Yesterday I was down in Woodbrook House with Giles organising the layout of the room for Mehmet Girgic’s rug making workshops. The bases that he is bringing over from Turkey are actually a lot larger that we used in Germany so while this has the advantage of a much bigger finished rug it meant a bit of a headache getting the room set up. More tables, countless measuring sessions, moving things around and hopefully we are ready to roll. I am really looking forward to his trip now but due to a couple of unavoidable cancellations need to get 3 or 4 more people booked in for the second workshop in order to cover my expenses bringing Mehmet to Ireland. I will be under quite a bit of financial pressure unless these places are filled so if you think that you might know anyone interested at this late stage please ask them to contact me asap!
Submissions close this week for an exhibition called ‘Organic Geometry’ and I was hoping to finish mine this morning. I know that I am putting myself under a lot of pressure this week (HSE child protection training on Tuesday and Wednesday) with Mehmet’s arrival on Thursday and all the work involved before he actually gets here but I really hope to get my submission completed and in on time. Ann Mulrooney is curating the exhibition for the Crafts Council and it is to be held at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, opening mid April. Wish me luck!!
It’s official, the Sigrid Bannier workshops were a brilliant success for all the participants last weekend! Due to a couple of unforseen last minute changes in our planned itinery, I had been a bit concerned (but not worried) about how everything would turn out. Sigrid and her sister Ingrid arrived on Friday afternoon and were soon comfortably settled in to a local farmhouse B & B. Alan and I were attending the Carlow Person of the Year awards that evening so I didn’t get to say hi in person until I collected them at 8.45 on Saturday morning. We travelled in tandem to Woodbrook House and there the fun and games started! Our first task was to master the big log burner and get some heat into the place, the Friday night had been one of the coldest in years and our venue was the old Chapel in the grounds of Woodbrook, a large space and usually not heated. Luckily the beast was very easy to tame and within a relatively short space of time the room started to heat up nicely. Participants arrived a bit sporadically (due mainly to the state of the roads) and after we all had drooled and marvelled over Sigrid and Ingrid’s jewellery the felting started in earnest. Both the sisters arrived to felting at the same time but via different routes, quite an amazing coincidence! Sigrid shared with us her technique of laying out many even layers of merino and then felting, fulling, fulling and fulling again until the resulting piece is as hard as a board. This sounds simple but when using fine merino tops it takes a LONG time to do, the object is to end up with a very hard solid piece of felt. This felted piece is then punched through with metal punches creating both round long beads and a mat full of holes which may be used for various purposes including an insulated pad for a hot pot. By laying down your wool in various different colours the resulting beads are very beautiful, my beads had 22 layers in shades of grey, orange, pink and white and I was delighted with the result. This evening I made some bright pink and orange felt balls which I am going to string along with the beads to create an eye catching necklace, I am going to use one of the sterling silver clasps that I ordered from jeweller Carl Parker to complete the piece. Ingrid meanwhile was working away on little ‘mini workshops’, a whole series of felted flowers and funky rings which she was happy to demonstrate and teach everyone the techniques involved. Both the sisters use a very fast felting merino batt which was a joy to work with, I was lucky enough to make a ring with Ingrid on Sunday and found the fibre beautiful to felt. We ate a simple lunch in the old kitchen of the main house while having a chat and afterwards Ingrid taught us how to make amazing paper stars and then simple card boxes to present our hand made gifts in. The whole weekend really was a brilliant learning experience, both ladies really enjoy sharing their knowledge and I must say that I learnt so many new but simple techniques that I am already putting into practice! On Saturday night Sigrid, Ingrid, Carmen and Patricia joined Alan and me at Clasheen for a simple meal and a glass of wine and we all went to bed fairly early in preparation for Sunday’s nuno felting day. I have not been able to take any photos yet of the necklace that I made so hope to do so tomorrow morning (after a radio interview that I have been invited to participate in!) and in the evening I will write a post about the beautiful silk and merino nuno that Sigrid taught on the Sunday.
It’s been a busy weekend an an even busier start to Monday! On Saturday I went down to Woodbrook House to discuss a couple of things with Giles and also to clarify the set up of our felting room and the dining arrangements for the Sigrid Bannier jewellery and nuno workshops next weekend. Due to unforseen circumstances I am now going to be organising and cooking the food myself next weekend as well as participating in the Saturday workshop and entertaining everyone on Saturday night! We also need to rearrange the workshop room somewhat and I will be going down to Woodbrook again in the morning to try for a final organising with Giles.
At last I am starting to get a few more items up on my Etsy shop. I wanted to have nice hand made products in the E15 to E60 price range suitable for Christmas presents and stocking fillers. This morning I uploaded a range of images of trellis scarves and wraps selling from E30 up to E47, one thing to remember is that the prices on line are un USA dollers so they are not actually as expensive as they sound at first, $38 = approx E30! As soon as my camera charges up again I have a series of felt necklaces (some with vintage or hand made buttons) to photograph and get on line. These will cost from E15 to E20 each so do check in over the next few days as I get to grips with getting the shop up and running.
The Craft Fair that I participated in on Sunday was interesting if very dissapointing. Unfortunately there was an extremely low turnout of people to view the stands and although in general the standard of work was very high there just weren’t enough people to make it worthwhile. I was lucky enough to sell both of the alpaca scarves (both to men!) that I had on display and therefore covered costs and made a few Euro. Most of the exhibitors sold nothing although the home made biscotti and preserves that the organisers had made did sell steadily to anyone who came. It was a salutory lesson for me. Normally I am on the organising end of events and to be honest advertising in many shapes and forms is the main answer to get the foot fall, the only sign that I saw for the event was on the road leading to the town and although the organiser did assure us that she had advertised extensively locally none of us had seen anything. I am not blaming her in the slightest but I do feel that she underestimated the amount of signage needed and the actual cost of getting it all together, purely through lack of experience. The venue was beautiful if small, a gorgeous room overlooking the river Barrow and the organisers were helpful and friendly.