperate blog to write exclusively about the project but to be honest I have decided that it makes a lot more sense to document my progress here, it is felting after all and this is the place all my friends come to when they want to discover what I have been up to during the day!!! 

One side laid out with prefelt and two layers of white merino, two more layers to go

Anyway, I need to buy more laminate floor underlay and a fresh roll of bubble wrap later in the week because while this vessel will be large it is still not going to be as large as my final work and I need more resist material to draft out the biggest template.  I want this largest vessel to have a finished diameter of approx 1m (just over 3′) and when I am in town I think it would be fantastic if I could find some huge balloons over which to shape and dry the piece, it would be so much easier to finish if there was already a shape inside to felt towards.  Thanks to everybody who is leaving comments here and on Flickr about the vessels I have felted to date, it is interesting as well to have a debate about the merits of stiffening felt versus shrinking and working without stiffener and hardening the piece by hand.  We might talk about how I am shrinking and firming up the vessels in the next post, for now I am going to get a quick cup of 3 ginger tea and then off to do some more rubbing and felting!

Quick break and then back to sampling

I was meant to be at the golf club this afternoon but after a morning plotting and planning a new bag I am now in the middle of making samples and don’t want to stop while the juices are somewhat flowing!  Initially I was having difficulties deciding on the shape as I would like something with a similar handle to the bag I made with Lyda but I do want to make sure that it is recognisably my own work and not just a copy of one of her templates.  I found some great images of ray, plaice and other flat fish so think that I will use a shape that is fatter at the bottom third and slightly tapered at the bottom but with a round feel, does that make sense?  Initially I was going to work in orange, yellow and shades thereof with some gold mesh and ponge silk for surface decoration plus some ‘craters’ for depth.  After my first sample I am not sure that I like the colour combination and since I have been here at the computer my thoughts are turning to a design in natural black, white and charcoal inspired by some local rock art at Rathgeeran. 

Rock art at Rathgeeran New Year 2010

I am also playing with the idea of creating a piece of prefelt with a lot of interesting surface texture, cutting it into squares, rearranging the order of the squares and then felting it into the top layer of merino.  Anyway, off now to make some more samples and hopefully by the end of the afternoon my ideas will have chrystallised into something concrete and I will be able to start on the bag proper first thing tomorrow morning.

I am also following with great interest the comments at Clasheen Uncut in relation to pricing craft and hope to blog here tomorrow about handles for felt bags and continue to explore the pricing debate over at Clasheen Uncut.

Large felt sculpture workshop!

The second felt workshop that I participated in at ‘Felt in Focus’ was fairly large felt sculptures with Anna Gunnarsdottir from Iceland.  This was a brilliant experience and taught me a totally new way of looking at resists!  As with Lyda’s complex bag workshop I am going to cover what we did over several posts and this is also a good way for me to revisit all that I learnt over the 2 days.  (Please bear with me as I am having computer problems, it keeps closing and I think that I need to get it ‘attended’ to by an expert or else I will go potty!)

Two of Anna's felt sculptures

Two of Anna's felt sculptures

Anna’s large sculptural pieces are amazing and it was very exciting to learn the technique of felting large objects, my head is now full of shapes and I am just waiting for the arrival of Icelandic wool to really go crazy experimenting at home.  Once everyone had introduced themselves and explained what they hoped to get out of the workshop Anna explained and demonstrated how she stitches layers of plastic resist together to form the template for her felt objects.  I was lucky that reknowned Irish felter Elizabeth Bonner had participated in the first workshop so I had the advantage of watching her work progress and learn from any observations and tips.  The biggest help to me was knowing that creating a symmetrical template was easiest and then stitching straight up the central line as opposed to joining the layers with a curved line would be the simplest option.  Anna encouraged everyone to think outside the box when deciding on our shape and I although I had toyed with the idea of using my backpack template this proved too large to deal with in the two days allocated.   My choice therefore was a bit like a rounded figure of eight on it’s side, complete with two bumps on each surface that I intended embellishing with horse hair.  This workshop was also a great opportunity to experiment with new fibres and fishskin.  Anna had a great selection of horse hair and dyed salmon, wolf fish and cod skin, other participants had brought raw fleece and various found objects to play around with.  To be cont …. including pictures of my template and work in progress!