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Category: Fairs and Shows

Coastal Felted Pictures

Coastal Felted Pictures

I had a few weeks of sales / exhibitions coming up and was rather low on felt pictures so I decided to go on a little picture-making binge.

First an oystercatcher. I’m particularly keen on square pictures but I know some people prefer rectangles, so last time I had a batch of box frames made for me by my friendly local framer, I ordered four large rectangular frames – two finished in oak & two white wood. (Frame size 84 x 64cm / 33 x 25”)

I’m afraid I didn’t take many ‘in progress’ shots of the oystercatcher.  I’d wet felted the bird’s body a little while ago. I then wet felted the background to fit the frame using a variety of pebble-coloured prefelts for the foreground, some incorporating bits of recycled silk scarves. The waves are merino wool with lots of small locks and some sort of tube of knitted yarn designed for scarf-making that I’d picked up in a charity shop.  The patches of sea foam are bits of cobweb prefelt and I also included some blue cobweb prefelt to suggest light reflected from the sky. These were added to two base layers of pewter-coloured merino with additions in green and mink.

I needle felted the bird into place then needle felted in the eye, beak and legs, using orange prefelt and hand-dyed fine merino wool.

I wasn’t sure what I’d put on the right-hand side of the picture.  I’d considered a second oystercatcher with its back to the sea but there wasn’t really enough room.  I live in Whitstable, in south east England – a town famous since Roman Empire times for its oysters – so thought oyster shells might work well for an oystercatcher.  I wet felted a pair of 3D oyster shells using bits of different recycled wool and silk yarn on the outside and some pearl fibre from World of Wool on the inside.  I like the pearl fibre as it adds a sheen and is presumably made from the insides of shells (i.e. mother-of-pearl) so it seemed appropriate.

I thought it needed another shell so cast about in my stock and found a wet felted mussel shell to add to the collection.  I messed around with the composition a little then needle felted them into place before framing. I now use sticky backed hook strips (like the hook half of Velcro) when framing felt – the hook strip attaches to the mount board and the felt is held in place by the little hooks. The felt can easily be removed without damage or residue if I need to move it or someone decides to reframe it.

Next up I made a very lightly felted cobweb prefelt to use in the next three pictures.

When making cobweb felt I tease out a piece of wool roving rather than laying out separate tufts of wool in a single direction. This is part way through the teasing-out process. I prefelt it very lightly – in fact it’s scarcely more than wet wool – so I can stretch it out as I apply it to a picture.

I then started on Summer Sea. Again a pewter-coloured merino base but with lots of other colours applied in wisps on the surface.

Then a layer of blue cobweb prefelt topped with some white cobweb.

Here’s the final picture ready for framing. I’m happy with this, even though the wisps of colour aren’t quite as visible as I’d have liked.  (64cm / 25” square)

Next picture is a single wave. I start with 4 layers of pewter merino for the sea area and two layers of natural white for the wave and beach.  In the past I’ve forgotten to take into account how much extra material goes onto the wave and beach. If I have 2 layers for the whole of the base, the sea part shrinks a lot more than the rest.

First I added some lighter grey/blue merino on the sea alongside some strips of darker blue cobweb prefelt. Then some cobweb prefelt in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave. Next I layered on broken baby alpaca top, mohair, silk hankies, wool locks and wool burrs to create the wave itself. I’ve also put a few strands of silk on top of some of the background waves and the wet-look front area to create sea foam.

Here it is from the side so you can see how high that wave is piled!

And here is the final picture.  I spent a while when it was dry picking up some of the wave elements with a broken felting needle to enhance the 3 dimensionality of the wave before framing it. (64cm / 25” square.)

4th and final picture was a smaller one (framed size 43cm / 17” square) called ‘Choppy Sea’.  Base layout is pewter with highlights in green and mink, with sections of blue cobweb prefelt and silk hankies for wave tops.

Here it’s felted and dry, sitting on top of its frame waiting to go in.

Again, I’ve used a broken felting needle to tease up the silk hankies that make the wave edges to enhance the depth.  And here is a view from a low angle to show the 3D.

So, that’s how I’ve been keeping myself busy recently.

To end with, a few shots of these pictures in situ in a gallery.

These pieces didn’t sell in this week-long exhibition but some older work did – which is a great result for me. I like to live a while with the new pictures so we get to know each other but prefer older things not to hang around for too long! However, the last week and a half I’ve been in the beach hut gallery in my local harbour and yesterday both the oystercatcher and the single wave found new homes, which made me do a couple of very happy ‘shop small’ dances.

If you sell your work do you also get that ‘I’m not ready to let it go’ versus – ‘ok, you need to find somewhere else to live’ feeling?

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

Almonte Fibrefest and Demoing

As Ann was saying, last weekend was the first Almonte Fiberfest since 2019.

 Almonte is a small town about 30 minutes from the west end of Ottawa. In 1818 David Shepherd was given 200 acres (0.81 km2) to build and operate a mill. However, it did not go well, there was a fire and Shepherd sold to Daniel Shipman by 1821, who rebuilt the mill. In 1866 the Rosamond Woollen Mill was built to manufacture fine tweeds.  By 1850, the area had seven busy woollen mills and was one of the leading wool cloth production centres in Canada.

1) Rosamond No. 1 Mill is now a condominium

2) Left the old mill Right the Annex

3) Mississippi Valley Textile Museum Entrance

The last textile mill closed in the early 1980s. By 1987, Rosamond No. 1 Mill was empty and was considered for a textile museum. The main Mill building was located by the lower falls. It was a large, six-storey, flat-roofed, stone building. The second building was the last of the outbuildings and referred to as the Annex which had housed the mill’s office and large warehouse space. It was a stone building on two floors, both of which could be reached from ground level (it was built on a slope). It was decided that the Main mill building would be renovated into condominiums and the Annex would be the new Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

Over the years the building has been updated with HVAC, an elevator and even bathrooms! A large number of volunteers and small staff support and run the museum. It contains a gift shop, permanent exhibits and gallery space. One of the fundraising activities to help support the Museum is the Almonte Fiberfest. (See I did get back to the point eventually!)

2022 was the 27th Annual Fibrefest. Originally held in the Museum, as the number of vendors grew larger it expanded to include other locations, now it is located in the Almonte Community Centre (arena). This year there were 69 booths (about 30 booths smaller than in 2019). The smaller number gave a wider aisle and made the arena feel less crowded. Workshops were again offered but there was no cantina this year.  While twist fibre festival was, quite noticeably, heavily loaded with knitting yarn, Almonte was more diversified having both finished goods and supplies for many of the fibre arts.

Let’s have a very quick look around then head out to see the demos.

4) Three booths with felting supplies or finished felting for sale (FiberCraft, Wendo and Starbright Curios)

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5-15) A Few Shots from Booths

Outside the arena, there were various fibre arts guilds and groups displaying or demonstrating their skills. (spinning, knitting, weaving, rug hooking, lace making, smocking and quilting).

16) West Carlton Fiber Guild (the guild just to the west of Ottawa)

 17) The Ottawa Valley Guild of Stitchery

18) Home Hospice north Lanark Comfort Crew

19) Ottawa Knitting Guild

20) Ottawa Rug Hookers Guild

 21) Ottawa Guild of Lacemakers

The arts collective Out of the Box was there but I cannot find their photo. The Smocking guild is usually there but I don’t remember seeing them this time.

22) Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild Demo (Sat.)

Not forgetting of course is the demo for the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild that Ann was participating in. We had different volunteers on Saturday and Sunday, so the table display changed each day too.

23)  Part of table display on Sat and Sun

24) Pine Needle Basket Demoing

25) Part of the Sunday demo Team

Demoing is a great way to introduce the public to something you enjoy and are passionate about. It allows the public a chance to connect and possibly join your group. We have also had people ask if we take donations of books or equipment, which can help the group.

You don’t have to be an expert to demo, you don’t have to know all the answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question you can ask them to contact the guild website or Facebook page or you can ask one of the other demo people if you are in a demo team.  It’s often good to have a new weaver or spinner or felter who can say “I am just starting, this is fun, you can learn this too!” it’s important to smile and look like you’re having fun, scowling at your work is not conducive of others wanting to join you in your endeavour!

One thing I have enjoyed over the years demoing is hearing people’s stories of their mother or grandmother or Aunt who spun or wove and the descriptions of their equipment. In Almonte, I have heard stories about working in the textile mills from some of the older people attending demos.

Demos don’t have to have to be planned events with lots of people and a display table.  You can find yourself demoing when you thought you were just using your drops spindle waiting in a slow line, or needle felting while waiting for a doctor’s appointment.  If your guild or group has business cards with your web contacts keep some with your spindle or felting to hand out to anyone that seems interested. The stranger you give a card to may be a fibre friend in the near future!

If you get the chance, I hope you will try demoing, either a formal demo or a spontaneous accidental demoing. Both are fun! Keep Felting!

A little spinning

A little spinning

I really haven’t done much of anything since I did the jellyfish. I did go to help with a Demo at the Almonte Fiber festival last Sunday. It was so lovely to get out to an event and a demo. I have missed doing both of these the last couple of years.

I am sure Jan will show you many pictures of the event as she is the official photographer. So I will only show you my end of the display table. well for the first half of the day. Then the other felter left and a weaver arrived and my end of the table worked better so I moved to the other end of the table and didn’t take a picture. Jan will have. Yay Jan!

It’s messier than I remember someone must have been looking at it. That’s a good thing. and then of course I put my spinning down in the middle of it and took a picture.  The basket and flax and silk and cotton are Bernadett’s and were not quite that hidden from the front.

 

At the demo, I was using my drop spindle. I spun up some rolags I made with Wool from Bernadette and some saree silk.

That’s really all I have done lately. So here are some of the rolags I have left and some of the spun yarn.

 

These are two I spun earlier that still need plying. It’s fun to see how the different colours of sari silk affect the same colour wool.

Next, it’s the green wool, with different sari silks.

 

That’s it for now. I hope to do some felting before my next post but you never know it might be more spinning.

 

 

 

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!

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!

Connections: An Exhibition

Connections: An Exhibition

I’ve just taken down my work from a Made in Whitstable group exhibition at a local arts centre gallery so thought I’d tell you about the felt pieces I had in the exhibition.

Made in Whitstable is a loose affiliation of artists and makers who have a close connection to the town, on the coast in SE England.

With a diverse artistic group it’s not always easy to find a title that everyone is comfortable with. ‘Connections’ seemed to offer enough room for people to work with in their various styles and mediums.

This exhibition was postponed from Easter 2020 so it was great finally to get some work out there, and to catch up (albeit at a distance and in a mask) with people I haven’t seen for a long time.

As I’ve described in previous blogs, this year I’ve been learning from online workshops. I’ve long been interested in both seed heads and shells and these have both continued to feature in my recent work. Reflecting on this, I realise they are all forms of natural protective cases and although it’s not a snappy title, I decided it was a good ‘connections’ theme for me.

This is a picture I made specifically for the exhibition.

Recycling Oyster Shells: Turnstone at the Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable

These photos show the oyster shells laid out, prefelt shells in a single sheet, then cut up and laid onto a background of white Norwegian batt (lower half) and tan Perendale batt (top half). There’s a recycled silk scarf laid over the tan batt layers to give the impression of a pebbled beach in the distance.

Layout for the turnstone, using a combination of merino wool and prefelt; fully felted turnstone and a trial with two birds. I decided to go for just one. I needle felted the turnstone into place then added the eye, beak, legs and a few feather details

I also made some smaller pictures along the shell & seed pod theme

Top left: mussel shell with recycled silk sea, cotton scrim wave foam and prefelt pebbles

Top right: Oyster shell with mixed wool and yarns and fabric barnacles on a recycled silk background

Bottom left: pink shell on a recycled silk beach with cotton scrim wave foam and mixed wool and silk fibre sea

Bottom centre: paper felt shell on recycled silk background

Bottom right: Corriedale, silk and yarn background with multiple-resist circles, hand stitching and a sycamore key

I also had various 3D shapes in the exhibition.

Left – based on a eucalyptus seed pod. I made this in a wonderful workshop by Gladys Paulus in November 2019. I covered that workshop in my first blog for the Felting and Fiber Forum. Various wool batts and mohair locks.

Top right – conker made in two parts (using the stem technique I learned from Gladys). Outer made from Perendale and Norwegian batts, inner is merino wool tops

Bottom right – based on a hazelnut, also made soon after Gladys’s workshop.

Here’s a poppy seed head I made this year after Fiona Duthie’s Fibre + Paper workshop. Mulberry paper is felted into the felt surface. The paper adds structure, folds and pleats well and can be drawn on / painted. I painted this with watercolours. I had to make the top separately so stitched it on. A local craftsman made the base; the pod is held on a piece of dowel attached to the base.

This nigella seed pod is also paper felt but made side-on with pre-felted ropes and thicker wool sections (not prefelted) to allow variable shrinkage (learned from Soosie Jobson). I had a reclaimed jarrah wood and dowel stand made for this.

Another paper felt shape, inspired by shells, with pleats and nobbles made as a result of Fiona Duthie’s workshop

And finally, I included a few plant holders and some earrings.

Here’s my display area – I did put the cards (bottom right) on a small table!

My display area

There were lots of good exhibitors. Here’s a small selection: top left fused glass by Irene Southon; middle left acrylics by Josephine Harvatt; bottom left watercolours by Sarah Louise Dunn showing local sites commissioned by Whitstable Museum to illustrate a map of the town; right, prints by Linda Karlsen. Work by Irene, Josephine, Sarah and Linda (Wearartworks) can all be found on social media like Instagram and Facebook. They and other exhibitors can also be found on Made in Whitstable’s Facebook and Instagram.

The footfall was rather disappointing and I would guess that sales were down on previous years, but it was really good to get some work out on show and to see what other people had been creating.

Dipping my toe back in …….

Dipping my toe back in …….

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…

brick circle
Very proud of my reclaimed brick circle!

View from brick circle
View up the garden

….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.

clean hut
I gave the hut a good clean as it’s been empty for a while

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.

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.

inside hut left
Inside left

Inside hut left felt
Some of the felt pictures

inside hut back
Back Wall

inside hut right
Photos on the right

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.

Hut with barriers
My hut with barriers & tape

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.

market and relaxed barriers
Sunday

hut with no barriers
Monday

 

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.

whitstable panorama copy (2)

the OVWSG Guild Sail and Exhibition 2019 and Werewolf boy (a friend for Ghost Girl)

the OVWSG Guild Sail and Exhibition 2019 and Werewolf boy (a friend for Ghost Girl)

the OVWSG Guild Sail and Exhibition 2019

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.

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2020 Workshop Catalogue

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?

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Setup

 

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 Guild exhibit of Wearables

 

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 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)

11-02-19 X&S Saterday (245)11-02-19 X&S Saterday (169)The Workshop table and Felting demo

 

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Part of the Guild Demo teem

41 Packing up after the show

 

In the Begining

In the Begining

 

In the beginning;

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).

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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.

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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.

 

Busy busy busy

Busy busy busy

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.

https://www.facebook.com/event 

Or if you aren’t on Facebook: https://www.ovwsg.com/sale/

We have 3 farmers markets left. So there has been lots of baking as people start to think of stocking up.

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