Natural Rhythms- Nancy Ballesteros Workshop

NATURAL RHYTHMS NANCY APRIL 2020Nancy Ballesteros from the renowned “Treetops Colour Harmonies” in Australia is planning a series of workshops in Europe in 2020. We are delighted to announce that she will be hosted by Felt makers Ireland on 25th & 26th of April 2020.

This is a 2-day workshop- of sampling and flat felt making, with particular attention on colour relationships. Suitable for all levels of felt makers. We would especially like to encourage people who attended the 2020 or 2019 Basic and Beyond session to apply… this will increase your skill level and there will be assistance available.

Last year we interviewed Nancy- read on to see her answers and be inspired.

Tell us a little about you as a person, Nancy?

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma with an artistic father and creative mother who bestowed me with a love of art and textiles.  While at University I stumbled upon an opportunity to learn how to spin yarn, I took to it like a duck to water.  Spinning continued to be my passion for many years after finishing a degree first in pre-Veterinary Medicine that finally changed to Biology/Geology.  In 1986, I was made redundant from my corporate job and decided to follow my textile passions.  I began by selling handspun yarns. It quickly became apparent; however, that what people really loved about my creative efforts was the passion and flare I had for colour.  So, I decided to do just that – create colour!  In 1990, my husband Mark and I re-located to Perth, Australia where I immediately launched an international web-based business called Treetops Colour Harmonies.

I feel very lucky to be able to work ‘from a home-based studio’. We had the opportunity to purpose-build a passive solar studio/workshop into our house design. My space contains both my Treetops Studio and my own workspace intermingled. There are separate dyeing and storage areas.  My family has, in self-defence, set up “Wool Free Zones” in the rest of the house…

How and when did you start Felting?

I first learned how to felt at a spinning retreat in America. It wasn’t till I moved to Australia that I really developed my passion for felting.  Nuno felt making was just being developed by Polly Stirling. It just so happened that Polly was teaching her technique at our First Southern Hemisphere Felting Conference in Bunbury, Western Australia. That changed the course of my felt making. Nuno allowed us, in the warmer Southern Hemisphere, to make lighter weight cloth, but most of all it was the ability to create my own cloth that fascinated me!
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?

In a nutshell, I love to “Investigate Ideas”.  I’m always asking myself “How”, “Why” and “What if”…  I believe it’s my science background having an on-going conversation with my Art-self.  I think about things a lot, and then I play. I like explanations, but then I’m happy to break rules…  I love creating Nuno for fashion.


What currently inspires you?

Last year, having seen some gorgeous but very expensive striped deck chair fabric, I decided to set aside a month and embark on a journey of creating Stripes! I had never much liked stripes before…! I became fascinated with the idea of “What constitutes a ‘Great Stripe’?” That question soon morphed into “HOW does one create a great Stripe design?” After experimenting a bit, I very quickly realised it wasn’t as simple as it appeared!


To stay focused on my journey, I decided that I needed the pressure of ‘going public’.  I declared that “I was going to make and post a Stripe sample every day for 30 days” – I called it “My 30-Day Stripe Library Challenge” (you can find in on my website at The name, after my challenge, from ‘Stripes’ to ‘Natural Rhythms’ when I realised that ‘Stripes’ were really only one part of a broader category of Linear Patterns, and my interests included both.

Along this journey, I discovered how the Fibonacci sequence was a great tool to help me design a more balanced ‘Natural Rhythm’ pattern. It also tapped into my 30+ years of working with colour theory!  Along the way, I have had to create a method of “working with wet wool” to obtain sharper linear elements.  The seeds of this idea had been sewed several years earlier when working with my Silk Hankies.

I will be teaching these ideas in Europe in 2020. There are several workshops on offer from creating your own ‘Natural Rhythms’ garment, wrap or scarf. Or you can choose to happily fill 2 or 3 days with creative play ‘Developing your own Sample Library of Natural Rhythms’ – the possibilities of colour and movement are endless!

From Felt makers Ireland, “thank you Nancy” for taking the time to complete this interview with us. We really love to learn about our fellow felters artistic pathways and do hope that we will see you face to face in Ireland in the very near future!



For more workshop details see:  or visit my website on

You can also follow Nancy on FB and Instagram:








Interview with Marjolein Darllinga

Mature tongue ,2017, Marjolein Darllinga

Later this year May 29th-31st Felt makers Ireland will host the master felt maker Marjolein Darllinga from Bloomfelt. This should be a wonderful 3-day Felt making workshop that 12 lucky participants will enjoy. Ahead of this trip we reached out to Marjolein to ask about her work, her feltmaking journey and what inspires her textile practice.Grey matter 2019, Marjolein Darllinga

Tell us a little about you as a person? e.g. upbringing/ where you work/ work other than felt etc

I am born in the Netherlands, moved in my thirties to Canada where I married, and we have three boys.

I studied History of art, psychiatric nursing and fine arts in the Netherlands.

I live with my family north of Montreal in a very small village in the middle of the Laurentiens woods,

We live on a former farm from Irish settlers where we built a beautiful art studio.

I spend all my days on my art

How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey with felt?

I started felting when my first child was born ,24 years ago.

I wanted the make natural toys and felting seems to be a perfect medium for that.

I made for years toys from wool with the wet felting technique, then it changed to wearables, costumes and slowly to art pieces.

My meeting with the Cirque du soleil was a mayor event for me, I learned and received so much from it.

Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? e.g. needle/ wet/nuno… for hobby/ creativity/ art/ fashion/ health

For me felting is really a profession. I practice this art every day.

I never use the felting needles; I only use the wet felting techniques. I make some fashion items and accessories, mostly as a commission. Then costume design for wearable art shows, theatre or cirque. As art objects I make sculptures in all kind of sizes mostly for exhibits around the world.

Last years I have concentrated on very large felted sculptures. I received several grants to do different projects.

Lately I am busy with film and stop motion with my felted pieces

I am also experimenting lately to combine felt with other mediums.

Teaching is very important to me; I like to share and meet other artists.

I feel very grateful that the wool came on my path, it has brought me all over the world and gave me so many beautiful meetings.

Pink matter 2019, Marjolein Darllinga

 What currently inspires you?

I finished an exhibit last autumn where I have worked one and a half year for.

Since I am back home I started to look at all my former work and realized that many pieces are not finished and need more work .I am currently working on many pieces at the same time lately with others mediums .I like to go back to painting and do more short movies with my felted pieces.

You can find out more about the work of Marjolein at the below links. We thank her very much for taking part in this interview and supplying the wonderful images of her work. Feltmakers Ireland is really looking forward to the May workshop. This workshop will be held on 29th-31st May, Venue TBC ( Dublin). The application form are not yet ready- we will inform you when application opens.


Instagram: bl00mfelt

Facebook: bloomfelt

Pinterest: Marjolein Dallinga


Sunday session- Tamzen Lundy 9th Feb

A discussion and hands on demo about the basics- of feltmaking. Good skills to learn or recap- laying out fibre… different ways to make bobbles and small attachments.

Following my 100 days of feltmaking experiment in 2019, I share some of the very basics that I learnt along the way but that helped give such exciting and experimental shapes!

Snapshot :100days of felting by tamzen

Feb 9th session

ENDANGERED, exhibition 2020

We are delighted to announce that Feltmakers Ireland will have an opportunity to exhibit in a gallery space at the RDS, as part of the knit and stitch show in Nov 2020!

Current 2020 members will be eligible and invited to enter.

Watch this space for more details to follow over the coming months.

The title is ” Endangered: lost there , felt here”… inspiration can come from many sources, the environment, our changing society, heritage or culture.

Keep in touch, we promise more details and the application form in February.

Renew your membership to be eligible. A wonderful chance to show your work and skill in a very prominent location!

Good luck.

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A very handy way to NEVER miss an update or event at Feltmakers Ireland. You can of course unfollow at any time… but we don’t send junk and really, why would you want to miss out on our updates?!

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Interview with Fiona Leech

Chance-something red
Fiona Leech

Fiona leech is a member of Felt makers Ireland. You may recognise the piece above as it was chosen by Filtti Finland to represent the Irish submissions for the “Something Red” exhibition brochure and flyers during the summer of 2019.

I started following Fiona on Instagram last year as we both undertook the #100daysproject. This is a free project that anyone can enter with the hashtag 100days. Creatives of all disciplines commit to undertake (as the name implies) 100 days of doing something, it might be painting, poetry, photography or journaling and the Instagram community supports you; Through sharing posts and following.

Fiona works under the name @feltathome and I know that I am looking forwarding to seeing more of her work in 2020.

fiona leech

Tell us a little about you as a person?

I am a sixties child, born in Dublin and a mother of three. I finished school and went to college in the mid-eighties – and yes, I had the dubious hairstyles too! I studied design at what is now D.I.T. specialising in theatre set and costume design. I worked as a freelance theatre designer, occasionally dabbling in scenic art from the early nineties until around 2009.

I’ve always had a passion for textiles; knitting, crocheting and sewing from a very young age. I was taught by both my grandmothers and was loved by the nuns for my enthusiasm! My father was an architect and came from a family of amateur artists. My parents were singers too, but I definitely did not inherit that particular talent! A weird fact about me is that I get tingly sensations when I see colour and texture and can’t visit a wool shop without touching all the yarns! (Probably too much information!!)

How and when did you start Felting… tell us a little about your journey with felt?

During my time as a design tutor at Ballyfermot College of Further Education I was constantly drawn to the textile studio and was very envious of the students. So, a couple of years after my third child was born, I stopped working in theatre and began exploring other options that would allow me to create work while being at home. I had experience of working with many different materials during my years in theatre; from timber, metal, clay, fibreglass, plaster to name but a few. I even did a bit of brick laying on set once, but it was always the textiles that I loved working with, and I tried to incorporate textiles into my designs as often as I could. I harboured an ambitious dream to knit a theatre set one day but never found the right director to indulge me! I started to doodle in notebooks, collage, paint and stitch but it wasn’t until I took myself off on a basic felt making course, given to me as a mother’s day treat, that I became really excited about so many new possibilities opening up to me. I could now make my own textured blank canvases. That was about 10 years ago and have been slowly finding my feet since with this versatile new medium.

fiona leech

Tell us about your process from conception to creation

Coming from a disciplined design background, my work is mostly abstract. Quite measured. Simple with clean lines, using stitching as a drawing tool, rather like my ink pen that I used to do technical drawings with. I premake the felt that I use in batches and then chop it up, layer and stitch. Hand stitching is an integral part of my work as I like the control that I can achieve by slow stitching. The varying nature of the handmade felt background determines the unique look of each piece. I mostly make wall hangings and framed pieces.

Photography plays a large part in my creative process; I draw inspiration from the thousands of photos that I take. I love the details, the minutiae of everything from the mundane to the miracles of nature. Colour is also hugely important to me.

fiona leech 100 days

I recently took part in an online 100-day challenge to create a piece of art every day for 100 days. I’m no stranger to working within parameters, such as working with scripts, spaces and budgets so I set myself a strict brief. With the theme ‘circles and lines’ I could only use felt and threads on 10 x 10 cm felt squares. The objective was to help with intuitive creativity and force me to focus. I found the speed with which I had to work exhilarating and created something different every day. Some I love, some not so much but that’s part of the process. The project evolved in a way that I never expected. It was restrictive and challenging but hugely constructive. I’ve ended up with 100 small abstract pieces that stand alone but also work as a large tapestry of felt mosaic tiles. I now have the task of joining them all together.

Perhaps the most thrilling event of last year for me was being invited to be part of the

Felt makers ‘Something Red’ exhibition in Finland. It was exciting as I’d never exhibited anything before, and I felt honoured to have been included. Being part of the Felt makers Ireland community has opened my eyes to the amazingly talented women working with felt in such diverse ways. It’s truly inspiring and I’m looking forward to being more involved in the future.

What currently inspires you?  

I am a fan of textile installation art. The work of Sheila Hicks and Shiota Chiharu really inspire me. I see it as the perfect union of texture and theatre. I love the drama of large scale works that take your breath away. I would jump at the chance to work on such a large scale if an opportunity ever arose. But for the moment I’ll concentrate on my next venture. A simpler brief I think…..


Felt makers Ireland would like to thank Fiona for taking the time to answer our interview questions and supplying the wonderful images of her work.

You can follow Fiona’s work on Instagram

@feltathome, she often also sells at @dublin8craftmarket and in Stoney Batter

fiona leech

Membership Application form 2020


Hi folks,

As we welcome in 2020 we ask that you consider your membership of feltmakers Ireland… welcome back to returning members, you are helping to keep a craft alive. You are helping to introduce the sustainable craft of felting  to new comers. members take priority at workshops and only members can enter exhibitions.

At €25 a year this is a very low membership fee, with discounts available on workshops.

The basic & beyond on 25h January this year ( we have only 3 places left)

Then April- Nancy Balusterous from treetops Australia will join us for a workshop.

Followed by Marjolein Darlinga from Bloomfelt in May.

We are also in touch with the Knit & Stitch show at the RDS and are really crossing our fingers that we will be accepted for a gallery space at the 2020 show- in order that members can exhibit their work in this national event.


Thank you and please continue to support our voluntary organisation.

Feltmakers Ireland Membership Application Form 2020

International Meeting of Felt Makers Associations.

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215An update on the work of the Felt makers Ireland committee in Autumn of 2019. In mid-October of last year, a meeting was held in Mouzon France at the felt museum of Mouzon and the International Felt makers Association invited board members of felt organizations of different countries and relevant felt makers of countries without association to the first International network meeting.

Felt makers Ireland sent along our secretary Sinead Doyle to attend and here is her report together with the official report of the event.

The committee has held a meeting since the visit in Nov 2019 and intends using this information at a special “Strategy 2020” meeting this month. We just want to keep you our members and followers up to date with the work going on behind the scenes in Felt makers Ireland.

mouzon meeting international feltmakers
Sinead Doyle- Black dungarees RHS, feel free to speak to Sinead at our Sunday sessions!

Meeting Venue

Musée – Atelier Du Feutre

Mouzon, France

11th – 13th October 2019.

The weekend kicked off with a 2-minute introduction from each attendee. I have not included every associations presentation but following is a synopsis of a few.

Participants meeting Mouzon

40 members, membership is €150 per year. This association accepts members on an evaluation basis. All members must submit their work, once accepted you receive a guild mark of excellence. They meet once a year at the AGM and organise a yearly trip to other countries to take part in various workshops. They have expressed an interest in coming to Ireland in 2021.


They have over 1000 members. This organisation is divided up into regions that hold their own meetings throughout the year at varying intervals.


This association has over 1000 members, however approximately 900 reside in the UK.

They host an AGM on 9th May in London.

The IFA are currently seeking a petition to have the craft of Felting deemed a UNESCO cultural Heritage of Humanity.

They will be sending out a call in December to all their members for an England based exhibition in 2020.

This association is split into regions with a regional officer who organises meetings and workshops. I spoke with Mandy Nash the Regional officer for Wales. She told me that she has her region broken down further into more localised groups. She accomplished this by facilitating the local set up of groups but has no ongoing operational input.

These groups are self-funded however the IFA personal liability insurance extends to cover all members.

Mandy arranges 5 meetings per year where members can come together to work on their own projects and share information.


It appears most organisations do not meet up that regularly as distance/travel is a huge obstacle. The AGM seems to be the only time members will come together in most of the groups. They host at least one International workshop per year and focus on travelling to others.


Workshop #1

Quality in Felt making

This discussion began with the term

“Ancient craft – Contemporary textile”

We focused on ways to set standards and how to elevate felt as a textile in the consumer’s eye.

The IFAs agenda is to standardise felt making techniques for beginners. They have asked all organisations to develop and run detailed beginner workshops for members. Emphasising the importance of creating samples at the start of every workshop, to teach how to calculate weight and shrinkage, and to understand how different wools behave and interact.

They would also like standardised criteria/guidelines to be set for Tutors.

This workshop was then split up into three small groups each concentrating on one of the following topics.


  1. I.   Accreditation
  2. II.  Guidelines for Tutors.

III. Good practice for members. (my group)


The German organisation has established a Quality mark. 

They conduct four evaluations a year. The fee is €50 (members) €90 (non-members).

Should the artist fail the evaluation they are given a full report as to why, and how they could improve their work with an invitation to apply again, free of charge.

Should they be awarded the accreditation, they are then given a label they can tag all their products with.

This is a recognised sign of excellence in Germany. It has greatly increased the amount of professional felt makers in the country and has also aided in the awareness of quality felt making.

*It was thought that every association should begin the process of establishing an accreditation system in their own country.

Guidelines for Tutors:

They discussed the importance of establishing excellence in teaching. Discouraging people who take masterclasses from going on and teaching poor quality classes when they really haven’t mastered the correct technique.

*No set guidelines were established but this is something each organization should actively work on.

The IFA are compiling a list of “recommended” tutors. They are in the process of setting criteria and categorising those tutors who fit the bill.

Good practice for Members:

“Encourage properly and well-made felt which is fit for purpose.” – Many Nash.

We discussed encouraging members to develop their own personal style and not regurgitate masterclass techniques.

It is thought that work completed in Master Classes should not be accepted into exhibitions, selectors need to be very strict about this. Also, that when masterclass techniques are used in a person’s work the Master should be acknowledged.

We also talked about encouraging our members to take part in regular regional sessions to develop personal skills and share techniques. Promoting members to develop their own style.

Workshop #2

Networking and Synergy


  1. I.   What do we expect?
  2. II.  How to stimulate synergy. (my group) 

III. What would change for our members?

We talked together about what we expect to get from this meeting and how it will help us all.

The exchange of information on how we run our organisations and how we communicate with our members will be invaluable to everyone. The meeting is also about inspiring each other and bringing felt to a wider audience. We then broke into two smaller groups and discussed the other topics.
How to stimulate synergy

Fostering personal relationships will make it easier when we need to contact each other on a professional basis.

There was talk about how some organisations make international tutors sign a contract agreeing that they will not teach anywhere else in Europe in the same year. We must make sure this is prevented from happening in our own association, and instead push for more cooperation and cost sharing between groups when organising workshops.

It was decided that a Facebook group would be set up for all those attending the meeting, this would encourage good relationships to grow and keep the flow of information between us all. The IFA International officer Henny will arrange this

Each organisation is asked to prepare a small one-minute video about their association to be put up as an introduction to the group.

We can also use this platform to share information regarding wool related festivals and happenings in our countries maybe enticing people to visit from other countries.
The other important decision that came out of this group was that an International gathering would be undertaken every two years, with a different country hosting each time. The IFA will set this in motion. 

What would change for our members?

These meetings give us a chance to share information, which we can offer to our members. It is up to them what they do with that, however we should repeat the message of connection on an international level.

Putting a spotlight on what other organisations are doing and letting our members know of international events.

I’m not sure what else this subgroup discussed this was the extent of what they told the main group.

The other two workshops I was not involved with gave a brief account of their discussion, as follows.


There is no official course for felt makers in the education system.

We need to have an approach to introduce felt to textile schools and art colleges.

It may be of interest to find speakers from Industry where wool/felt is used in unusual or surprising ways.

We need to network/collaborate with other textile organisations in order to keep felting on the map.

My thoughts on this is that our organisation is too small to go down this road as we have no education officer, but it is certainly something to work towards for the future.


An international exhibition has been set to run from April 2022 to April 2023,

The theme “building bridges”.

Over the course of the year separate local exhibitions in every country will take place with an accompanying online exhibit running alongside.

Culminating in a final exhibit, in France, with pieces selected from each country.

The IFA exhibition officer Laura Mabbutt will be the lead on this event and will be in contact.

2019_10_Summary of International network meeting in Mouzon

The above is the link to the official report of the event.

The Felt makers Ireland committee thanks Sinead for giving her personal time to attend the meeting. We also thank Henny Van Tussenbroek for the invite to participate and look forward to renewed contact with other international organisation. We endeavour to keep our members informed of these ongoing relationships. We will be using this information as the basis of our Strategy 2020 together with our own regional findings.



Review and Resolutions

As we end 2019 and look forward to the New Year and indeed the new decade we often look back at our achievements of the past or sometimes our regrets. It is that time of year, when traditionally we make New years resolutions and plan to turn over new leaves.

Of course, we all know deep down that if it’s worth doing, it’s probably worth doing today, rather than waiting until January 1st!

I’m not actually one for New Year Resolutions, I’ve never managed to keep any and I feel it puts too much pressure on myself- which is one resolution I would like to keep ( less pressure). It is almost like, I’m planning to fail!

However, I am one for habit and do believe firmly that “it’s what you do, not what you say you will do” that makes who you are. Habits can start in a very small way… For example, you don’t need to think 100 days ahead, and feel the pressure of say “100 days of walking”. You could simply choose to walk today. Tomorrow, repeat the same. Do and repeat.

At the end of this Crafting year I’m posting the “Motivation Mondays” of 2019… which many of you will know from our Facebook Page. Some of these quotes will resonate with you and some you will disagree with. Perhaps you have a favourite or a quote you simply “don’t get”. I do hope however that of the 52 there will be something that you can respond too. Perhaps there is saying that motivates you and something that reminds you to be true to who you are.

The future is full of possibilities and it starts today. Have a good one.