Austin TX workshop update in pics!

Internet connectivity is zero here in the cabin at Lake Tahoe so Merridee and I have sneaked in to Tahoe City to catch some wifi, read our emails and catch up with essential online stuff. I arrived here on Monday morning having spent a wonderful week with Barbara and Sam in Austin TX, thanks guys for a really fun visit!

Cyndi, Barbara and Carolyn modelling their gorgeous nuno scarves!

The nuno scarf/wrap and vessel workshops last weekend went very smoothly, I hadn't appreciated that many of the participants had no previous felting experience until I arrived at the venue so was doubly delighted with the beautiful felt everyone created.

Stunning felt vessels and purses

It's always amazing when a group of creative people with access to the same raw materials get together, no two pieces looked alike even though everyone was working with the same instructions and the same basic shapes.

Super felt vessels and purses

Great job ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco printing highs and lows, a very mixed week!

It’s been a very mixed week at Clasheen; fantastic strong prints achieved from gifted eucalyptus leaves (thanks Anita!), the Michigan workshop sold out almost as soon as it was advertised but two boxes of eco printed silk and lambswool Showcase orders worth a combined €890 at trade prices gone when the courier’s van was stolen on Wednesday.

Strong and colourful prints from fresh eucalyptus leaves

Strong and colourful prints from fresh eucalyptus leaves

I’m not going to go in to all the ins and outs of the saga here but suffice to say if, and it’s a big if, the insurance does pay out the maximum I’m entitled to is €550. The cash is one thing but the bigger issue is not fulfilling orders when they should have been plus the fact that some of the items were actual Showcase display items as requested by one new customer. Obviously since each of my pieces is unique I will never be able to repeat the exact pattern, I will however be able to use the same materials so expect a lot of printing to happen this week.

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The wonderful moment when I know I’m going to get clear and strong prints!

Eucalyptus prints on lambswool

Eucalyptus prints on lambswool

If you’d been planning on travelling to MI you might like to consider participating in an alternative US workshop here.

Brief update then US felt and eco print workshop details at last!

Phew, it’s been a very paperwork heavy week or so, yesterday I finally had to admit defeat and give up on the big submission I was trying to get together because there are currently just too many exciting things happening at once at Clasheen. I don’t want to drop the ball on the website side of things or postpone preparing for upcoming workshops, I also need to make some work for an imminent fashion photo shoot and finally, my new wood burning central heating system is being installed this week.

Over the next week or so Patrick will be finalising the change over of this blog to the website and the online shop will be going live there too. There will be quite a bit of formatting and editing for me to do re the blog I think, I don’t however want to lose all that I’ve written here since I started in 2008! Please bear with us while the transfer is ongoing.

So, without further ado, here are the details for my April and May workshops in North America, they will also be published on the website some day this week. Apologies if this post is a little word heavy, it’s difficult though not to be wordy when trying to write up workshop descriptions accurately. To say I’m excited is an understatement, I’m so looking forward to this visit!!!

North American workshops with Nicola during April and May 2015

Tuscon AZ – Intensive two day natural printing workshop on 17th and 18th April  email Karen to book your place making sure to put Nicola Brown workshop in the subject box

During this intensive two day workshop participants will explore the fascinating and exciting art of printing on protein based fabric and paper using natural materials from the hedgerow, kitchen and garden!

Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials bundles will be created by tying the organic matter up tightly in various weights of felt, silk, wool and silk/wool blends. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist. NB Where local hedgerow materials are not available we will substitute easily located vegetation from the florist.

Over the course of the two days we will have a selection of pots on the go so participants will have plenty of options and decisions to make. We will also be able to print on paper or card, naturally printed heavy duty manila luggage tags make particularly beautiful gift tags. Participants are encouraged to bring along plenty of silk and wool yardage, scarves, previously completed felt bags, vessels and wall hangings (not just wearables) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk. These may all be included in the dye pot, the more the merrier, space providing! Attention will be paid to the after treatment and care of these naturally printed textiles and participants will learn how Nicola prepares her work for sale or gifting.

NB Nicola likes to restrict printing to cream or white items during a workshop as this avoids commercial dyes running and ruining someone else’s work. If participants are keen to try printing coloured items it’s possible we can put one of the pots aside for this on day two, this will depend on the requirements and best interest of the group as a whole.

NEW for 2015, OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP on 19th April – only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop

– Advanced one day workshop, natural printing on cellulose fabrics

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a much more time consuming process than printing on felt, silk and wool, results can be varied and are often disappointing. During this one day class participants who have previously completed a natural printing workshop with Nicola will be able to learn the different ways that cellulose fabric may be encouraged to hold a print. Nicola’s been having great success with linen and cotton this year achieving many really clear and beautiful leaf imprints. Some of the pre-treatments are very time consuming and possibly may not be to everyone’s taste or even smell, others are quicker and seem to result in good prints and colourfast results. This advanced class will share the tips and tricks that Nicola is finding helpful in her own artistic practice to achieve good prints on linen and cotton.

Austin TX Sponsored by Austin Fiber Arts Association on 24th and 25th April – email Barbara for more information

During the nuno wrap workshop on Saturday 24th Nicola will share with participants the tumble dryer method of wet felting, a stress free way of coercing wool and embellishing fibers into silk to create a rich and colorful piece of wearable art. Because there is almost no rolling or rubbing involved participants are free to enjoy the creative process, it is also ideal for those find regular felting methods too tiring!

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

In the vessel workshop on Sunday 25th, Nicola will share with participants the skills needed to design and felt a simple vessel or coin purse using the resist method of three dimensional felting. Old pieces of silk and lace as well as treasured bits and bobs are often suitable to be incorporated into the felt. Should they wish to,, participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favorite stash items and Nicola will help them design one off pieces using these as a starting point.

Lexington KY – Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival – wet felted vessel or coin purse on 16th May and a half day fun felt flower workshop on the morning of 17th May, all materials generously sponsored by Moonwood Farm, bookings open online shortly

16th – During this one day workshop beginners and more experienced felters will have fun learning and experimenting with the fascinating technique of three dimensional wet felting around a resist. The emphasis during the day will be to have fun in a creative and supportive environment, participants may expect to leave with the knowledge and confidence to replicate the techniques learnt successfully at home.

Beginners may expect to lay out and finish a vessel or coin purse during this workshop (with plenty of surface decoration!) while more experienced felters and improvers can discover how to add inclusions such as stones, glass nuggets or other found objects into their felt. Everyone will have the opportunity to experiment with surface design, a gorgeous selection of raw alpaca locks, silk, bamboo, Firestar and other embellishing fibers are included in the cost of this workshop!

17th – Wet felted flowers make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes!

During this three hour workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers using merino and alpaca plus a selection of embellishing fibres including silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Lexington KY – Felting and eco printing in the round, simple vessels, purses or iPad covers on 22nd and 23rd May, email Jan to book your place

Day one – using either the open or closed resist method of wet felting participants will learn how to design templates to create different shaped pieces then scale these up in order to cut out their own plastic resists. Nicola will demonstrate how to lay the wool tightly around the resist and by the end of the day everyone will have a beautifully finished simple vessel or purse ready to print on day two, no obvious ridges or seams in sight! Working in white, participants will learn which embellishing fibres work best in the eco printing process, Nicola will bring a selection of these with her for people to share and include in their work.

NB If anyone would prefer to felt a nuno scarf this will also be possible providing Nicola and Jan know in advance!

Day two – Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials our three dimensional felt from day one will be transformed into beautiful and colourful art using the exciting eco printing technique! We will also work with silk scarves and yardage, participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed wool or silk yardage to get the most from this full day of printing.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Plainwell MI – Intensive one day eco printing workshop on felt, silk and wool on 30th May – FULL

Using simple, natural plant materials learn how to transform felt, silk and wool yardage or clothing into beautiful wearable art using the eco printing technique.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed yardage or scarf blanks to get the most from this full day of printing.

Texas, California and Kentucky workshop updates!

I've just finished the last of my Texas workshops this evening and what can I say? Dallas and Houston I love you!!! Thanks everyone for the wonderful time and warm hospitable welcome, I really enjoyed spending time with you and sharing skills, the work you all created was fabulous!!! I'll post a full compliment of images to Facebook as soon as my feet touch ground again in California, for now I'll post a few pics here and just want to say Loomis watch out, I'm on my way! There are still a few places available for the classes there so if you're interested in a two day intensive vessel/purse workshop or a one day technique based class please contact Hannah ASAP. It's a great opportunity to fine tune skills in a marvellous haven for fiber addicts, a smaller class size means more attention for each student!!!

I also want to apologise and alert you to the fact that my second workshop at the KSFF in on SUNDAY and not Saturday, for some reason it was showing up as Saturday on the workshop page so mea culpa. So, now for some pictures……..

Laying out leaves and onion skins in Dallas, it's fun!

What a beautiful scarf Sarah!
It's fun in Houston too, Barbara and Lisa preparing to lay out some scarves
Next post pics of the finished vessels, purse, hat and printed silk!
 



 

All set for nuno felting tomorrow!

Jan and I spent a very active, happy and tiring day trawling Lexington for printed silk then headed over to Masterson Station Park so that I could check out the workshop space for the weekend and say hi to Roo Kline and Elizabeth Taylor. To say that I was excited to get first dibs on their AMAZING fibre would be an understatement, if you've signed up for either of my workshops this weekend you're in for a BIG treat!!! Everything with the exception of some naturally coloured black cloud like fibre is hand dyed in a beautiful range of contrasting and complimentary colours. For the weekend I selected luscious alpaca locks, bamboo tops, silk hankies and Firestar, the colour range is glorious! Roo and Elizabeth are also going to offer all my students a discount on any fibre they purchase from them during the festival and I've already bought a massive bag of goodies to use myself when I get home. Anita, who's minding my studio while I'm away, is also going to get a lovely slice of heaven! Pictures tomorrow, until then adieu.

Beautiful felt and natural printing/dyeing from our Michigan workshop participants!

It's impossible to write properly (in a short time frame) about the wonderful two days felting and natural printing/dyeing we had in Michigan, thanks Dawn for your wonderful organisational skills and thanks a bunch to the lovely group of fun, creative ladies who joined us. Some people arrived with a clear end goal in mind, others came willing to be inspired whilst still others came with an initial fixed goal then changed it once we had chatted and they had seen other possibilities which they wanted to explore! Whatever the motivation and the differing aims, this group brought together such humour, friendship fun and yummy food to our days, we had a blast!!!

I've posted a bunch of pictures to my personal Facebook page and some collaged images of the felt and natural printing/dyeing to Nicola Brown – Clasheen, they're not tagged or titled yet but I'll sit down to do this when there are no distractions or thrift shops to visit with Dawn. Here are a few to keep you going however, great work everyone!

 

 

Alpaca and silk nuno felt shrug/wrap, one final picture before I finish my packing!

I wanted to take some pictures of my latest shrug/wrap before I packed it away but it's so windy here today that I could only photograph it worn one way. It wouldn't oblige and stay put to show it worn as a shrug but here's a shot of it pinned with a vintage pin I bought (on one of my Goodwill forays with Dawn!) just to give you a little idea of how it finished up on Friday. This is one of the pieces I've felted using some of Roo and Elizabeth's beautiful alpaca locks, I'll be working with them in my nuno workshop at the KSFF and sharing the technique used here (tumble dryer method) in MI, KY and CA, details on the workshop page for anyone wanting to make a last minute booking!

 

Wonderful Tin Thimble!

On Sunday I promised to update you on all my upcoming May workshops in the States, today I’ll start with the wonderful Tin Thimble in Loomis CA, next post I’ll be writing about my workshops with the marvellous Dawn Edwards in Plainwell MI and the final post of the week will be about Lexington KY where I’m staying once again with great friend Jan! You’ve probably guessed by now how much I’m looking forward to this trip by the number of superlatives and exclamation marks in recent posts, forgive me if they seem a bit excessive but I am so excited to be heading back to stay with Dawn, Jan, Emma, Sharon and Mark!!!

This is the first time that I’ve actually managed to time my visit to The Tin Thimble to coincide with their annual fibre extravaganza, as a result I’m delighted to be included in the line up for Felt Fest 2013. I’ll be facilitating three full days of workshops with individual topics each day, obviously participants attending for 2 or 3 days may expect to tackle larger and more challanging projects over the duration of the festival. Full details of all the workshops are on The Tin Thimble’s website, I hope to see you there!!!!!

Felt Fest 2013

Felt Fest 2013

Weekend fun and felting news, I’m off on my travels!!!

Although I still have a mountain of things to get finished before I head off on my US travels later this evening I have been having a wonderful action packed art and felting weekend! On Saturday night Alan and I joined Eileen MacDonagh and close friends old and new at a really great wrap up party to celebrate the success of her fabulous exhibition LITHOSPHERE at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow. It was a wonderful evening spent among the towering trees of ‘Cathedral’, yummy food and wine (which I couldn’t drink as I was the designated driver!), great craic and the best music I’ve heard in a very long time!!!

Music amongst the trees!

Local musician Joe Cleere has just been signed to a record deal in the US and although he had never played with them before he came along to join a trio of Eileen’s friends and their playing just seemed to compliment each other perfectly, we had an eclectic mix of traditional and alternative rock tracks, brilliant, thanks Eileen!!!!!

Yesterday I had a very busy day at Duckett’s Grove, I had intended taking loads of pictures of the new studio but to be honest I was so busy demonstrating and talking to visitors that there was almost no time to snap anything. Thanks to everyone who came in especially to see me, I really appreciated it and hope you enjoyed the day! My plan now is to bring my big studio tables from Clasheen to Duckett’s Grove, move the shelving and plints around in the space and set up one half as a display area and the other as a zone for felting and teaching from. The response to the demos was fabulous.

Visitors to the new studio

I now have a long list of contact details from people interested in trying felting for themselves, I’ve actually put Sunday 4th June in my diary for a beginners and improvers felting day and have only space for one more participant if anyone is interested, E75 including materials working from 10am until approx 4.30pm! Please email me asap if you would like the last slot!

Plenty of people came for the music, food and craft!

This evening I’ll be handing over everything at Claseheen to good friend George and hope everything goes well in my absence. It’s lovely here at the moment, foals in the fields, birds singing and wild flowers everywhere in the hedges and down the lane so I think that George will manage to have a restful and fun time with Rex! Don’t expect a lot of blogging over the next few days but I will be posting up to date pictures and notes to facebook as I progress along my way to Kentucky, take care and I’ll be back blogging about the Lexington workshops which take place on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May from 10am – 5pm at the Beaumont Presbyterian Church, 1070 Lane Allen Road!!!

 

 

U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse