The First Quarter of 2023…..

After kicking myself, yet again, for not keeping my posts up to date here goes with a round up of what I’ve been doing in the first quarter of 2023.

I’ll start with the fact that I’ve pulled out of the Alford Craft Market Shop where I’ve been selling some of my felted items for the past two years. I only went in originally because in 2020 The Big Textile Show was cancelled due to Covid and I had lots of product destined for that show sitting in boxes going no where! Also workshops weren’t happening and so I had plenty of time to make more stock so it made sense to find an outlet and Lynne at the Alford shop kindly found me a space.

Workshops have always been, and always will be, my main focus so with life back to normal in 2022 it was time to leave the Alford shop at the year end to concentrate on what I enjoy doing most.

I don’t always get the chance (or sometimes I simply forget!) to take photos during a class but these are a few of the workshops I’ve run since the beginning of this year of which I have images…..

In February the Ladies at EYE’s (East Yorkshire Embroiderers) invited me back up to spend the weekend with them in Cottingham. I’d been working on a new illustrated talk for them, originally I’d said it would be The History of Feltmaking but very soon in to my research I realised that title was a huge mistake as it was far too broad a topic for a 45 minute talk! I knew I wanted to start with some of the earliest discoveries of felt known to man, discovered in the Tarim Basin and at Pazyryk in Siberia, and end with present day Feltmakers who are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with fibre, water, soap and imagination. The difficulty was what to leave out and what to put in from the intervening 4,000ish years which would join those two sections and ensure the presentation was interesting, exciting and had flow. Having delayed starting this project until the beginning of December it was going to keep me very busy over Christmas and in to the New Year!

This wonderful Felt Swan was discovered at the Pazyryk burial site and dates to the 5th to 4th century BCE.
Image source Hermitage Museum

Doing the research was fascinating and also very time consuming. I found myself going off on a tangent many times as one interesting fact led to another, and another……. I’ve now got enough content in the bag for another talk when I get around to sorting it out. Needless to say the whole thing took a lot longer than I anticipated and I only got finished a couple of days before I was due to present in Cottingham! My one and only talk until now has been about my journey as a textile artist and that’s the easiest subject to talk about as it’s what I know, no crib sheets required! This wasn’t going to be quite so easy, not the first time around anyway, and there was the added worry that others might not find it as interesting to listen to as I had done to research.

A Journey in Felt starts with the benefits of wool fibre and takes us from Iron Age discoveries through to the present day including some of the amazing felt creations featured in the annual World of Wearable Art Competition.

I gave my talk, A Journey in Felt, to an audience of approximately 120 ladies on the Saturday and breathed a huge sigh of relief with the positive response it received! That night I probably had the best nights sleep for several weeks and the following day we were back at the venue for the wet felted Fairy Slipper workshop.

Thirteen ladies took part in the workshop, 11 making the slippers and two of them opting to create a wet felted picture which they had done with me previously and had asked if they could do again.

Also in February I visited the Creative Stitchers at Great Coates where we spent the day painting, stitching and heat distressing Tyvek fabric to make our Tyvek leaves and 3D seed pods. I love the fact that, due to the process used, these pieces cannot be repeated so each one will always be totally unique!

Something I’m doing much more of now is small group workshops in my home studio. These tend to be groups of friends who book together either for a specific project or, as in the case of Margie, Di, Clare and Jacky, each one came with a certain idea in mind and I helped guide them towards completion. These ladies have been several times for wet felting and in February decided to ring the changes with some needle felting and Tyvek work.

Following a request earlier this year I put together a beginners Hand Embroidery Workshop. I love hand embroidery but tend to stick with using just the same two or three stitches so it was really nice to get back to basics and rediscover the ones I haven’t used for quite some time. Hand stitching isn’t something you can rush so it was also good to sit and relax and generally slow things down for a little while whilst making my samples.

In this class we progress through the different stitches with each student making a sampler which can be used for future reference. The sampler consists of 18 stitches (some basic and some not so basic!) and students also get a template of flower shapes which they can take away and stitch at leisure using their newly acquired skills.

The next images are of the first of these classes which was held at the Alford Craft Market Studio in February.

Later that month I had Emma, Kirsty and Sue come along to my studio for the beginners hand embroidery class.

Layer, Stitch & Burn is another fabric and stitch workshop but this time using the sewing machine and with the added excitement of “burning” our fabric! The first time I saw this technique being demonstrated was many years ago in a video by a Canadian textile artist called Susan Lenz. Susan works in many different mediums and styles and uses this technique for her In Box and Window series.

Last month I took Layer, Stitch & Burn to the Sleaford Embroiderers at their monthly gathering at the Hub in Sleaford. This is a fun, experimental workshop using a variety of synthetic fabrics. Techniques include cutting, layering, bonding, foiling and free motion stitching. Finally, once everything is held firmly in place, we burn away our background using a soldering iron & heat tool to leave a lace like effect. Most of the ladies would go on to finish their work at home but here are a few photos of their work in progress.

The next set of images show the beautiful Nuno Felted Scarves made by eleven ladies in Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire. These were all created by layering Superfine Merino with fine silk fabrics. Its always interesting to see the different colour combinations students put together and how some really go to town with the added elements such as prefelt, yarn, etc to create additional texture.

Every scarf made in these classes is totally unique and I’m always thrilled to see how happy students are with what they have achieved. It’s even more rewarding knowing, as with this group, that none of the ladies had used this technique before!

My most popular workshop currently has to be the Superfine Merino Roll Edge Collar with brooch fastener. I’ve done a couple of these in my studio recently and last month I travelled down to run the class in Ashby Magna, Leicestershire for Region 8 of the International Feltmakers Association. Ten ladies attended the class and achieved some really wonderful results.

It was a lovely surprise to see that Fiona had also brought along some fabulous wet felted birds and a hare to show me. She made these at home using techniques she had learnt in my Chicken Workshop in Arnesby, Leicestershire last October…..we were all very impressed!

Fiona’s wonderful 3D wet felted birds.

All in all it’s been a great start to 2023 and in between workshops I’ve been working on some creative projects of my own so will include those in future posts……I just need to keep up the momentum now I’m back at it!!