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Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

It’s summer time here in Ireland and the living is, well, slightly more laid back than the norm.  Having decided to metaphorically kick off the shoes for the month of July, I thought it might be nice just to “see and share ” rather than “do” and this forms the basis of my post.

Before I start on the main focus of this post (my holiday in Italy),   I just have to show you a beautiful piece that totally blew me away.  Before heading off, I visited Dublin’s Botanical Gardens.  Founded in 1795, it is an oasis of calm for any visitor and I would highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.  While there, I noticed that there was a patchwork exhibition happening in one of their exhibition spaces.  This piece just caught me, so I want to share it with you.  The artist is Ethelda Ellis and the piece is called ‘Aoife’s View’.  The curator told me that Ethelda is a medical doctor by profession.  If you would like to see more of Ethelda’s beautiful creations check out her blog: http://ethelda.blogspot.com/

Now, to the Italian holiday.  We headed to Como mid-July and, in spite of the heatwave, spent our time sightseeing and eating!  Our base was Como which is to the north of Italy, right beside Switzerland.  Lake Como is totally dwarfed by the Alps – a really beautiful place.

We called into the Cathedral, the Duomo which was magnificent internally and externally.  I reckon that to appreciate all its beauty would take months observing 24/7!  I want to share with you a small area of a tapestry which was made in 1610 and which underwent restoration in 1990.  It was impossible to get a good photo of the entire masterpiece as so much detail would have been lost.  So I settled for a little!

One of our tours took us to the tiny picturesque village of Orta which is situated on Lake Orta.  It was recommended that we visit the interior of the local church which was situated at the top of a steep street.

My journey was interrupted by the sound of a piano recital and when I investigated I discovered a rather special textile exhibition happening in the same building.  The works exhibited were by Sergio Cerini.  The artist merges his early experiences in the Italian high fashion industry with his current artworks, producing beautiful pieces which are in essence a mix of paper mache and textiles.  The description does not do justice to his widely exhibited pieces and he was reluctant to allow me to photograph his work.  He did, however pose in front of one of the pieces and others can be viewed on his Instagram page @sergiocerini

Since the 1800s, the city of Como was historically the main producer of Italian silk.  When ultimately production was outsourced to China, the area was in danger of losing connection with its cultural heritage.  The large factory was bought by the Hilton hotel chain.  These photos show early paintings of the factory, what it became at the height of the industry and where it is now (apologies for the reflection on the glass):

 

Rather than allow the old machinery to be lost to history, a wise decision was taken about 10 years ago to set up an Educational Silk Museum to preserve these beautiful machines.  Along with displaying the machinery, some of which dates back to the nineteenth century, the museum offers interactive videos and exhibits of high fashion clothing.  Unfortunately this section was not open during my visit but I thought it might be fun to show you some of the many machines featured.  So please, grab a cuppa, sit back and I hope you enjoy the show.  I have included captions for ease of reference.

 

Hair shopping at Twist Fiber festival with Mr. Mer

Hair shopping at Twist Fiber festival with Mr. Mer

Finally, the big day was here! It is time to take Mr. Mer shopping for Hair! I had persuaded him to wait to broaden his choices by looking at the Fiber Festival Twist in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec. That would be a bit over an hour’s dive east of home. I had a few bags to put purchases in (optimism!), the camera, something to drink, Mr. Mer in his project bag and a good audiobook to start the trip off (today’s driving was accompanied by “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune hunting” by Sophie Irwin).

1) Mr. Mer is napping in his project bag before the big drive. I promise I will get him a bigger project bag!

Ah, summer, the other season of road maintenance in Canada. Oh well, at least the scenery is lovely, driving through the rock cuttings along highway 50. To see all the geology from the comfort of your car, (ok there were a few potholes and truck ruts to distract from the view). You get glimpses of the Ottawa River as it heads south then into the hills and more rock trees and farmland. Turn at the town that makes me think of pineapples (it’s a French word that has nothing to do with pineapples) and go north over a stream, past the cows and eventually into the town of Saint-André-Avellin. A couple more turns and you are at the arena complex wondering where they put the handicapped parking (no I do not actually have the special parking for my e-“specially” great spelling ability). I stopped to ask a man in a sheep hat with horns, I bet he will know! Oh, it’s right here? And don’t run over the line of people waiting to get in. What a close parking spot to the line, amazing! I got out, organized and was already in line, we were ready to go.

2) in line at Twist, handicapped parking is adjacent to the line, now that is close parking!

There are a few changes since the last Twist festival (2 years ago), there has been construction on the building and a covid clinic has taken over what used to be the classrooms. There were, as in previous years, tents outside for Emerging Artists and the Food court.

3) the first outside tent

Inside there are two halls, the arena and the gym and locker room spaces which they are using for classrooms this year. My plan of attack was to cruise through the larger hall first, looking for long locks (the Olive sparrow and a couple more booths might have some) but taking a quick photo of the Black Lamb’s mill ends on the way by. Continuing on to the small hall where the booth for Fibercraft might also have long locks. We were in agreement and had a plan of attack!!
With Mr. Mer leaning over the back support of my walker, the line started to move and we were off! We breezed through the emerging artist’s tent (I will look more carefully later) and took a fast sweep through the main hall looking for the elusive long fibre locks.

4) Inside the Arena (lots of knitting yarn but looking for those elusive locks)
5) Half of the Black Lamb’s booth. They have mill-end fibre.

Pausing briefly, I took a quick shot of the pile of mill ends at the black lamb’s booth. I am fascinated by the hugeness of the pile as the weekend starts and the speed it dwindles as the weekend progresses. I will be back shortly and do a bit of shopping there myself. I hope that some of the other guild members will post the after pictures from Sunday! Finding only a few booths with any fibre, none of it as long as I was hoping, we turned our vehicle to the small arena to do a quick fly-through there.

6) AH ha! We found some locks, not as long as he wanted but a good colour.

We headed past booths with knitting yarn towards the Fibercarft booth, which was looking like our last hope for anyone with long 12-inch or longer locks for Mr. Mer’s hair. I hope he will not be too unhappy if he winds up with a military haircut if long wavy locks are unattainable.

7) Success!! We bought a bundle of green and a bundle of orange-red for his daughter or wife’s hair.

These were the only extra-long locks we were able to find this year at Twist. There may have been some in the back of a booth I did not see, but we were pretty thorough in our such (Next year there will be lots I’m sure since a short bald Mer-fish was asking for them!). The green locks look a bit bright but there is the option to over-die or it may be ok as an accent with the locks from Bernadette. He will show you his loot in a bit.
We met a relative of his while we were in the Fibercraft booth. She was also inspired by Sara’s “Mermaid-felt-along” at the beginning of the pandemic. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w&t=1992s) this was a great way to keep us sane and busy during our time isolating. I am not sure if Sara realizes what she has inspired!

8) Mr. Mer met another Mer from a different branch of the family. (from the same Sara Felt along!)

We said goodbye to his cousin, I didn’t get her name so we referred to her as Ms. Coral Mer. With his shopping now done, we can relax and see what else is on offer.

Around the next corner, we spotted some familiar looking felt. This is Richard Hanna, he is an excellent sculptural felter and sometimes member of the local guild. It has been inspiring watching him work on some of his large pieces during meetings (the Narnian Lion head and Marilyn Monroe head were both very memorable). He has made some interesting green men and tree people more recently. He was quite busy so we didn’t have much time to chat. It was great to see him again, I hope he will have the time to come back to the guild and attend socials.

9) Richard Hanna’s booth at Twist

We stopped to have a quick chat with another guild member, weaver and basket maker Janet Whittam.

10) Janet Whittam’s booth

I took one of Janet’s basketry workshops years ago. To begin we went for a walk down country lanes near her home, collecting wild grapevines and other interesting vegetation. This salvaged material was used with various cane to make a basket. It was so much fun. Janet mentioned while we were chatting and I was admiring the new baskets, that working with the antler as she wove the basket was quite challenging. The final effect was definitely worth the extra work!

11) needle storage

In one booth I saw this lovely little pottery needle holder. What an elegant way to store needles!

12) These mice were so cute but I have no idea what they cost, I could not find a price and the vendor seemed very busy so I didn’t ask.

13) This is a prin to skene winder.

The Prin to Skene winder was incredibly cool and I would love to have bought it, I don’t know where I would put it but it turned easily and was just so cool! That is a giant bag of superwash merino mill ends, it’s sitting beside ($10.00 per LB). This means we’re back in the arena at the Black Lamb’s booth. Here are a few more shots to drool at. I got the last of the BFL (Blue Faced Lester)/silk which is fun to spin and it will also felt!

14) A few of the specialty blends at the Black Lamb booth

15) Mostly superwash merino but other blends of fibre too

16) a few of the Felting supply’s at the Olive Sparrow

We wandered back to the Olive Sparrow and perused silk in fish-appropriate colours then l checked out pieces of felt backing for pictures in so many colours. I spotted the painting in Wool book and one of the two recent Landscape paintings in wool books was also there. I found some extra-large leather finger cots by the cash so added that to my order too. (It’s hard to find thumbs that fit unless you sew your own.)

17) A Majacraft dealer booth

There was a booth selling Majacraft products, (they make spinning wheels that are very posh). I did not realize they also made fibre prep tools. I spotted blending Hackles, mini-combs, a tiny blending board and regular-sized drum carders.

18) A booth of mixed weaving equipment and weaving yarn

Mr. Mer was particularly excited about this Jane loom by Louet, I think the lack of treadles was appealing since Mer-persons would have a challenge to operate them with their tail fins. I did not point out that looms are usually made of wood so tend to float and would be hard to operate in an aquatic environment. In addition, getting wet would not be good for the loom.

19) This booth is Fibres of life

Fibres of life had cat caves, mice, balls in felt as well as felt backgrounds, really nice backpacks and bags as well as examples of the heavy commercial felt used in storage baskets (you can see them under the cat caves and holding the mice and balls). There were also mysterious giant balls of felted roving that looked like balls of snakes.

20) It was good to see such interest in spinning from a range of ages

21) this year the majority of the booths did seem to be more knitting oriented.

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22-23) One of the outside tents was filled by the rare breeds conservancy group.

Rare Breeds Conservancy group brought four sheep, a mother and son and two twins, I think the twins were Shropshires. There was interest in the mom’s pretty fleece too!

24) Sheep dog demonstrations

We stopped to watch the sheepdog demo. One of the sheep had figured out it was bigger than the dog and was being stubborn.

With all the fibre I had purchased (as well as Mr. Mer’s shopping), it was time to drop things off in the car. We headed back through the food tent, I was very tempted by the “Hamburger de Bison 1/4lb”, available “avec Sanglier Effiloche” if you wanted for a bit more money. (I had it without the extras last time and it was delicious!)

25) Exotic lunch options

We stopped to have a chat with a lovely lady who had driven up from the states with some friends to attend. She had enjoyed the scenery of the drive from the 1000 island bridge through the southeast of Ontario and then into Quebec. She mentioned she enjoyed our weather (the heat wave the states and parts of Canada were having, had broken in eastern Ontario after a heavy rain storm last week. It was either that or the weather feels cooler when posted in Celsius?) She is presently a knitter but said she is a future felter who is just waiting until she retires to start felting. I hope she will be inspired to jump in and try both wet and dry felting sooner.

The ladies at the ticket table were very helpful in making sure I got safely back to the car (which was much appreciated). Mr. Mer and I must have been looking very tired and I was going quite a bit slower than when I arrived. We got the shopping in, but I said I just wanted to rest for a few minutes, in hopes that I was up to another trip around the venue and take a few more photos to let the guild know what was there. Mr. Mer seemed very pleased with his shopping so he got comfy in the passenger seat as I had a short rest. We had another Guild member stop by, say hi and linger for a chat. It was a very restful chat and I was ready to take one more round of the shopping options.

26) Having a chat with Mr. Mer, who has retired to the car to recover from his shopping trip.

27) He checked out Mr. Mer. (Safety first- always wear your seat belt), Fish fatigue from shopping!!

I left Mr. Mer to nap in the car with the shopping and headed back in for one last lap around the booths. The crowds had thinned and I was able to get into most of the booths with the walker. I found a bit of fibre but was wanting to save a bit of money for a treat after the shopping. There was a booth “the Campaign for Wool, Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales” which seemed to have literature but it was still too busy to ask questions.

28) I admired the Baskets from Big Blue Moma’s booth but didn’t get one.

The baskets were in the first booth just inside the first tent. It was a great strategy. You could buy your basket then fill it with purchases or after buying everything inside you were wanting, buy a big enough basket to hide it in for taking your new hoard into the house! Many would make excellent presents for a family cat but only if you didn’t fill it all the way up with fibre.

29) I stopped to admire the Kromski wheel

I did finally get into the booth with a Kromski spinning wheel, I cannot afford one of their ornate wheels but I now have a Kromski drop spindle! I took it for a spin when I got home with a bit of the BFL/Silk blend I had also purchased.

30) Kromski makes a drops spindle, which is more in my price range!

The tag says it’s an 85gr spindle, so reasonably heavy but It still spun quite fine yarn. At 32.00+ Tax, it was also the least expensive spindle I saw and now I can say I have a Kromski brand yarn maker! (Ok, technically it’s not a spinning wheel just a drop spindle but it is wheel-shaped and it does spin!)

Some of us have a post Twist tradition of heading to a small restaurant at the far end of town. We discovered it was there quite a few years ago. I had checked online, to make sure it was still there and that the comfy-duck-club-sandwich was still on the menu. (YES!) Therefore, I had carefully saved enough money to get 2 orders of the drool-worthy sandwich. Unfortunately, I arrived to an empty parking lot and new hours, I found out that the restaurant is having trouble getting servers for the evening. We will have to make another trip of just over an hour or wait until next year to get the comfy duck!!

31) La Toquade restaurant, with Club Sandwich au confit de canard (comfy duck served on apricot Raisin and sunflower bread, garnished with bacon, onions, green apples celery and mayonnaise, with a side of your choice of French fries or salad.)(this explains why the duck is so comfy)

I was too tired to go back to Twist and shop till my pockets were empty but my car was full. Instead, I put on my audiobook and headed home. It was a bit slower traffic due to the roadwork, but the book makes the time pass quickly. Now all that is left is to show you the results of our hunting expedition.

Mr. Mer seemed quite pleased with himself. He had a lovely time, enjoying women (and some men) admiring his 12-pack abs and his fine butt. He had acquired the only long locks we could find, for both himself and ether Mrs. Mer or Teen Mer, as well as picking up a little friend.

32) Mr. Mer shows off his shopping

33) My loot!

I was looking for felt bases for pictures but got distracted by the soft fluffy BFL/silk blend (the large bag of white) and the blue batt looked so oceanic (yet dry) I could not talk myself out of buying it too. I was pleased by the leather thumb covers (finger cots), they are good for protecting fingers if you get momentarily distracted while felting.

I hope you also have access to a local Fiberfest with shopping, workshops and fabulous food. It was a fun day and productive hunting. I hope all the attention Mr. Mer got doesn’t go to his head or I will have to find more hair!

Spinning Spirals and other topics.

Spinning Spirals and other topics.

A few years ago, while searching for an online textile workshop, I happened upon one that made me curious.  I was familiar with the tutor’s name, Ruth Lane, as her book “The Complete Photo Guide to Felting” was and continues to be one of my ‘go-to’ reference books.  Among its many attributes are two that I hold important, good writing and clarity.

At the time, Ruth was offering, among her courses, one titled   Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination.  This four week course is available under the heading Embellishing Felt With Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach.

(https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/classes/embellishing-felt-with-surface-design-techniques-a-mixed-media-approach/nuno-felting-with-paper-fabric-lamination/)  Ruth lived up to expectations by providing concise instructions on her methods.  The smaller class size made the whole experience very personal and enjoyable.  It also provided a space where I, as a participant could interact easily with fellow students – it’s something personally I think important as sometimes on-line classes can leave me feeling quite remote.

I was absolutely delighted when Ruth asked me to write some posts for the Felting and Fiber Studio blog and when I finally decided to design and produce the online Spiral Workshop I was thrilled when it was accepted as one of the courses on the FFS workshop platform.  I feel so comfortable with the whole ethos of small class sizes and encouraging participants to engage with others if they so desire.

The Spiral workshop came about as a result of a challenge put to me by a fellow felter.  Once I had refined my technique I set about filming each step of the process.  I wanted clarity as, to a large extent, the videos needed to replace my physical presence in the learning space –  that said as with all courses offered by FFS, tutors are available to answer questions for the duration of the course.

Once the full course was recorded, I set about editing the material. This did not involve a lot of deletions.  Instead the videos were broken into smaller steps which would make particular elements of the process easier to locate for participants.  Each video has an accompanying PDF which again is broken into steps to match the videos.  These are available for participants to keep and the videos are available for the duration of the course (and a few extra weeks).

This will be the third run of the course which will start on 26th August.  Registration for it opens today (12th August) and numbers will be limited to make the experience more intimate.

Here are some photos of students’ work.  They are all so gorgeous and so different. I have included some of the reviews at the end of the video.

 

If you are interested in finding out a bit more, feel free to check out the following link:

HANGING FELTED SPIRAL WITH HELENE DOOLEY

 

Community Art Installation

Community Art Installation

I was asked by my local community arts centre to run a felting workshop to contribute ‘something’ to a community art installation to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s forthcoming platinum jubilee.  The wonderful Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable is creating a ‘tea party with a twist’: everything will be hand-made and not necessarily from the usual materials.  Think papier mâché teacups and crocheted sandwiches.  The Horsebridge received a grant from Arts Council England to create their installation which meant participation was free but I would get paid to run the workshop – a win-win!

I mulled over what the ‘something’ might be and decided to run a workshop making wet felted flowers as table centre pieces.

I decided early on to take my colour inspiration from the Commonwealth flag – royal blue and golden yellow. This would reduce the choices people would have to make (which often take a long time!) and would be a change from the red, white and blue of our national flag.

I’ve not made flowers before so set about designing something that was as simple as possible to make. The creators were unlikely to have any felting experience and we were going to do this in 2½ hours – both demonstrate and make.

By now my friend Sue (a ceramicist) had agreed to run another workshop making slab pot vases for the flowers to sit in, so they needed to stand in a vase. I took some wool away on a trip with me and started trying out designs.

Prototype One: a loopy sort of flower made by laying out 5 separate petal shapes of wool (herring-bone style layout) then felting them together with a little wool in the middle.

I thought it was OK but getting the petals even was a little challenging and we’d have to use wire for the stems. I wasn’t sure they’d sit very well in vases and I generally thought I could do better, so moved on to my second design.

Prototype Two: I liked this a little better. It was laid out in a flat circle and the petals were cut part-way though fulling. It seemed pleasingly tulip-shaped. I wasn’t content to settle quite yet, though, as I had a few other ideas to try out.

Prototype Three: a more complex design laying out one larger circle of wool then covering it with a circular resist with a hole in the middle and laying out a smaller circle of wool on top of the resist, ensuring the two layers joined together through the hole.  Not surprisingly, I realised that this was going to be way too complicated to create in the time available. The fulling took a long time. I did like the blue edging on the petals though so carried this through to the next sample.

Prototype Four: I wanted to try adding a felt rope stem so it would sit nicely in a vase without using wire so needed a fairly simple flower shape if there was going to be time to add the stem to the design.  I made a felt rope in blue, keeping one end dry and fluffy to attach to the flower head.  The head was laid out in a single yellow layer, radiating out from the centre, in a similar way to prototype 2. I joined the stem as I wetted down the wool and covered it with a piece of bubble wrap with a hole in the middle for the stem to poke through.  This would prevent the body of the stem felting to the flower.

Once the flower and stem were at prefelt stage and the stem was securely attached, I picked up the flower by the stem and rolled it closed, mostly between my palms, to shape it into a 3D rather than flat flower.

Yes, this seemed just about do-able within the time and was reasonably simple for inexperienced felters to make.  If anyone ran out of time they could skip the petal-cutting stage and make a cone-shape flower so they wouldn’t have to heal all the edges and shape every individual petal.

By the time I got back to my studio the right coloured wool had arrived, along with some yellow tussah silk.  I already had blue and yellow nepps so I could set about refining my prototype.  A few design changes: I decided we’d run a second layer of wool just around the outside of the flower head circle as this would give the petals a bit more body.  Second, I’d add add nepps to the centre and a few strands of silk to the petals. Here’s the new layout.

And here’s the finished flower: advanced prototype 4!

Yes, I was pleased with the improvements and fairly confident the flowers would sit comfortably in their vases. I parcelled out the wool, nepps and silk and gathered together all the equipment ready for the workshop. It took a while!

Normally I teach a maximum of 8 people at a time but as this was a small make I rather recklessly committed to 16 – thinking I could have 2 people per table. Not a problem until I started to seek out 16 towels and 16 mats…..but it seems my hoarding tendencies came good! Cutting out 32 pieces of bubble wrap (16 of which needed a hole cutting in the middle) and 16 pieces of net started to feel like I was on a production line. Happily, though, I got everything together just in time for the day of the workshop.

Here’s the teaching room at the Horsebridge with everyone setting to work – a lovely light, airy and spacious room with people well spaced-out.

A couple of work in progress shots

And lots of happy felters with their beautiful creations.

The workshop seemed to go well and we produced plenty of flowers to add to the installation. I made sure people took photos of their own flowers as they can collect them after the event, if they want to.

Here’s most of them gathered at the end of the workshop.

Lessons: we needed more time! It’s hard to estimate how long it will take to demonstrate something and for people then to make it.  I’d opted for 2½ hours but with hindsight should have gone for 3.  I’ve left myself quite a lot of ‘finishing off’ to do – to make sure stems are firm enough for example – before the flowers go into the installation in early June. I could wrap the floppier stems in florists wire but I’d prefer them to be fully felted. It also took me way longer than I’d realised both to develop the prototypes and prep all the materials. Happily I was able to put the time in and I’m now fully ready for any future flower felting opportunities!

The installation is from 2 June and I’m really excited to see how it all comes together and how the flowers fit in. I took part in a couple of the other workshops: making slab pot vases and monoprint doilies. There’s something really joyous for me in taking part in a community art project and the Horsebridge have done a wonderful job in involving lots of people in the installation. As well as a series of workshops, they’ve sent out lots of making kits for people who can’t get to the centre to make things and worked really hard to involve lots of different members of the community. If you’re interested in the end result I’m sure the Horsebridge Arts Centre will post photos so here’s a link to their website. https://thehorsebridge.org.uk/ and a big thanks too to Arts Council England for providing the project funding. https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/.

Quilt & Stitch Village

Quilt & Stitch Village

I’ve just taken part in my first show after two years of Covid restrictions and it felt great to be back to normal! The event was the British Quilt & Stitch Village, an annual 3 day textile show held at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire.

It was my first time exhibiting at Uttoxeter and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would visitor numbers be low? Most ladies attending shows like this are of a certain age (me included!) and I know some still have concerns about mixing in large groups. This is predominantly a quilt show, would there be enough interest in feltmaking or would the majority walk straight passed? I was manning my stall alone…. would the neighbouring stall holders be too busy to relieve me when I needed a loo break? I needn’t have worried, when the doors opened at 10am the visitors flooded in and it turned out to be three very “full on” days! These are a few of the items I had on show……

I’ve recently made these collars, narrower than previous designs, with a roll edge trimmed in a contrasting colour.
For me the main aim of being at the show was to advertise my workshops and this is a new workshop sample for a Wallhanging class exploring different 3D techniques.

My pitch was next to Project Linus, a charitable organisation that provides quilts and blankets for children in need. Their aims are to “Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” And to “provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.”

Project Linus always attracts a lot of interest and the two lovely ladies on that stand were swamped with visitors for the three days! Somehow they still managed to cover for me when I needed a comfort break which was really appreciated!

I didn’t get much chance to visit other stands but when Jane (Wylde Oak Artistry) came over to say hello and told me she was working with Spun-bond fabrics I had to go see her work. I loved her masks and corsets, made on the theme of body dysmorphia, and came away feeling that there is so much more I could be doing with Lutradur!

Another stand I particularly enjoyed was “Traverse”, a group of exhibiting textile and mixed media artists. Apologies for not getting close ups of their work…….it’s worth following the link and taking a look at their website.

It’s a great show, spread over three large halls as well as various other smaller buildings. Most of the photos I took were prior to opening but as you will see from the last three, we really did get visitors! Roll on Quilt & Stitch Village 2023!

New Community Pages

New Community Pages

I’m excited to announce that we have developed some new community pages for all of our readers and followers. We have had loads of requests from interested readers who wanted to submit photos after reading a post or being inspired by a challenge. We now have a place that anyone can submit a photo. Our Community Photo Submissions page is now ready for you to submit a photo. It’s under the Community tab on the menu.

We only ask that you resize your photo before submitting it to something smaller than 1MB. This allows more space for the photos and quicker loading of the site. Please include a description of what you are submitting as well as why you are submitting the photo. Once the submission is complete, we will review the photo and put it in the gallery under the community pages. This may take a bit of time (up to a week) but soon your submission will be available for everyone to see.

We have also included our Links/Resources page under the Community menu tab. There is some great information there if you haven’t checked it out before.

The other page in the Community menu is Links to Blog Posts. The page gives you a list of the last forty blog posts by name. It automatically updates whenever a new post is published. You might wonder what the purpose of this page is or how you would use it. If you read a post in the last several months, and you want to find it again, you can look on this page to find the post easily. That way, you aren’t scrolling endlessly through long posts trying to find a particular post. It’s also a place where Instagram visitors will land so that they can find the post they would like to read easily. Thanks Helene for setting this page up!

These changes have made this site much more interactive and we’d like to encourage all of you to submit some photos of your work. Have you created samples or a finished piece with repurposed or recycled items? The First Quarter Challenge is coming to an end but we’d love to see what you have created. It doesn’t matter if you created it recently or in the past, we would love to see how you are repurposing items into something new. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a finished piece or a small sample, show us your creations. You can upload photos here.

Or do you have some felt samples that you have from different breeds? Ann posted about her felt sample class recently and showed a sample of white welsh mountain sheep. Perhaps you have some samples of some wool breeds that aren’t commonly used in felting? We would love to see the samples with information about how the sample was made, about the breed, how the felting process went and the end result.

Also, don’t forget that registration is still open for the Hanging Felted Spiral with Helene. Class begins on April 8th.

 

 

Monstera

Monstera

Happy New Year to all!

At the Waltham Textile group we normally have a biannual exhibition of our work but, due to Covid, it was cancelled in 2020 rescheduled for 2021 and then had to be cancelled again. It’s now been confirmed for August but in the meantime I’ve sold my main “Leaf” themed piece so recently made this mixed media “Monstera” to replace it.

I’m also thinking of submitting this piece for the 2022 IFA online exhibition which has the theme of Flora & Fauna. I’m waiting to hear if a mixed media piece will be accepted. I can’t imagine it being a problem but, if it is, I can simply crop one of the images to show the felted leaf.

I bought a 40cm x 80cm canvas with the intention of painting Monstera leaves on it and then adding a 3D Felted leaf. After drawing a template onto paper and offering it up to plan the layout I changed my mind about painting onto the canvas. It’s not something I’ve done before and the surface appeared to be a bit too textured for the look I wanted to create. Instead I sketched the leaves onto a piece of white cotton fabric, outlined them with an Inktense pencil and added a little shading. The aim was for very simple, very smooth, perfectly formed leaves looking more like curved metal than the foliage on my cheese plant. I think this was influenced by the very smooth metallic looking Tyvek seed pods I’ve been making lately. The Monstera in our lounge has been a bit neglected, to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it for this post!

I don’t consider myself a painter but I do like painting on to fabric. If you need to paint precise lines a good tip is to use aloe vera (by far the cheapest) or acrylic medium instead of water when applying acrylics on fabric. This keeps the paint where you want it to be and avoids it bleeding into other areas. I managed to get a tiny bit of black paint on the lower section of the fabric but stopped short of starting all over again when I realised the felted leaf would cover it up!

My paper template for the painted leaves was 13” x 18” so to make the felted leaf I multiplied by 1.4 enlarging it to 18.5” x 24” to allow for shrinkage. Layer one was a very yellowish green Merino (might have been lichen but not certain). Layer two was a combination of various shades of grey with the yellowish green running down the centre. This was topped with a layer of dark green Merino and Ireland Viscose all around the edge and snippets of gold Viscose down the centre. These images don’t give a true representation of colours but you get the gist.

After wetting out I measured the fibres and found they had spread to approx 20” x 27”. At the fulling stage, every now and then, I put the original template on top to check for size and ensure I was keeping to the right shape.

Once it had shrunk to the correct size it was left to dry. The next stage was to add wires to the back of the leaf so it could be shaped. This could possibly have been done with directional laying of the fibres and lots of fulling but I wanted the option of posing the leaf once it was attached to the canvas and wires are a good way of doing this.

The wires were spaced out and attached on the reverse using a zigzag stitch which also formed the veins on the front side. You can see that bright yellowish green colour on the reverse of the leaf. Once that was done it was just a matter of cutting into the felt to form the individual leaves and the characteristic little holes of the cheese plant.

After attaching to the canvas with a few strategic stitches the leaf was given its final shaping. It’s now hanging in the lounge above my cheese plant where it will stay until the exhibition…..although if I do get the chance to sell it I suppose there is still time to make another!!

A Wool and Felting Study Group

A Wool and Felting Study Group

My weavers’ and spinners’ (and felters) guild has had to move online during the pandemic. One way we have been interacting is with Study Groups. For those who don’t know a study group is a bit like a workshop but not. There is a leader, and they facilitate the learning and do the organizing. It is an interactive learning experience with everyone participating and sharing information.

To that end, I will be running a Wool and Felting Study Group. It is open to anyone anywhere around the world, but be aware of the time difference.  Here’s the link. https://www.ovwsg.com/events/event/2200-wet-felted-fibre-study-group/

 

The group runs for 5 Zoom sessions over 10 weeks and has a dedicated space to share pictures, information and ask questions between sessions. The space will be available for 3 weeks after the last session.

Dates:

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)

Time Zone: North American Eastern Standard Time(EST)= GMT-5

We will be sampling wool and how it felts. We will sample as many kinds of wool as possible and share results online and using a standard form and pictures, so we are all getting the information the same way. We will discuss possible uses for the different wools and outcomes.

We will share pictures (taking and sharing pictures is a requirement) and if everyone agrees to the extra work and expense(fibre and shipping), I will collect and distribute real samples to everyone in the group. If time and resources permit, we will try some non-wool fibres and possibly how adding non-felting fibre affects the felting outcome

The prerequisite for the study group is to be able to layout a simple 10×10 square and feel it and take and share pictures. We will discuss techniques and how they affect the outcome. This study group requires you to participate so everyone can learn and grow, it is all about sharing.

 

I hope some of you can join us for this fun way to find out about different wools and share with a group of like-minded people.

It would be a great Christmas or whatever you may or may not be celebrating (Happy Friday works for me) present for yourself or a friend. And no shipping fee.  Adding some unusual wool would make it even better.  

 

An International Project by Line Dufour

An International Project by Line Dufour

Line Dufour has been a practicing textile artist and tapestry weaver for the last 35 years. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto Ontario and has always had her own studio. She taught weaving to adults for about twenty years, while at the same time doing art/craft shows and exhibitions. She is currently retired from teaching but continues her studio practice. At the moment, Line does not have a gallery that represents her, and if someone wants to purchase one of her pieces they contact her through her website or social media or other channels. Line’s website www.linedufour.com. You can find her cv on there as well. She is currently enrolled at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK and working on obtaining her Master’s in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking.

And now the project

 

Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry, Punta del Este, Uruguay 2017

 

Fate, Destiny and Self Determination [] Le Sort, Destin, et l’auto-determination [] Suerte, Destino y Auto-determinación [] Los, Przeznaczenie i Wola [] Das Schicksal, das Geschick und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht

[] 운명, 숙명 그리고 자기가 결정한 팔자. 팔자  []  Usud, sudbina i samoodređenje [] Sorte,Destino,Auto Determinação [] Öde, mål och självbestämmande [] Fato, Destino e Autodeterminazione

 

Written by Line Dufour.

Fate is defined as a force, energy, principle, element or power that prescribes to each person a set of limits, boundaries and confines. In Islam it is called Kismet. The Greeks called Fate, Moira. Greek Mythology speaks of the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos who supposedly controlled each person’s fate. The youngest, Clotho,  is a spinner and she determines the time of birth and spins the thread of life on her distaff. Lachesis measures the length of the thread to determine the length of one’s life; the time of death is decided by Atropos, who cuts the thread. Inherent in the idea of Fate, is that one has no influence over events and outcomes. Mythology and psychology distinguish between Fate and Destiny. Destiny is considered an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence our Fate. This makes Destiny kinetic. “The lives we construct are an inextricably woven fabric of influences, possibilities and accumulated consequences of choices made.” (James Hollis)

The development of the COVID-19 has made all of us more aware of the impact of isolation on our well being. This sense of isolation forms the underpinnings of this installation launched in 2016.  Fate, Destiny and Self Determination was created as social media driven initiative to reduce the isolation artists experienced in their artistic process through co-creating the installation, providing planned hands-on events and gathering them together to exhibit their collective efforts. Inclusiveness is the weft that weaves the installation together.

Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is composed of three sections. The main tapestry woven panel (on the left) was created by Line Dufour, referencing the contemporary practice of tapestry where artist and weaver are one. The second panel on the right, was woven by visiting participants ranging from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. This referenced traditional tapestry conventions in that many weavers work(ed) on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and did not contribute to creating the tapestry designs.

The final section is composed of irregular shapes positioned at varying heights, between the 2 main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together.  As each shape arrives, Dufour photographs/documents it, posts it to the Facebook page for the project https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425 as well as on Instagram@tapestryline and Twitter@tapestry_line. She also includes information about the participants such as their website if they have one, and other comments they have made about the project or about their work and/or life. Thus far, 864  shapes have been received from 43 countries, and a total of about 519 people have participated. The installation continues to expand as it accepts shapes on an ongoing basis. Part of the exhibition includes a list of all participant names. If a label cannot be displayed in the gallery, a QR code label is available so that the gallery viewer can access the web page with the names of all participants.

Each time Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is installed the shapes are never placed in the same positions, making it interactive and spontaneous, and permits the curator(s) to be part of its creation. Conversely, the curator could also invite the gallery guest to position shapes on the wall between the two panels, having them re-create the installation.

The installation welcomes invitations to be exhibited around the world, and to that effect has been exhibited in the following venues:

  • Craft Ontario in Toronto, Canada
  • The Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • The Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery, Regis University, Denver, Colorado USA
  • Craft Council of British Columbia, Canada
  • The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles as part of the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 11
  • Guan Shan Yue Art Museum, Shenzen, China. 9th From Lausanne To Beijing
  • The Centre D’Action Culturelle de la MLC de Papineau in Québec
  • World Textile Art Biennial at the Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry in Punta del Este Uruguay
  • World of Threads, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
  • Rosccommon County Council, Roscommon Ireland
  • Tuchmacher Museum, Bramsche, Germany
  • Tuch & Technik Textilmuseum, Neumunster, Germany

 

Anyone who wishes to do so, can create a shape using a textile/fibre related technique (tapestry, rug, weaving, felt, basketry, etc) or create a piece that references textiles with whatever materials they like. Any hue from the colour wheel is suggested. You can use more than one colour. There is no minimum or maximum size, but the average size is 10cm (4”) . There is no maximum on the number of pieces you can submit. A person can also weave (create) a shape of their country, state or province or any shape except not a square or rectangle.  You can look at the Instagram @tapestryline page for the project to see how other people have created their shapes.

Recycled Coffee Capsules

Recycled Coffee Capsules

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when life was simple and the only decisions we needed to make regarding our daily fix of caffeine were “instant or percolated”, “black or white”, “with or without sugar”?

How times have changed! Nowadays we have a dazzling array of flavours and styles to chose from when visiting our favourite Barista. I did once try a cinnamon and syrup latte in M&S and have never forgotten how vile that was…..give me a straight forward, simple latte every time! On the other hand, if you like your coffee more exotic, there are plenty of rather weird (and probably not so wonderful?) tastes to explore. The Farm Girl Cafe in Portobello Road could be the place to visit if you fancy a black charcoal latte made with activated charcoal, date syrup and cashew milk. Or how about their blue Butterfly Matcha made with organic blue matcha powder (now there’s an interesting ingredient to look up) with almond milk or their most famous creation, the rose latte (a double shot with rose water infused milk and petals)….there is obviously a market for it but personally I think I’ll pass!

Of course we no longer have to go out to get our fix of posh coffee thanks to the popularity of the domestic barista machines and the single use coffee capsule. Although many of these are said to be recyclable, according to Nestle, only around one third of their capsules (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo) were being returned to the manufacturer for recycling in 2020. The rest were ending up in landfill where it’s predicted they will take 500 years to breakdown!

Photo source: http://www.johnlewis.com

A “not for profit” organisation in the UK called Podback are now working with local councils and other organisations to make it easier and more convenient to recycle our capsules with roadside collections alongside other household recycling. Consumers also have the option of leaving them at over 6,500 Yodel drop off points and we should soon (if it’s not happening already) have them collected by supermarkets when they drop off our online shopping.

That’s all sounding good but many of us are finding more creative ways to recycle our coffee pods, albeit on a far smaller scale. One use is to add them as interesting, textural ‘inclusions’ to a felting project. The first time I saw this done was in 2018 when I attended a Felted jewellery workshop with the wonderful German tutor Ricarda Assmann. Although we were working with fabrics, not capsules, three of the necklaces Ricarda brought as workshop samples had the aluminium crushed pods in them. At that time I didn’t have any capsules but the contrast between the hard texture of the metal and the soft feel of the fibres really appealed to me.

Another fabulous feltmaker, Judit Pocs, created this enormous “Gate” wallhanging in response to a commission from the Feltmakers Association. It is something like 2mtrs tall and studded with crushed capsules in a multitude of colours. Judit also makes beautiful rings with them and teaches the technique for making these in her online workshop.

The Gate by Judit Pocs
The Gate detail showing the capsules
Felted capsule rings by Judit Pocs

The year before I attended Ricarda’s jewellery workshop I had the idea to recycle my collection of Tektura acrylic wallpaper samples as inclusions in my pendants (I never throw away anything that might have a use in the future!) It’s a simple process but very effective, wet felting the “waterproof” paper discs between pieces of prefelt. Four years on, and with those papers almost depleted, I’m now starting to use coffee capsules instead. Being thin aluminium they can be crushed by hand (that’s how I did the gold one in the ring) or they will flatten more easily with a little persuasion from a hammer, in which case I find it best to cover them with fabric first to avoid the hammer scratching off the colour. I’ve also started using them in some of my brooches.

I’m sure some of our readers will have tried Felting with capsules and I know Ann did some experimenting with them which you can see here, has anyone else tried this? They could look great in 3D pieces such as bags, sculptures, etc. I did a google search and didn’t find any other images of felt with capsules but I’m sure there’s lots out there somewhere. I did find zillions of “non felted” ideas for recycling on Pinterest, Etsy, YouTube, etc and websites including ecogreenlove.com, these are just a few…..

Nespresso Pendant and Earrings
Necklace
Floral Arrangement

There are so many inventive ways to create with coffee capsules and with Christmas fast approaching they could be used for decorations or even nativity scenes like these found on Pinterest…….

I will leave you with one of the most impressive uses I came across which was the stunning 2017 catwalk collection by Birmingham designer Rhys Ellis. Rhys studied Fashion Design at Birmingham University and, as part of his course, he spent a year in Italy studying at the Politecnico di Milano design school alongside world-renowned tailor, Guiltiero Fornetti.

“It was while I was in one of the markets that I saw a lady making very simple jewellery from these coffee pods and something just clicked and I knew that I could create dresses this way.“ “I also liked the idea of using material that would otherwise be thrown away.”

Photo source: http://www.comunicaffe.com

I won’t be making anything that dramatic but I am planning to make lots more pendants and brooches. I might just add some capsules to my next felted bag too. If you’ve done anything with them we would love to hear about your projects in the “comments” and you could always post them on the Forum.

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