Blog:

Meet the Maker- Veronica Santorum

Over the course of this month at next we are running a series of interviews showing the work of those applicants who submitted a piece to our exhbition currently showing at the Vsitor Centre in Phoenix Park Dublin.

The Exhibtion title is “Endangered”. 2020 has been a very different year for many of us. We decided to run this online version of the exhibition in order that all our members have access to see this inspirational work, especially those that may not be able to make it along to the physical show. Part of the constitution of Feltmakers Ireland is to promote and encourage the craft and members. We support #madelocal, perhaps think about this national campaign over the coming month and choose to spend money on local crafts and arts to support the industry.

We asked Veronica the same three questions about her work.

 The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods.

My artwork is a response to what I have seen on farms. I have tried to capture the moment in time when grass fields are “burnt off” with weedkiller before reseeding. This process destroys wildflowers and insects and eliminates wildlife that depends on them. Old pastures and species-rich meadows aer converted to monocultures of perennial rye grass. Disingenuously, the new fields look lush green and the underlying damage is disguised. I captured this period of ‘agricultural improvement’ and the damage done using the image of a green wave swallowing and casting aside species in disarray amidst a scarred and bleeding ‘burned off’ earth. Saturated colours were used to represent the luxuriant abundance of the Irish landscape and its inundation with fertiliser. My inspiration was Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. It was the high energy and macabre atmosphere rather than the physical images that informed my work.

I created a wet-felted piece using blended Irish wools including Galway, Zwartable, Alpaca, Blue-faced Leicester and Jacobs, which I processed from raw fleece. Some I used undyed and others were dyed with acid dyes. The reason I combined the wools was to create varied texture which for me represented the diversity of species and textures of grasses being lost from old grasslands and to intensify colours so that the soil was not just ‘brown’ but a rich, fertile loam for example and the reds look truly fleshy and bloody. The bones were ones I found and cleaned and stitched on to the felt. They represent the species lost, field by field, to the onslaught. I arranged them to look as if they had been carelessly discarded on a rubbish heap as I want to capture a ‘who cares anyway’ attitude. The bones also introduced a hardness to the piece, contrasting nicely with the soft wool and, for me, evoking fossils of lost species. The green merino and  silk nuno-felt were dyed and made to be smooth and uniform to mimic the  homogeneity of the new reseeded lands. I stitched into the nuno-felt to shape it like a wave sweeping over the land and also like a rolling landscape.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss

I have found it easier to focus on crafting and to getting projects completed during the pandemic. I have tried a few online workshops for the first time and been introduced to some new ideas and techniques. I treated myself to some extra art supplies to get me through the lockdown.

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you.

I properly discovered felt through the Kilfinane Art, Craft and Traditional Skills group which I am a member of. About 2 years ago, the group decided to learn how to process a raw fleece and before we knew it we were spinning, dyeing, felting and weaving. I fell in love with felting when I wet felted alpaca wool for the first time and saw the patterns made by the very long fibres. Each new piece I make teaches me something and I appreciate the potential of felt more with every project. I have been inspired by Feltmakers Ireland’s exhibitions which have shown me how far you can go with this medium. I love what you can do with felt in terms of colour, texture and form. The fact that it is a natural material, that when it is no longer wanted it can simply be composted, makes it one of the best art materials around for me.

Meet the maker- Marie Dunne

Interview with Marie Dunne.

Tell us about your entry to the “Endangered Exhibition”?

I love all textiles and have been sewing all my life. I came across Contemporary textiles at the Knitting and Stitching Show in the Rds in 2006 and ever since I have been hooked.

Has your textile practice helped through the Pandemic Crisis?

My textile work really helped me through this crisis . In the initial stages I started projects  and most of them got left in corners around the house. Then I booked 2 online courses with Bobby Brittnell, an English textile artist.  They cost 20 pounds each. One was for 6 weeks the other 5 weeks. First one was called Inspired by Ben Nicholson, an artist that was known for his abstract painting and his White Relief Blocks. The course required you to make some  relief blocks and then print on paper or fabric. As I love printing I really enjoyed this course.

“Inspired by line and Tone” was the name of the second course. I really enjoyed this course too  and came across other artists I never heard of.  I found both courses really inspiring and found you could do your own interpretation of them. I highly recommend them to anyone  who likes to paint, print or draw.

I have also been developing my felt sculpture figures  with which I have been struggling with  for quite some time to get the results I want. They are now coming along nicely.

When did you discover Felt Making?

I discovered felting at the Knit and Stitching Show in the Rds. I sat in on a learning curve class and made a flower. I still have that flower..I came across felting some years later and decided to join Feltmakers Ireland..I have now  been felting for about 14 years  and  I am still amazed at how versatile it is. There are so many different types of  wools to discover and the beautiful colors to inspire you. I find felting  calming   and very relaxing.  I love the whole process of felt making and enjoy  learning new processes and developing new  techniques.

Thank you to Marie for her commitment to Feltmakers and lovely to again see another wonderful piece of work from her.

Meet the Maker- Carmen Garcia

We asked member Carmen Garcia since questions about her piece for the Endangered exhibition, entitled “The last trace”.

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc

I chose the trace of the Hawksbill Turtle,  one of the many critically endangered species. First, because of the beautiful pattern it leaves in the sand, which I thought it would work well in felt. But also, because of the turtle being a symbol of slowness, a quality with negative connotations in our collective psyche. By using the slow process of felt making, this quality is celebrated. 


I used natural white and brown Icelandic wool for this project. I love using this wool in sculpture, especially if I need transparency, as I did in this case. I used flax fibers, Tussah silk tops and silk rods for texture. 


The idea was to create a basic bell structure. The turtle trace and other simple traces were sculpted in the structure using resistances and creating a finer more transparent mark to let the light through. 


Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss


I have crafted, but I haven’t felted much. 


I normally make hats, scarves and vessels that I sell online , in shops and at Gifted Craft Fair. But during the lockdown I felt I needed some distancing. Like many of us, I felt the need of re-assessing things. I had the pull to stop whatever it was that I was doing, and do something different.  I love stitching, so, I started an embroidery course, and it really felt right in that situation. Maybe it had to do with the way things were controlled in the small cloths amidst the uncontrollable situation around us.  But also, I enjoyed the repetition and its calming effects, I found it extremely therapeutic. It also provided new ways of looking at things and, who knows, maybe new directions. 


Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you


Like most things, by chance. I attended a Felt workshop at Phizzfest (Arts Festival in Phibsborough). I thought it was magic! 

I love the way it brings us back to basics. So little needed…fibers, soap, water. No equipment needed, just our hands , our bodies, with no separation from the piece. 

I also like the way we do not control it completely. Unintended things happen that can not be undone… and we have to work with that. Sometimes getting more than we expected and always learning from it. 

The slow pace of the process is also something I am attracted to. You can get faster… but to a certain point. 

It’s like a metaphor for life: it takes the time it takes, you are where you are, and that’s fine.


http://www.carmengarcia.ie

http://www.carmengarcia.ie

carmengarciadesign@gmail.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carmengarciadesign

instagram: https://www.instagram.com




http://www.carmengarcia.ie

carmengarciadesign@gmail.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carmengarciadesign

instagram: https://www.instagram.com




Meet the Maker- Maria Mc Garry

Maria McGarry- Feltmaker

Maria entered her piece to the “Endangered exhition” entitled-‘Marsh Fritillary Butterfly’. In our series of interviews with the makers we asked Maria questions about her piece and her textile practice.

How does your entry to the ” Endangered Exhibition” respond to the title?

 The ‘Marsh Fritillary Butterfly’ (Euphydryas aurinia or as gaeilge, Fritilean Reisc) feeds on the ‘Devil’s Bit Scabious, Sussisa pratenis, flower’. The marsh fritillary is one of Irelands few legally protected butterflies under Annex ll of the European Union Habitats and Species Directive. The species relies on the Devils bit Scabious to lay their eggs, but the habitat for this plant is declining because of farming intensification, urban development, and monoculture forestation of traditional bog lands. I was inspired by a train conversation with Dr Ken Bond, UCC who has spent many years monitoring and protecting this species.

Crafting through the current crisis.

Looking back, I have been busy during lockdown. I completed my Art Textile Level 8 course at Crawford College Cork with my piece #ONE WORLD, which charts the spread of Covid 19 on a felt population density map of the world (up to 25/5/2020). This was part of a virtual exhibition ‘EMERGING’ at The Gallery 46 Grand Parade, Cork.

#ONE WORLD was taken from the Director-General of the W.H. O’s speech on 15/04/2020, as he voiced his major concerns about the viral spread in poor countries especially Africa. That was also the day that the U.S.A President decided to stop funding to the W.H.O. 2 million accumulated cases were reported worldwide that day and over 10,000 deaths in New York.

Detail of felt, Covid19 Clusters and viral spread up to 05/05/2020

COVID 19 sent the world into lockdown in March 2020. Something invisible could affect so many people on a global scale.  A world without borders! I wondered how I could visually represent the spread of this virus on the world map. I was inspired Renna Saini Kallat’s Woven Chronicle, 2011 which is a world interconnected that ‘with Globalisation, the privilege of free movement for some means forced displacement and migration for millions of others.’

I had another piece # TICK TOCK ( the cogs of climate change)  on exhibition at The Gallery ,46 Grand Parade for the ‘HAND’ exhibition, March 2020 ( a collaboration of Crawford College, textile students and UCC  drama students). This exhibition remained in place during lockdown.

My triptych, screen printed Nuno felted and embroidered piece, #FAKE NEWS is part of the Irish Guild of Embroiders 2020 exhibition at the Lexicon, Dunlaoighre

How I discovered felt and what it means to me.

In 2010 I saw an advert for the Basics and Beyond Feltmakers Ireland workshop in Lucan and am hooked ever since. I have met so many likeminded and lovely people. I have enjoyed the Sunday sessions at the Knockmaroon Gate in the Phoenix Park, and workshops given by other members of Feltmakers Ireland. I have taken part in incredible masterclass workshops with Gabrielle Kovacs from Hungary, Nancy Ballesteros from Australia, and last year with Leiko Uchiyama.

Inspired by all the exceptionally talented friends I have met through Feltmakers Ireland, I completed my Certificate in Visual arts in NCAD IN 2018 and have now finished Art Textile in Crawford College Cork. I am passionate about textile art and making. Feltmaking is my meditative space, because the art is in the consistency and gentleness of the laying and manipulation of the fibres. This cannot be forced or rushed and does require experience and practice. I love Nuno feltmaking and the lustre of combining silk with merino wool.

Because of lockdown I have a full house working from home so my feltmaking is on hold as   my kitchen table had to be cleared. I have lots of ideas brewing and cannot wait to get back at it. Thank you Feltmakers Ireland for all the inspiration, joy and friendships over the last 10 years.

Meet the Maker- Elaine Peden

Interview with Artist Elaine Peden.

Elaine Peden is a long time, committed member of Feltmakers Ireland. Once again she took part in this organised event and submitted a wonderful piece highlighting micro plastics in water pollution. A regular contributer to the “Element 15” textile group, exhibiting around ireland, Feltmakers thanks Elaine for her continuing interest in the organisation and for helping to publicise the craft.

” Dive straight in keep your eyes wide open ” : €500

Made during lockdown over a period of two weeks.

Working from home technology “zoom” became an integral part of my working day ,I craved the creative process. Wet felting became the perfect medium for me during lockdown and helped balance my ‘right and left’ brain .

Detail of Elaines piece

I made this piece outdoors ,laying out the fibres on our long hot Covid summer days. My work is process led ;colour plays an integral role in my work . I chose lemon and golden yellow as my primary colour base , (a colour I have avoided until now) the sun reflecting off the sea.

The circular openings draws the eye to look inside , the ‘Blue’ luminous fabrics and silks buried in the voids , reflects deep sea dumping , microplastics, and the Impact of consumer culture mainly the use of plastics on our oceans .

I believe we can create  awareness about deep sea dumping through Art .I believe Covid helped us reconnect with our Blue landscape.

Meet the Maker- Endangered -Yling Khaw

Yling Khaw, felt artist

The Endangered Exhibition drew in new members to Feltmakers Ireland, to whom we welcome. Yling submitted a wonderful piece of work entitled “Clouded Leopard”. We asked her 3 questions about her work in response to the Exhibition title.

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc
The tropical rainforest has been a lifelong love of mine even though I have lived in Ireland for the past 20 years. I grew up playing in streams, and had spent practically every weekend and holiday in the forest. My main interest is macrophotography of insects. 
Unparalleled diversity: A square kilometre of rainforest contains several thousand species; absolutely mind-boggling. Immersing oneself in it is a humbling experience.Not only is the rainforest disappearing fast, it is nearing an irreversible tipping point beyond which it can no longer sustain itself.The loss of such a magnitude of living beings is heart-breaking. I bear witness.
I chose the Clouded Leopard because it is native to my birth country and its survival depends on presence of primary (pristine) rainforest. It is an elusive, beautiful cat, well known for it’s tree-climbing skills. 
I am grateful to Endangered Exhibition for raising awareness of our planet’s collapsing ecosystem. I take this opportunity to challenge the viewer to look him in the eye and say one does not care.
Feel the heart break and take action. 



Method: Needle felted merino roving on 100% wool felt sheet.Photo credit: Wikimedia commons.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
For me, the crisis meant a combination of maternity leave and lockdown with two young kids. I felted a little every evening. Felting has helped me maintain my sense of self. 

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
I was looking for a craft that looked attractive, yet flexible and forgiving. Needle felting is also very exciting due to the endless possibilities! Even better, it is a natural compostable material!

In January 2020, I got a box of needles, felt, core wool, 40 colours of dyed Merino and embarked on my felting journey. This art form is as fun as it is therapeutic. 

We thank Yi ling for her participation in this event and congratulate her on the quality of her work, especially as she is so new to the craft and has managed to jugle so much through lockdown! We look forward and anticipate seeing more from this artist.

Meet the Maker- Interview with Claire Merry

piblicity poster- created by Tamzen Lundy, featuring the work of Claire Merry.

Its been a strange and in many ways a sad year. In January when Feltmakers ireland launched the “Endangered- lost there felt here” exhibition title, we did not know and could never have imagined how changed our world would become in 2020.

A global pandemic that might endanger human life and our very understanding of how we live would evolve. Covid- 19, coronavirus, socially distant, bubbles, pods and zoom all entered our vocabulary. We became news addicts, home schoolers, front liners, essential, non-essential, unemployed.

We have had to pivot the way we work, change the way we socialise and adapt the way we think. But as Charles Darwin put it- “its not the strongest of the species that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.”

Here at Feltmakers Ireland we mourned not seeing our members and friends face to face at Sunday sessions. We tackled zoom like the best of them and have held all our committee meetings remotely.

We’ve had had to cancel the best laid plans- two workshops with international tutors travelling from Canada and Australia ( postponed) and we have had to “pivot” so much that it’s left us dizzy!

We wanted to press ahead with our exhibition plans, now more that ever the title “endangered” seemed to resonate. We had 20 wonderful entries, from dedicated craft maker, artists. Our judges have told us that the quality made their jobs very difficult indeed.

The committee decided that because of the efforts of the artists and the quality of the work received as well as a motivator to the rest of us, we would like to show you all the pieces submitted-  in an online way.

We reached out to the member makers and asked 3 standard interview questions. We hope that the work and the artists answers inspire you to keep crafting through the crisis.

Interview 1- artist CLAIRE MERRY, whose piece entitled “tree hugger” was chosen for our publicity poster, above.

claire Merry- Tree Hugger, entry to “Endangered Exhibition 2020”

The Exhibition title “Endangered”- how does your piece respond to the title? What was your inspiration and the methods you use?

I entered two pieces to the exhibition- the first, “ Tree Hugger”- €750

These tail-less amphibians are wonderfully diverse many with fantastic colouring. Sadly many find themselves in an increasingly inhospitable world. Large numbers are listed as ‘critically endangered’. If we could all hug a tree and embrace the endangered habitats. We and the world would reap the reward.

The making of this piece-I have started playing around with mosaics recently. It’s possible to see the influence in this piece. I used prefelt to imitate tiles. 

My second piece- “BEAUTIFUL SUNSET OR DEADLY FIRE”- €850. 

The impact of the fires in Australia profoundly affected me. The loss of life, human and animal, habitats destroyed, homes and land devastated. The really sad news emerged that 85% of fires were triggered by human activity including arson as well ascarelessness and recklessness. 

I thought, wouldn’t it be lovely, if we could turn everything around and celebrate a beautiful sunset and the life of of the ecosystem living there. 

I spend a lot of time laying the fibres. Then I am up and down a ladder in order to view the piece as it’s growing. I love adding prefelt to drop in colour. 

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult?

During lockdown it was great to have crafts to divert my attention 

from the terrible news that was emerging. I was lucky to have supplies.For a craft person they are as critical as the sliced pan and loo rolls.  

It wasn’t always easy to get down to work but once I did I could ignore the news and live in my head. 

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you?

I describe myself as a craft butterfly. Over the years I have been involved in so many areas. Textile, jewellery, ceramics and felt. I first came across felt at Bloom in 2008 when I saw a demonstration by Feltmakers, it really captured me. I love colour and find felt is a perfect medium for it. The versatility of felt means that there is always something new to discover. 

I have had fun with 3d, needle felting and clothing. I find working on a submission stretches me and makes me try something new. 

You can see more of Claires work at www.merryland.ie

July Update

Dear members, here is a quick update on what is going on in Feltmakers Ireland at the moment.
The committee has been meeting a couple of times since the lock down, virtually, of course. We want to do as much as possible for the membership to stay in touch and learn despite the constraints caused by the virus.

As you know, the studio is too small to have even reduced numbers in for Sunday sessions, so we are busy looking at ways to arrange virtual How-Tos to keep expanding our learning opportunities. We are already talking to a few members about making video tutorials, but we also want to put the question out to you all to think about if you would be willing and able to do a video tutorial or Show and Tell. Please contact the committee if you want to participate in this. Going forward we will also be seeking your input on what you are especially interested in, to make sure we focus on areas that are of particular interest.

The dead line for entries to the Endangered Exhibition has passed. We received entries from 15 artists with a total of 20 pieces. They are all looking fabulous. It is currently in the hand of the judges.
The endangered exhibition will be hung on the 8th of August and we will have some sort of opening on the 9th. We have yet to find out how we can arrange the opening and how many can attend, but hope to stream it for those who are unable to attend.

National Heritage Week is happening while the exhibition is going on. We are connecting to a strand of this event labelled Relearning Skills from our Heritage. See here for more information: https://www.heritageweek.ie/project-ideas/learn-to-felt-on-a-digital-platform. There are many interesting projects included in this week’s items.

We will also be using the critters you have been making to decorate the space outside the exhibition venue. We will get back to you with more details regarding this closer to the time. Meanwhile, keep making them and send us photos we can put up on the blog!
Send all replies and images to committeefeltmakersireland@gmail.com
HAPPY MAKING!