Feltmakers North and a little flight of fancy!

Regular blog readers may remember that I spent a few happy days last year staying with good friend Liz Nicholls and facilitating a workshop with Feltmakers North. Over the course of two days participants laid out and felted either large bags with integrated handles and flaps or smaller but no less time consuming iPad or laptop covers, the pictures below give an idea of what we got up to.

This weekend I'll be making a return visit, on Friday we'll be felting large nuno wraps using the tumble dryer method followed by simple vessels or clutches on Saturday.

Thanks ladies for inviting me back, I'm really looking forward to spending some time with you all again!

Aside from teaching and waiting for a big delivery of merino and silk to arrive, I'm currently participating in a two day 'shabby chic' style furniture technique workshop at Raheen Family Resource Centre. Here's a picture of my work from today, thanks Carmen for a fun workshop, the piece combines decoupage, transferring and waxing. I've also given an old antique chair an undercoat of chalk paint ready for some more work tomorrow, it's amazing how fast these techniques actually are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super felt and prints at the second Vancouver workshop!

Thanks a million to Vanitha (Sara Felts) for inviting me to teach a second nuno felt scarf and natural print workshop in Vancouver, I had yet another incredible time! Fabulous hostess and organiser, wonderful workshop participants, beautiful felt followed by stunning prints, it was so fun to meet more online friends in the flesh too and also eat some delicious Indian and Malaysian food!!! I've got to head upstairs and pack for my homeward journey now so no more writing, here's a pictorial review of Thursday's workshop in photos for you to enjoy. I promise to add names and a few descriptions from the calm of Clasheen sometime early next week, there may also be photos snapped by Vinitha and the participants being uploaded to Facebook too!

 

 

Fabulous felted and printed scarves from Vancouver and tomorrow is FeltUnited Day at last!!!

I'm here in Winnipeg now preparing for this weekend's two day felting and natural printing workshop, I'm really excited to be felting here tomorrow in celebration of FeltUnited Day 2014!!! We had a wonderful time yesterday at the one day event in Vancouver so ably organised by Sharon Gerhart, congratulations ladies on all your marvellous creations, you really were a fun group! Here's a pictorial rich review of what we got up to, for the first time ever I think I actually managed to take pictures of everyone unveiling their scarf.

Smiling faces all round as Sharon helps Chelsea open her scarf, this first successful unveiling really sets the tone for the whole group!
Judith bundled her scarf a little differently from everyone else and got a really nice clear design against the natural white background.
Debbie smiling as she shakes out the leaves and madrone bark from her scarf. Who knew until yesterday in that madrone was actually another name for arbutus, a tree I can get my hands on in Ireland??? Not me!
A group photo before Judith, Debbie and Chelsea head for the ferry then the rest of us head back to do some more unbundling!
Intense examination of Hayden's results.
One section of her scarf…..
….. looking good Hayden!
A stunning all over print from Sharon our intrepid organiser.
Bamboo fibre doesn't take the colour so lends a gorgeous tracery of white against some of the Silver Dollar eucalyptus prints.
Seed pods add another whole dimension to the design.
We're all pretty excited as Sheila unrolls her scarf, by this time we know she'll have a great outcome…..
….. and here it is!
Hayden helping Irma.
Super prints on Irma's scarf, Silver Dollar eucalyptus, black tea and onion skins.
Sheila and Sharon intent as they watch Ann unwrap her scarf.
Another nice example showing the bamboo fibre standing out strongly against the printed felt.
A final photo and a lot of happy smiling faces, Irma, me, Sheila, Sharon, Hayden and Ann!

 

 

 

Stunning Mendocino!

Merridee and I had a lovely time in Mendocino, staying and socialising with friends Susan and Dale by night and felting with a lovely group of ladies by day! Working with participants who have different experience levels is always good fun and interesting, a stunning array of purses, jewellery and nuno wraps were created over the course of the three days and I also had time to discuss design ideas more extensively with one of the experienced felters, hi Flo! I really enjoyed myself watching as each project progressed and I think you'll see from this photo rich post how everyone seems to be happy with their felt, not to mention laughing and relaxing while spending creative time felting together. Thanks Merridee for all your expert help and thanks Susan and Dale for your fun and generous hospitality!

Merridee, Flo, Patty, Sasha, Zanna and me
Flo, Sasha and Zanna
Patty and Merridee
Flo
Sasha's lovely felt beads work brilliantly brilliantly with this fused glass bead that she made

Zanna's fabulous first nuno felt wrap includes silk from two saris that her father gave as a gift to her mother

Flo

Flo, Patty, Sasha and Zanna

I love this picture of Patty, Sasha and Zanna hamming it up for the camera! One final shot for today, Merridee and I joined Susan and Dale for a walk after class one evening, what better way to end the day thank watching the sun set than with friends, wine, cheese, olives and beer!!!

 

 

Lake Tahoe, Vancouver and Winnipeg felters, please don’t forget your onions!

I thought that I'd take a picture of some onion skins on Thursday night, just to show all of you who'll be joining me in Lake Tahoe or Canada the ones that I find give the absolute best prints. Strong, tough brown onion skins are my preference, the thicker the better, red onions give a similar colour but in my experience the lighter papery skins of some US onions don't impart such a strong colour. So, if you're planning on bringing some onion skins to any of the above mentioned workshops, and I do hope that you are, please, please try and get the toughest old skins that you can!!!
They all look a reddish brown when they come out of the dye pot……
and print fabulously on Manila luggage tags too!
From the eucalyptus side of things 'Silver Dollar' is the round variety that gives wonderful orange prints, I usually have to order it from a florist in Ireland although good friend Anita now has a hot line to five trees!
Here it is used to print a luggage tag…..
a nuno felt wrap…..
and a ponge silk scarf. This one was wrapped around an old tin can before dropping in the dye pot, I just LOVE the speckles this gives to the leaf prints!!!

 

Studio de-clutter and de-stash underway, some bargains to be had for the taking!

Business plan done for a grant application, cash flow to finish (before tomorrow night unfortunately!), simple new kraft boxes in various sizes have arrived (no more struggling to make packages in brown paper bags look pretty when under pressure!), abandoned the exhibition application I was working on as I just wasn't happy with my blurb, bit the bullet and ordered a new printer, it's arrived and up and running, I'm now tackling the studio reorganisation once and for all! As a result I'm really making an effort to keep everything that I know I'll actually use in the immediate future, everything else I'm going to declutter and sell off at a really good price. Hopefully I'll then be able to buy more storage boxes or raw materials……… and so the cycle starts all over again!

So, is anybody interested in buying a large woven plastic rug to use instead of bubble wrap when felting larger projects such as rugs? I've 5 or 6 of these to sell at €20 each, they measure 1.4 x 2.3 metres and I imported them from Turkey years ago when I thought that I'd be felting more rugs. Obviously I'm keeping a few for myself but it's unlikely I'll ever be using 8 at the one time! They actually are used outside in warm climates as a sort of patio rug, just saying in case someone might like them for that purpose either, colour ways blue as pictured and wine.

The next items that I'm de-stashing are some fabulous knitting yarns, many of them were picked up several years ago in San Francisco and cost up to $25 per skein or ball. When I started felting I found it really difficult to get interesting yarns locally to add to the surface of my felt. As a result I went a bit mad whenever I discovered something particularly yummy, justification was easy because I took up freestyle knitting for a short while, reality bites now however and I doubt that I'll ever knit up anything with the 7,000 yards of fabulous hand dyed silk yarn I invested in (I won't tell you what that cost), that's not for sale unless I get a really good offer, but the rest of everything is. Here's a picture of a few balls, I've plenty of different colours and different fibres although they do mainly tend towards the golds, greens, reds and purples.

Finally I'm putting together goody bags filled with oddments of fibre and embellishing stuff. At present they're earmarked for a friend @ €3 per 100g but at the rate I'm going I may have extra bags to sell, these are perfect to use for embellishing pictures, flowers etc. and when teaching, loads of small amounts of various fibres (yak, silk, wool, bamboo etc.) in totally random colour ways, basically whatever I lay my hands on that I know I don't need for my current projects.

Please email or ring me if you're interested in anything, I need to get the lot shifted before I head to teach in Lake Tahoe and Mendocino, the rush is on while I'm in the mood for re-organisation!

 

 

Natural printing and dyeing, day one…..

Tamara, George and I have just finished our intensive natural printing and dyeing day at Clasheen, we had loads of fun and by the end of the day had a wonderful and varied selection of beautifully printed silk, cotton and card! I need to recharge now and have some down time before repeating the workshop with two more participants tomorrow, here're some pictures from today to whet your appetite.

Tamara laying out her natural materials on a silk scarf
Ready for the dye pot
George's layout looks good enough to eat!
Tying the bundle with thick rubber bands
Interesting prints from small ferns on one of Tamara's scarves
Some wonderful details being revealed on a cotton piece of George's
George and Tamara with two of their beautiful scarves!

 

Michigan and Kentucky workshop updates plus a beginners and improvers day at Duckett’s Grove next Saturday!

I’ve been so mentally tired after my exciting days at the Gaelscoil working with the pupils on our large felt wall hanging that I have to admit I’d totally forgotten to post full details about my upcoming MI and KY workshops here on the blog, stupid. In fact I thought that I’d already done so, even stupider!!! I’m so excited about my whole trip back to the US, I actually think that I get more and more excited each visit as I just LOVE spending time with such great friends, facilitating the workshops and meeting new fibre fanatics just adds to the excitement! The workshop page is now updated to include the full ‘Wrapped in Nature’ description for both the MI and KY workshops, links to my Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival classes (I need to alter a couple of details plus my bio via the organisers but the basics are correct!) and information about next weekends flat felting and bag making session at Duckett’s Grove. This coming week I promise to tie down the full details about my Loomis workshops at The Tin Thimble (watch out Emma and Sharon!) but in this post today I’m going to concentrate on both my regular MI and KY venues.

I’m thrilled to be returning to both Plainwell and Lexington and want to say thanks a million times to the fabulous Dawn Edwards and Jan Durham for being such good friends and wonderful hosts!!! I’m so looking forward to catching up with returning participants and meeting new felters in MI and KY, one of the biggest joys of these trips is the opportunity to meet and make friends with blog readers and Facebook buddies, it’s just amazing how the internet allows us connect in the first place. This will be the first time that I facilitate my new workshop ‘Wrapped in Nature – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape’. It’s hard for me to express how inspiring it is to live surrounded by the beauty of the rural Irish landscape, I only have to look outside my windows at Clasheen to find my fingers itching to create and when I travel overseas my senses just seem to go on full-time overload!!!

Inspiring views above Berea!

Inspiring views above Berea!

It’s actually been very difficult this year to confine myself to short workshop descriptions, I don’t want to miss a technique out that participants may want to try but on the other hand I don’t want the descriptions to be so vague that no one knows what I’m talking about either! I think that maybe the best thing to do is post the full workshop description here as well as on the workshop page and then I’m happy to answer any questions about individual projects if you’d like to send them my way via email.

‘Wrapped in Nature’ – beautiful felt inspired by the natural landscape

Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage
Age Level: Adult although younger students welcome by arrangement

Class Description: During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative piece of felt using the natural landscape as a starting point. Some participants may choose to felt a purely decorative art piece such as a large vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may take the opportunity to work on a nuno felt wrap, vest, complex bag or jewellery.

Over the course of the two days there will be time to explore and discover techniques or materials that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will share with participants how she has been experimenting with natural printing on silk, felt and occasionally prefelt over the last year. This simple dyeing/printing process uses a selection of readily acquired onion skins, leaves (especially eucalyptus), tea leaves and rusty metal, wonderful patterns and colours may be achieved on fabric. Nicola has also been experimenting with using open-topped resists for vessel making and some of her bags since participating in a masterclass with Dagmar Binder last summer. The finish is very smooth on the open edges and this method opens up the possibilities for creating different shapes much easily than with the more often used closed resist method. Another technique that may be relatively new to participants is the tumble dryer method of nuno felting. This technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and eliminates all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues! We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two.

Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art!

 NB: Participants who are not able to attend on both days may possibly book one day by prior arrangement although the projects they complete will not be as large or complex as those created over both days of the workshop.

 

Fantastic first felt pictures!

Yesterday morning I worked with 70 four and five year olds then in the evening I started a course of four sessions with an art group in Myshall, a busy day you might say. I'll be posting before and after pictures of all the wonderful felt pictures to FB later this afternoon but here's a little taster for you to enjoy now!

I think that the participants did amazing work, none had ever felted or handled wool batts before, it was a wonderful night!

 

Beautiful felt flowers

Although is was FREEZING at Duckett's Grove yesterday I had a lovely afternoon facilitating a 'fun felt flower' workshop. Next Saturday is a beginners and improvers full day workshop, we'll be working on flat felt pictures so if you'd like to join us please email me ASAP! Check out these beautiful flowers from yesterday, I love the different colour combinations!