Basic and Beyond FI Vessel Making Workshop 05/03/2023

Yesterday, our Guild Treasurer, Artist Annika Berglund, led the wonderful “Basic and Beyond” workshop. We made a versatile double-walled vessel.

An early start at 10am had us all rushing for coffee and tea, and the committee and some participants provided an array of lovely buns and cakes. Some participants had travelled from faraway places such as Galway, Kilbeggan and Slane.

Annika showed us samples of the finished piece, and asked us to choose 2 x10gr bags of tencel, a fibre which she had dyed in a variety of colours. Each participant was also given a kit bag of merino wool, with the resist already cut out in the shape needed for our vessels. 

Annika then gave us  a series of demonstrations to help create our vessels step by step.

1st: She showed us how we would lay out the tencel for our colour pop.

2nd: After another short demo and we then laid the white band and the black bands of our wool. (Layer one). This “inside-out” lay out was explained, and several committee members, Marian, Clare, Deirdre Crofts and Fiona helped the 18 participants.

Then, we had a lunch break on the premises with tea and coffee provided. This allowed a very warm-hearted social interaction between long standing Guild members and some new arrivals.

3rd: After lunch Annika again demonstrated the second layer of wool and how she wished us to rub and  roll our pieces. Hard rollers were provided by the committee.

4th: The next demonstration was how to make  slits or cuts with sharp scissors, after which we each designed how we wanted our final pieces to appear. 

5th: This demo was how to “cure” our slit edges, and we continued to roll until the whole piece was well felted. This was a reminder to all of us  how physically energetic actual felt-making is!

6th:  This demonstration was how to style our pieces, showing us ways to strengthen the base and to give a stylish finish to the ‘frames’ of our window slits. Annika showed us further samples of the variety of ways to use this skill.

All of us were very satisfied indeed with our beautiful vessels when we finally saw the double wall with the inner pop of  colour through the “Windows”. Each person’s piece was different to the next. Group photos were taken before we left for the journey home. 

As a final bonus, Annika presented each of us with notes so we can make it again if we like!

A huge thank you to Annika and the committee for a wonderful day.

Clare Brophy 

Secretary 

Feltmakers Ireland

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2023 FEBRUARY SUNDAY SESSION at CIE SOCIAL CLUB, THE WORKS, INCHICORE (Irish Wool Edition)

Clodagh McDonagh writes the blog about our February Sunday session. Thank you Clodagh!

There was a great turnout on the first Sunday Session of 2023 , on 12th February, for a very busy `hands on` double session with Annika Berglund, and South African sheep and Alpaca breeder, Grant Bartholomew.

Many of you will have heard about FI’s project exploring the  possibilities of sheep`s  wool available to us here in Ireland. Annika is to be really commended for the hard slog that she and her wool project team has put in over the last two years studying ,learning and trialling many of the various indigenous and local sheep fleeces available here, with their particular properties, and possibilities. A book is in the works, full of useful information and practical tips, based on the wool group’s research, which will be released very shortly.

Annika had done lots of preparation for the session, she began by showing everyone some samples, pointing out the varieties of colours, tones, and textures of the different wools. All of the wool had been carefully washed, combed (carded) and weighed, and tied into 10gm bundles, with identifying labels.

Personally, I offered early on to help produce a few samples, however, easier said than done! The method of laying out the different breeds is completely different to using the very tame and biddable imported Merino wool `tops`which leaves it`s native Australia to be processed in China or Germany, Italy or UK.

Annika had many tips for handling the fibre, including laying it down very finely on bubblewrap using a 20cm x 20cm paper template to help guide the process. Other tips included, using a wooden dowel as a roller, using minimal water and even using liquid soap (or melted olive oil `bar`soap) on it`s own, to help tame the rough fibres. To help speed up the process there was a microwave on hand  to heat the wool to encourage felting and even a sander too.

Annika encouraged everyone to have a go and we were allowed to take the finished square home, or alternatively to cut them up and swop part of it with another participant. There was lots of comparing of notes between participants on their varying experiences, with plenty of ideas for future sessions.

Grant began the second part of the session by setting up his fleece sorting table, a metal framed table with an open metal gridwork top, and placed the raw sheep fleece on it to start the process of judging it to find the best parts before it was to be washed and processed.

Grant gave us a basic lesson in how to sort out the bad from the good, which bits to avoid, and even which fleeces to discard entirely if they had been badly shorn, (double cut) holding a staple length to show us ,  stretching it to see whether it would break, which would form lumps in the fibre if left in during the process. Some of the fleece might be discarded  simply if it was too dirty, or if it retained the colour of the farmers identifying marks, purple for example, by using iodine liquid to stain the fleece. At times up to 20% might be lost on removing vegetation from the fleece, and washing can remove approximately 40% of the weight. It takes Grant approximately 20 minutes to sort each fleece, we were amazed at his speed and many of us were shocked to see him discarding at least 30 or 40% of the whole amount.

According to Grant, the business of processing sheep and alpaca fleeces for a living can be very trying as there is a huge amount of legislation surrounding the industry, and  to obtain a licence for washing fleeces commercially is practically impossible at the moment.   

We will do further sessions using Irish wool when the book is published, so if you missed this session there will be more chances to get hands on using Irish wool.

Again, Thank you Clodagh for this write-up!

Irish Wool is the theme for our next Sunday session February 12th at the CIE Sports and social club at Inchicore at 10.30 – 12.30.

As many of you know, we have been working on a project around using wool from local sheep. We are nearly finished and are currently putting the finishing touches on the book where we will share all our results as well as information about how to source, wash and dye your own wool. As part of this theme, our upcoming Sunday session will let you have a look at raw fleece and how to skirt and pick it to prepare for washing.

We will also be exploring different Irish fleeces that Annika and her Wool Project team have been trialling. We will work on a 2D or 3D sample using a range of breeds and discuss and swap our results. It should be a hugely informative session especially for those ( like me) who tend to stick to what we know!

We would need to bring our usual felt making equipment, soap, sprayer, roller, bubble wrap, plastic bag and perhaps 2 towels, big and small (some fleeces can require a lot of water)
We will have some extras in case there are any beginners or you forget something. So don’t worry.

Hope some of you can make it.

March 5th is the date for our Basic and Beyond workshop at the same venue. It is a full day. This is just an initial heads up with basic information to whet your appetite. More details will follow soon.

Annika will be the leader for this course but there will also be plenty of assistants on hand.
We will be making a double walled vessel with lace effect and Tencel fibre decoration. It is suitable for beginners and improvers. The skills are…. Basic wet felting…. Felting around a resist….. Shading using black and white layers…. Lace technique…. Double walled vessel with decoration on inside…. and shaping while wet.
There will be lots of help so feeling a little intimated shouldn’t stop you from having a go if you are a beginner.
Materials will be provided.

That’s it for now. Hope to see some of you soon. I will have membership forms on the 12th for those who’d like to sign up.

All the best,
Fiona and the committee.

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


Upcoming events that may be of interest:

Talk: Launch ships and burn towers: Beatrice Elvery and Patrick Pearse

Upcoming Needle felting landscape courses at The Muddle

Talk: Launch ships and burn towers: Beatrice Elvery and Patrick Pearse

 It explores the fascinating relationship between Patrick Pearse and the artist Beatrice Elvery. 
Several of Elvery’s paintings hung in Pearse’s school, Scoil Éanna and she also illustrated Pearse’s book, ‘Íosagán agus Scealta Éile’. The talk will also look more generally at the central role which art played in Pearse’s innovative and experimental school. 
Hopefully these stories will inspire you and be just what you need to get your creative juices flowing and help you beat the January blues. The talk will also look at aspects of the history of early 20th century Irish stained glass and will help you in finalising your ideas towards submission for Keep Well Felt with Us Felt Stained Glass Exhibition scheduled for launch in Pearse Museum in April. The Pearse Museum and St. Enda’s Park are managed and run by the OPW.

This event can be booked on Eventbrite:
Launch ships and burn towers: Beatrice Elvery and Patrick Pearse Tickets, Thu 13 Jan 2022 at 19:00 | Eventbrite

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Niki Collier at herself@nikicollier.com

The Muddle; needle felting classes

The Muddle in Bray has added some 2022 Needlefelting Landscape classes onto the web for booking.

One is an online needlefelting class, two hours, two week on zoom on a Wednesday evening. 

https://www.themuddle.ie/product-page/needlefelting-pictures-online-weds-2nd-and-9th-feb7-30pm-9-30pm

The other is Needlefelting landscapes in  person in The Muddle Sat Feb 26th

https://www.themuddle.ie/product-page/needlefelting-a-landscape-with-sharon-wells-sat-26th-11am-2pm

For the online class you will need a basic kit which you can order on the website or collect from the shop. The kit is provided for the inhouse class. Here are the two links. 

The muddle is also planning classes this year in natural wool fibre preparation, wool washing, dyeing, carding and spinning.

They are also starting Kids after schools classes and adult weekly mixed craft sessions. Also on the website. The classes will differ each week depending on the tutor. Like a plethora of art and craft, tasters sessions etc. 

Feltmaking Course in Castleknock Community College

If you are in a position to get to Castleknock once a week for 10 weeks, this might be for you:

Feltmaking with Clodagh Mac Donagh

Course Content:
Welcome to the wonderful world of wool. Using beautiful Merino wool and other fibres to produce woolly works of Art. You will learn all of the terms and many techniques to create your own fabric and solid forms, from fluffy fibre, done using the wet felting technique. (Students will be required to pay a €25 materials charge)

Course Schedule
NameDateDayStart TimeEnd Time
M29 Feltmaking with Clodagh Mac Donagh24/01/2022Monday19.0021.00

To enroll:

https://www.dcsnet.ie/web_aeccodublin/webbook2/webbookcourse_ETBDUB_SAC.asp

You can contact the Director of Adult Education directly on (01) 8129346 or by e-mail at nightclasses@castleknockcc.ie.

Keep well campaign- Liadian de Butlear

Back in February my phone rang, and it was a call from a fellow Feltmaker, who I have always enjoyed working with in CRAFTed over the years but we never actually worked together. She told me she had received funding as part of the Keep Well campaing and wanted to get a group of like-minded felters together for a collaborative project.

I was feeling the post Christmas lockdown and told her that I felt I was creatively stuck in a rut and would be delighted to get on board and do a collaborative project.

Nikki put our dream team together.  The idea was that we would each present an hour-long workshop working on different stages of the felting process to create stained glass effect felt pieces which would be exhibited later in the year. Niki went about advertising the free workshops and they were oversubscribed in a day leading to further workshops.

Fox by Breda Fay

Caolfhionn got the tough job of hosting the first workshop which shows how to create prefelts and blending colours to create your fabric for your picture. Niki did the design layout for our work and I got the job to do the stained glass effect dry felting work.

Each class had 35 participants and we did three classes each to facilitate the large numbers in our groups. We also supported each other during the workshops which was fantastic and made it a lot easier.

I was delighted to find that Breda Fay who was a long-time student of mine when I did workshops in Johnstown Craftspun yarns is now the treasurer of Feltmakers Ireland and she was attending the three-part workshop. It was great to see familiar faces on the screen. The best part about the project was the collaborative process and having the support of fellow felt makers and being able to bounce ideas off each other.

We have set up further classes in May and August this year which will be either online of face to face, depending on where we are.

We also have an exhibition to look forward to: online in August and physical in October and we look forward to inviting back participants to celebrate their feltmaking.