September Adventures

September Adventures

September has been a busy and exciting month in contemporary textile art (specifically felting art) in Ireland so I thought I would feature what I got up to, I will call it my September Adventures.

Weather wise, the month started as we hoped it would continue (it didn’t by the way) with a return to fine warm weather – something we had not seen since last June.  So I took the opportunity to visit our National Botanical Gardens ( which are situated on Dublin’s north side.  The gardens (there’s free entry, if you ever visit Dublin, Ireland) opened in 1800 and are an oasis of calm with restored glass houses, magnificent specimens, bee hives and, of course, a tea room.  There’s also a pedestrian access to the historical cemetery next door which I suspect is not seen too often.    Glasnevin Cemetery also houses a genealogical archive for anyone wishing to trace their Irish ancestors (

But, I digress.  Let’s go back to the gardens.  My visit coincided with their annual exhibition ‘Sculpture in Context’.  The exhibits feature artworks in various media including ceramics, wood, metal.  I decided to focus purely on the textile element of the exhibition and to photograph any pieces I came across as I wandered around.  I was aware that some of the members of Feltmakers Ireland had pieces accepted for the exhibition; Clare Merry ( an exceptional artist who quietly creates her pieces was featured.  If you would like to see some of Clare’s work please check out her website, which, she tells me, is not really up to date, or Google her and feast over the images; Fiona Leech ( had three beautiful pots which were originally housed in the cactus house.   Annoyingly two of the three pots were stolen within a matter of hours of their arrival and the remaining one was moved to a safer spot in the garden’s gallery.  I thought I would show you the three pots as they were originally grouped together.

Fiona Leech’s three pots (source: Fiona’s Instagram page)

I searched but could not find Leiko Uchiyama’s beautiful work but here is a link to her website if you would like to check her out:  I found two other exhibits from members of the guild.  Their featured work while not through the medium of felt were equally stunning.  Congratulations Mel Bradley (  and Mette Sophie Roche (

I put together a slideshow of my textile finds in the gardens which I hope you enjoy.

We had our first meeting after summer in Feltmakers Ireland and as usual the committee put an incredible amount of preparatory work into making it successful.  It was a busy morning as everyone beavered away felting flowers to create a tapestry as part of the 20th anniversary celebration for the guild.  Much to everyone’s delight, the guild’s founder Elizabeth Bonnar joined us. I thought I would feature Elizabeth here as without her it is doubtful that there would be such a vibrant community of feltmakers today.   Here she is with her granddaughter and with the committee.

Feltmakers Ireland founder Elizabeth Bonnar and her granddaughter
Feltmakers Ireland committee with founder Elizabeth Bonnar (3rd from left)

Here are some photos taken on the day.

The finished tapestry was revealed at Feltmakers Ireland ‘Bountiful’ juried exhibition which opened on 30th September.

Feltmakers Ireland members: The Floral Tapestry to celebrate 20 years.

The exhibition also saw the launch of the new book “Exploring Irish Wool for Feltmaking”  The book is the product of a collaboration between many members of Feltmakers Ireland guild, sheep farmers, shepherds, shearers and suppliers and not forgetting the various washers and carders who took the raw fleeces, converting them into usable fibres for testing.  I think this approach was quite unique and it will certainly be a worthwhile and useable addition to any textile maker’s reference library.  Understandably it was a huge project so congratulations are due to all, especially Annika (Berglund), Breda (Fay) and Sinead (Doyle) who collated all of the findings into an invaluable resource on Irish wool.  It’s so full of well written practical advice and it was made extra special by the presence of one of our Government Ministers, Pippa Hackett an ardent supporter of the project, who officially launched the book and the exhibition . Here is a quick look at the contents page to give you an idea of the scope of the book:

Exploring Irish Wool Contents page

An added bonus is that feltmakers/wool artists can now make direct contact with numerous artisanal suppliers so there is no excuse for any of us not buying closer to source and of course for anyone overseas who wishes to use Irish wool fibre in their work purchasing from source.

It is available to purchase from the following link and I understand will also be available in eBook format shortly:

I hope you have enjoyed my September adventures.   It has been an exciting month.  Once again I would like to thank Feltmakers Ireland and their hard working committee who work tirelessly to maintain this vibrant community – it makes such a difference that, as textile artists, we can gather together and create regularly. I take my hat off to Elizabeth Bonnar and her decision to found Feltmakers Ireland twenty years ago; the catalyst for lifelong friendships, masterclasses, collaborations, exhibitions, networks and travel.

To complete September’s birthday celebrations, I thought I would produce a slideshow of the Bountiful exhibition which is running for the month of October in Phoenix Park, Dublin Ireland.  I took photos on the day so I apologise where the light may be shining on the artwork.  There are over 30 pieces of art and it will give you an indication of where Ireland’s vibrant felting community is at in its journey.  I hope you enjoy it!

25 thoughts on “September Adventures

  1. WOW I’m speechless/gobsmacked! That was a great post Helene. You have been having a good time. Thanks for the links (I think – It’s taken me an hour from opening your post to get to this point and I really need to get dressed!) Some wonderful work on show.

    1. Thanks a million Ann,
      I’m just back from an action packed weekend in Italy and totally forgot to bring my log in details with me, so just getting back to you now.
      I hope you had a cuppa in hand when I had you disappear down those rabbit holes lol.
      Yes indeed, it was a very exciting month for creatives in Ireland. They are a very talented bunch!

  2. Loved the slideshows! Particularly liked: Floral Path; Dead Fish; Grasses and The Gathering. A Good Day’s Catch made us smile 🙂

    You wouldn’t think that many different hands had made The Floral Tapestry – it looks like the work of one person. Does that say something good about the group perhaps?

    1. Thanks ladies, just back since last night from a little holiday so I can finally respond.
      Clare’s (Floral path) work is always amazing. A lot of her wall hangings are quite big and she often uses a mosaic style. I recall her saying at one stage that she needed a ladder to view progress and perspective. ‘Dead Fish’ is intriguing to see in the flesh (no pun intended). Grasses (Mel’s work) took my breath away. I viewed it in sunshine as the shadows from the glasshouse were projected onto it. It was a still day but I suspect it would look equally mesmerizing with a light breeze. The Gathering is quite big and very beautiful. Deirdre Crofts (A good day’s catch) is fun and brilliant. Deirdre has definitely brought her expertise as a ceramics artist to the fore here.

      As far as I know, Deirdre was also responsible for co-ordinating the Floral Tapestry. She certainly put a lot of work into designing flower patterns that could be reproduced by all the members no matter what their skill level. Experienced feltmakers were assigned roles to help out those who might have found techniques a little new and colour scheme were followed. to this were added some ‘fantasy flowers’ again following the colours agreed. So all in all, a great community effort, but involving a lot of hard grind from the organisers. But what a super result!

  3. What a wonderful post full of inspiring work from your area. Congratulations on a successful group which is a lot of hard work behind the scenes and it looks like the group is quite active. The various fiber art pieces in the gardens is such fun but it is terrible that pieces were stolen. How sad that someone would do that to an artist. Thanks for telling us all about your month.

    1. Thanks Ruth. I agree. Behind every successful community is a very hard working committee.
      What happened to Fiona’s work was so awful. It was such a huge loss to Fiona who put her heart and soul into these beautiful pieces and also to the wider public who were not given a chance to appreciate them. This is why I wanted to feature the three pots and Fiona very kindly gave me permission to use one of her photos. I know that it will not compensate her for this loss but at least they can be appreciated by a wider and diverse audience.

  4. Helene, I agree with Ann’s gobsmacked comment! I follow many of the felters you feature, and had no idea they all call Ireland home. What an inspiring group to belong to! The 20th anniversary collaboration project shows the talent amongst you.

    The works in featured in the gardens exhibition are fabulous. How sad, Fiona’s lovely pots were taken, by brazen thieves. It’s a sign of the shameless times, we are forced to live in. My favorite garden selection is the Floral Path by Claire Merry. I would love to wake up to a ceiling full of flowers!

    And then you present us with the October exhibition pieces…oh my goodness!! Thank you for sharing the talents of Ireland’s fiber arts community.


    1. You are so welcome Capi. They are a super bunch of creative humans.

      Claire’s work is always stunning. Given the size of this piece I doubt if there would be anywhere on your ceiling to hang the lightbulb. But, like you, I would happily sacrifice that to wake up to such beauty every day. It would be a small inconvenience!

  5. I am very envious of the roster of felters in your neck of the woods, Hélène! What a talented bunch, and I hope the founder’s granddaughter is also keen on the fibre world so we have younger generations keeping the love alive!

    1. Thanks Leonor. It is great to be surrounded by such a strong community of creative people.
      School kids are now taught all about wool and feltmaking is also part of the art curriculum and second level. There are some wonderful textile artists going through our third level institutions at present so it is great to see that textiles are very much alive and kicking in the next generations. x

    2. It’s quite recent Leonor. I have recommended it on occasions where a kid is good at art – they are pretty much assured a high mark in that part of their exam, especially as, up until recently examiners have had little experience in it.

  6. Hélène, Thank you for sharing these fun Irish felt-related events of September! It was a busy month, and you have captured it so well. Hopefully, you can assist us by becoming the Guild’s resident photographer for future Sunday Sessions. There is always so much going on…

    1. Loved this post, thank you Hekene fir going to such trouble to write up and photograph our exhibition. You are such a vital part of our felting community!

    2. I am delighted and privileged to have been able to write about it. This is a vibrant community which is brought together through the hard work of a fantastic committee. So take a bow all!

      ps I am a ‘point and click’ sort of gal. I don’t think I will be winning any awards anytime in the near future lol !

  7. Such a lovely post to read. The slide shows are stunning, such beautiful work to see. It is amazing that Ireland is such a small country and has such a huge number of fibre artists.

    1. Thank you Marie,
      I suspect (in fact I know) that this is the iceberg when it comes to talent in fibre art. There has been a resurgence in weaving and other forms of fibre art over the last number of years. It is fantastic to see so many mixed media textile art forms around.
      You know yourself Marie, the Irish are a creative bunch! lol

  8. Wow….so much talent on show for us all to enjoy. All rich, colourful & each so different.
    There are several that made me dwell a while pondering either the design aspect, the use of colour or the method. Re the latter the grass piece comes to mind.

    The Guild’s tapestry is a fantastic collaboration & beautifully put together….where will it’s permanent home be?

    Very sad to hear that someone’s greed for ownership has prevented others’ pleasure in seeing Fiona’s work.

    The sun flowers look great framed 🤗

    1. Thanks Antje, there is a great diversity of talent around all right. Mel Bradley (of grasses fame) regularly runs day long painting on silk sessions. If you fancy attending you can sleep on the floor in my gaff and we can do it together!
      Unfortunately we lost our permanent home during covid but the tapestry will no doubt be on display regularly at shows.
      I agree about folks’ greed that was one of the reasons I wanted to feature the three pots and Fiona generously agreed to this.
      I stood in front of the Sunflowers with two friends and said (I am paraphrasing here as you know how I like the odd ‘interesting’ phrase) ‘oh dear it looks crooked’. To which the other two ladies broke down laughing and decided it was time to book my surgeon.

      Enough said!

  9. Wow, so many great pieces how could you pick a favourite. Unbelievable that people would seal art pieces on display for everyone to enjoy.
    It is wonderful that you have such a creative group. It’s hard work making and keeping a group going and your committee seems to be doing a great job. the flowers tapestry with so many contributes of all levels as a fantastic tribute.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Ann. They are a super group of hard working humans. I was really disappointed for Fiona when her pieces were stolen, on the first day too. Her pots were big so it would have taken brass neck to walk out of the gardens with them, someone must have seen it but that is the way of the world these days.
      The floral tapestry is really beautiful in real life too.
      You had spoken to me about the recently published book I hope you were able to find the details in the blog.

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