American workshop updates, book, more CRAFTed pictures …..

Unfortunately there has been an unexpected scheduling problem at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco, rather than cause endless problems for myself, Jamie and Blas we have decided to change our 2 day Spring workshop to the Fall instead.  I am really sorry for any inconvienience to potential participants, without going into the details (because obviously it’s not my place!) a surprise event had been organised by Jamie’s mother to take place in the studio the weekend I was booked to teach and for some reason wires got crossed, I guess because what she was organising was meant to be a surprise to all!!!  Anyway, Dawn and I now have the perfect venue booked for our Michigan workshops, a wonderful large room at the Plainwell Presbyterian Church, tomorrow I will post the full details of what we will be covering and get cracking with the advertising.  Our dates are confirmed for Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May and I am so looking forward to meeting up with old friends and making some new fibre buddies too!

I am trying to lock myself away for the next few weeks and concentrate on my book with Chrissie.  Yesterday I managed to get two new designs finalised so now I need to make one more of each taking pictures at each step of the process.  Hopefully I will blog in the evenings instead of the mornings but I don’t want to give to much away about the contents of the book otherwise how will it be a surprise???

I leave you with two more pictures from CRAFTed!

Having fun at our CRAFTed collaboration

    

Wonderful detail revealed!

Stocking up and (almost) a couple of pictures as promised!

Although the last lot of snow has almost melted everywhere forecasts predict heavy falls here again from tomorrow afternoon starting in the West of Ireland today.  I have spent this morning stocking up on meat for my freezer, going to the bank, posting some parcels for across the water, carrying in kindling and in a nutshell getting essential duties out of the way in case I get totally snowed in once more!  The temperature has dropped by at least several degrees since I got up, the sky has darkened dramatically and the wind is now blowing strongly making it difficult to take any successful pictures of felt created to post to Flickr or here on the blog. 

I JUST DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!  Heavy hail/sleet is now assaulting the house so I am very glad I made the effort to drive to Borris this morning!

Anyway, enough talking.  Here are two pictures (or maybe not!!!) taken in the gloomy outdoors, my latest Vanda Robert inspired bag and a gorgeous light weight nuno felt wrap.  For the bag I used some 50% gotland 50% merino blended wool batts from Denmark and another similar quality wool (think it might also be the same combo although I bought it on a different trip from a different supplier) in wonderful shades of Autumn.  I added some leather leaves and a horn button (all gathered from various trips to US!) and finished it with a cord handle which I made using some wonderful hand dyed silk yarn by Jamie of Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco.    The wrap is felted from some of my Cloverleaf Farms hand dyed merino and silk hankies, the cotton cheesecloth I dyed with Rite under the supervision of Sharon at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA.  Pretty cosmopolitan bag and wrap don’t you think?  OK, you are going to have to look at my Flickr photos to see the bag and wrap because for some reason WordPress has lost the run of itself and my whole visuals jumped all over the place when I uploaded the photos.  First time of trying they wern’t visable at all and then the second time previous posts went into the sidebars but the images still weren’t where I wanted them.  Sorry!

More preparation for my US adventures and a little light felting relief …..

Gathering the felting materials to bring with me on Tuesday evening is not a problem, getting into the studio and negotiating the tables as I left them for felting the large rug is.  I am just going to have to grit my teeth and do a little bit of tidying up as I go along, at least it will make things more organised when I return home but I HATE tidying as you all must know by now! 

This morning I wrote and emailed off an article re. ‘Felt Naturally’ in Silkeborg as requested by Grima (the Danish felting association) and then I called over to Carmen for a bite of lunch and to deliver some Icelandic felting wool to one of her workshop participants as ordered for a community project in Wexford.  Writing about the fabulous time I had at the felt symposium in Silkeborg refreshed my mind about some of the techniques learnt and shared there, I can only hope that participants in my workshops in US will have half the fun that I had and also learn something new to boot.  It is absolutely amazing to think that at this exact time next Sunday participants will be finishing their bags during the second day of the first Complex Felt Bag workshop at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, northern California!!!

Since picking up my new iPhone 4 yesterday afternoon I have been trying to get to grips with some of its features, hopefully Blas from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco (felt accessories and felt vessel workshops the first weekend of October!) may be able to help me with getting used to the phone and will give me good tips.  Apparantly the tarriff that I am on here in Ireland is totally prohibitive in the US but probably I will be able to access a computer somewhere in Loomis and keep you all updated with progress at the first workshops!  I felted a simple little iPhone cover when I got back from Carmen’s and once it is dry I am going to stitch on a little closure using some soft and supple fish skin from Iceland.  Alan sparked off the idea for the opening on the cover so as soon as I have it all assembled I am going to try to take the picture and upload it straight to the internet from the phone, wish me luck!

Announcing evening felting workshop for Berkeley and American trip update!

I am SO excited to be finalising the plans for my wonderful Fall trip to the United States! Meeting blog readers and strengthening online friendships will definitely be one of the highlights of the visit. I can quite understand how online dating works because I really feel that I ‘know’ many of you already from all our correspondence back and forth across the waters and I am sure the reality will actually surpass the virtual world that using the internet fosters!!! I would also like to say that before any of you start to panic Rex, (and the house), will be very well looked after by my mother, Alan and a selection of friends while I am away on my travels. I am also going to be getting some work done in the garden while I am away in preparation for a FANTASTIC vegtable garden next year.

Now I would like to update you all about how the workshops are panning out and announce an additional date and venue to add to the schedual, how exciting is that?

Firstly I will be flying from Dublin to San Fransisco on Wednesday 22nd September and travelling on to The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA for the start of my American felting adventures! On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th I will be facilitating a Complex Felt Bag workshop and on Monday 27th the workshop will be exploring the beauty of Mosaic Nuno Felt, click here to link through if you would like to book a workshop at The Tin Thimble.

Arriving back in San Fransisco from Loomis I will be catching up with Jamie and Blas from Urban Fauna Studio and nuno felting friend Nancy Schwab prior to my first workshop at Knit One One in Berkeley. This exciting addition to my workshop schedual is a four hour Jewelery Making Workshop taking place between 6 and 10pm on Friday 1st October, this should be FUN so please click here if you would like to join us on the night!

World Felt Day on Saturday 2nd October sees me returning to a venue organised by Urban Fauna Studio where we will be discussing and creating all sorts of funky Felted Accessories (I have so much to share re.the felted accessories it will be difficult to know where to start!) and on Sunday 3rd Felted Vessels will be the topic. I am really looking forward to returning to Urban Fauna because last year’s Nuno Mosaic workshop was an absolute blast and the scarves created were absolutely amazing, click here if you would like to book a workshop in San Fransisco!

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Kalamazoo, MI is the final venue of my trip and we kick off there with a Complex Felt Bag workshop on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th October, this class is now totally booked out. If however, you live within striking distance of Kalamazoo and would like to participate in my final workshop I think there is still a place left in the Felted Accessories workshop on Monday 11th October but click here to book asap as I don’t expect this to be available for much longer!

I am sure that you can all see why I am so excited about this trip, I LOVE teaching and meeting fellow fibre enthuastics so I just know that we are all going to have an amazing time at the workshops!!! For some reason I seem to be having problems blogging this morning, text jumping around the place etc. so I am just going to upload this now and hopefully add some pictures to tempt you tomorrow or later this evening. ‘Till then …..

San Fransisco workshops now open for bookings!

I am thrilled to be making a return visit to San Fransisco this Fall and Jamie and Blas of Urban Fauna Studio and Mary Jane’s Attic fame have put together two wonderful day workshops, Felt Accessories on Saturday 2nd and Felt Vessels on Sunday 3rd October!  The 2nd is actually World Felt Day so how much fun is it that we will be felting together and creating fibre magic in such a stylish part of the world? 

Funky vessel felted from Norwegian C1 and Herdwick

I know that you have seen a picture of this felt vessel before but I am pretty excited to reveal that it has just been selected by a top UK trend  forecaster to be featured as one of the images on their ‘Hunter/Gather’ mood board for Autumn/Winter 2011/2012!  If you would like to learn how to make a fun vessel like this why not join me in San Fransisco???

Rug update – I was in the middle of ironing the rug yet again this afternoon prior to a final rolling but all the steam caused my bandage to loosen and then I knocked my finger, loads of blood all over again, so annoying.  Between tomorrow and Friday I will roll a little and spot full anywhere I am not entirely happy with, hope Sylvia likes the result when I deliver it on Monday!

My super soft yak scarf and preparing submission for an Arts Act Grant

I seem to have picked up a bad cold over the last few days and it didn’t help that I had three individual meetings at the golf club today which were totally necessary to attend.  Following on from another excellent ‘Pick up your Needles’ at the Courthouse Art Centre in Tinahely yesterday (more details and photos to follow from my felting participants over the next day or two as soon as my cold abates) I decided to stay in my p-js this morning and not get dressed until just before my first meeting at 2pm this afternoon!  To wrap myself snugly I wore the yak and silk scarf that I felted with hand dyed fibres purchased from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco and at the risk of boring everyone this fibre is an absolute dream to work with, beautifully soft, warm and flexible to wear.  If any of you have access to Blas and Jamie’s wonderful studio/shop do look out for this stunning yak fibre.  I know that it had only just arrived in stock for the first time when I visited last September but I guess that Blas should have it regularly now considering there must be a big demand for such a beautiful fibre.

Tomorrow I am going prepare my submission for an ‘Arts Act Grant’ from Carlow County Council.  Last year they awarded me E200 for professional development and this was extremely welcome funding which went towards my expenses for the international symposium Felt in Focus.  Finances are very tight here in Ireland and it is brilliant that the local authorities are still prepared to fund certain individual and group artistic indeavours to benefit our local community.

Wool and silk on order, felting kit update!

Following on from my last post, the Icelandic wool that I have ordered is on its way and I am also now waiting for some silk chiffon and ponge silk to get here in preparation for a nuno felting marathon in the run up to December (note how I managed to avoid using the C word!).  I am very excited to see the colour selection as I definitely stepped outside my usual choices in this department, after all if I am going to be selling the fibre I need to make sure that everyone else’s taste will be catered for.  I also stopped off at Threads of Green today (my favourite Kilkenny fabric store) to pick up some more gorgeous printed silk and a small piece of a fun and funky black polyester printed with silver spiders, perfect to do a sample with a Halloween theme!  Thanks to all of you who took the time to leave comments or respond via email when I mentioned that I am planning to sell felting kits.  You definitely all endorsed the idea wholeheartedly and my plan now is to put together a selection of kits both for the total beginner and for more experienced felters.  I did manage to make one cobweb style scarf for myself the other day with brilliant fibre that I bought from Blas at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco and it got many compliments when I wore it to dinner on Wednesday.  The fibre was from one of the artisan producers that Blas and Jamie deal with and was a hand carded deep green wool with flecks of purple and some glitzy bits thrown into the mix as well!  It goes brilliantly with some of my organic cotton clothing from Blue Fish so there you are, I was really flying the American flag in Ireland the other night!

Fantastic nuno mosaic felting workshop at Urban Fauna Studio

I had a WONDERFUL time at Urban Fauna Studio on my last full day in the States!  Blas and Jamie have a superb set up, wonderful fibres, yarns, books and notions etc. all neatly laid out in a small but practical space in a quiet part of the Mission district in San Fransisco.  Alan and I arrived in the city during rush hour (I guess that should be rush hours!!) on Wednesday evening and I have to say it was only then that I discovered how far downtown San Fransisco actually was from the studio, although we had driven through the city at the beginning of the holiday I really didn’t realise that it was so big.  Luckily Alan is someone who likes to study all the local maps from an area as soon as we arrive and boy was I happy when he found out that the Muni light rail system could practically drop me from our hotel on O’Farrell Street to Urban Fauna’s door, all for the cool price of only $2, a lot less stressful than driving! 

Blas outside Urban Fauna Studio

Blas outside Urban Fauna Studio

I duly arrived on Thursday morning looking forward to meeting proprietor Blas and scoping out the facilities in advance of the participants arrival for our class at 10am.  Unfortunately Blas’s wife Jamie was tied up so I will just have to wait until next summer and their trip to Ireland before meeting the other half of this great fibre duo.  I was very impressed with the quality and selection of fibre and yarn available to purchase as well as interesting books, notions and other covetable items and more than impressed with how Blas manages to keep this relatively small space totally clean, tidy and organised, if only my own studio was half as tidy I would be in 7th heaven!  While Blas headed off to the local shop to pick up some fresh fruit and teas I made myself at home, first selecting some yummy and unusual fibres to bring home with me and then setting up the tables and laying out a couple of samples of my felt that I had brought with me from Ireland.  First to arrive was my online friend Nancy Schwab, the person actually responsible for putting me in touch with Blas and Jamie in the first place!  Nancy is a great nuno felter and had brought some of her beautiful scarves for everyone to drool over and this was interesting for all the participants to see as neither Flo, Nancy W-B or Laura had actually wet felted before.  We had a really fun group (two Nancys, Flo, Laura and Blas) and everyone was totally more experienced in dying fabric and fibre than I am and between them there was a gorgeous selection of hand dyed and bought silk to select from to create the nuno mosaic with.  I explained how Sigrid Bannier pioneered the technique and suggested that for the total beginners a double ended scarf would be a good project to tackle, plenty of opportunity to experiment with colour but not as large a piece to lay out as experienced felters Blas and Nancy S were going to attempt. 

Laying out the mosaic design - Nancy Schwab

Laying out the mosaic design - Nancy Schwab

Using a guideline of three different colours everyone started to chop up their silk and lay out their patterns, a bit like making an overlapping jigsaw!  As you can see from the image of Nancy laying out her design everywhere the silk colours overlap another colour is created.  In this way a complex design is created and additional depth is acquired from whatever colour wool is used on the reverse to felt everything together.  As we started to work everyone began to appreciate that this method of working opens up the door to amazingly complex details, particularly as everyone seemed to be a dab hand at dying silk in the first place a whole new avenue of textile design is now on the horizon.  Before lunch I showed everyone how I would lay out two fine layers of merino on top of the overlapping silk and everyone managed very well with varying degrees of thickness and different qualities of wool.  Blas actually used a yak/merino mix that has to be one of the softest fibres I have ever touched, needless to say I bought some to bring home for myself and some as a present for Carmen as well!  Anyway, we wet out the first end of the scarf and started rubbing and massaging to help the fibres migrate through the silk.  After lunch around the corner in a super Japanese place (FANTASTIC food and amazingly cheap) everyone got stuck back into their work and continued to lay out more silk to complete their piece before rubbing and then rolling in bubble wrap around a short piece of pool noodle.  Once we were totally sure that the wool was migrating through every layer of silk the felt could then be dipped into extremely hot water and then either thrown on a towel or rocked and rolled on the table to continue the felting process.  Once I was happy that the work was fully felted each piece was given a final rinse and then proudly worn for a fun filled photo session!  The nuno mosaic technique does use a lot more elbow grease than straight nuno felt and takes longer to create but I am sure you will agree from the photos here and on Flickr that the amazing results were more than worth the effort! 

Beautiful results form our nuno mosaic workshop

Beautiful results form our nuno mosaic workshop

I promise that tomorrow I will put up the post ‘American wrap up – Yosemite, Castle Air Museum and fantastic killer whales!’ but for now I am off to create a nuno felt scarf all for myself!

Nuno mosaic workshop confirmed for San Fransisco!

Thanks so much to fellow felter Nancy Schwab for helping me organise my first felting workshop in America.  Nancy contacted Jamie from Urban Fauna Studio and hey presto, we are up and running with a nuno mosaic day on Thursday 1st October at her gorgeous studio and fiber boutique!  I must say the images on Jamie’s website make me want to drool so I can only imagine what I will be like in reality when presented to all that gorgeous fiber and yarn.  Isn’t it amazing the virtual connections that the internet enables and how wonderful it will be to actually meet some online friends in the flesh at last!  Thanks also to Tobie, maybe we can get together anyway at Jamies and hopefully this will be my first felting experience of many in the States.  If any of you are interested in securing a spot in what promises to be a fun day please just click here to go directly to the booking page!