2018 the year of the Workshop(S)

2018 the year of the Workshop(S)

2018 Taking Felting Workshop #3 with Moy Mackay

2018 was a big year for workshops for both myself and my husband. He finally got time off in the summer coinciding with the Blacksmithing conference he has wanted to attend for more than 10 years. Even better it was finally a drivable distance! I think he was feeling guilty because after many years of not traveling we take a big trip and it’s to go to a conference for him.  From Ottawa, Canada our ultimate destination was just north of Richmond Virginia.  But first; Via Landsdown fiber festival (for Jan),

then cross the border and head to the steam train museum in Scranton Pen.(for Glenn)

Turn west and drive, the next day reaching the Woollery in Kentucky (for Jan)

I also discovered that although the distance from Scranton Pennsylvania to the part of Kentucky I wanted to see was not that great a distance on the map. The diagonal lines crossing the highway on that map were not some decorative feature but small mountains. With lots of tippy truck signs!! I had not realized it was such a big problem for trucks in the states.

The Woolery had a lot of felting tools, rollers, abrasion boards with nobbly surfaces, felting needles, needle holders, and lots of fibre. They also had wheels, looms, yarn, fibre prep and a comfy chair in the corner to leave husbands while you shopped. It was sort of like reaching Mecca!

(Pic of Glenn in husband corner and Great restraint in Shopping)

While at the conference I found out there were non-blacksmithing classes for those with badges that said “Spouse of (insert name of blacksmith)”. There were a couple of painting classes, a broom making class, one on repousse for non blacksmith, leather work and 3 basketry classes. Yes I made 2 baskets and a hearth broom  and had a blast. I also did a lot of spinning in the air conditioned comfort while the blacksmiths were outside in the summers most extreme heat wave with multiple forges going. What were they thinking?  When they could have been cool inside having fun making brooms, baskets, spinning and felting!

When we got back to Ottawa we discovered there were going to be interesting felting workshops at Twist (a big fibre festival in Quebec).  One was 3 days long on sculptural felting with  Marjolein Dallinga , (i promise i will tell you about that one eventually) and the second was on pet portraiture, with Megan Cleland which was also lots of fun. You have already seen the fox I was working on in the second workshop. There was one more workshop in 2018 and I would like to tell you about that one. ( It took me a while but i finally got to the point to this post.)

The Moy Mackay Workshop

Ann spotted it let me know it was happening. We had both looked into going to the east coast for a felting conference but after looking at the location, how to get there and the overall cost decided it was just too expensive. So we were both extremely excited to have the opportunity to take a workshop with an instructor we didn’t think we could make dues to distance and cost. Well it was still pricey but the commute was excellent!! We both signed up as soon as the store, Wabi Sabi, was open. We were joined by one of our guild-mates, Carlene, for a 2 day workshop with Moy Mackay! Day one we were to wet felt two pictures: one a landscape and one a still life. On day two we would embellish them using felting needles, stitch-work (Embroidery) and free motion machine stitching. We were sent a long list of the supplies to bring. The one we all had trouble acquiring was the garden netting. It must be a British thing?

We all looked at the list of what to bring and I was a little dismayed. Not knowing what the landscape would look like but having to bring wool to do it was a bit stressful. what to bring? Well my solution was to bring almost everything. If I didn’t have it likely Ann and Carlene did! Next problem.  What is Garden netting? We discovered it’s a British thing. Not like the plastic netting we use in the garden here to keep birds out of the Saskatoons and Gooseberries! (Sorry i couldn’t take a picture of what British Garden Netting looks like.)

The day of the workshop arrived and, with a well filled car and my folding blue wagon, I headed off to the Hintonburg Community Centre just a few stores down from Wabi Sabi. This is very convenient since Wabi Sabi had promised to have a large selection of fibre in case we were missing any.

One of the advantages of taking workshops is you can see the methodology of the teacher. You can try to figure out why she is working in one way and not another. You can ask her lots of questions too.  I have noticed there is often more than one way to do a thing.  Just look at my spelling. Sometimes the choice is more a matter of “we always do it that way” but sometimes it’s because it is more efficient or effective if you chose this method over that one.

Moy is a fine artist and sells her pictures. She has to be able to produce images in a reasonable time to be able to support herself and continue her artwork,  She does not have the option of taking hours to needle felt the background and then add many more hours to hand stitch the final embellishments after the felting is done. So she has developed a method that works for her purpose. She is fast!  This is definitely not a negative thing. I was truly impressed at how quickly she worked.  It was obvious that she has had many years of practice and was comfortable and confident in her colour palate and design choices.

Our Insperation on Day One

She showed us the 2 landscape photos she had chosen for us. They are views from her new house in Scotland.  They showed the yellow fields and looked out to her neighbours farm house.  One shot had fencing and wildflowers.  The other had sheep but they were very tiny. For composition I tend to like dramatic lighting or repetition or overlap that draws you into a view. Also yellow is really not my favourite colour, except if I’m painting with rhoplex to make my acrylic paints more transparent, then yellow gets much more interesting. (I bet you can smell the fumes destroying my brain cells even as I think about it!) Ann said “no grumbling and do it anyways” she is right.  We are here to experience her way of working and watch her colour palate and methodology.

She did a demo for us. (she didn’t want us to take pictures of her working)  It was amazing to watch how really fast she laid out her colours. Both Ann and I were sure all the spinners would be cringing if they watched her carding to blend fiber but it worked for her and gave her the amount of blending she wanted. And it was a lot faster and produced larger amounts than the hand blending I tend to do.

She sent us off and gave us the rest of the morning to finish the layout for our landscapes. From 2 pictures it was very interesting to look around at lunch to see what each of us had taken from the compositions since there was quite a bit of variation within each of the two themes. But you could still see unifying elements within all the pictures.

After lunch she set up a vase with flowers and then Moy demonstrated her technique for laying in back ground, table and creating flowers. The vase and flowers where there only to inspire us. We could expand upon what we were looking at.  We were happily adding leaves, flowers and background and she told us we had to hurry and finish up so we could felt both pieces before we had to clean up the class room for the next group coming in. EEK!! Felt Faster!!


We discovered she doesn’t like bubble wrap.  It is too aggressive for what she is aiming for. What she is doing in wet felting is not creating strong cohesive textile as you would for a vessel, slippers or a cat cave but a thin softer felt which more resembles pre-felt for her base.  She can then still manipulate the felt after it has had its wet felt treatment. If it were felted as fully as a vessel or even worse my cat cave fish it would never fit under the pressure foot on the sewing machine.

I did stick with my bubble wrap but I was pretty back weary by the end of the day and was sure I could keep the fibres from over felting (I was too sore by then to be aggressive anyway). So after only minimal felting I was done and packed everything up into my wonderful wagon and headed back to the car. When we were all packed up we took a quick shopping trip up the street to Wabi Sabi. More Wool!! Really you can’t have too much wool can you? After a good dose of fibre we all headed home so we could do part 2 tomorrow!

Drying Outside In a Light Breeze

Day 2 Embellishments

Moy does some needle felting with her pieces but mostly she does a form of embroidery and free motion sewing on a sewing machine. She spent the morning with demonstrations of needle felting, hand embroidery and machine embroidery/ sewing.  My sewing machine doesn’t have the feed dog covers and I’m not sure I can get them but I watched her demonstrate with the felt and sewing machine.  It was interesting to see her add more detail with just a bit of stitching.  And again She was fast! She demonstrated the technique enough that I am confident I have the concept if not the dexterity to understand what she was describing.


I spent most of the time working with the needles making my trees mildly 3 dimensional. By the end of the workshop I was wiped and I still had more work to do on the landscape and all the embellishment left to do on the flowers!

Ann’s and Carleen’s are much more embellished than mine are but I hope to get back and finished them eventually!

It was fascinating to see all the pieces together at the end of the workshop. There was a lot of variation on the theams we were given.  I am very glad I was able to attend this workshop. I learned a new way of approaching picture felting, used pre-felt for depicting the building and really enjoyed the workshop. (But i am still not fond of Yellow.)

13 thoughts on “2018 the year of the Workshop(S)

  1. What a wonderful adventure and a great opportunity to study under Moy and learn her techniques. I have her books, but would love the opportunity to take a workshop with her. Where was the workshop? All the pictures looked wonderful thanks for sharing Jan!

    1. thanks im glad you enjoyed the pictures. Yes she was well worth taking a workshop with. it was in a vary bissy comunity center in the west end of Ottawa. i now have 3 books by Moy there so colourfull! isint it amazing how much variation thare is espeshaly considering we had the same picturs and flowers to look at.

  2. It looks like you all started with a piece of white prefelt for your base and then began laying out your colors. Is that correct? Thanks

    1. Pre felt was not on the list so i had not brot any. luckily Ann had. so i did use prefelt for the second piece but for the first i layed out a thin layer of white i think it was coriadale. then bult on top of that. both worked but the prefelt was thiner after adding the image and would be easyer to emelish useing a sewing macheen.

  3. You were very busy last year Jan. Moy’s class was a lot of fun. What can we find for you to do this year? How about basketry with felt, combine some of the new skills you have.

    1. Glenn suggested an octopus hat but i think a squid would be better for a hat and save the octopus for a scarf? Ann lets look and see who else is coming nearby to teach. Or we need to win the lottery and then we can travel! (i would take pictures!!)

  4. Looks like you have been a busy girl Jan. I had never heard of The Woolery and it’s in Kentucky where I grew up. (Not in Frankfurt but a little ways from there.)

    I think it’s good to stretch our horizons a little even with colors we don’t like. I used to have quite a few colors that I didn’t really like but now I use almost any color depending on the effects I want to achieve. So give yellow a chance 🙂

    1. Yes i will try to not belittle yellow. i will admit its vary important in making greens! The Woolery is a cool place to visit if you get a chance i hope you can go. they have a map with pins showing all the places they have shipped. its was impressive. i admitted we had driven down from Ottawa Canada and they offered to give me a tour of the back of the shop; storage, ordering, packing and shipping. it was vary interesting to see.

  5. Love the look of The Woolery and how thoughtful that the organisers of the blacksmithing conference provided spouses with fun things to do.
    Thank you for this really interesting post with lovely photos Jan!

  6. Thank you! i was hoping the train textural pictures would inspire some felting. the pattena on one train car was particularly distracting to me. (the one that reminded me of Ann) you never know what may spark an idea!

  7. You have been busy! how cool the Blacksmith workshop provided extra classes for those not doing the hot work. I love the look of Moy Mackay workshop. I have one of her books and have always been a big fan. What great learning Jan, wonderful photos and descriptions, thanks for sharing the fun.

  8. Love, love your story and way of writing. I had to chuckle several times while reading as I could so identify. Great results by everyone. What a great year for you.

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