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.

 

 

Felt and frustration!!!

Another felt bag with relief stitching

UUGH,  I am SO frustrated!!!  I wrote a post yesterday afternoon in the freezing cold but for some reason the internet connection went down and I couldn’t add images or get it online.  Just now I have rewritten the whole thing, added some pictures and then lost everything in the publication, how annoying is that.  Unfortunately I am going to have to head downstairs again in a few minutes because it is absolutely freezing upstairs and I am trying to eek out my oil and just heat the lower level.  I am now snowed in for a total of 12 days and counting, amazing for Ireland in late November early December although probably just as well that I lagged my water filter with some felt otherwise things could be a lot worse than they already are!

Anyway, here are a couple of photos of another felt bag a la Vanda Robert completed during my enforced incarceration and if you pop on over to Flickr you will find some more as well as a few pictures of the beautiful landscape at Clasheen in the snow. 

Detail showing stitching at the top and how the leather handles are attached

Vanda’s bag making workshop concluded

It was very interesting to see everyones stitching starting to take shape and by the end of the second day I had my relief work finished and was ready to start assembling and stitching my bag first thing on Sunday morning. 

Vanda's red bag and Chris's blue/grey bag in progress

I really liked the way we learnt how to use a type of herringbone stitch to join the back edges of the seams together (remember the seams are very thick, ten layers of wool!) and then used a different stitch to join the front edges, this should have been almost invisible but I think that I need a little more practice if not a lot!  Surprisingly I enjoyed this part of the sewing quite a bit, probably because I could really see my bag coming together and I have to say I was liking the result!!!  Once all the pieces were stitched together it was time to sew a fancy border around the top edge before making/attaching a cord or in my case leather handles.  I found the stitch for the top edge really impossible to get even and it was not doing anything for the bag so Vanda suggested making a cord instead (twisting threads together and allowing them to wrap back on themselves) which I did in a silvery grey and black wool.  Once this was in place all that remained was to add my leather handles, these were a GREAT find in Rhinebeck, more about my favourite suppliers from there in the next post!  All that remains now is to say a big thank you to Carmen for organising such a wonderful workshop, I will be back!!!

The finished bag!

Vanda Robert’s fantastic felt bag workshop!

I always have a fantastic time when I participate in felting workshops with visiting international artists and my wonderful long weekend at Carmen’s studying with Hungarian felter Vanda Robert was definitely one of my highlights from 2010.  As per usual, when I am a bit apprehensive about the content of a class the reality is always better than the imagining and because Vanda’s bag workshop included a LOT of stitching you can imagine how nervous that made me before the event!  Carmen had almost tried to stop me attending because she knew I wanted to support her in bringing Vanda over but she also knew how stitching makes me break out in a cold sweat.  The fact that the three days included the day of the golf club Captain’s Dance didn’t help either but nothing would have stopped me attending and boy am I glad I did!

Ten layers of wool batt

To start the workshop everyone looked at some of Vanda’s gorgeous bags, oohed and aahed over her relief stitching (there were also a couple of books with photos to browse through) while she explained the basics and showed us how she likes to lay out her wool batts to create thick, even and firm felt.  We then choose our colours and started to lay out 10 to 12 light and even layers directly onto plastic or else onto bubble wrap.  I have always wanted to create a piece of felt using Rathgeeran Rock Art (a stunning local bronze age rock) as my inspiration and was delighted to see some black merino, silvery grey merino and grey gotland which I thought would be perfect for my bag.  The idea in general is to felt a thick but even piece of fabric, preferrably double sided and then cut to shape, reverse some pieces exposing the complimentary colour before stitching the design in relief (amazing stuff here!) and assembling to whole with tiny invisable stitches before adding a handle and possibly a cord edging or fancy stitching around the top.  

First off I created a grey prefelt using three layers of the gotland which I cut into rounds to echo the circles from the rock art.  These were then laid down directly onto my bubble wrap and filled in with three layers of black merino before surrounding the design with three layers of black merino also.  I then laid 4 more layers of black this time covering the whole rectangle, two layers of gotland and finished with a layer of the silvery grey merino.  If you look carefully at the picture above you can see my ten layers laid out and also see that Chris who was working beside me had started to wet out and soap her bundle, half of hers is really high and half is already wet.  Once we had the layers fully wet we just felted as per normal until the wool had shrunk by about a third and the resultant felt was thick, firm and flat.  Some people rubbed the surface of their felt to smooth out any imperfections and dimples but I had brought my ridged fridge liner with me and it proved excellent for rolling the felt on and getting a nice even texture.  At this stage the first day was finished and we all retired home to dry our felt, I had the dance to get to and evening wear to don!

My felt cut into pieces with a picture of the rock which inspired me

Day two saw us cutting out the picecs for our bags and then Vanda gave us a demonstration of the stitches used and we all had a go with some samples.  I can’t stress enough how I would urge you to attend one of her workshops because it is in the stitching that the relief is achieved and obviously that is not something I will be trying to explain here.  Suffice to say you can use wool, cotton or linen thread and depending on where you insert and remove your needle through the felt and at what angle you do so the stitches may be straight or when pulled cause depressions or elevations in the felt, just INCREDIBLE!!!  Initially I had wanted to elevate all my silvery grey ovals but that proved a step too far for me (surprise, surprise!) as in order to do so I would have needed more space between the discs so with Vanda’s help I re-thought and decided to elevate some of the black spaces instead.

To be cont ….. 

Starting to create ridges in the felt through stitching

And so …..

And so I thought that Tuesday would be my last golf club duties for the year, little did I know I woule be totally tied up until Saturday afternoon at the least.  To keep your felt interest alive I have now got quite a few of my photos from Vanda Robert’s marvellous felt bag workshop up on Flickr (link to the right) and tomorrow (I promise!!!) to blog about it and then the following post will be about my favourite vendors from Rhinebeck, next week will be devoted to the continuation of my ArtL!nks project.

Light at the end of the tunnel …..

At last I can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.  I am now officially the ex-Lady Captain and only have a managment meeting to get through tonight and later in the year the joint club AGM before all my duties are totally over!  The felt bag making workshop I participated in at Carmen’s with Vanda Robert this weekend was FABULOUS!!!  We were learning such an interesting and individual technique and I am dying to show you some photos tomorrow or Thursday when I have a little more time to post.  For now adieu, apologies to anyone who is trying to contact me by email, there are not enough hours in the day at the moment but I promise to get in touch a little later in the week!