Fantastic visit to Arturo Alonzo Sandoval and watching a felt loom in action!

Many months ago I had an invitation via facebook from Arturo Alonzo Sandoval to visit him at the College of Fine Arts in the University of Kentucky (UK as those in the know call it!) to see a large felt loom working. Last Wednesday Jan had an appointment as new president of the PTA so friend and fellow fibre addict Nancy Collins and her husband Paul collected me in the morning and we met Arturo at his department in UK. The whole experience was totally mind blowing, Arturo is the most amazing artist, his weaving and art quilts just have to be seen to be believed!!! Anyway, we started the morning by heading up to the large room where the felt loom and all the other big weaving looms are located. I had never actually heard of or seen a felt loom before so do have a look at the official website and check them out, particularly interesting if you are a breeder of wool or hair producing animals and are looking for a simple way to turn your fibre into product. Stupidly I didn’t take any pictures of the loom itself in action, basically you feed your wool batt (with or without a layer of silk or other fabric) through two rollers (like an old mangle) and a series of felting needles punch the fibre as it passes through to the other side. Arturo explained that usually students would pass the batt through the rollers a total or 6 or 7 times and by the end have created a totally stable fabric ready to be used as it is or cut and stitched into couture garments. At the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival there were several booths where it was possible to see the results of this work, for me there were both advantages to using the loom and disadvantages. I really liked the fact that it was possible to ‘punch’ fibres together that otherwise might be difficult to felt and think that investing in a loom could be a really good option for a collective of Irish farmers wanting to utilize their home produced wool. Irish wool is difficult to felt into a compact fabric but using the loom would make this a possibility for blankets and rugs I think, also it’s possible to combine any fabrics with fibre, not just the natural ones and more open weaves. On the down side of things, because the rows of needles are evenly spaced across the working face of the machine it is not possible to punch fabric and fibre together without the needles pushing the fabric through to the other side creating little needle marks in the surface and I also think that it would not be possible to run thicker batts (I sometimes use 10 layers of wool as taught by wonderful felted Vanda Roberts) through, it that might be possible if you can adjust the rollers but I’m not actually sure how much play there is in that direction. Personally, if I had access to a loom and the time to experiment I would try running my fibre and fabric through twice then wet felt the resultant piece and in this way think that I would have a better chance of achieving the smoother, softer and more flexible surfaces that I like for my wearables. All is all it was a really interesting piece of equipment and one that I am going to mention to some local farmers once I get home to Clasheen. I have a dream (only a dream at the moment unfortunately!) of having the time and inclination to set up a small co-operative where sample carders, wool picking and cleaning equipment etc. could be shared and used buy the whole community and I really think that the felt loom can now be added to that list for future consideration, watch this space, but not for a couple of years yet I think!

Arturo with one of his art quilts in progress

Once we had finished in the weaving room Arturo gave Nancy and I a full tour through the Fine Arts Department and then we headed off to his studio, mind blowing and inspiring!!! We saw some beautiful finished framed pieces which were woven and stitched from a variety of materials including the sort of material that hoarding is covered in to show you how a building project in progress is going to look while finished. I’m not sure if it’s vinyl or what it’s made of but you probably know what I mean from the description! There are plenty of subtle and not so subtle political messages in Arturo’s work and these were obvious when we watched a wonderful presentation on the computer showing us how his work has evolved and changed through the years. Initially expressing himself through weaving, Arturo gradually has incorporated more and more unusual, whacky and recycled materials into his pieces. Now simple lines of zip zag stitching adds another dimension to the surface especially when he weaves with things like old archival film, strips of shiny metallic fabric and other textured fabrics, beautiful! A large commission was in progress when we visited the studio, here’s a picture of Arturo holding up a strip of film against the beginning of the background, the strips for the warp are all pinned against the wall at this stage of the process.

After we were finished at UK Arturo spontaneously invited us to spend some more time with him, both at his house and at the University of Kentucky Hospital where he is one of the art trustees, hope that’s the correct term! This is a marvelous medical facility which has just almost doubled in size recently, we saw some stunning large scale sculptures, an interesting video projection, a whole series of folk art pieces by local Kentucky artists and ended up in the surgery waiting room where one of Arturo’s wonderful art quilt hangs.

One of Arturo’s stunning art quilts in the surgery waiting room at UK Hospital

Paul met us at Artutro’s house and we all spent a great time viewing the funky and eclectic collection of art that he has gathered over the years, this is wonderfully positioned both in his stunning garden and inside in his colorful and welcoming home! I loved the bottle trees glistening in the sunlight (MUST make some with all the bottles we go through at home!) and was amazed how springy and comfortable the large woven outside rug was. Arturo made this by weaving old battery cables, check out my Keen’s Tanya, I took this photo of them against the rug ‘specially for you!!!

Outdoor rug woven from battery cables!

Arturo truly has created an awe inspiring body of work through the years and I really wished that Cathy Fitzgerald, Sheila Ahern and Eileen MacDonagh from Ireland could have been with us to watch the video presentation, see his work up close, visit the wonderful sculpture and art in the garden and get to meet Arturo in person, you would have LOVED it girls!!!

I’m going to leave you today with a close up shot from the large art quilt at UK Hospital, check out the film Sheila!

Check out the woven film Sheila!

 

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Pictures of my completed (almost!) felt bag and another ‘weaving through the trees’ image

Short post today, heavy on pictures and light on writing because open week is on at the golf club and I am totally tied up with Lady Captain duties!  As you will see from pictures of my finished bag ‘finished’ is a subjective word!!  I still need to felt the drawstring closure echoing the way my grandmother’s suede pouch closes.  Because of the beautiful flower motif at the top of the bag front I have decided to adapt this drawstring slightly to allow the silk remain uncovered, now I just have to felt the cord and punch some holes at the side, loop it through the inside top (maybe with some small jump rings) and pull it through.  For the moment here are some pictures to look at and when I am happy with the drawstring I will post a final completed image.

The bag fully felted

Inside and outside

Lastly for today there is a picture of me weaving through the trees, thanks Sheila for forwarding me on the image, it brings back happy memories of our weekend together.

Me engrossed in weaving our web

Weaving through the trees, first images of felt bag and Wikio ranking

Day two saw everyone moving to the Feltmakers Ireland studio in Phoenix Park for the morning session before heading back to Collins Barracks for the afternoon.  Logistically this meant that we needed to bring all our relevant materials plus our work from day one with us. Because I had worked and felted my bag the previous evening I was free to start developing my theme further as well as have some time to absorb all we learnt on the first day.  Annette had asked friend and workshop helper Cristina to bring some balls of cheap yarn with her and we started the day by having a fun session weaving the yarn through the trees.  For anyone not familiar with Phoenix Park it is the largest park in a Capital city in Europe so we had plenty of trees to choose from!!! 

Weaving through the trees

Sunlight filtering through the threads

Jeanette suggested that we either allow ourselves to  get lost in the weaving and just enjoy the moment or else contemplate the different ways we were all connecting and how the many strands ultimately conntected and became one big web.  Needless to say this was great fun!

Today I am going to show you two detailed images of my bag, the full bag will be revealed in the next post.

Looking into the bag

What lies beneath

Lastly today I want to let everyone know that Wikio are launching a list of the top UK and Irish knitting blogs on Monday and amazingly Clasheen is in the top ten!  Here is a sneak preview of how things are looking …………

1 The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty  
2 Wendy Knits  
3 Little Cotton Rabbits  
4 Fourth edition  
5 Dyed in the Wool  
6 KnitWit  
7 Yarn Mistrys  
8 Confessions of a YarnAddict  
9 Clasheen by Nicola Brown  
10 Confessions of a Graveyard Gypsy  
11 Cakeyvoice  
12 La Belle Helene  
13 Art Yarn  
14 Dreamcatcher ~knitty in pink~  
15 KnitCave – Ramblings of an Obsessive  
16 Quelle Erqsome  
17 KnitKnack PaddyWack Give a Blog a Home  
18 All Fingers and Thumbs  
19 Frizz  
20 Fiona’s Knitting  
21 Heldasland  
22 Glittyknittykitty  
23 Chopped Tomatoes –  
24 Square One  
25 Witty knitter  
26 My Knitting Machines And Me  
27 Enchilada Sunrise  
28 Woolgathering  
29 I made this  
30 Simply Knitting  
31 The Wildcraft Blog  
32 Dots or stripes  
33 KTOG – ‘Knit TOGether’ group for North Hertfordshire.  
34 Knitting & Other Stuff  
35 MAZZAM AGAIN  
36 Claire knits and crochets  
37 Chang Knits  
38 KathrynsKnitting  
39 Stitchin’ Bints  
40 Carefree KAL  
41 Knitted ramblings  
42 Yarnspider  
43 Girl, Purl and Two Knitting Needles  
44 The mogs blog, the meanderings of a cat through yarn and life  
45 Cheviots  
46 Spinning Against The Tide  
47 KNITMAN  
48 Blueadt_knits  
49 Canny Cat!  
50 Knitting Mummy’s Everyday Life  
51 Daisychains  
52 Thumb gusset  
53 Skein  
54 Fyberspates  
55 Lizzy knits  
56 Lixie Knits It  
57 Mooknits  
58 Musing and doing  
59 Purlpower  
60 Roo Knits  
61 Sajona’s small world  
62 Slippedstitch  
63 Spinning Fishwife  
64 The Virtual Princess and the Pea  
65 Annarella  
66 Carpe diem!  
67 PurlyQueen  
68 BananaKnits.com  
69 Minxxys World  
70 COMING UP BLANK  
71 Emma & Co.  
72 ROR Sitemap for http://www.knitorama.co.uk  
73 Sweetpea Blogs  
74 Knitwise  
75 What Katie Did  
76 Morecambe  

Ranking by Wikio

It is possible to submit your own blog to Wikio for inclusion and I think that it will be interesting to look through some of the above blogs whenever I get a free minute!

Scrambled brain ………

So many ideas, thoughts, impressions, happenings, exhibitions, commissions (promise to felt your sleeveless top tomorrow Patricia, just getting new bubble wrap this afternoon for the job), meetings etc. at the moment and although my brain is not actually scrambled I just can’t seem to write quickly enough to document everything as I would like to.  Apologies yet again for all those unsent emails over the weekend, I have just been totally tied up with American visitors and catching up with jobs delayed last week because of the golf matches that I absloutely had to attend in my position as Lady Captain.  Unfortunately for the golf club (but fortunately from my work perspective!) the club got knocked out of everything we played in last week so I am looking forward to a slightly quiter time on that side of things, now I hope to have time to finish some felt as I really need to earn some money quickly!! 

Jacob's fleece with Mehmet's rug base and Icelandic wool

A few pictures from my scrambled weekend …….

Raw unscoured Jacob’s fleece which I combined with Icelandic wool and a rug base (base prepared at Mehmet Girgic’s workshop in Turkey) to be sewn into a new laptop case/satchel for me!

Wool and mohair 'yarn', a by-product of the weaving process at Cushendale Woolen Mills

Funky ‘yarn’ picked up at Cushendale Woolen Mills over the weekend, the mohair on the right is now knitted into one of my new style crazy cowls and is available for sale throught Clasheen Uncut!  I am delighted to have found a fun project that I can work on in the evenings when taking a break from felting and fulling and hope to build a collection of funky knitted cowls as a simple way of supplementing my felting income.

Chair pad incorporating Icelandic wool, rug base and strips of woven waste

This week is going to be a busy felting week once I get awful paperwork and bank stuff out of the way today.  Tomorrow I am going to be spending all day felting a sleeveless jacket for a client in the States and on Wednesday one of my closest relations arrives in the morning to discuss a rug which I will be felting her as a comission, exciting times ahead!  This seat pad is a small experiment to see how much clarity is lost in the blue shades of Icelandic wool when combined with a natural white rug base from Mehmet and I also included some strips of the woven waste picked up at Cushendale just for the heck of it.

Don’t forget you need to get your entries off pdq to Chrissie if you want to enter her Waterfall jacket competition and if you are thinking of subscribing to a new felting magazing why not give the Australian publication ‘Felt’ a go?  Talking of things from the other side of the world I recommend keeping an eye on the Convergence blog to really get you in the festive mood!

Looking forward to some serious felting!

I am delighted to have this weekend over with (check out Clasheen Uncut if you want an idea of the nitty-gritty details) and at last I hope my time becomes freer to allow me to concentrate on some serious felting over the coming weeks and into the Summer months ahead.  There are a couple of things that I just need to finish up with and then I plan on felting a series of larger sculptures, vessels and lampshades, basically much more three dimensional work, an area of felting that I really enjoy. 

Planning where to cut the felt

 

Today I took a piece of Saori weaving off my loom and now am going to try (you know me and sewing!) and combine it with an experimental felt top to create something totally unique and individual, hopefully not too odd but I’ll keep you updated!  This is one of the projects I want to get out of the way in the morning (a bit ambitious???) and I also need to make a couple of scarves tomorrow to bring with me on Wednesday when I give a talk locally to the Borris Active Retirement group.  In case you are wondering why I am going to cut and rework this felt top the answer is that although I absolutely love the shape, style and colour it is a bit too cropped for me and as I have not been wearing it decided it should become my first experiment combining felt and weaving!

Thanks again for all your comments re. the nuno felting ‘pictorial’ on YouTube, I will take everything on board and also answer some of the questions some of you posed in my next post tomorrow evening.  I will also give some more details of our March felt-a-long.  Until then …..

Busy day today and combining felt with found objects, my fun project for tomorrow!

Well, I am just going to see how long it takes to write and upload this post, started at 19.39 and counting……….

Today was Carmen’s birthday and we had an active day variously felting, weaving, chatting and catching up with our friend Martina who called in on a special visit from the other side of Ireland especially in honour of the birthday girl!  Tomorrow we are going to be joined by more friends Cristina and Mariate for a felting, chatting and eating marathon.  You may wonder how Alan fits into the middle of this activity (especially since he really doesn’t like all that fluffy wool stuff!!) but this weekend was put in motion when he announced his trip to visit his parents and since he did not travel due to a cold what else can a girl do except persevere with her plans?

My objective tomorrow is to make some small three dimensional pieces and then combine them with found objects from my stash to create unique and funky felt and recycled jewellery.  I got a GREAT book during the week through Amazon, ‘Fabulous Jewellery from Found Objects’ by Marthe Le Van.  For the first time ever I now have some technical knowledge which shows me the safest way to drill through stones, work with precious and semi precious metal and basically gives clear step by step instructions for some of the necessary jewellery skills required when working with various types of new and found objects.  Alan has lent me a very small drill ( mine is a BIG Makita power tool!) and I have loads of ideas floating around in my head so hopefully I will have a few photos tomorrow to show you how everything is progressing.

The other necessary thing I have to do in the morning is put together a proposal for the Cashel Arts Fest.  This event does not take place until November but the organisers are sorting out the workshops sometime this week and I really would like to have something fun and interesting to offer for the children.

Post complete at 19.54!

Back in the felting saddle at last and new companion blog Clasheen Uncut!

I had just written a long post about my first felting workshop o f 2010 and aggh, the internet connection went while I was uploading the data and for some obscure reason the whole post was lost bar the tags.  Forgive this extremely short and abbrigged version but I am terrified that the link will go again and  just want to update you on Saturdays return to the felting saddle!!!

On Saturday printmaker and papermaker Sylvia joined me in the morning for her first felting experience.  Luckily the water was back in time although since I’ve been on the computer this morning my immersion has given up the ghost, loads of loud electricial noises and now the wretched thing appears to have stopped functioning.   Thankfully the kitchen range keeps the downstairs of the house realtively warm while the central heating is not working so once Sylvia had selected her wool this is where we decided to lay out her vessel.  She used a combination of apple green, teal and white Icelandic wool with some blue mulberry silk, white cotton gauze and white tencel tops (at least I think that they are tencel!) for surface decoration.

Sylvia working the inside of her felt vessel

 

If any of you would like to have a go felting with the Icelandic wool it is GREAT for vessels.  I am offering simple felting kits and wool for sale through my Etsy shop, just let me know if there is any special colour that you require. 

Sylvia with her beautiful completed felt vessel

 

I am sure that you will all agree Sylvia’s finished vessel is amazing, what a great first felting project. 

Before the internet connection gives up the ghost I just want to announce my new blog Clasheen Uncut!  This is the place where I will ramble about all my non felting projects so why not pop over and have a look if you can spare the time.