Exhibition set up at last and sneak look at latest Wikio rankings

This morning I made the final adjustments to my space at Grennan Mill Craft School and decided enough was enough, 7 vessels, 2 sculptures and 1 framed piece with a little free machine embroidery.  It’s always nerve wracking but exciting participating in any show and since this is actually my first solo exhibition the stress and worries about the felt I am showing and how the work is displayed are amplified about a thousand fold! Alan was brilliant setting up smart little spot lights on industrial looking tracks for me and Eileen’s plinths look great now that I have given them another couple of coats of paint.  The little holes in the wall are all filled in and painted again as is the radiator and this morning I finished cutting up hundreds of business cards which I printed last night, of course if my house and studio were tidy and organised it would be possible to locate my beautiful professional cards which are just lurking somewhere in all their pristine glory, that’s another story!!!  Fellow exhibitior Brendan Brennan and I helped Grennan Mill director extrodinare Alex Meldrum put up directional signs in Thomastown and now all our fingers are crossed for warm weather tomorrow afternoon to get everybody in a good mood for the official opening at 5.30!  I’ll try and take some pictures then but hopefully we’ll be run off our feet and they might have to wait until another day.

I’m delighted to say that I am still in the top 10 for the latest Wikio knitting blog rankings, here is the sneak preview for this month …..

1 pennies per hour of pleasure
2 needled
3 Daisie Days
4 Confessions of a YarnAddict
5 ysolda
6 The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty
7 Clasheen by Nicola Brown
8 Wendy Knits
9 Little Cotton Rabbits
10 Lixie Knits It
11 The mogs blog, the meanderings of a cat through yarn and life
12 Dyed in the Wool
13 glittyknittykitty
14 Northern Lace
15 Carolee Crafts
16 Chatiryworld
17 mooncalfmakes
18 Art Yarn
19 Quelle Erqsome
20 Purlpower

Ranking made by Wikio

Felting and stitching …..

I have been flat out this week trying to finish my work for Kilkenny Arts Festival which opens next weekend.  Most of my pieces are totally wet felted but a couple have some free machine embroidery to add surface detail, I know, I can’t believe I am actually writing that!  The exhibition takes place in Grennan Mill Craft School, Thomastown and I am one of 6 individual artists who all have solo shows under one roof, the setting utilises the various floors of a wonderful grain mill poised on the banks of the river Nore.  For anyone within striking distance of Thomastown please do call in during the exhibition and say hi, I will be envigilating on some days (not sure when yet) so if you are interested in meeting up please do email me in advance and I can let you know my schedual!!!

Exhibition Invitation

Apologies to those of you waiting for the final review of the new printing techniques I learnt at Felt in Focus, it is going to be a week or so before I can really relax and get stuck into writing posts properly!

Wrap up from Lisa Klakulak’s felt jewellery workshop and book review in Living Crafts Magazine

Another few days have gone by since I promised to post more pictures of the pieces I worked on at Lisa’s felt jewellery workshop, time just seems to be running as fast as ever so sorry if any of you have been waiting.  I had debated a variety of large neckpiece options but finally decided on an oversized ‘pendant’ to be worn either on a thick felt torc or with a scarf wrapped through the bail, a new word I learnt and you can check out the meaning here if you don’t already know it too!

Oversized torc and neckpiece

Because my first piece didn’t have the shrinkage I was hoping for or expecting I did have to revise my ideas for the pendant, I still made it oversized but that’s OK, I like my pieces to make a statement!!!  Unfortunately I didn’t ask anyone to take any pictures of me wearing it with my own camera but to get an idea of the scope of the project there is an image of me and my friend Birgit Kiems taken on the night of the gala dinner at Felt in Focus on Facebook, you can have a look at Birgit’s pictures here.  Be prepared, it’s not the most flattering image of me, eyes half closed and tummy sticking out!  Iam also in the process of uploading more images to Flickr, these show a little more detail of various parts of the free machine stitching, now that I am home I will also take some pictures of the torc minus the pendant.

Thanks to Pardis and all at Living Crafts Magazine for giving Chrissie and I the thumbs up for our new book ‘From Felt to Friendship’ in the summer 2011 issue!  Here is what they said ….. “This gem of a felting book is for those who are beyond the beginner stage and are looking for inspiration for more adventurous projects.  It is written as a guide to encourage the more experienced felter to experiment and ‘play’ more freely.  It is rich with many beautiful projects and diverse techniques.”  THANK YOU!!!

The next time I post here I am going to talk a little about the fascinating time I had participating in Kirsten Lundbergh’s printing workshop, the possibilities are now endless with creating my own designs on fabric especially when you combine these new methods (new to me!) with the dying skills I learnt from Horst

Packing my bags, link to pictures and new workshop announcements!

Well, I just need to spend about another half an hour on the computer and then I am off to pack all my workshop supplies as well as sort out some clothing for my imminent US trip!  I can’t believe the time has finally arrived to hit the road but really with all the work on the book recently as well as trying to sort out things for my solo show in August my brain has just been stuffed to the brim.  I have also just finalised everything in relation to the house and Rex, thanks Alan and everyone else who will be taking turns staying here, walking Rex and keeping  things safe during my travels, you know who you are and you are all MUCH appreciated.

Now, I had been going to write a post about felt accessories and nuno mosaic in advance of my workshops at The Tin Thimble CA, Plainwell MI and Lexington KY but you are just going to have to forgive me, I have no more time.  Instead I am going to direct you to the various sets in my Flickr photos (don’t forget there a couple of pages of sets!),  the images there are by no means an exhaustive grouping of what it is possible to felt but at least if anyone is sitting on the fence about making a last minute decision about travelling to Loomis (there are a couple of places left at The Tin Thimble) this might help you make your mind up!  Please email Emma if you would like to join us or Dawn if you might be able to make Plainwell.

Before heading off I want to remind everyone in Ireland about the fun short workshops I will be facilitating at the Sheep and Wool Festival for the June bank holiday weekend as well as announce a series of workshops for the summer which are going to take place at The Yarn Room in Ashford, Co. Wicklow.  I am pasting the details for these workshops at the bottom of this post but please check the workshop page at The Yarn Room over the next week or so to check the price and further detalis and to book a place, alternatively email Stephanie and she will sort you out!

Finally I want to thanks all of you who have ordered our book, as mentioned before Chrissie and I are THRILLED!!!  Thanks for the wonderful comments we are recieving from those of you who have already recieved your copies, I am SO JEALOUS as I have not got my own copy yet, but roll on Tuesday, it should be waiting for me at The Tin Thimble!  I do intend to blog throughout the time I am away so this is not a firm goodbye, just be prepared my posts may be a little patchy for a while!!!  Adieu.  Now for those workshop details …..

Saturday 16th July 2011

WET FELTING – REVISITING THE BASICS with Nicola Brown

At this one day workshop beginners and improving felters will have the opportunity to revisit the basics of wet felting and learn some simple new techniques to add to their repertoire.  Working with a selection of colourful merino and adding beautiful silk, linen and other vegetable fibres to enhance and embellish the surface design participants are encouraged to bring along any old beads, buttons, ribbons, yarn and other found objects to incorporate into their felt if desired!  Nicola will have a selection of glass nuggets, embellishing fibres and unusual fabric with her and everyone is welcome to include these as surface detail in their felt too.

NB Beginners and improvers wishing to participate in the nuno felt workshop on Saturday 23rd July are encouraged to attend this ‘revisiting the basics’ day as it will be an excellent opportunity to practice laying out the very fine layers of fibre needed to master the nuno felt technique!

Saturday 23rd July 2011

NUNO FELT SCARF with Nicola Brown

At this one day workshop participants will have the opportunity to discover for themselves the wonderful technique of nuno felting.  Learn how beautiful textured effects and ultra lightweight yardage and accessories are achieved by felting together very small quantities of wool with a fabric such as silk or cotton gauze.  A basic silk or cotton fabric is included in the price for this workshop but if participants would like to bring along any additional lengths of silk (minimum 1.8m in length) or rolled edge silk scarves with them Nicola will help them transform these into beautiful textured nuno felt!

NB It is advisable for participants to have some previous felting experience prior to this workshop so beginners wishing to attend are urged to try and make the wet Felting workshop on Saturday 16th July if at all possible.

DATE TO BE CONFIRMED

UPCYCLED, RECYCLED AND FELT ACCESSORY AND INTERIOR ACCENT WORKSHOP with Nicola Brown and Cristina Garcia

Working with materials as diverse as plastic, paper, leather, vinyl, metal, old woollen jumpers, denims and hand rolled felt (to name but a few!) learn how to create wonderful wearable accessories or interior accents for the home.  Nicola and Cristina have a wealth of experience reworking old loved clothing and found objects into beautiful, functional and decorative objects such as jewellery, bags, mobiles or other interior accent items!  Plenty of raw materials will be provided for participants to work with on the day but please bring along items like old beads, buttons, ribbons, yarn, broken jewellery and other found objects from your stash as well as previously felted jumpers and old denims if you have any!  Fancy paper may also be brought as Nicola will have a laminator on hand to help with the creative process and although we will have one to share if you have a sewing machine please bring this along too.

NB To felt a jumper in the washing machine and get the shrinkage you are looking for it is necessary for it to be made from a high percentage of hand washable wool or a wool/mohair/cashmere mixture.  Just bung it and some other clothes in a 40 to 60 degree wash and if you feel it hasn’t shrunk enough run it through a second cycle, when felted you should be able to cut the fabric without the wool unravelling!

So much felting news to share, so little time …..

I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha)  to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!!  Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow.  Here goes ……..

      • THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant!  Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards.  If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
      • Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
      • Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog.  Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience.  In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!!  There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.

        Horst's latest line of felt purses!

Workshops at The Tin Thimble in Loomis CA and questions answered about how to order your book!

I am just about to update everyone on my workshops in California but before I do that let me give you a little info re ordering our book, Chrissie and I are getting a lot of questions about where and when it will be available to purchase.  We are self publishing through Blurb, this means that the book will be available to buy online as soon as we have the final projects uploaded and edited!!!  Because of the extremely tight time schedual I am under at the moment the book will be available to order sometime from the middle of next week but it may be that I have to do a little revision to text, images etc. from US if I discover any small errors when I get the hard copy.  This means that if you are really keen to get your hands on nyour own buy it next week, if you want to wait another couple of weeks and get a revised edition (if it needs revision) please do so!  I am going to be ordering my own first copies and having them sent directly to Loomis as there won’t be time to get them posted here before I leave on my travels, I can’t wait for both the book and the travels!  If you live in US and are participating in any of the workshops and order a copy prior to my arrival ,of course I would be delighted to write a personal dedication in the book for you!!!  I believe the books will take approx 7 to 10 days to arrive from the time of purchase, hope this answers all those questions.  Now on to the CA workshop update …..

You may remember that I was to be joining other teachers for a wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat in Downieville but this has been changed to two workshops with me in house at The Tin Thimble in Loomis because finances were preventing people booking a longer extended stay with accomodation.  Emma has posted all the details to their website but I have also cut and copied the main info from there and included it here at the end of this post.  If you live anywhere within striking distance of Loomis do please come along, we are going to be having SUCH FUN!!!  Last year was brilliant and I have to say that I am really looking forward to spending some extra time myself with Sharon.  I have so many ideas in my head and Sharon (Emma’s mum) is the master of adding a few judicious stitches into almost finished felt, I am hoping she will help me translate some of my ideas into gorgeous, simple, wearable clothing!  Anyway, enough writing for the moment, scroll down to read the info and if you would like to book your place please email Emma asap.

Felted Accessories – Friday, May 13 10:30-5:00
Fun and funky or subtle and sophisticated, let your imagination run wild when designing and creating gorgeous felted accessories to adorn the body!
During this one day workshop participants will experiment incorporating glass nuggets, stones, fabric, leather, beads, buttons and found objects with wool creating unique wearable accessories. Each person will felt a collection of pieces which may include a combination of rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, scarbes, simple belts, small purses (or one large one), neckwraps, sleeveless mittens, flowers or whatever else takes their fancy.
Nicola will bring a selection of unusual fabrics with her from Ireland including metallic meshes and sequin or glitter studded polyester in addition to some of the ‘mohair waste’ fiber which she is currently experimenting with in her work. Participants will be free to use these as accent materials but are also encouraged to bring alongany old bits and bobs they like from their stash, incorporating these into the felt lead to truly personal one off pieces of wearable art. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $150
Special 2-Day Nuno Mosaic Workshop – Saturday, May 14 & Sunday, May 15 10:30-5:00 

Discover the possibilities of creating your own wonderful multi hued and textured fabric using the mosaic nuno technique. Working over two days participants will have the time and opportunity to plan, design and felt either a beautiful piece of wearable art or else a stunning decorative or functional textile for the home. Suggestions for wearable projects include a large ruffled wrap, mini skirt, folded oragami style top or complex panel perfect for inclusion in any one off piece of clothing, ideas for interior design include a beautiful wall hanging or an unusual and stylish table runner. A materials list will be available upon registration.
Instructor: Nicola Brown
Class Fee: $250

Workshop at Clasheen on Saturday 23rd and Agnieszka’s wonderful felt bag revealed at last!

You may remember recently, I posted an image of the wonderful ladies who came to Clasheen for a ‘Not so Simple, Not so Complex’ felt bag workshop.  I just love the way how given the same information and shown the same samples workshop participants always manage to end up stamping their own individuality and talent on the felt they create, no two pieces are ever even remotely alike.  This workshop was no exception, four ladies, four bags, four amazing pieces of wearable art!

Glass and bead detail from Agnieszka's bag!

I’ve stolen this beautiful picture from Agnieszka’s blog this morning, check out the gleaming glass she embedded in her felt and the wonderful way the beading adds to the final surface detail.  If you head on over to read her whole post there are some amazing pictures of the completed bag, I know you will all agree it was well worth the wait to see the finished bag in all its glory!!!

I also just wanted to announce a full day felting workshop at Clasheen on Easter Saturday, 23rd April.  Because of my recent computer woes I haven’t had time to write up a workshop description and post it to the relevent page but for anyone interested this is the perfect day for improving felters to come here and learn some new skills!  Possibly a good title would be ‘Expanding your Felting Skills’ but for now it is enough to say that this workshop will help participants expand their felting repoirtoire and skills learnt will depend on the previous experience of each individual felter.  I have two spots left for this workshop, we will work from 10 am until approx 4.30pm (please arrive at about 9.45), the cost for the day is E75 incl. materials, tea, coffee and soft drinks, participants are asked to bring their own packed lunch.  If you are interested in joining us please email me asap to book your spot!

American workshops – a guide to the raw materials required by participants!

My flights are booked, new linen trousers purchased and I am SO excited now about my upcoming workshops in America, meeting old friends, making new ones and simply having the best of fun with like minded fibre nuts!!!  From 13th to 16th May I will be participating and teaching at The Tin Thimble’s wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat, on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May I will be with my amazing friend Dawn for two days of workshops in Plainwell, MI and then on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th May I will be meeting and staying with online fibre friend Jan Durham and facilitating two days of workshops in Lexington KY, how fantastic is that for an adgenda???  

On the Friday participants in both MI and in KY have the option of taking a workshop titled ‘Simple vessels, purses and other three dimensional objects incorporating found objects’ and on the Saturday a workshop titled ‘Nuno mosaic and other interesting possibilities for wearable felt accessories’.  Participants attending both workshops have the option of designing and felting larger and more complex vessels, bags, sculptural items, bigger nuno projects or indeed an art piece for the wall.  As a result I have been toying with the correct materials list to publish for each workshop, eventually I have decided to provide a ‘minimum fabric and fibre requirement’ list for some of the projects participants may want to make and hopefully this will cover most potential eventualities!  In this way each individual participant will decide for themselves what exactly they want to make and what materials then need to bring with them at a minimum,. I know from personal experience that I can never bring too much fibre and embellishment items with me when I attend any workshop so limiting myself can be a challenge, it may also bring unexpected rewards at times!!!  Each participant will need to bring their usual felting equipment, 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.  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 laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  For participants felting nuno mosaic or large nuno wraps it is really best to have two long lengths of bubble wrap bigger than the starting size of the silk used, plastic trash can liners are OK too in an emergency so if you have a roll of them please just bring them along!  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 embellishments, inclusions, leather off cuts and artificial glittery fabrics with me for everyone to share as well as some of the mohair waste which I am currently experimenting with in some of my three dimensional work!  Enough of the waffle, hopefully the following will be a guideline and I am always happy to answer any questions directly so please feel free to email me if you have a major concern …….

Clutch bag, vessel, iPad cover and smaller three dimensional items will need 80 – 150g of fibre.

Larger and more complex bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.

A 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 nuno wrap (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.

A mosaic nuno scarf will need a total minimum of 1m silk chiffon but this needs to be in at least 3 colours ie. 1/3m from a roll of three different colours, adding a small amount of a clashing colour can work wonders!  Incorporating vintage scarves into nuno mosaic is wonderfully effective and a beautiful way of bringing old fabrics back to new life, to see what I mean check out Marni’s wonderful scarf from last year’s Tin Thimble workshop, isn’t it beautiful?  These scarves will also need over 100g good quality merino preferrably in two colours.

A large nuno mosaic wrap will need 2 – 3m silk fabric in mixed colours and a total of up to or over 200g good quality merino, again two colours of fibre is ideal.

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre.  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???

Busy day felting …..

Today has been an excellent day for seeing several of the book projects through from start to finish.  Firstly I tackled a highly textured nuno felt scarf, then a 50% silk 50% merino scarf/neckpiece (need to think of a new name for this!), next I felted a really striking but simple raw silk and merino lampshade and finally by combining the waste left over from this project with some raffia and a spare Bodum coffee container I made the easiest felt candle holder imagineable!  Now I am just going to spend a few minutes looking up something on the computer (no, it is not fixed yet, more work remotely tonight hopefully) and then back to get on with my next item.  I think it must be the fact that we put our clocks forward one hour last Sunday because I am really motoring along with the felting these last few days although unfortunately I need to do some paperwork urgently, ugh.  I also need to sort out a materials lists for my US workshops (do you know how EXCITED I am getting about these?????) and I also need to update everyone about Horst’s workshop here as well!  No electricity here tomorrow for the whole day so guess it’s felting again for me!!!

A little about our new book and just a glimpse of some raw materials from yesterday!

Working on our new book has really forced me to write down ideas as they come into my head and document projects on paper more than I would otherwise tend to do, for me a lot of my documentation is through this blog but sketching more is really helping me clarify ideas and leading me to explore them in a more systametic way than I have being doing previously.  Chrissie is brilliant at this anyway and I really look forward to seeing some of her sketches and musings when she comes to stay with me in April for our final efforts to put the book to bed and get it available online.  I don’t want anyone to get the idea our book is going to be the bee all and end all of felting techniques, it’s not!  Rather it is an idea of how we both work as well as a demonstration of how we translate our thoughts and ideas from the inspiration stage into the finished felt item.  

Stunning 50/50 silk merino blend from Cloverleaf Farms

I love gathering up my raw materials at the start of any project, the possibilities seem endless at this stage when all the beautiful fibres and colours are gathered together just waiting to be selected.  Sometimes however, I find that having a wide selection of different fibres to work with can bring on its own worries and often just getting started is challenge enough for one days work alone! 

Yesterday was one of the good days.  In the morning I selected some stunning 50/50 hand dyed silk/merino roving which I bought at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival from the wonderful Joan Berner of Cloverleaf Farms, one of my all time favourite suppliers now!!!  I wanted to use it for a very special project and demonstrate how a small amount of luxurious fibre could create the most beautiful scarf imaginable!  Although I am not showing you a photo of the finished article imagine the glistening sheen of clear glass beads against the wonderful and subtle variations of colour in this blue based combination which Joan has called Sapphire.  I based the scarf’s design and colours on the beautiful blues and greens in the clear waters off La Gomera in the Canaries and Kos in Greece.  Wearing this piece (if I keep it for myself!) will bring back happy memories of holidays shared with Alan, the glass beads are NOT sewn in after the scarf is felted, wait for the book to see how I include them in the lay out stage!!!The second piece I felted yesterday is waiting on my table now to be transformed into a sleeveless vest/wrap type of affair, probably NO sewing again but maybe a couple of judicious stitches around the collar region, I’ll have to wait and see how it drapes once I cut out the armholes and put it on my manequin.  Again I loved gathering the supplies for this one, originally I had a big pile of silk fibre and hankies, beautiful Blue Faced Leiscester, linen fibres (all of these hand dyed) and some different colours of silk chiffon fabric.  In the end I felted this piece using ‘Chili Pepper’ BFL roving from Joan, silk hankies, silk fibre (again from Joan!), two colours of silk chiffon and then added a fine layer of orange merino because I wasn’t sure that I had enough BFL to make the vest strong enough.  Chrissie is really the master at the nuno felted jacket, I did however want to include a wearable piece requiring minimal stitching in the book, I know I could have done a bigger seamless project but really that’s not what I do every day, this type of felting is much more suited to my organic kind of style!  Anyway, here is a glimpse of some of the raw materials before I made my final selection.  Technically this wasn’t a nuno piece having more fibre than fabric, today I hope to felt a highly textured nuno wrap, one of my all time favourite projects! 

Hand dyed BFL and silk from Joan teamed with some lightweight silk chiffon