During most of the Covid 19 lockdown in the UK I couldn’t travel the 8 miles to my studio. I did bring wool home, but I haven’t made much felt recently. Early on in lockdown I decided, while the weather was good, to focus on my long-neglected garden. I thought it would take a couple of weeks to knock it into shape. The weather stayed good so I stayed in the garden. 10 weeks later I found I’d slipped into gardening full-time.
As the only fibre involved in my garden project was the permeable membrane under the reclaimed brick circular patio I built…
….that adventure doesn’t have much relevance here. So, I’m going to tell you about my first felt-related venture back into the outside world.
One outlet for selling my work is a beach hut gallery in Whitstable harbour (the coastal town where I live). It’s an open-air market offering locally created art and craft plus international food. I’m a member of a group called ‘Made in Whitstable’ which rents one of the harbour huts year-round and we share the time there between 7 individuals / groups.
As it happens, one of my weeks in the harbour came very soon after open air markets were allowed to reopen in England on 1st June. What to do? The leap from venturing out only once a week (to food shop) to market trading seemed quite daunting. After much thought and discussion (via Zoom and FaceTime, of course) I decided I’d give it a go.
The market organisers have done a lot of work to put in safety and social distancing measures in preparation for reopening. I visited the market before it reopened to have a look around and see what other traders thought.
Tape & barriers
Preparing safety measures
I then filled the hut with my pictures (about 50:50 felt and photo canvases). I only took felt that was behind glass as felt asks to be touched and I couldn’t be sure that was safe. I stocked up on hand sanitiser and antibacterial cleaners. I made various signs to cover different scenarios. I thought I’d probably only take card payments, though I did have my cash bag and disposable gloves just in case.
I planned mostly to stay outside the hut when open but I had two fallback positions in case there were too many people. First, I could cordon off the entrance so I could be in the hut and other people could look in but not enter. Second, I could close it and go home at any time.
I had a few ‘social distancing’ nightmares in the nights before opening the hut and did feel quite anxious as I took the short walk from my home to the harbour on the first day.
There were lots of barriers and hazard tape everywhere; signs reminding people to keep 2 meters apart; a one-way circulation system with arrows on the floor and boxes drawn around the hut entrances. It looked a bit like a crime scene!
My first day, a Friday, was very quiet in the morning. People seemed to be a put off coming into our part of the market. At lunchtime it started to rain, so I closed and went home. Saturday and Sunday were warm & sunny. Whitstable is a very popular day / weekend trip destination within easy reach of London and can get very crowded, especially with good weather. Was this going to be a problem? No! There were lots of people on the beach and the food huts were busy but the footfall in our area was low. By Sunday the barriers were slightly adapted to improve flow. By Monday, even more so. There was always the option of putting in more barriers or limiting the overall numbers but these weren’t needed.
Sales overall were disappointing but I don’t regret having a go. It was nice to chat to people, even if it was from at least 2 meters away. There were some issues with queues near the food huts but people are tackling them and they didn’t impact on my area. My next week in the Harbour is in late July and this has given me a chance to try things out; to see how it works and how it feels. Indeed, the chance to dip my toe back into the water. I can look forward to the next time with more confidence that I can cope with and adapt to the new environment.
Last weekend was the OVWSG sale and Exhibition. Which means almost all the workshop database and layouts for the 2020 Schedule are behind me. There were a couple teachers with TBD in the info and a couple missing pictures but I am pretty well done for another year. I even got to use the threat that I would write one of two missing teachers bios ! (no one wants to find out what exciting things they didn’t know they had been up to in one of my bios – the threat of me making something up in my version of English has kept missing info to as minimum for Years!) Unfortunately the missing bio arrived so no extra fun for me.
At the sale, I have as couple of jobs. One is photograph the entire event, set up, booths, viniettes that might be usable for next year’s advertising, happy shoppers and then take-down. It has taken me a bit longer than it used to do all the shots (only 664 shots this year). I pulled 212 for a slide show for Mondays Guild meeting ….. let me pull a few for you. I will try to select more of the felting ones and show you a bit of the rest. Can you spot shots from Ann’s booth?
Guild exhibit of Wearables
OVWSG Sale and exhibition 2019
Yes Friday was set up, Saturday /Sunday were the sale, then the guild meeting Monday and West Carlton’s Guild meeting Tuesday ( I slept through to 11am, was barely able to move so missed their meeting!!), but with enough robax made it to the car Dr’s appointment on Wednesday. So I’m still sore, rather tired for so early in the morning and ITS SNOWING. I will apologize to the lemon grass I didn’t get into the house fast enough and the Horse Chestnuts not to have got them planted into their pots.
Another job I had in between the photography was to demo felting. I set up beside Elizabeth who is our workshop coordinator. I had brought ghost girl and had her on the table in front of me. She looked lonely and in want of a friend. (That sound vaguely like Jane Austen) So I started to work on Werewolf boy (who is likely too young to be in want of a wife and I don’t know what his yearly income is or if he wants to go to the Mariton ball). (Maybe the robax hasn’t quite warn off yet)
In 1989 I joined the OVWSG at their annual general meeting and became their librarian. I did tell them I was Severely Dyslexic and was assured by the executive that would not be a problem. I was given 5 boxes of books that had to be entered into the library before the September meeting which I did with a bit of help from Glenn. Things went on quite well until I built them a subject catalogue and they discovered what dyslexia was. Isn’t Urope always filed under U? E-Urope sounds like a burp not a continent. Annoying English! I think you should all convert to dyslexia and spelling would all be phonetic with occasional decorative letters you stick in because you likely forgot to use them earlier.
In 1993 I went back to school and Clara took over the library at the guild with the goal of fixing the subject catalogue by making cards with the “English spelling” -See – “Dyslexic version of the word”. I returned to Ottawa in 1996 and got the Library into a Database with fewer spelling errors or foreign languages.
I am pretty sure that somewhere between the 1989 start with the guild and the return to school I took my first felting class. It was with Maggie Glossop. She has had the starting of many of us into the addiction of fibre accumulation both for Spinning and Felting. When I checked on line to make sure I spelt her name correctly I found her resume http://www.convergenceart.com/Maggie%20Glossop%20Resume.htm Impressive!
The workshop I took was making a small bag in felt over a resist embellished with an image. Mine were Iris, a bit stylized, but definitely flower-ish. I discovered I was entranced by laying out layers of wool, making pictures and not so fond of wet hands. But it sparked enough interest I took more workshops with other teachers as they were offered but Maggie was the first to introduce me to this medium (so it’s likely her fault you are reading this).
I had thought she was a pretty amazing person but hadn’t realized just how many people she has touched with her teaching. To illustrate I should tell you what I was up to yesterday. Friday (which was yesterday) was the first day of a 3 day demo at the Carp Fair. I was organizer (Just don’t blame me for today’s weather. I didn’t ask for rain / drizzle and mist). Friday we had Elizabeth and Cindy who are both Master spinners (OHS spinning certificate) and myself, who is not one but does a lot of felting, spinning and occasionally weaving.
Maggie was at the Fair and stopped by the demo to say Hi! We were all very glad to see her. In her teaching career of both spinning and Felting Instructor, we realized she had taught all three of us. For me she had ignited an ember of interest that grew to include wet and dry felting both 2D and 3D. Without her would I have discovered this art form or would I have listened to myself “ick Water” and avoided wetfelting? I don’t remember what her workshop description was but it was enough to get me curious (maybe she omitted the part about getting your hands wet) and started me on this path.
I want to thank Maggie for her patience with this student and her obvious deep enjoyment of her art which has started the path of interest I am now following. Teachers can be such a strong influence on their students. By sharing their knowledge with a student their information can inspire them into totally new and interesting directions and adventures. Seeing Maggie made me think about my first class, my first time laying out wool, my first flower. I still have that piece and look at it as I walk by the bookshelf it sits on.
This week has not been a big felting week. I managed to make a few more lock pins. These ones are smaller, a little better for on a hat.
Mostly it has been baking and working on the upcoming Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild Sale and Exhibition. I think I told you a somehow ended up as co-chair of the organization committee. I have a great group of ladies helping out. we are trying to get it all organized with timelines and procedures written down so when the next people have to take over they don’t have to start again. A lot of what we are doing is moving everything from a paper set up to a digital set up. we hope to start making 2 and 5-year plans for the Show. So far it seems to be going well. The Show is November 2 and 3.
This is a busy season for me, made more so by adding a few surprise fleeces found while making the emergency anti-raccoon-garage-repair. OK add two storage bins of large, vary fine, crimpy fleeces and another bin of smaller bags of assorted fleeces. Since you endured all the skirting, washing, spin-drying of the fleeces leading up to the surprise it’s a Shetland, let us not chat about that. Instead let us instead enjoy a momentary paws, take a breath and look back on the opportunities of acquisition so far this year.
Although we have a couple of yarn stores with some felting supplies in Ottawa such Wabi Sabi on wellington, they don’t carry everything I’m looking for. We are very fortunate in Eastern Ontario and western Quebec there have been a number of shopping-worthy festivals of fiber within a drive able distances of Ottawa. It’s convenient to shop on line but it’s not the same as seeing something rite in front of you, being able to touch it and ask questions of the vendor about what you are looking for.
February brings the Chesterville Spin In, in chesterville, south of Ottawa by 82km and about 53 minutes away. There were vendors with fiber and felting needles. I was not the only one felting at a spin in!
2 Chesterville Spin In
March saw us in Peterborough, for the the Fibre Arts Festival & Sale organized by the Peterborough weavers guild, which is 267km or 3h 11m to get there. http://www.ptbo-hwsg.com/events/fibrefest-2016/ . There were 4 vendors selling felting supplies.
3 Peterborough, Fibre Arts Festival & Sale
March is also the start of demo season (3 days Deming at the Farm show).
4 Ottawa Valley Farm show
May sent us off to Picton for the Prince Edward County FibreFest, that’s 261km and 2h 33m away. I picked up more base felt for pictures and of course more needles and fiber. We drove back along old highway 2 which was longer but much more scenic. We even stopped at a Blacksmith forge for Glenn.
5-6 Picton, Prince Edward County FibreFest
June had a few more demos which had a lot people stopping to talk to me who were interested in Felting.
7-9 Felt at Demos
August was Twist festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec it’s 91.9km and takes 1h 9m to drive there. There were the two main Supply vendors I see regularly at fiberfestivals; Olive Sparrow and FiberCraft. There were lots of booths witch had a bit of felting supplies, or were selling felted items. There was a sculptural Artist working in felt who was very impressive. She also treated wool like a Watercolour! I had a most enjoyable chat with her and got a few more ideas to work with. https://festivaltwist.org/en/textile-market/tinnalaine/
10-14 Twist festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec
If you make it to Twist don’t forget to look for the restaurant “La Toquade”. (http://toquade.ca/coordonnes/ ) We always stop for the “Club Sandwich au Confit der Canard” (the comfy duck sandwich….yummmm.) If you have room the “Crème Brulee a la vanille” is also exquisite!
15 Club Sandwich au Confit der Canard – apricot raisin bread, apple, celery, onion, duck , bacon and herb mayonnaise
In September there is Fiberfest in Almont, sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. This is the one I wanted to tell you about. You may have notice I enjoy taking pictures. A number of years ago I shared the ones I took at Fiberfest with the Museum, which has led to a request for me to take more pictures for them! The photos are used on their web site, in publicity and to document what booth displays looked like. In 2018 I took about 600 shots. In 2019 there were 1,051 photos. Don’t Panic!! I will not show you all of them!! But keep an eye out for Ann McElroy she was one of the venders there!
16-22 Fiberfest in Almont
Each year there are the same numbers of vender spots. This year they added more outside venders and kept the very popular alpacas. The guild displays were in the area before you enter the arena. Participants included; Out of the box (a Fine arts Group), Knitters, smawlkers and embroidery guilds were there as well as West Carlton fiber guild and the OVWSG. When you entered the arena you found the 101 venders booths. There were a few double booths but that still is a lot of venders!
23-27 Outside Fiberfest
Upstairs (there was an elevator) were workshops starting on Thursday and running through to Sunday. This is becoming a trend with quite a few of the fiberfestivals. Check the websites well in advance and see if they have something interesting offered. Workshops can cut down on the time for shopping but time for learning may be even more important!
When I snuck upstairs to take a few shots I found there were 2 Felting workshops under way as well as a rug hooking workshop just finished up. Wendo was teaching her 3-D needle felted tulips. There was also a wet felted bowl workshop using a resist nearby. I didn’t catch the name of the teacher sorry!
28-31 Two of the workshops upstairs at Fiberfest
This year I had a notebook in which I had written each booth number, the company and contact name. I photographed my reference page info then continued photographing the booth so I would be able to sort them more quickly and make it easier for Michael, the Museum Curator and his hard working crew to find shots they wanted. This worked very well except there were a few booths that had not set up on Friday night when I started taking shots or had draped there booth with covers before I could get a shot. So returning early Saturday morning I started to photograph as many booths as I could see without peeking under sheets or intruding into their space. I brought the monopod (it’s an extending tripod but with only one leg) so I could zoom in close and not worry as much about my hands shaking. I diched the monopod as soon as the customers started to come in and shop.
32-36 Ann’s page and a few of her shots
I took Saturday night going through and renaming shots so I could tell which booths had been missed or booths I only had a couple shots of. I drew a quick map of the venders in my note book circling each booth I had to go back to. I also noted how many shots I had at each booth so far. So back for more photos including the cute alpacas in front of the arena.
The Museum had requested time laps shots, which I had taken last year but were not the best since I have to take shots through the safety net or the hockey glass. They were hoping for hourly shots but nether my camera or my phone is connected to the internet so I couldn’t help with that. I did focus on booth documentation, vinyets trying for at least one from each booth (usually more) and some Happy shopping shots. I even documented the food vendor! They had some very interesting sandwiches and veggie arrangements, highly photogenic and the ones we tried were very tasty.
37-40 Food at Fiberfest
My husband /trusty porter of stuff, Glenn joined me. There was a handy bench and a few chairs beside the museum table. This seemed to be the husbands/spouse drop off location, which occasionally had a resting-from-shopping wife/spouse. Glenn accompanies me to most fiber activates to make sure I don’t lift anything that winds me up in bed for a day or two. He usually brings a book and takes care of my acquisitions while I keep looking, photographing and shopping. He has also been spotted sound asleep at all the fiber festivals we attend. Oh well, I didn’t catch him snoring and he did carry my shopping to the car.
41-42 Spousal snoozing area and my shopping acquisitions
We stopped for British fish and chips in Stitsville and saw an awesome sunset. It may inspire some abstract felting picture in the future.
43-47 Sunset in Stitsville
The Monday after Almonte was the first OVWSG meeting since the summer (so lots of library work). Tuesday was the West Carlton Guild meeting and I was able to burn off 2 DVD’s of Photos to be passed on to the museum. Then back to fleece washing and this week it’s been more fleece and car doctor appointments and a car spa day (she got her undercoat spray done). While my kea Sole was getting her various treatments I took the Lendrum Rook spinning wheel and spun in both waiting rooms. I was working at the giant Shetland fleece I just washed. (Sorry I didn’t get a picture of me)
Next is a fiber festival is in Kempville this coming weekend I have not attended before. The following weekend is the big demo for the Carp fair. Then I suspect the workshop schedule for the guild will be ready for me to turn it into a catalogue! Which means the Guild Show is almost here!!! And somewhere in there I want to get to doing a bit more felting!! I saw another sheep face I would like to try!!
I hope you are as fortunate as we are lately in Ottawa to have so many opportunities not too far away to buy supplies and like Ann sell you creations at all these fiber related festivals.
This week has not been a felting week or even a thinking about felting week. This week has been finishing and tagging week. I will be at Fibrefest this coming weekend.
The first part of tagging is creating tags. It always takes longer than expected to do. I needed tags for the batts, the scissor pouches and new ones for the little cardholders.
I had to weigh the batts and fill in the tags. This one and its twin are already sold and put aside for a friend who can’t make it to the sale.
I had to add the grommets to the scissor cases and tag them with the new tags. I started by adding the grommets to the left side through both layers. It makes it tight for the scissors. So I switched to adding them to the right side through the backside. I think I like this better. I like the way it looks better too.
They are all tagged now.
The other thing I need to do yet is put the spinning kits together. I have to sand the holes of the whorls because they are to tight and I can’t get them on the dowels. Last year they were to loose and I had to glue them. The wool is in the bags at least. Now I have to print the instructions and finish the drop spindles. I am out of ink and today is a holiday so it will have to wait
Lastly, I need to figure out what I am taking as display items.
Last week you saw Jan post about the spin in Wheels on Fire. LINK It was lots of fun and I bought a lovely batt from Judy Kavanagh etsy.com/ca/shop/JudyKavanagh I loved the colours and it made me think of a wild landscape. I decided to just open it up and felt it as is. Here is before:
I also got this lovely little red batt form Bernadette Quade. I don’t know what I will do with it yet but I like the depth of red. The colour is not good here it is quite red with a little purply blue. There was a picture of her table in Jan post linked at the top. She doesn’t have an online store but I can get you in contact with her if you like.
Then as my luck was in, I won another batt in the door prise draw. Also very pretty and I don’t know if I will pull it apart or felt it as is or maybe even spin some of it. It is from Creations Christine creationschristine.com/collections/ the batt I won was non feltable so she traded it for this one.
Last Saturday was the other spin in in my area. In a small town called Chesterville. I am lucky I am just about in the middle between both theses spin ins It was there 20th annual spin in. I wanted something interesting to spin. I was tempted by some “fancier” less blended batts but didn’t think my spinning skill was up to them. I bought a small batt from Judy Kavanagh again. Reds and blues.
This is the first small ball done on Saturday.
Having said that the other batts were to complicated for my spinning ability, I kept being drawn back to this one by Alpaca Tracks. http://www.alpaca-tracks.com/ I reminded me so much of a storm over the ocean. It has quite a bit of shine too but it just doesn;t sho in the picture. I am not sure if I will use parts of it or do the whole thing adding some sand near the bottom. or use parts of it for sky in other pieces.
Then while I was Showing a 4H group how to spin on a spindle and getting them to each spin a small bit for their project binders, my number was called for a door prize. I chose this lovely batt by Celine Paquette of La ferme le moment present. www.facebook.com/artistedelafibre/ part of this one may become the sand with the storm batt above. When I opened it I realised there were 4 lovely wooden buttons in it too.
I have made a few plainish backgrounds to work on this last while. One I put a blue stream in . and then promptly ripped it off when dry. Why do we always think of water as blue. it is seldom blue. It looks more like a stream now than before. You will have to wait for the next blog post to see it. Time to get out the needles and start working on the backgrounds.
I had a show on the weekend. It was quite good. We put a big push on advertising on Facebook and Instagram and it looks like it paid off. There were more customers this year. It’s nice that everyone’s efforts paid off.
This is what my booth looked like.
I sat in the back near the mirror and worked on my Moy MacKay class picture. You can see it on the left of the table. People were very interested and it helped to start conversations.
On the second day, I changed the table around a little to see if the little bags would go better. It might have been a little better. people look at them a lot but they are not selling. Maybe the price is a bit high. I need to get my webpage set up to sell or get my Etsy page up and working.
This is what it looked like at the beginning of the day.
I added some more to the fences and some shadows for the ones on the left as the sun is on that side. added some purple to the left backfield to tone it down as it farther away. The big thing I worked on mountains. The wool colours were running across, So they really didn’t look like trees. I added a thin layer of wool going the other way to make it look more like it is covered in trees. I used a greyer green so they will reseed more.
Now I need to add some shading to give the mountains some definition and mountainy shape. It’s coming along. At the moment I am working on the holiday card exchange. What are you working on?
Although the Ottawa Valley weavers and spinners guild is the largest guild in eastern Ontario, we also have many smaller neighbour guilds. One of the closest neighbours is the West Carleton Fibre Guild who hold their meetings on a Tuesday afternoon in Dunrobin, Ontario (just a bit past the west end of Kanata). But the September’s meeting was special.
Back door of the Almonte Textile Museum
They had a field trip to the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte. The trip was planned so they could have a special tour of the Puppet exhibit by Noreen Young. At present there are 3 exhibits at the museum. There permanent display of Mill equipment and modern weaving looms, a spectacular quilt exhibit and Noreen Young: a Puppet Retrospective. With 150 examples of some of her life’s work in puppetry. She is internationally known and has received the order of Canada for work with producing, writing and puppeteering in many children’s and educational programs.
Poster for the exhibit. First puppet in the exhibition (a rod puppet with detachable legs
Noreen with her first puppet
She gave us a tour through the exhibit explaining different puppets and giving anecdotes of her work with them. She was asked if she had a favorite and told us her Granny character, Mrs. Gertrude Diddle and Gloria Gopher she was particularly fond of. She took some down from the display and showed us how they moved and what they voice sounded like. She did the voices for most of her puppets but occasional had to lip sink to a voice actor which was harder.
Almost all her puppets were to be worked with the puppeteer below holding one arm up to operate the mouth and the other hand controls the rods to move the hands. She showed us how it was important to make the puppets bob as they moved or it looked like they were skating along or floating in the air witch just wasn’t right.
Her earliest work was in the 60’s “Hi Diddle Day” 1967 to 1976. These puppets are in a glass display case with a couple more the puppet cast. Not all the puppets are in display cases though.
Displayed on shelves with monitors showing bits of the program they were used for beneath them were the Puppets for “under the Umbrella tree” which ran on CBC, Disney and Canal Famille from 1987-1997.
She explained about the studio being an old garage and having a lower ceiling than studios usually had. So the puppeteers had to sit on rolling boxes since they could only raise the live actor up a certain height before the ceiling was a problem. For most shows she said the puppeteers stood on the floor with the live actors raised on platforms so they could interact with the puppets. The head bands the puppeteers are wearing holds their mikes. This insures the mike is always the same distance from their mouth as they switch between looking up at the puppet and down at their scripts.
There were puppets from series I didn’t remember but am now sorry I missed. “Bats” from a 1987 Pilot.
Also “Wacky Palms” from 1994 about a small boutique resort in the Bermuda triangle. Run by a cow with a theatrical past and with an eclectic staff. Strange things happen when a time portal opens and havoc is unleashed upon the hotel.
She said that some of her most effective puppets had elements of movement such as the feathers for hair, parts that dangled or the way the fabric moved with the puppet.
Noreen was also known for her Caricatures of real peoples. Her Prince Charles from 1975, created for “What’s new” a kids news show for CBC, is very recognizable. She also made a copy of the mayor of Ottawa.
She has made caricatures of may Almonte area people (about 50 on display) who have been used in various puppet shows in the area. She was the artistic Director for “Puppets up!”; an annual international puppet show from 2005 to 2016. International puppet shows from across the planet performed in the tiny town of Almonte.
There are some puppets that can be interacted with. It will take 2 people to run them one is the head and hands and a second person runs the feet.
She did puppets for and educational spot about food nutrition.
This is the Granny Bride puppet she made for a friend in 2000.
I didn’t recognize this group of puppets but it looks like an interesting cast.
Most of Her puppets are made by sculptor the head in plasticine then casting it. She uses the cast to create the flexible, expressive rubber faces she uses in her puppets.
She has given 3 workshops on making puppets during the run of the exhibit and has another lecture to do before the exhibit closes. My husband was lucky enough to get a spot in one of her workshops. She said he was very well prepared and had amazing focus making his puppet Blacksmith. He said he had a blast and was very glad he had gone.
This exhibit made me smile! I couldn’t help but feel happy looking at all the puppets many I recognized. I am sure you would enjoy seeing them too. Keep an eye out for Noreen she says she drops by regularly to the exhibit.
This week I have been working on some short ruffle scarves. They go just around your neck. I need to build my inventory for the fall shows.
I lay them out in the usual ruffle configuration. I have a template under my plastic so they are all the same and one end isn’t smaller than the other. This is the class I will be teaching at Almonte fibrefest this September. http://almontefibrefest.ca/workshop/ruffle-scarf/
I do not have many in prosses pictures. I got into a groove and forgot to take them. This is what thy look like finished but wet. These ones are nuno felt as well. The purple and turquoise one is an upcycled scarf someone gave me. I wasn’t sure how it would work but it felted right in.
I think they look like dumbbells when you roll them up for storage. I hope people like them. They are nice inside your coat. You can leave them up like a tall collar to keep the wind out or fold them down over you coat. Either way the are warm and fashionable. I almost forgot to tell you I will put a button on each one.