I am still tidying the studio in preparation for today’s workshop, just taking a quick break (aka escaping from the clutter) to write this quick post. Three ladies who attended one of the recent starter sessions have booked for the day to make large wall hangings or framed flat felt. We will be calculating how much wool we need in relation to their finished size and experimenting with different types of fibre for embellishment. One participant is bringing along her retrievers hair and I also have horse hair, more dogs hair, raw fleece and some raw alpaca in my stash.
It is great to finally start to see some light around my long work table in the studio! Following on from my mentoring sessions on Wednesday I am really making an effort to put my paperwork in order and start 2010 with a clean slate. One piece of advice that has stuck in my mind from the Business mentor was to pay myself a wage every week without feeling guilty. In this way he explained it is easier to set work related targets and stick to them, if I have a poor week financially I am still to take the payment and just organise a bit more work for the following week! Let’s see how this goes, I like the sound of it and have decided to get someone in to help me clean the house and studio two or three times a month. That will be a big incentive!!
I can’t believe that it is a few days since I wrote my last post. Time seems to be absloutely flying here and I really need to get a couple of things finished today before preparing my ‘fashion’ item for the fashion show at the ‘Felt in Focus’ symposium that I will be attending in Denmark at the beginning of July. Over the last few days I have decamped each morning to Carmen’s studio for a full days felting as here is still not totally tidied up after Alan’s election thank you party on Sunday. I made two wallhangings and one large vessel that was pretty difficult to felt as I used my rubbish bin lid for the template (but obviously drew it in the plastic underlay) and it was hard to get the felting process started for such a big piece and roll the package gently. Because of this it took a LOT of rubbing before I could start rolling, in fact the first time that I started rolling I thought the edges might come apart and I had a major panic as it had taken so long to lay out the fibres! Anyway, all’s well that ends well and eventually I had everything holding together well and was able to get on with the rolling and shaping. The bowl is drying now and tomorrow I hope to deliver my work to the gallery in preparation for hanging and positioning on Friday afternoon/evening.
Lampshade with organza
Now I really need to start advertising Sigrid Bannier’s workshops here at Clasheen, they will be taking place during the first week in August and should be great fun. At least two days will be taken up with felt lampshade making and this is something that I am really looking forward to myself.
Sigrid is great at being inventive and I especially like her work incorporating grasses and sticks, mounting or finishing items is not my strong point so I will be on the look out for any tips and tricks to make this job easier!
Only one more day of canvassing and then the electorate vote in the local elections from 7am – 10pm tomorrow. Felting has really taken a back seat over the last couple of weeks but as soon as the weekend and the count are over I will be fully up to speed again, hurrah!! My biggest concern then will be preparing work for 2 upcoming exhibitions (one to be hung next Thursday!) and sorting out my wrap up presentation about my Craft in the Classroom project which takes place on Saturday 13th June. Although I ususally work pretty well to a deadline I definitely will need to prioritise over the next week and don’t want to feel rushed when creating the work for either show. My plan is to create some small and medium sized felt pods which I will suspend in a cluster and I also need to make a large rug/wall hanging expanding the concept of ridges and bumps as with the swirling water sample piece. Off now to get on the campaign trail again, I look forward to properly continuing with this blog next week!!
I am really looking forward to my delivery of a special wool from German company Filzrausch . This is the short fibre merino that I saw for the first time with Sigrid and Ingrid Bannier at the workshops in November and what they use for almost all their jewellery making. It is amazingly quick to felt and soft making it very comfortable to wear against the skin. The cost is a bit more expensive that other merino but I am hoping that I will more than make up for this extra cost in the time saved and the scope of the projects that I intend to tackle. Carmen had bought any wool that the sisters had left after the workshops and I got a little bit from her. This afternoon I made some felt beads, a flower, a ball and a piece of flat felt, in all they took me probably a third of the time that I would take normally, amazing! Watch this space, the wool should arrive at the beginning of next week hopefully.
One thing that I didn’t mention yesterday is that when I make prefelts I don’t lay the fibres out anything like as thickly as usual. This is because the prefelt will be cut and laid on top of whatever piece I am working on and I don’t want the felt to end up too thick in those sections. If however, you wanted a very textured piece, a wallhanging for example, maybe you would want the prefelt to be thick and to stand out a little from the rest of the background. Anyway, it is nice to experiment a bit so you will find out what thickness suits your style of work yourselves!
This morning my order arrived from Wollknoll containing a wide range of beautiful coloured silks that I am going to be using in some mosaic nuno wallhangings and hopefully some clothes! This is the technique that Sigrid Bannier taught recently to Feltmakers Ireland members and friends, one workshop in Dublin the other in Kiltealy. We laid out chopped up pieces of silk chiffon in random or organised designs on top of light see through plastic, covered it with 2 layers of very fine merino, more light plastic, wet it down and felted. We overlapped the silk pieces slightly where they met so that there were no gaps in the coverage and this made the resultant fabric beautifully tactile and supple. The colours were wonderful all over but in some cases especially interesting where the neighbouring silks overlapped. Sigrid explained to us how to create a long skirt in a tube form and then use a large button or brooch as a closure. I think that I might try this as an exciting Christmas/New year project (it would be a talking point at openings!!) and commission a nice button from Hillary Jenkinson at the Demanse Yard, Castlecomer for the fastening.
The other thing that I am excited about today is that I met some very nice people today in Borris, they were planning to contact me at some stage as they are interested in some felting workshops. It was quite by chance that the topic came up as I was actually representing my partner Alan (he is a Green Party County Councillor) at the opening and blessing of a new playground which serves children from all the neighbouring communities. The young children staged a Nativity play, there were a few short speeches, we all went outside to the play area and then the longest serving member in the group cut the ribbon. At that stage everyone was invited back inside for a warm spiced punch (non-alcoholic!) and a bit of networking and chat. It turned out that the committee members had seen one of the recent newspaper articles profiling my change of career and had discussed contacting me re. demonstrating to the younger children, teaching some workshops at their summer school and also doing some workshops with the leaders and teachers in the play school. It was great to hear this as one of my intentions in the New Year had been to put some proposals together to present to local community groups so here I am already on my way!
Craft in the Classroom is going to be stepping up a gear after Christmas as well, my HSE Child Protection Training takes place on 13th and 14th January and at the beginning of February I get to meet my teacher in Leitrim and learn all about the class that I will be working with. Mehmet Girgic is arriving on 15th January and staying until 23rd so all in all January will be a very busy month. Don’t forget for those of you living in the vicinity of Wicklow that I am also teaching felting workshops on 31st January in the Old Courthouse, Tinahely, we actually have a day lined up with tasters in felting, knitting, spinning and crochet, book your space by clicking here!
Here is a photo as promised of the wallhanging I made last Saturday after Jean’s workshop by inserting the piece of printed muslin I created into a larger piece of felt. I was very happy with the result although after Bernie’s beautiful photography not a bit happy with the image I took! This week I am up to my eyes with the batik course I am taking at Grennan Craft Mill and Open Week at Borris Golf Club. Images to follow tomorrow of work in progress with the batik.
I had a great time today at the Demense Yard, Castlecomer with the ‘South East Textile Group’. We meet one Saturday a month and either one of the members or an invited guest hosts a workshop. Today Jean (one of our founder members) showed us all how to create and use a lino print and in the afternoon we were using a printer to transfer images to a special medium and then iron them on to various fabrics.
As my drawing is dreadful I decided to use the lino cutting as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of creating a tag or logo for my work. I created a simple logo using my initials and some lines. Once I had gouged out the lines a bit deeper than my first attempt I was very happy with the end result, thanks Jean for a great tutorial.
The printer here at Clasheen has just run out of ink so I jumped at the opportunity to use the group’s new printer and transfer some images on to the special paper that Jean had brought. Deciding not to draw anything myself, I used some fantastic images of African women from a recent issiue of a fashion magazine that I had. Armed with these as I was going home, I spent the hour driving home planning how I would incorporate them into a piece of nuno felt. My biggest concerns were should they be colour fast once I started to wet felt and would the image shrink too much and become unrecognisable once shrunk and fulled. FANTASTIC success!!! I wanted to experiment with a wallhanging so I ironed one of the images onto a piece of white muslin and then laid it on a large piece of apple green commercial needle felt. This needlefelt is new to me and came from Wollknoll in Germany, usually I would create any prefelt from scratch but have been wanting to experiment with larger pieces in a limited time frame. I then laid out apple green, navy and marine blue merino on top of all but the actual image. These colours were chosen as they picked out the main colours in the clothes the African ladies were wearing. A little white and red wool to highlight and away I went and wet the wool. No problems with the dye from my printed muslin running and because I had positioned the fabric on top of the needlefelt it did not actually distort too much when fulled. I am so pleased with the result and hope to take a photo tomorrow once I decide whether to embellish the piece further or just leave it as it is. I would welcome feedback if anyone feels like making a comment as soon as I post the image of the finished piece!