Concertina Hat Workshop…..

Back in the Summer I read a post on the Felting & Fibre Studio about a concertina hat workshop being run by Teri Berry.  It sounded really interesting but at that time I couldn’t commit due to holidays and other workshops.  Fortunately Teri’s first workshop was such a huge success that it is being run again this month.   As a result I’ve just finished my first wet felted Merino concertina hat and I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I’m now looking forward to trying out the next design which is Teri’s wacky but wonderful “Snail Hat”…….watch this space!

Side view blue/green hat

Ladies wet felted blue/green hat

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Too rear view of blue/green hat

 

“with patience and love”…..

Earlier this week, under the watchful eye of internationally acclaimed Feltmaker Annemie Koenen, I learnt to make felt “with patience and love”.  The workshop in Suffolk was hosted by Region 7 of the IFA and I had a wonderful 3 days in the company of Annemie, Sally, Rachel, Jenny and Gaye.

Annemie demonstrates how to make felt "with patience and love".

Annemie demonstrates how to make felt “with patience and love”.

A few photos of work in progress…..

 

Everyone looks to be concentrating hard!

Everyone looks to be concentrating hard!

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Sally working on her sculptural belt

I took my own Merino wool to the workshop but once I had seen the beautiful  hand dyed Merino with Tussah Silk that Annemie had brought with her I just had to use it!

My collar is taking shape

My collar is taking shape

Annemie’s approach to teaching this workshop was to ask each of us in turn what we would like to make and then ensure that we were guided and supported at every stage to accomplish our goal.  Annemie has a very relaxed and approachable style of teaching but that doesn’t make her a soft touch!  She watched us all like a hawk and kept a very strict eye on timings and on the quality of our work.  As a result I came away with a stunning collar and a head full of tips and inspiration for future projects.

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My finished Autumnal collar

My finished Autumnal collar

A big thank you to Annemie for a wonderful workshop and to the ladies in Region 7 for making me feel so welcome.

The ladies with their finished projects.

The ladies with their finished projects.

Marjolein Dallinga Workshop…

Last week I rode down to South Wales to attend a two day Marjolein Dallinga Workshop with the ladies from Region 12 of the IFA, organised by Mandy Nash.  Originally from the Netherlands Marjolein, an internationally renowned Feltmaker, now lives in Canada and I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered that, not only was she in the UK but that there was a spare place on one of her workshops!

The workshop was held at The Model House Craft & Design Centre in Llantrisant.  positioned at the top of the hill, close to the castle ruins.  The Model House has a gallery and gift shop on the ground floor and then several more floors consisting of more sales areas and craft studios where you can watch the resident artists, including Mandy, at work.

Marjolein’s workshop was different to any other I’ve attended.  The first difference was that she didn’t bring along any of her work as she didn’t want us to be influenced by it.  The second difference was that normally you would know  at the outset that you are making a bowl or a waistcoat or a picture, etc……we knew nothing!  What we were told was that we should allow ourselves the freedom of making something just for the enjoyment of “play”.  The aim was to allow our creativity to come to the fore and experiment with colours and shapes, with no preconceived idea of what the end product should, or would, eventually look like.

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We were asked to use different colour combinations at different stages of our work, some which we particularly liked, some we didn’t like, some warm, some cold. The idea was to get us to use colours we wouldn’t normally work with and to experience the changes in those colours, and in our perception of them, as they blend and merge together.

We made two pieces, the first was based on an egg shape and represented our “inner energy”.  Unfortunately I was so engrossed in what we were doing I forgot to take a photo of mine but you can see the basic shape and size from the one that Mandy has in the centre of her table…..

Mandy working on her two experimental pieces

Mandy working on her two experimental pieces

Our second piece represented our “outer energy”…..

My "outer energy" piece with resist removed

My “outer energy” piece with resist removed

Pleats are sewn into the prefelt before completing the felting & fulling.

Pleats are sewn into the prefelt before completing the felting & fulling.

My finished "Outer Energy" sculpture. It makes me think of a fossilised ballet shoe!

My finished “Outer Energy” sculpture, it makes me think of a fossilised ballet shoe!

.....and other side.

…..and the other side.

My finished "Inner Energy" sculpture

My finished “Inner Energy” sculpture

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…..and the other side.

My two finished pieces are completely different, both having been pleated, fulled and cut away.  Once again I learnt such a lot, met some lovely people and came away inspired!  It was a privilege to spend time with Marjolein.  Not only is she incredibly talented but she has a very calm and warm personality and you really couldn’t wish to meet a nicer person,  Here’s hoping she comes back to the UK very soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masterclass with Dagmar Binder….

I have just got back from a fabulous week in North Yorkshire with Region 10 of the IFA.  I rode up (yes “rode” up, with my motorcycle stacked high with supplies!) to take part in a residential Masterclass with Dagmar Binder and 9 other students at The Old Mill in Skeeby.  I am a huge admirer of Dagmars work and was thrilled to be taking part in her workshop.

Day one, making a start on our samples

Day one, making a start on our samples

My sample piece

My sample piece

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Over the three days we learnt such a lot about making a successful felt garment.  On day one we started with pattern making and then after lunch we made a small set of samples to explore the use of pre felt and how the direction of the fibres affect the finished piece.  Completing the sample would help us to get to get to grips with our “collars”.  Although only small this piece took quite some time to make and the majority of us ended up back in the studio after dinner in order to get it finished.

Laying fibres for my waistcoat

Laying fibres for my waistcoat

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Dagmar talks us through the fulling stage

Louise is the first to finish!

Louise is the first to finish!

Lamona proudly shows off her work

Lamona proudly shows off her work

Niki added some beautiful texture to her design

Niki added some beautiful texture to her design

It was an intense workshop with the majority of us working late into the evening, every evening, but it was so worth it!  I had intended to create several more collars on my waistcoat but soon realised that the work involved, for me, was too much to fit into the time scale we had.  My finished waistcoat isn’t perfect but I am confident that I now have the skill to know where and how I can improve when I make my next one.

My finished waistcoat

My finished waistcoat

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A big thank you to Dagmar, Iris and everyone I met in Skeeby for making this such an enjoyable experience.

Felting Demo for U3A members…..

It’s funny how one thing can lead to another.  A few weeks ago I was out having a coffee when I got chatting to a lady who told me she was keen on various crafts and a member of the Wellingore U3A.  I happened to mention that my passion was felting and as a result, this afternoon I held a felting demo for U3A members, Sue included, at home in Horncastle.

Non of the ladies had tried felting previously so I began by demonstrating needle felting and showing some of the different applications I had used it for.  They were all keen to have a go but, as time was limited and we had to cover wet felting too, the ladies just did a few minutes with a cookie cutter and some Merino to get a feel for it.

Lincoln U3A ladies trying out needle felting

U3A ladies Celia, Myra & Chris trying out needle felting

Two ladies trying out needle felting

Sue and Velma getting to grips with needle felting.

Unfortunately, as I was demonstrating, I didn’t get any other photos this afternoon but, suffice to say, the ladies were very enthusiastic regarding both the needle and wet felting so I’m hoping I’ve encouraged their creativity and they have gone away enthused about their new found hobby!

Nuno Felting with Clare Bullock…..

What had looked like being a pretty normal week suddenly took a more interesting turn on Wednesday.  I received the Artvango newsletter which mentioned there was a spare place on Clare Bullock’s two day nuno felting workshop, starting the following day.  Hmmmm…that would have been nice I thought, as I finished my lunch and set off back to work for the afternoon.  Unfortunately Artvango isn’t exactly on my doorstep so it’s not somewhere I get to visit as often as I would like.  But two days felting, with Clare, starting tomorrow…..it’s got to be worth the long drive down to Knebworth, and it was!

Clare began by talking us through the process and showing us examples of her nuno felting using various different fabrics i.e. silk, gauze, muslin, Indian cotton, etc.  The following three photos are examples of Clare’s beautiful nuno work.


Then it was our turn.  Each sample was created with one layer of Merino wool tops and various scraps of lightweight fabric.  With Clare on hand to ensure we didn’t skint on the rubbing, we rubbed, rubbed, and then rubbed some more…..then time for a coffee and then back to rubbing……



In the next photo you can see nine different scraps of scarves in the early stage of felting.

And the finished sample which I was really pleased with.


My green and blue sample worked pretty well too and I can see this possibly becoming a base for a landscape piece.

Another of my samples which I will add stitching to at some point…..

…..and a close up.

Before the workshop Clare had prepared some rust printed fabrics which she cut up and shared with us.  The following photo shows how my rust sample, made from four pieces of different fabrics, worked out.

And another close up shot showing the textures.


Clare is a very good tutor and full of fun.  We learnt a lot and laughed a lot during the workshop, and I’m sure I can speak for the other ladies when I say that everyone came away really happy with what they had achieved.

Skendelby Ladies Guild…..

This evening I held a needle felting workshop for a group of members from the Skendelby Ladies Guild.  Not one of the group had tried needle felting before but, by the end of the hour and a half session, everyone had achieved a piece of work to take home with them.

Skendleby Ladies Guild members

Skendelby Ladies Guild members

Most of the ladies chose to make a brooch and used cookie cutters to form the basic shapes.

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Thanks to Sandy for inviting me along this evening, it was a pleasure to spend time with the group and I hope to see you all again sometime.

Eco Dyeing at Artvango…..

Last Friday I spent a wonderful day at Artvango learning the basics of how to Eco Dye with Jenny Leslie.  Before the session we were sent a list of certain leaves which we were asked to bring with us as they are known to produce particularly good results with this type of technique.  That in itself was a learning curve for me.  Prior to this I had no idea what a Walnut tree looked like, and wouldn’t have known that there were so many in close proximity to our house.  I had never heard of “Dogwood”, although I did recognise the plant when it was pointed out to me by a member of staff in the garden of The Lincolnshire Wildlfe Trust.  Other leaves Jenny suggested included apple, blackberry and eucalyptus.

It was baking hot here last Thursday and by the time I had finished foraging some of the leaves were already beginning to wilt.  I did wonder if they would be shrivelled beyond recognition by the time I got to use them as I was travelling down by motorbike and staying overnight at a B&B before the class.  I needn’t have worried as it turns out the leaves don’t need to be freshly picked, in fact dried, pressed leaves also work well for Eco Printing.

Jenny, who has a background in gardening, began by showing us some of her wonderful work and explained how she got into Eco Dying.  Obviously there were references to India Flint, the pioneer of Eco Dyeing, and Jenny brought along her copy of India’s book “Eco Colour” for us to look at.

Jenny Leslie fabrics

A selection of Jenny’s work

There were twelve students in the class and I think I can speak for all when I say what a fabulous day we had.  I did a bit of research before travelling down and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting such good results from a first attempt!  We were like excited kids, selecting what we were going to use, dipping our leaves into the iron bath or the copper bath, and carefully wrapping our bundles around twigs, copper pipes or rusty old tins.  Once they had been tied securely with string they were dropped into the boiling water or placed in the steamer.  All the time we were busy Jenny was feeding us information regarding mordants and “baths” and the different ways we could alter the colours we had achieved, even once the bundles had been boiled.  My notes are a complete jumble as I only got back from my 550 mile journey last night (I came home via the Isle of Wight!) but I am looking forward to sorting them out and having a play this weekend, once I have been out and collected more greenary. 

Jenny explains how we will be using the murky looking liquids

Jenny recommended Soya Milk as a mordant for cotton while our silk fabrics were simply soaked in a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar.  Apparently there are lots of different approaches to Eco Dyeing with some folk recommending mordants while others don’t bother.  The final effects can also vary depending on the type of fabric you use, the hardness of your water, humidity, etc, etc.  I think the key message I took away was that we need to “experiment” and find what works for us.

 

Laying out the leaves

Tying the bundles

Tying the bundles

 

Fabric wrapped around rusty tin cans

Fabric wrapped around rusty tin cans

Another students work revealed

Another students work revealed

Clive got a colourful result using onion skins

Clive got a colourful result using onion skins

The following photos show how my dyed fabrics turned out.

Linen and viscose

Linen and viscose

My linen and viscose sample started life as a pair of pale grey trousers. After soaking it in soya milk and wringing it out I layed on a selection of leaves including eucalyptus, walnut, sumac and an unknown vine that grows in my neighbours garden. The fabric was doubled over and wrapped around a short length of copper pipe and boiled for an hour. The result is subtle but I love it!

Walnut, sumac,blackberry and unknown wild flower

Walnut, sumac,blackberry and unknown wild flower

Eucalyptus, walnut, blackberry and unknown vine

Eucalyptus, walnut, blackberry and unknown vine

The two silk pieces were soaked for about 30 minutes in vinegar water, leaves laid out, wrapped, tied and boiled for an hour and then iron was added to the water and the fabric remained submerged until the water cooled. Again, I love the results!

I did as Jenny suggested and left my bundles until the next day before I unravelled them. They didn’t look too exciting while they were still wet but once they had dried they looked great! Some of the leaves can be seen while others left an area of colour rather than a distinct shape. I am really happy with results and keen to do more. I bought various fabrics from Artvango including a cotton/silk blend, a spun rayon and cotton Rossglen, all of which I have been told will take colour really well so fingers crossed! It’s not advisable to use your cooking pans for Eco Dyeing so I am nipping out now to see if I can find some old pots and pans in our local junk shop…….

Kantha Workshop…..

Today I joined a lovely group of ladies in Cranwell Village Hall to learn the basics of Kantha stitching.  Our tutor,  Gilli Theokritoff, is an active member of Region 10 of the Quilters Guild, running workshops both locally and around the country.  Gilli brought along several beautiful examples of her Kantha work and provided the group with a choice of designs and threads to work with during the day.

Kantha is a simple embroidery technique consisting of running stitch often worked in parallel lines and in various directions.  The photo below shows two beautiful examples of Gilli’s Kantha work using her “Little Bird” design.

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I am sure I speak for everyone when I say what a great day we had and you can see from the following images the variety of designs and colours that were worked on during the day.

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Hand dyed and stamped blue fabrics with assorted threads, selected for the Kantha workshop at Cranwell Village Hall.

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Susan Denton comes to Lincolnshire…..

Last Saturday I was fortunate to attend the Quilters Guild Area Day at Sitting Ducks in Branston Booths where Susan Denton appeared as guest speaker. Having only just joined the Quilters Guild this is the first time I have attended such an event and I really didn’t know what to expect. What I wasn’t aware of when booking is that Susan is an internationally acclaimed quilter whose highly regarded work is displayed in shows and museums in a number of countries around the globe…..I was in for a treat!

Susan’s talk took us on a journey from her home in Cornwall, up to the Western Highlands of Scotland and across the oceans to far flung places including Iran and Australia. Her travels, and the sights and people she has met, have inspired many of her wonderful quilts. The photograph below is one of a trio entitled “Making the World a Safer Place”. In this she has used the colours of oil, terracotta and turquoise (a combination often seen on mosques) to represent the invasion of Iraq in the form of looted, ancient vases. I found this particularly inspirational, both in design and execution.

Susan Denton and Sheila Evans hold up one of the quilts on show at the quilting workshop

Susan Denton shows a selection of her work at the Quilters Guild Area Day.

Everyone was intrigued by the next quilt depicting the seafront at St Ives.  We were fascinated by how Susan had created the sky and the sea, which was to become a little clearer during Sundays workshop when we learnt about using grids to create movement and perspective.

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During Sundays workshop Susan explained the process of foundation piecing and we all had the chance to try our hand at designing and sewing blocks using this method. We also learnt about tessellating blocks and using grids, both of which open up limitless possibilities for designing and quilting.

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The weekend seemed to pass in a flash and during the journey home I found myself wishing I had booked onto Susan’s Colour Workshop which was being held in Louth the following day. Having spoken to Sheila Evans, the regional coordinator, I discovered there was a space available so, at the very last minute, I managed to get myself booked in!

Once again I wasn’t disappointed.  We spent Monday and Tuesday learning about how we can manipulate colour values to create schemes for our quilts.  Although I was aware of the colour wheel and have always felt confident with putting colour schemes together I have to say that Susan’s workshop allowed me to take my understanding of colour to another level. The following photos show the group hard at work and some of the fabulous colour schemes being developed over the two days.

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