Christmas present idea

basic and beyond hat making 2020

basic and beyond application form 2020

It is that time of year… and some clever people have already purchased this Day course as a present for a loved one! What a lovely present that is and perfect timing, just afer Christmas on 25th of January… going away with a new hat and a new skill… perhaps even a new group of friends in feltmakers ireland and certainly a fun day out.

If you want to purchase one of the last places on this course- for a friend- contact us.

We will endevour to help you out and can provide you with all the details and a gift certificate to give to them…. be someones secret Santa- GIVE EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS.


Interview:Tara Kennedy for Feltmakers Ireland

Tara Kennedy_ Awakening Belief_ 300dpi_ Photo by Beyton ErkmanAs part of our interview series and as we look forward to the Knit & Stitch show, Feltmakers Ireland is reaching out to participating and exhibiting artists. Tara Kennedy kindly agreed to respond to our interview questions about her journey and work. We have included links to her social media accounts at the bottom. Be sure to check out this inspirational artist.

 Tara Kennedy for Feltmakers Ireland

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

Ever since I can remember I have only ever been interested in the creative arts. As a child I always had a pencil in my hand, drawing at every opportunity. Having a mother with an interest in the arts and supervising children’s art clubs she would spend time with me making and creating all kinds of creations. She always had a sewing machine, (and still does), with a little old chest of drawers next to it, full of sewing and crafting bits and bobs including a little lidded basket full of buttons. I now have this chest and the basket is full of much the same. She made endless clothes for both me and my sister and even for our dolls and toys as well as most of the soft furnishings for every room in the house.  With all this creativity surrounding me I found it comforting and inspiring.

Tara Kennedy_ Hope Emerging_ 300dpi

How and when did you start your textile journey… what is your experience, tell us a little…

I went straight to Art college as soon as I could, happy to leave the constraints of school behind. I studied fashion and textiles for 4 years at the Berkshire College of Art and Design specialising in Knitwear. In my final year I was sponsored by two yarn companies who gave me huge quantities of yarn on cones, many of which I still have and use. I was also given lots of embroidery threads and wools from a great Aunt who was a big cross stitch enthusiast and I have been using many of these in my work ever since. I like the idea of using these old materials, along with recycling many other unwanted textiles to create unusual surface decoration, something I became fascinated by.

After graduating I set up my own knitwear business. A year later I went into partnership with Tim Kennedy, a fellow student and who a few years later I married. We developed our business adding items for interiors, selling at craft fairs and in small gift shops and galleries.

Over the years I developed, added and altered what I made but knew I only ever wanted to create art working for myself. After many years, my sales started to fall as the British handmade craft industry struggled against cheaper handmade imports. I was also starting to feel my work was becoming repetitive and undemanding and felt the need to challenge myself and develop more as an artist, free from commercial restraints. This was a turning point for me and decided it was the right time to move my work in a more meaningful direction.

Tara Kennedy_ Empathy_ 300dpi_ photo by Beyton Erkman

I came across the OCA, Open College of the Arts, and enrolled in a distance learning BA in Creative Arts, specializing in Fine Art and Textiles. This course was very convenient at the time, enabling me to wind down my craft business at the same time and have a small part time job, which I still have to this day. The course opened new and exciting ways of working, using new materials and helping me to be freer and more experimental. It was a valuable experience requiring both dedication and self motivation. My studies developed around subjects of personal identity with the contrasting cultures and religions of my ancestors having a big influence on me. It led me down an intriguing path of Eurasian studies, embracing politics and history, social and cultural change. These concepts had become an integral part of my work and I felt I had only just touched on the surface of ideas. I needed to develop this theme further, so I applied for an MA in Textile art at the University for Creative Arts in Farnham. This turned out to be the best thing I have ever done!  Being able to explore any creative pathway of my choosing and making whatever I desired was an incredible luxury and a significant journey.

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

My main motivation would have to be the reaction I have from creating and making. The feelings of comfort, tranquillity and wellbeing that come with the process is invaluable.
The work I undertook on the Masters course is the basis of my current work which continues to develop and change. My initial inspiration came from a need to express this unity of my mixed cultural heritage which then evolved into being less personal and became an expression of humanitarian unity. I made extensive research examining different cultures and religions in conflict and the effects of their suffering. The despair I feel of this suffering from conflict drives me to express important messages of acceptance, empathy and hope.  I feel It’s possible through understanding these messages there could be more harmonious outcomes in the world.

My present work now is about creating expressions of hope emerging from this pain. I aim to leave an impression on the viewer, causing them to contemplate and consider but it’s not essential to me they understand what it’s about. People see different things and I find it intriguing to hear their views and how it makes them feel.

My sketchbook has been invaluable in helping me to progress and develop my ideas. I collect information connected to my theme alongside related images of colour, form and texture and use these to help create ideas. I then make numerous drawings, creating shapes, patterns and forms in various scales, out of which designs for finished pieces transpire.

Tara Kennedy_ Hope Emerging detail 1_ 300dpi

The materials I use are chosen for their soft tactile quality to create a comforting feeling which include yarns, threads, carded wool and fabrics. I use various techniques including knitting, wrapping, felting, knotting and stitch depending on the expression, for example I often use knotting to convey tension, felted holes to express suffering and shibori felting to suggest buds of hope.

I have also realised how significant process is and how the act of wrapping and binding not only feels therapeutic but adds to the feeling of protection and healing.

The designs of my pieces take the forms of soft sculptures, wall hangings and more recently works on canvas. I use the imagery of cages suggesting protection, bundles and wrapped lengths conveying togetherness and trailing lengths to convey the spreading of hope.

Colour is also central for the expression, using blood red to suggest suffering and ivory to convey hope and often using a graduation of the colours from one to the other.

I also create detailed drawings which provide an alternative viewpoint and compliment my 3D work.

Tara Kennedy_ Continuous_ photographed in Somerset_300dpi

What currently inspires you?  

My work will continue to evolve, and I hope to work on many different concepts. In fact, I am presently planning other work on a very different theme after undertaking a month’s art Residency at the Textile Centre in Blonduos, Iceland with the ‘Textile Echoes’, a group of four textile artists. My work as a textile artist is usually inspired by emotional connections so the idea of coming to Iceland and using landscape and nature was to be a new and exciting challenge. After a few weeks of trips out exploring in the north I finally discovered the emotive feeling I had been hoping for.  The awareness of immense space from the endless landscape became increasingly overwhelming. Being totally absorbed by these incredible surroundings and the continually changing scenery I started to develop some ideas for a piece expressing these sensations. It was important to me I use solely Icelandic materials applying all the colours of the land from the black sand of the beaches to the imposing white snow topped mountains and everything else in-between.

From all this inspiration I created a 37-metre-long wrapped piece using Icelandic yarn, horsehair, raw sheep’s wool, fish skins and yarn dyed from Icelandic plants. By making such an extensive piece using a repetition of technique it helped me to express this continuous landscape.

I took the final piece to the coast, a short distance from Blonduos, and photographed it stretched out along the shoreline. It felt appropriate and was perfectly positioned amongst all the colours involved.

This piece is just the start of new making, working with landscape, experimenting with natural dye and natural materials. Wool will always feature in my work, as my favourite material whether felting, knitting, stitching or wrapping it.

Thank you so much to Tara Kennedy for taking part, for your inspirational images and work. We look forward to seeing and hearing more.




Tara Kennedy_ Becoming_ 300dpi





An interview with Daisy Collingridge.

Burt LungesSome of you might know of the amazing and wonderfully fantastical work of textile artist Daisy Collingridge. I’m an avid follower of her work on Instagram and when I saw that she was coming to the Knit & Stitch shows including the RDS Dublin venue I was just delighted at the prospect of seeing the work up close!

Felt makers Ireland decided to get in touch ahead of Daisy’s exhibition to ask her a little about her journey as a textile artist. We realise that this work is not felt, nor made from wool but I hope, that you like me will love it and it will inspire you to develop your textile practice further.

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

Mum is a sewer, stitcher, patchwork maker. She decorates cakes and constructs curtains. It is her influence that has guided me towards being practical and ultimately towards stitch. My family home is full of fabric, threads, paints, wood. We are all hoarders so there is always plenty of materials to get a project started. I still return to my family home to do large parts of my sculptural work. My family play a huge role in what a do, whether it is practical or moral support they are always there.

The current form my artistic work takes isn’t the most financially rewarding so I am also an illustrator. I have my own greetings card company; DMC Illustrations. It is very different to my sculptural work, but keeps things fresh! When I’m not sewing or drawing, I like to run. Running has always been part of my life and it has given me the discipline to grow my card company and continue to sculpt with fabric. It keeps me sane.

How and when did you start your textile journey… what is your experience, tell us a little…

From making over 40 stuffed toys as a kid. (I was a little obsessed with teddy bears) it has been a direct route through Fine Art GCSE, A-level, Art foundation and finally a degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins that has led me to this point. There were always textiles elements to my work during school, which naturally led to fashion. On reflection my heart was never really in fashion, but the freedom to create and the people that I met during my degree were invaluable. Since graduating I have predominately left fashion behind focusing more on sculpture (though still wearable). These have been shown as part of the 62 Groups’ Ctrl/Shift group exhibition as well as part of the World of Wearable Arts in New Zealand. My best story is still making a dress for Bjork. That was unreal!

Dye bath for DaveTell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? e.g. for hobby/ creativity/ art/ fashion/ health/ money…

I like a deadline. It’s good to work towards an exhibition or competition. I take great pleasure in seeing a project from start to finish and more importantly to create with my own hands. I felt that I would lose that if I were to be a designer for a company. I never stopped making even during the years that I didn’t have a focus. It is impulsive and rarely planned. The act of creating makes me happy. So, I guess my motivation is happiness!

Projects usually start with a period of experimentation. My work is driven my fabric manipulation and experimentation as opposed to concept. It can be difficult to allow yourself to just play without an ‘end piece’ at the end. I think it is vital phase to keep your ideas moving forward. The ‘Squishys’ have been a development on from my graduation collection. They are the culmination of free machine quilting pushed to the extreme. I work in the same way as I would making clothes, I work mainly on the stand. Draping and physically wearing the pieces as I go to see how they hang and move. The result is no longer a ‘couture’ dress but a ‘couture squishy’!

The fabric is hand dyed. Once I’ve selected my colour palette, I used Procion dyes to create the pastel shades. This is done in the sink (my parents kitchen sink). Each Squishy is made from 5-6 different garments; mask, trousers, top and/or jacket and gloves. I build up the underlying volume at this stage using thick wadding; essentially build the silhouette. I then begin to build up the relief and shape by hand sewing on blobs of fabric with wadding and beans (both heavy and light). I always start with the head first. This informs the character of the person I am making. They are all made up in this way (rather than based on real people).

Daisy Collingridge clive kneelerWhat currently inspires you? 

Bringing things to life.

I worked with the animator Isabel Garrett to produce a miniature squishy for a short animation called ‘Listen to Me Sing’. It was pure magic to watch the small person I built around an armature actually breath and come to life!

Similarly, I love creating videos with my wearable pieces. I am excited to do more film work. They are the most fun.

Felt makers Ireland would like to thank Daisy for her time in participating in this interview process. We can’t wait to see the work in November. We wish her every success in her textile journey.

The Knit & Stitch show is on at the RDS Dublin 7th-11th of November- where you will be able to meet Daisy’s fantastical creations- in person!


Instagram: @daisy_collingridge

Interview with Catherine Kaufman

12-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-14Catherine Kaufman, sometimes affectionately known as the “Woolly Queen”. Feltmakers Ireland requested an interview ahead of seeing her work in this years Knit & Stitch at the RDS, Dublin.

Following on from her win at the Ribble Valley Craft Open Exhibition 2019, Catherine Kaufman was asked to exhibit her work at Olympia in London, and she is set to showcase her sculptures in Dublin as part of the Knit & Stitch show 7th-11th November this year.

Catherine grew up in a household full of art –her father was an antiques dealer and as a small child, she recalls her mother drawing beautiful elaborate pictures.

“Our home was filled with beautiful art and furniture – this greatly influenced me. My mother drew dancing ladies with crinolines for me which I loved.”

As a young girl Catherine always had a love of nature, imagining a world of fairy tales in the forests, countryside and riverbanks as she played near her childhood home.

“I remember that I always gravitated to the nature table at school, it was a magnet for me. I was always making and putting things together. I loved sand, playing with water and my favourite was fuzzy felt.

36-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-38This was the start of things to come.

“I loved the smells of nature and the birdsong and noises. While among nature my imagination would be full of fairies and pixies and characters from stories I had read. It was all there, a rich tapestry just waiting to emerge.”

Attending a Catholic school in Altrincham, outside Manchester. Catherine left school at 16 but it wasn’t until she was living as a housewife in Rossendale, that she began to re-engage with her love of art.

“I began painting, I joined a local watercolour class, while bringing up my three children and I was asked to apply for a place at Blackburn University to study for a BA in Fine Art. At first, I thought it was crazy as I had no academic experience and I was a housewife with children! I wasn’t sure they had the right person to be honest!

“I made every possible excuse not to goas I was scared, but they kept pursuing meso eventually I decided to try it.”

Catherine went on to gain a first-class Fine Art degree in 2012 and is now one of the UK’s leading needle felt fibre artists.


“Working as a felt fibre sculptor happened by chance. One morning I saw a lady who was demonstrating spinning and felting. I had never considered this medium before.

I asked her if she thought I could make sculptural figures with wool. She went onto teach me all the craft skills I needed to start creating my work.

That lady was Judith Beckett of the Wonder of Woollies and she became my guru and mentor. “Wool is now my love and being a fibre artist is my life.” says Catherine.

Catherine gleans inspiration from many things to create her beautiful life-size sculptures, as she explains: “It all starts with a thread of an idea. Where to start comes in many forms, I may find a figure whirling around in my subconscious – I often don’t really know who will surface so it’s very exciting!

“Then I get to work practically and physically, and the figure literally comes pouring out. It’s something that once I start, I don’t stop until its finished, so I never quite know how long it’s going to take or how I’m going to create it. It all happens naturally and organically during the creative process.”

Catherine admits that her creations are a reflection of her emotions. It is a way of working that suits my personality. I work for long periods with my pieces, so I can attach myself and immerse myself

completely into it. I find this very healing and comforting. The making process is so physical – it is very therapeutic and cathartic.”

Having chosen wool as her medium for her art, Catherine says it was important to her to select a material that is environmentally friendly and organic.

“In a world of synthetics there is no substitute for wool. Wool has a celestial symbolism that represents purity and truth.”

She sees her work as a ceaseless daily discipline: “It stems from my love of the making process, the physical repetitive act of making and assembling. I explore my own sense of self and that of the female narrative within the yarns.”

Her award-winning work showcased at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London, was highly praised and she was delighted to be able exhibit there:  I was chosen to be an exhibiting textile artist there and was lucky to have a large stand where I displayed my collection of sculptural needle felt. The show was wonderful, and I have had a great response to my work, and I met some wonderful people.

I hope to raise awareness of the value of traditional crafts. This at the heart of what I do and if I can inspire young people to keep these ancient skills alive, then I have succeeded.”

You can see Catherine’s work at this year’s Knit & Stitch show in the RDS 7th-11th November… support your fellow felters- and get along!

Catherine Kaufman

Interview with Valerie Wartelle.

Into-The-Drift-#2SS-VALERIE WARTELLELike many of our members I follow a few felt makers on Instagram and Facebook for inspiration. One Artist that caught my eye recently is Valerie Wartelle. When I saw in the spring that she was attending a Royal horticultural Show with an Artisan felt stand thus marrying my two loves of craft and plants I was inspired to make contact. I asked Valerie a few questions about herself and her practice.

Tell us a little about you as a person?

Brought up in France and French Polynesia, I enjoyed a loving childhood with my two siblings, French father and Scottish mother. My mother involved us from an early age in all kind of making, sewing and cooking. Therefore as a teenager you would have found me happily making my own clothes and involved in varied creative crafts.

Somehow predictably, on completion of my schooling, I left France to study in England – I attended an art foundation in Essex followed by a BSc Textile Design course at the University of Huddersfield (then Huddersfield Polytechnic) where I specialised in Knitwear.

Then followed a 10-year period working in Manchester as a knitwear designer. Whilst I loved it, I felt the need to bring my IT skills up to the 21st century and in 1999 returned to University to take a Masters in Interactive Multimedia Product Development- such joy to be learning again! Strangely I then worked for over 13 years for my Local Authority mainly with Elected Members, and barely touching a thread or knitting needle.


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

I was introduced to needle felting during my studies, though I must admit never explored it further. It was not till many years later that a friend showed a few of us how to wet felt. I remember the event well – a rainy Autumnal Sunday afternoon and more specifically finding myself utterly spellbound by the wet felting process…

Move forward to 2012 when I finally tackled my first wet felting project, slowly reacquainting myself with my love of colours and textiles. I initially made design products, such as notebook covers, laptop covers, scarves; but it wasn’t long before my interest solely focussed on mark making, textures and colour.

I quickly realised I needed more time to dedicate to my new hobby, and resolved to compress my working week onto 4 days. I started showing pieces at local art events, received good feedback and in September 2014 decided to take the leap and establish myself as a full time artist.

I now have a studio near my home in Halifax in an old Mill – it’s a lovely space if a little dusty and unfinished, but has plenty of light, and critically some heating!

Tell us about your process from conception to creation?

My inspiration comes mainly from the rural environment – sometimes from a collected object (pebble, fossil, and grasses), sometimes a photograph, and lately more often than not a drawing or sketch. Whatever triggers my interest, I draw on its colour, texture, form and light… curious about how to translate it using wet felting.

Understanding the craft and behaviour of materials is very important to me, but so is the manipulation of fibres as an expressive art form.  I love the properties of wool and I feel it lends itself well to the dramatic and moody landscapes we have here in Yorkshire. I start with a pre-felt, which equates to having a blank canvas, and I apply fibres in fine layers in a painterly way. I enjoy bringing in other elements (fabric, thread, printing…) to create depth and transparency within the composition. The analogy with painting is significant, making the viewing inquisitive and challenging people’s perception.

What currently inspires you?

Currently I am experimenting with working BIG… size and weight brings a new set of issues to have to resolve along with working flat, working wet and with shrinkage. However solving issues is to me intrinsic to the creative process – it is by seeking out solutions that I achieve small breakthrough. The organic and at times unpredictable response of the medium will keep me curious and engaged for some time to come.


Thank you Valerie for taking the time to respond. Your story is inspiring. Valerie plans to exhibit at the Knit & Stitch show, Dublin in 2020. You can find more information on workshops she runs and her work at her website below.


We at felt makers Ireland plan to keep in touch and perhaps link up with Valerie to run a workshop in the future.



Heritage day event

heritage day 2

It would be lovely to see our members on the day! Familiar faces and fancy felters, to help guide new beginners in the art & craft of  this past time from past times- that is felt making.

Thank you again for all your contributions already to our wonderful bunting! If you haven’t already submitted a piece of your work- a triangle of bunting then this is your chance! Come along, drink tea, eat buns and show your skills.  This is an extra long felting session- replacing our normal Sunday session…

We will be using this bunting for decorating our stand at the knit & stitch- your piece is vital. Your skills are welcomed and we would love to see our valued members pass on their skills to new comers.

The Final 3 featured Artists showing at “Something Red” in Finland

This is the final in a series of posts featuring the Artists whose work was selected for the “Something Red” exhibition in Finland. This week we look at the work of Niki Collier, Marika Miklosi Manning & Nessa McCormack.

Luckily as most of us have not been able to see the exhibits in person, we look forward to the Irish exhibits returning and featuring as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival 8th-22nd Sept in Portumna

Artist – Niki Collier 

My Egg. Do Not Sit III

An interpretation of the human ovary in fibre, mounted on a transparent structure. Discussing women’s freedom and the perception of ownership. 

Sale price. €875.00

Materials – merino wool, silk fibres, Nuno felted knit mohair, vintage silk from the artist’s grandmother, Russian silk from her mother, Blueface Leicester fibres, fibre from a dog who had miscarried, and fbres from a sheep who won the national championship at Gosford.

Image-2 (22)
Marika Miklosi Manning

Artist – Marika Miklosi Manning

Red Between the Lines

We can easily miss or are blind to  trouble or pain,  sometimes we are in denial about  the “red” between the lines.

 Sale price. €125.00

Materials – Kap merino wool, tussah silk fibres, merino wool

Notes – this is intended to be displayed standing with the long cord casually laid on the table, encircling the vessel.

Image-2 (7)
Nessa Mc Cormack

Artist – Nessa McCormack


I have always loved groups of things, little colonies of harmony repeating themselves. It’s a reassuring feeling, the process of repeating, making and slowly building layers. I am very drawn to rolls of delicate paper and fabric with the selvedge exposed. I think these elements have influenced me in making this piece.

Red is not a colour I usually work with. In the process of making this piece I learned how much I liked the intensity of saturated warm colours. It was nice to be surprised in this way.

Sale price. €325.00

Materials – fine merino fibre, pieced and stitched.

Once again our sincere thanks to DCCoI for the part funding received that enabled Feltmakers ireland to take part in these exhibitions.


Heritage Ireland GANS update

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215Further to our (Felt makers Ireland) submission to Heritage Ireland 2030, an Information Session will be held in Dublin Castle Printworks (Lower Yard) on the 28 May.

Given the enormous response to the consultation, with over 2,000 submissions received and the limited number of places available at this time, places are limited to one representative per organisation.

However, I (Breda Fay, Feltmakers Ireland GANS- Guilds, Associations, Networks Support– rep) have registered and been allocated an extra ticket. If you wish to attend the consultation information session please email and depending on interest, the 2 places will be allocated.

For anyone unable to attend but interested in the event, please note the event will also be live-streamed, details of which will be announced in coming days on the Department’s website.

Kind regards

The Feltmakers Ireland Committee- on behalf of The Heritage Ireland 2030 Team

Dietary Requirements

A light lunch will be served-I did not indicate any dietary requirements in my booking.

HI2030 28 May Summary Programme



NUNO Felting: JUNE 15TH 1 day course


Felt makers Ireland is delighted to announce a 1 day “Felting with Fabric- NUNO” course. On June 15th, 10am-5pm Discounted for members to €55, ( non members €80).

Tutor: Elizabeth Bonnar, suitable with those with some felt making skills- for example if you make at home, or have attended a basic and beyond course… increase your knowledge and expand your skills.

See the application form below- this has the full details of materials required and application process and payment.

Please contact if you have any questions or difficulties.


Masterclass workshop: Leiko Uchiyama


Hi folks

We are delighted to announce the next workshop!

This will be a 2 day “masterclass” – led by tutor Leiko Uchyiyama.  She will be showing us her “Pine Needle Technique” and we will be making a scarf following these instructions.

Leiko is a highly regarded felt artist, who teaches around the world.  Originally from Japan and now in Ireland over 6 years.

You can see more of her work on her website:

You can also read a little about her inspiration in an interview we did some months ago.


Please see the application form attached below. Please also see the list of materials required. Hand dyed ultra-fine merino is required and will be available to purchase from Leiko herself.


Leiko materials list

Places are limited to 12. The course will be held in Shankhill, South Co. Dublin. Members of Felt makers Ireland will be given priority and should this class be oversubscribed we will pull names from a hat! Good luck everyone.

Application forms should be emailed directly to: