Posted in Felt, workshops, tagged Felt, felt sculpture, Felting, felting classes, felting workshops, sculptural felt, wet felt, wet felting on September 17, 2012 |
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Rami arrived safely to Ireland on Saturday night/Sunday morning, bed time 4.25am!
Rami adding some three dimensional elements to his second piece of felt
Yesterday was spent chatting about the basics of feltmaking, laying out and felting his first piece of flat felt, exploring a lot of different natural and manmade surface embellishments, checking out images of work he is inspired by and discussing the large fibre related project that Rami will be working on once he returns to the Lebanon.
Today we explored felt balls, cords, loops, working with raw wool, creating texture, basic needle felting and including resists within the lay out of a piece. This may sound like a lot of different techniques to cover in one day but during the course of our intensive week together Rami wants to learn how to create specific end results and is not concerned with heading home with a perfect, artistic ‘finished piece’. Rather he’s been creating samples and learning about the various ways of achieving the look he wants, it’s exciting seeing how things come together, intensive work but invigorating and creative!
Little sculptural experiment at large in the garden!
I really don’t have time to write much this week, instead I’ll just try and post pictures as the time progresses, enjoy them.
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Posted in America 2012, Book, Book with Chrissie, Felt, nuno felt, workshops, tagged book with Chrissie, Clasheen, Dawn Edwards, Felt, Felting, felting book, felting workshops, Jan Durham, Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival, KSFF, nuno felt, nuno felt scarf, nuno felting, US workshops, wet felt, wet felting on March 20, 2012 |
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I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……
- Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
- Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
- A simple textured 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 textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
- A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
- A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!
As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. 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??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include 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, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap. 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 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand. 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 embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!
Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.
Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn
Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!
The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!
Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse
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Posted in Felt, tagged Clasheen, closures for felt, Felt, felt closures, felt pouch, Felting, stitching into felt, wet felt, wet felted, wet felting on January 16, 2012 |
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Thanks so much Deb, Linda, Elizabeth, Lyn, Mary, Heather, Shirley, Ellen, Irene, Kirsten, Chrissie, Terrie, Carole, Karen, Dawn, Sharon, Juiliane and all my FB friends for enthusiastically entering into the debate after I posed the question about a closure for my little starburst pouch. In the same post I also posed a question about photographing certain colours, again thanks for all the helpful replies! I needed a little time to mull over the closure response and finally I think that I have assessed the answers and can give you my own thoughts on the suggestions offered. Do please bear in mind that I an not an experienced or happy sewing gal, I really appreciate the beautiful added dimension stitching may lend to felt but in selecting an option for one of my own pouches I want something that is practical, looks good and doesn’t mean I lose pints of sweat (on second thoughts maybe that would be a good idea too!)!!! Here is a recap of the various ideas suggested, hopefully I haven’t left any out! In no particular order …..
- Velcro – circles or possibly strips. Since Velcro can be difficult to sew Heather suggested stitching the strip to another piece of felt and then stitching this to the pouch
- Press studs/poppers
- Magnetic clasps sewn or punched into the felt, alternatively felted in at the layout stage
- Felt tie closure
- Slashed cut and toggle closure
- Tie and toggle
- Loop and button, I liked Irene’s idea of using a hair elastic for the loop because I have TONNES of them in my stash!
- Felt rope combined with a toggle, possibility of adding glass beads to the toggle
- Upcycled closure, possibly cut from bicycle tyres (again in my stash!)
- Braided leather
- Glass buttons
and finally an idea from Hilary Williams on FB, adding the traditional button and button hole to the pouch under the flap. If I understand this suggestion correctly it would mean sewing the button to the inside back of the pouch and making the slash in the front piece as you would be viewing it when you lift up the flap.
Now for the main potential problems identified …..
- Velcro is difficult to stitch and can get fuzzed up with felt
- Magnets may effect the battery life of certain mobile devices (although in my internet research this seems to have been almost eliminated as a problem by now with most makes of device)
- Press studs or poppers often prove difficult to open and might tear away from the felt
All in all Hilary’s suggestion is probably the best solution for me with the starburst pouch, the stitching on the front flap has compressed the felt so much that it would be pretty difficult to sew any of the other suggested closures onto it and I don’t want to do anything that spoils the starburst effect. Obviously by using Hilary’s method the actual usable size inside the pouch is reduced slightly but that’s OK, I’m going to try and have a go at it anyway first thing tomorrow morning and I’ll post pictures of the results then!
The rest of today is going to be spent continuing with my studio clear out and reorganisation. I may get to do some felting (as a reward obviously!!!) although I might not have the time, I do intend to put some felting kits together however combining wool, silk and mohair off cuts. After all my hard work yesterday (updated via FB) I can now actually see my first felting table and walk unimpeded into the room, today I want to clear out and restock one of my supply cupboards as well as try to sort storage for some of my many embellishing fibres. For now I’m going to leave you with a picture of another piece of highly textured felt awaiting stitching, this pouch is felted from a combination of black NZ merino and ruched pieces of floral fabric.
Detail from another wet felted pouch
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Posted in Craft Fairs/Events, Fairs/Events, Felt, Felt for sale, tagged Clasheen, Felt, felt bag, Felting, Jacobs fleece, merino, raw wool, wet felt, wet felting on December 8, 2011 |
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I’m totally addled now having spent the last number of hours adding finishing touches to some raw fleece and merino bags in preparation for the farmer’s market in Borris tomorrow morning.
Raw wool and merino bag with adjustable shoulder strap
If it wasn’t for the fact that I really like the bag I was trying to attach the handle to I probably would have taken my sissors to it and cut it up into shreds! How anybody enjoys sewing is beyond me!!! Apologies to all of you who find it relaxing but honestly, at this stage you might think that I would be getting a little more proficient, scrap that thought totally. My only consolation is that I have decided to contact Ken Foley after Christmas and see if he would be interested in making and attaching handles to my designs, this way I can concentrate on the felting and leave the leather work to the master! The relief I feel after taking this descision is amazing, it may make the bags a little bit more expensive to buy but thinking of the time I’ll be saving I feel that it is going to be worth it in the long run. I also got to use some of my stash buttons; the bag pictured has a stunning horn button that I picked up in the United States two years ago and I also found the perfect vintage closure for a handy purse that has a loop at the back to wear around your waist with a belt. Head over to visit Clasheen on Facebook if you would like to see pictures of all the finished bags!
Gorgeous horn button nestling amongst the raw wool locks!
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Posted in America 2010, Book, Book with Chrissie, Felt, Free machine embroidery, workshops, tagged Arlene Shawcross, Felt, felt vessel, Felting, free machine embrooidery, from felt to friendship, merino, Rhinebeck, Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival., stitching, wet felt, wet felting on September 29, 2011 |
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Apologies for not posting final pictures from the weekend’s free machine embroidery workshop yesterday, tidying up just got in the way! Seriously, the massive back kitchen/garage restructuring that I have undertaken this week is really coming along famously and I didn’t want to break stride and get sidetracked by the computer, I would NEVER have headed back to the devestation that is my garage otherwise!!!
My mother’s birthday in on Sunday and she has requested a companion piece to the little rose hip vessel (one of the pieces in ‘From Felt to Friendship’) I gave her for Mother’s Day earlier in the year. Luckily she requested this ages ago (as she requested the original vessel!) and I was able to put some orange, red and black merino aside in a bag so fingers crossed I can make a nice piece this morning, a welcome change from all the tidying and cleaning going on chez Clasheen! This afternoon I am playing in the last big ladies golf competition of 2011 so thinking of this I have put aside this morning for felting the vessel and hopefully a couple of new bracelets to stitch at the weekend. I really feel that because I have invested so heavily in my machine I need to get to grips with the technicalities pdq because I obviously need to be selling work to justify the initial cash outlay. My intention is not to stitch every piece of felt from now onwards rather understand the possibilities and see where that leads me! Now on to some more pictures and info from Arlene Shawcross’s brilliant free machine embroidery workshop last weekend.
The finished bracelet photographed against the granite stone wall I used for inspiration
On Saturday evening when I returned home after the first day was over, I had a look in my studio to see if any of the beautiful glass buttons I brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last October would suit the colours of the bracelet which I had been stitching. The loop closure is not the widest because I felt I needed to keep it in proportion to the delicacy of the stone wall design so I was delighted to discover the smallest of the buttons was a beautiful grey/blue glass with a band of deep green and iredescent gold, perfect. It was a bit (or a lot fiddly!) to attach the button and after a failed attempt myself I have to confess that Arlene was brilliant and stitched it on for me, thanks Arlene! Big strong hands are a huge advantage sometimes (excuse the pun) but for some jobs especially ones involving detailed sewing I just get very frustrated, ah well, one step at a time I suppose.
My next experimental project was to stitch on a dissolvable paper, very interesting. Arlene has gorgeous samples and I thought this would be a very interesting way of creating interesting pieces to sandwich between two layers of perspex or glass, my mind was humming! With this method I didn’t need to cross over each line of stitches to the same degree as I had with the Romeo, the second stage of the process is wetting out and removing some of the paper so being selective with this ensures that the remaining paper ‘bonds’ everything together anyway. Adding paint to your brush and washing it lightly over the surface of the stitches and paper leads to interesting effects if you don’t make it too wet, as the water/paint dries the remaining paper stiffens around the stitching. I loved this distressed look and will be experimenting further, below is an image of one of the pieces that I made. The final piece that I created used a very sticky backed plastic, problems, problems with this one but a very impressive final result even if I do say so myself! I’m going to add a few selective beads to this piece, frame it, photograph it and then blog about it so until then I’m not going to write any more about it here.
A close up of the stitched, dissolved and dried paper sample
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Posted in Felt, Free machine embroidery, workshops, tagged Carlow Wheelchair Association, Felt, felt flowers, felted flowers, Felting, felting workshop, felting workshops, free machine embroidery, NCBI, Nicola Brown, wet felt, wet felting on September 23, 2011 |
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Just a short post today sharing a couple of pictures from the workshop I facilitated this morning with some clients and helpers at the Carlow Wheelchair Association and NCBI (National Council for the Blind Ireland) facilities in Carlow town.
Happy smiling faces and beautiful flowers!
This is the third session we have had to date although because of the nature of the centre not every participant is able to attend every week, aren’t these flowers amazing??? I have uploaded a few more pictures to my Facebook profile, do ask me to be your friend if you follow this blog and are on FB too!
I will upload pictures of my latest stone wall inspired bracelets next time and hopefully some images taken during the 2 day free machine embroidery workshop I am participating in this weekend. Although I am very disappointed not to be going away on holidays with Alan tomorrow there obviously ARE some benefits of staying around. Luckily I got a space at the last minute for the workshop so thanks Jean for organising it, fingers crossed I will learn loads!
Roisin modelling one of her gorgeous flowers!
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Posted in Exhibitions, Felt, workshops, tagged Clasheen, Felt, felt workshop, felt workshops, Felting, wet felt, wet felting, workshop, workshops on September 12, 2011 |
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I’m going to be playing catch up all this week, paperwork, emails, tidying, medical (to renew my 10 year C1 driving liscence), paying car insurance and a host of other essential but non fibre related stuff. Finishing my latest nudibranch (sea slug) last night was fantastic, I really put myself under pressure to have it ready to deliver to the Crafts Council today but hopefully as we say in Ireland, all’s well that ends well.
Gently working the protrusions through a net
I can’t upload pictures of the completed creature yet until I hear back if it has been accepted for the exhibition but here is a shot of me working on the protrusions, I added the hot orange tips with a needle (I know, me and needle felting!!!) and then contiued to wet felt. Overall I am happy with the results but I am sure there must be a simpler way to make a piece like this, I’m still working on it though!!!
This afternoon I’m starting another series of workshops with Borris Active Retirement Group and last Friday I started some similar sessions with the Carlow Wheelchair Association. On Saturday I have a wet felting basics day schedualed here at Clasheen so please check out the details on the workshop page and email me asap if you are interested in attending, this workshop is suitable for total beginners as well as improvers!
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Posted in Felt, Felt in Focus, Free machine embroidery, tagged Clasheen, Felt, Felt in Focus, Felting, free machine embroidery, Janome, Janome 1600P QC, Lisa Klakulak, Nicola Brown, Sewing Machines Ireland, stitching, stitching on felt, wet felt, wet felting on August 26, 2011 |
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Many of you know that any kind of sewing has always brought me out in a dreadful sweat and for donkeys years I have sworn NEVER to stitch for pleasure. I did however break the habit of a lifetime this summer in order to participate in Lisa Klakulak’s wonderful workshop at ‘Felt in Focus’, it was time to stretch my mind! I always admired Lisa’s beautifully detailed sculptural pieces and free machine embroidery on thick pieces of hand rolled felt just seemed to attract my attention this year, once I actually got to grips with it I actually found that I quite enjoyed the experience!
Selling 4 of the 5 stitched felt seascapes I had on exhibition during Kilkenny Arts Festival made me realise that there is definitely an appreciation for this type of textile art. I never thought the day would arrive but I decided this week to invest (heavily as it turned out!) in a specialist straight stitching machine which has the capabilitiy to stitch through amazingly thick layers of felt effortlessly. This means that not only can I sew through multiple layers of wool but I can also stitch right up to and around thick sections of felt and in this way emphasise and enhance highly textured surface details. John from Sewing Machines Ireland in Waterford provided expert assistance in my choice of machine. He said that he wouldn’t dream of supplying me with a machine unless I subjected it to rigorous testing and see if it would be suitable for the type of work I was thinking of so off I went armed with felt on Wednesday afternoon, the intention was to try out a second hand industrial Pfaff complete with knee lift.
Felt prior to stitching
In the event the Pfaff was great but John suggested a new machine he had in stock might actually be even more specifically suited to what I had in mind, drum roll please for the Janome 1600P QC!!! It is like sewing with a Rolls Royce, incredible, even I liked using it!!!!! I’m not going to bore you with all the features which make this machine so special for me but suffice to say I can stitch over CRATERS and MOUNTAINS effortlessly and I suspect it would take a total blundering idiot to break it, it weighs a tonne. For anyone intending in sewing anything other than a straight stitch this is not the machine for you. Because I knew that the only other possible use I would put it to would be to stitch up the seams of some simple nuno felt clothing it appears as if it is a match made in Heaven! Anyway, I bit the bullet and invested in the Janome, I am not regretting my descision and have already finished stitching one piece as per the posted pictures. I will however have to get my finger out, making a return on such a big investment (big for me!) means a heavy work schedual over the coming months and getting my Big Cartel shop stocked but you might ask what’s new??? I love my work!
Felt with free machine embroidery
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Posted in Book, Book with Chrissie, Exhibitions, Felt, Free machine embroidery, nuno felt, workshops, tagged Clasheen, exhibition, Felt, felt seascape, Felting, Grennan, Grennan Mill Craft School, Merridee Smith, Nicola Brown, nuno felt, nuno felting, stitched felt, The Tin Thimble, wet felt, wet felting on August 11, 2011 |
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It’s been very interesting and revealing invigilating at Grennan Mill Craft School, each of the 6 artists needs to either man the show for 3 full days or 6 half ones, I have chosen to do 3 full days. If I wanted I could nominate someone else to do my stints but for me a lot of the pleasure at this stage of the process is to meet the public and see how people engage with all the work on display. It has become increasingly obvious as the days go by that people either love the felt or hate it (maybe hate is too strong a word!), there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground at all. I love watching everyone’s expressions when they first enter my space, many people are totally surprised when they discover the vessels and sculptures are wool, they know that they appear tactile but they often think that they are ceramic none the less!
It has also been interesting to discover that even if people do like these non functional pieces they may not have a place in their homes to display them. After I sold my only stitched seascape on the first day several people said that they were interested in hanging this type of work in their home, in fact I actually got a commission for a framed piece during the course of the opening evening. As a result of this I decided to spend Monday and Tuesday working and finishing some more wall pieces, I framed them yesterday morning at Grennan and two of the four sold during the day, actions speak louder than words sometimes!
Today I spent a lovely time at Carmen’s with her and an Argentinian fibre friend Patricia, we started with a big breakfast, felted all morning, had a delicious stew for lunch and then stuffed ourselves on pancakes before more fibre related fun in the afternoon!!! Getting totally away from vessels and seascapes for the day I planned and felted a large wrap using some of the beautiful silk my Auburn friend Merridee dyed for me at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA recently. This was an experiment using the tumble dryer method, a technique I want to work on further before offering it as an option for workshops but this might be a good time to say that it entails NO rubbing or rolling making it perfect for larger projects and anyone who might find the methodology of traditional nuno a little time-consuming or dare I say it even boring! I would like to stress though that I don’t find rubbing and rolling boring, relaxing and therapeutic would be my personal take on this process but I suppose it’s horses for courses isn’t it and who doesn’t want to make a larger piece but with a lot of the effort removed and in a fraction of the time??? I’m not going to blog further about this method until I have fine tuned my timing but I will definitely include a couple of projects in the next book Chrissie and I are publishing (nuno clothing, out before Christmas!), for now here is a picture of todays finished wrap.
Nuno felt wrap
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