Feltmaking at The RDS Showcase 2023

Even though Feltmakers Ireland was not invited to demonstrate at Showcase this year, there was felt to be seen courtesy of two of our members.

Caóilfíonn Murphy-O’Hanlon showing wool paintings of landscapes and items with prints of her work.

http://www.cushlaofgullion.com

ansd Juliane Gorman of http://www.felthappiness.com was there showing her fabulous hats.

And just for your information, here are the news from Showcase in the DCCI GANS newsletter:

I hope this newsletter finds you well. January was a busy month with Showcase – Ireland’s International Creative Expo® returning to the RDS, Dublin on Sunday 22nd to Tuesday 24th of January. Showcase offered 385 exhibitors an opportunity to exhibit their collections to approx 4000 visitors from 27 countries.

We were delighted to see the much anticipated Showcase Awards taking place on the opening day of the fair. We were excited to see that the winner of the overall best product award was metal artist, Tom King from An Gobha, whose iron cross was created in celebration of St. Brigid.

The St. Brigid’s Cross was created as a work of metal art based around the traditional cross, with depth and with colour, to mark Ireland’s new national holiday celebrating the country’s first female patron St. Brigid.

Other crafts people at Showcase celebrating St. Brigid’s were Patricia O’Flaherty, Naomh Padraig Handcrafts, from Roscommon, you can see her beautiful St. Brigid’s rush work crosses on www.naomhpadraighandcrafts.com. Jennifer Rothwell Designs also had a beautiful collection of fashion items inspired by St. Brigid www.jenniferrothwell.com

As the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, St. Brigid’s Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate the role that women have played in Irish history, culture, creativity and society.

The Design & Crafts Council Ireland Academy (DCCIA) was launched as part of the Talk Stage programme at Showcase. DCCIA is an international specialised academy for education and training to the craft sector and will offer a series of apprenticeships. DCCIA welcomes everyone from design and craft beginners to established professionals. The launch was delivered by MaryJo Hoyne, Head of Craft & Education at DCCI and Maria Couchman, Senior Craft & Education Manager at DCCI. www.dcci.ie/academy

Showcase 2023 saw a continuation of the popular Talks Stage that hosted a variety of industry talks and expert panel discussions, you can view some of the events that took place over the three days of Showcase here.

The Dancehall (Fashion & Design) – was a new and exciting fusion of Showcase fashion and design with music and dance. To view the performance of The Dancehall event from the opening day of Showcase 2023 click here.

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Feltmakers Ireland and Leiko on Nationwide 14/12/2022

Dear members. Nationwide last night featured Feltmakers Ireland’s November Sunday Session and maker Leiko Uchiyama. We are sorry we could not tell you in advance as we had not been told it would be on last night.

It can be watched online on the RTE player https://www.rte.ie/player/series/nationwide/SI0000001172?epguid=IH000412895 for at least the next 30 days.

The choice of what to include in the programme was entirely up to the RTE crew but we feel it gave a positive picture of felting and Feltmakers Ireland.

Congratulations to Leiko! That was a lovely segment about your work.

Feltmakers Ireland Sunday Session 11/12/2022 with Carmen Draghici at CIE Social Club Inchicore

A big thanks, especially to Clare Brophy, who had a special treat in store for us for at this December’s Sunday Session, with Romanian felt artist Carmen Draghici, and her lovely daughter Corinna. You can find samples of her work online at FELT JOY. She has an Etsy shop. She was only able to bring 2 beautiful pieces with her, due to Ryanair’s weight restrictions.

Carmen’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Carmen%20Draghici%20Felt%20Joy

Clare had discovered Carmen’s fabulous felt work online, purchased a piece,  and was bowled over by the quality and design of the jacket that she had bought. She invited Carmen to come to Ireland from Constanza, southern Romania, to lead a Sunday Session with us.

Carmen, luckily, was very happy to come to Ireland to meet all of us. Although Hungary has a very rich Feltmaking tradition, its neighbour Romania does not, as yet anyway,  and she was delighted to be in the company of other feltmakers.  She envied us our regular opportunities to felt together, and is going to investigate if she can bring us to Romania next year!

Carmen had planned a project with us, wet-felting a small Christmas Cushion, using some special lace brought with her from Romania. However, as 4 of the group were new feltmakers, it proved too  ambitious for the 2 hours. She suggested  finishing it at home or turning it into a table runner instead. There was much to learn from Carmen, an engineer by profession, from laying viscose fibre down cleanly to achieve  sharp shapes, to using different unfamiliar fibre layouts, like herringbone, and diagonal, depending on what you were making, and using, for the most part just one layer of fine merino tops. It was also new to some people to to have an upside-down layout, and use a resist.

Personally speaking, I would love to have her back again to learn more of her tips and knowledge as she seemed to be a mine of information as well as having a great personality and we did not have enough time with her. She herself was frustrated by the  short time involved and the differing levels of experience within this group, and wanted especially to give the new people good standards of finish.

I arrived at the Sunday Session with my friend Nara Fritch, from Seattle, US, but now long time resident in Ireland, living near me in Skerries. Nara keeps Alpacas and was totally entranced by an invited guest of Committee member, Annike Berglund, leader of the Feltmakers Ireland Wool Project Her Guest, Grant Bartholomew had requested to be an observer at the Sunday Session.  Grant is an Alpaca farmer, from South Africa and living in Ireland for 3 years. He arrived with his family. After our session with Carmen, he briefly explained the different types of Alpaca fibre he had brought with him.  

by Clodagh McDonagh

The committee has decided to  devote another Sunday session later to the picking and washing of a raw fleece and  give everybody a chance to felt a small sample using one of a variety of Irish local wools.

Sunday Session with Carmen Draghici at CIE Social Club Inchicore 04/12/22 starting at 9:30 (please note time!)

Carmen Draghici,  coming specially from Constanza in southern Romania for the weekend. Her work can be viewed online at FELT JOY and on Facebook & You Tube. She has an ETSY shop and she will bring some of her work to show us.

She will demonstrate some of her unique skills, making a small Christmas Cushion (as time is so limited )

It will be practical session. Some kits may be available to purchase (€4) for those who have materials (old towel, soap, bubble wrap etc) needed to felt with Carmen.

Materials needed:  (exactly as last session)

Old towel, bubble wrap, resist, soap, and water bottle, needed.

70 grams red roving, embellishments (including, if you have any, old lace or finest crochet) 

All members are welcome. 

Tea coffee and Xmas goodies for all!

(Non-members also welcome €10)

Some Information on what you need to bring and what you will learn:

Also: A call out to people who were at the last Sunday session: If you have not unpacked your bags from this event yet, please check if you have ended up with an extra piece by mistake: It is a long brownish piece with an abstract design.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday Sessions 06/11/22 & 04/12/22 & Upcoming Exhibitions

Sunday Session  November 6th 2022 in the CIE Social Club Inchicore!

On Sunday 6th November Feltmakers Ireland Committee and 25 members took part in a `hands-on` practical Feltmaking session. There was great excitement, as a Nationwide film team was coming to film our efforts and interview some key members of our Feltmakers Ireland community. 

The session was led by Tamzen Lundy, a former Committee member. She had designed a really charming Christmas project for us, a felted Nordic style Santa Claus in 3D. You can use the Santa Claus as a tree decoration, as a bottle topper, or as a stand alone ornament.

Feltmaking is a craft that allows you to easily produce items in 3D without any sewing at all. The committee had prepared a kit bag for each participant, containing all we required for this session.

Tamzen then took us all very clearly through the process, which involved laying merino wool in 3 alternate layers on a triangular shaped resist. 

For Santa’s face, Tamzen showed us 2 ways of making and attaching a felt nose,(a felt bead, cut in two) by fluffing it up with a wire (or pet) brush, then had an ingenious method of using a small piece of prefelt (sometimes called Needlepunch) to create the face, and then cutting a teeny hole in the prefelt to reveal the nose. Later we would use needle felting to add eyes and beard. 

The main learning points I took from Tamzen`s were: 

  • To use no soap in your wetting down process, (and generally very little soap overall) a bit controversial for me as soap tends to be my `comfort blanket`. 
  • No rolling, (not a roller in sight! ), use bubblewrap as a rubbing tool , and generally keep on rubbing, and massaging with your bare hands, or bubblewrap, on the surface of your piece until any sign of `cellulite` is gone! (Of course that meant that a big discussion on what cellulite was, ensued!) 

At the end of the very happy and enjoyable session, it was really interesting how all the Santas looked very individual,  taking on their own personalities! 

While we participants were concentrating on our project, RTE`S Nationwide crew were filming a wonderful and  varied display of members’ work at the end of the room. They interviewed Deirdre Crofts from our Committee, who spoke of the different pieces on display and explained the different felting skills.

Founding member of Feltmakers Ireland, Elizabeth Bonnar was interviewed about our  Guild’s history in Ireland. Also interviewed was Astrid Tomrop-Hofman another important person who helped bring felt making to Ireland.

Our current research project on Irish breeds of sheep and their fleeces, was explained to Nationwide interviewer Zainab, by the leader of the research group, our Treasurer, Annika Berglund. The group hopes to publish a book in the near future with their findings.

Fiona Leech and Deirdre Croft told of our monthly Sunday Sessions,  and of our Annual Art Felt Exhibition. 

Zainab, interviewer, had her first go at Feltmaking!

For me, a member for many years, and formerly on committee, it was lovely to see old felting friends, like Helene Dooley, who has been working with the IFA , (the International Feltmakers Association, with which we are affiliated .) 

Session  leader, Tamzen, was interviewed, as she has turned her feltimaking into a successful business, and has an Etsy shop, Tamzenlundydesigns.

A very big thank you to Breda Fay, our Guild Chairperson, who was the person RTE contacted, and who made the film crew so welcome. Thanks to Lorna Cady, Committee member, who secured our venue, and to all our Committee members  who baked tasty goodies, and  made tea and coffee for us all, and made us all so welcome.

Clodagh Mac Donagh.

EXHIBITIONS

  • Our Feltmakers Ireland Annual Exhibition will open on Dec3rd in the Ashtown visitor Centre, in the Phoenix Park and will run for the whole of December
  • From 12th November until 23rd of December, Tamzen Lundy has an exhibition of her work at the Newbridge Arts Theatre Centre, Riverbank, Co. Kildare.

NEXT SUNDAY SESSION

venue: CIE sports hall, Inchicore

time : 10.15-12.30

Leader: Carmen Draghici,  coming specially from Constanza in southern Romania for the weekend. Her work can be viewed online at FELT JOY and on Facebook & You Tube. She has an ETSY shop and she will bring some of her work to show us.

She will demonstrate some of her unique skills, making a small Christmas Cushion (as time is so limited )

It will be practical session. Some kits may be available to purchase (€4) for those who have materials (old towel, soap, bubble wrap etc) needed to felt with Carmen.

Materials needed:  (exactly as last session)

Old towel, bubble wrap, resist, soap, and water bottle, needed.

70 grams red roving, embellishments (including, if you have any, old lace or finest crochet) 

All members are welcome. 

Tea coffee and Xmas goodies for all!

(Non-members also welcome €10)

Mandy Nash Workshop in Inchicore

We had a really great day at The Works at Inchicore C.I.E. Social Club on Saturday last, where Feltmakers Ireland was hosting an in person felting workshop with renowned UK feltmaker, Mandy Nash.

Feltmakers old and new were delighted to get together to take part in the workshop organized in large part by Fiona Leech, who very unfortunately could not attend due to family circumstances.

Mandy makes a range of beautiful pieces, including hats, using Bergshaf wool (Austrian mountain sheep wool) and our workshop was on the theme of Bags.Mandy is the author of a book called Making Felt Bags available on the Book Depository.

Many of us feltmakers, me included, work , more or less exclusively with very fine Merino wool,
combed or carded into a fine wool rope, called tops. So, for some of us, there was a bit of a learning curve in tackling the mountain sheepswool!

Here are some examples of Mandy’s work:

Bergshaf is very different, as its fibre is shorter and more wiry, and is generally carded in
sheets , called Batts.

In Ireland, Cushendale Woolen Mills, Graiguenamanah, Co. Kilkenny still produces fibre which is a bit similar and can be used instead. The Irish Wool Group in Feltmakers Ireland is working very hard to try and source Irish wool for us to use, rather than always importing Australian Merino.

Many of us feltmakers, me included, work , more or less exclusively with very fine Merino wool,
combed or carded into a fine wool rope, called tops.
So for some of us, there was a bit of a learning curve in tackling the mountain sheepswool!

Mandy directed us individually to create our bags on templates (flat patterns) provided by her, where we learnt to lay down the fibre very finely, evenly, and meticulously, not overlapping the template too much, as the fibre has a tendency to float out over the edges of the template.

We were helped along with lashings of hot tea, coffees and fabulous home baking supplied by participants. As with all Feltmaker events there was an amazingly generous atmosphere, a big thank you to Lorna who sourced the venue and produced amazing shortbread too! And to our glamourous assistants, Rena and Deirdre who kept a constant supply of hot water for felting, and to everyone else for baking, sharing their supplies, and problem solving skills and general all round support. And last but not least, Mandy Nash herself who left us all totally inspired, many thanks Mandy. Mandy had great patience and skill and managed to keep smiling despite the pressure! Although many of us had not completed our bag projects, at the end of the day we left with the knowledge to work on them at home. We will be doing a show and tell at our next Sunday Session at Inchicore on
November 6th next.

And of course, we hope that she will return in the future…hats next time perhaps??!!

To participants of the course: Please send in photos of finished bags to annika@annikeberglund.com and we will publish a second blog with the results from the workshop!

Clodagh Mac Donagh
Feltmakers Ireland


Sunday session with Fiona Leech 02/10/22

FI had a very interesting October Sunday Session in Killester yesterday. Fiona Leech talked us through her journey into felt. Probably known to many of you social media users, Fiona is the face of FeltAtHomeDesigns and also Membership Secretary and Workshop Organiser for Feltmakers

Fiona gave us an inspiring insight into her early career with lots of samples for us to touch and feel as well as notebooks where she developed ideas. We viewed an early hand-knitted wall panel of a Henri Matisse lady – all done with scraps of wool and NO PATTERN.

Everyone fell in love with her Aardvark crochet family and will be searching for Toft amigurumi crochet patterns of the ‘many animal in the world’. 

Her 100 Days project was picked up by an Australian Magazine that extolled her talents as a textile artist. 

We were all very appreciative of Fiona’s generosity in her willingness to share how she achieved the clean cut circles that identify much of  her current art. 

Thanks to Fiona and Dee who managed to have coffee and cake for our break although the Coffee Dock was closed.

Finally an image of Fiona’s piece in Sculpture in Context 2022 in the Botanic Gardens.