Interview: with Nancy Ballesteros

Nancy Ballesteros from the renowned “Treetops Colour Harmonies” in Australia is planning a series of workshops in Europe in 2020. We really hope here at Feltmakers Ireland to be one of the lucky groups to host a masterclass workshop with her.

We decided in advance of this to ask her a few questions about her felting journey and what currently inspires her. We at Feltmakers Ireland hope that this interview in turn inspires you.

NANCY BALLESTEROS (2)

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…

NANCY BALLESTEROS

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.

NANCY BALLESTEROS4

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 https://treetopscolours.com.au/natural-rhythms-30-day-challenge/). 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 Feltmakers 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: https://treetopscolours.com.au/more/information/workshops/  or visit my website on www.treetopscolours.com.au

You can also follow Nancy on FB and Instagram:

FB: www.facebook.com/treetopscolours

Insta: www.instagram.com/treetops.colours

NANCY BALLESTEROS3

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An Interview with Feltmakers Ireland Member- Leiko Uchiyama- workshop April 27th & 28th

We are resharing this inspiring interview as Feltmakers Ireland will be hosting Leiko on 27th and 28th April as she teaches a workshop.

LEIKO UCHIYAMA PINE NEEDLE SCARF 2019

Leiko materials list

LEIKO APRIL 2019

We asked Feltmakers Ireland member Leiko Uchiyama a few questions last month to get an understanding of her work and what motivates one of the members of our guild.
We hope you enjoy her responses and gain an understanding of how your fellow felt-makers work in this craft.
Can you tell us a little about yourself Leiko?
I’m Japanese and I’ve lived in Japan, NZ, France, Indonesia and now in Ireland over the last 6 years. I was studying animal science (sheep reproduction) in university in Japan and I was shearing sheep… Felting has been how I make my living since 1994.
 
How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, can you tell us a little about your journey?
My first felting experience was when I was working on the sheep farm in NZ in 1987 with my farm boss and the book called “Felt Making” by Inge Evers. Then I had a chance to take the felting class with Jorie Johnson in 1992 in Japan. I was learning spinning, weaving and knitting but felting drew me the most.
 
What is your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? 
I like keep my hands busy and it makes my brain works. Hand craft is very important in Japan and I believe it makes the society rich. Sheep is the animal which has the longest relationship with human being and they’ve been providing us food, shelter and clothes.In this 21st century, I’d like to see what real hand craft can do and to remember how skilled our hands are.
 
What currently inspires you?
Everything I see and everything goes through my mind and body.

Thank you Leiko for taking the time to speak with us.

read more about Leiko here

What do FI have planned for this year?

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215Hi folks

Thanks to a lot of you who have renewed your membership to feltmakers Ireland.  A very warm welcome to all the new members. You are part of a vibrant and active community of crafters that range from beginners to practicing professionals. We can all learn from each other and help to keep an ancient craft alive as well as bringing it into the 21st century with new and always evolving techniques and surprises.

voucher

What do we have planned for this year?

FEBRUARY

We hosted our Basic and Beyond- Hat Making workshop… safe to say that this group is very finely kitted out in the headgear department!

ALL THROUGH THE YEAR- 2nd sunday of the month

We have already had two very successful “Sunday Sessions”- a full house each time. January saw the talented Kay, demonstrate smocking… us beginners muddled our way through, but under her expert eyes we definitely left a little wiser.

February saw the inspiring work of Elaine. She took us through beading.

Every second Sunday of the month we hold our Sunday sessions in the park- That’s Phoenix Park, Knockmarroon gate- studio. We are lucky enough to have a permanent base here. Our Sunday Sessions are a relaxed session from 10:30am-12:30 with tea/ coffee and buns. We usually host an experienced member who may provide a demo or a talk about the way they work. It is an invaluable chance to meet face to face and share ideas.

This Sunday session is hosted by volunteers, only a nominal €5 donation is asked (for the tea-coffee- time and petrol of the demonstrator).

We are always trying to encourage members in the parts of the country to set up a similar regular session. Especially to facilitate new beginners as they engage in the craft.

MARCH

March 15th is the closing date for first submissions for our joint International Exhibition with Finland Filttii. We really look forward to many of you members entering a piece.

We have an unconfirmed venue in Galway for the returning Irish entries… wouldn’t it be great to see your work displayed both internationally and nationally!?!

APRIL

A wonderful opportunity- a 2 day “masterclass” with Leiko Uchiyama making a scarf using her pine needle technique.

MAY

Sunday the 19th, our AGM; when all our current paid members are invited to attend. Share ideas, buy fibre and hear a talk.

(membership forms will be available on the day, if you haven’t managed to pay yet, and we will accept the membership fee).

JUNE

A 1 day workshop on Nuno felting, by our very own Elizabeth Bonner.

Date/ time/ Venue TBC

JULY & AUG

Summer break, but we will probably still host at least one Sunday Session in the Park.

THE AUTUMN

We hope to host another international tutor led workshop and we are currently actively trying to confirm a name. We also endeavour to be at the KNIT AND STITCH show this year in NOVEMBER.

The Knit & Stitch is a four day event. We are looking for volunteers to man our stand. We will also take park in the “Learning Curve” workshops so we will need tutors also. Volunteers are asked to give a ½ day on the stand (you will receive entry to the Knit & Stitch).

If you think you can help out in any way, please contact us.

Perhaps you might lead a Sunday Session? Put your name down to volunteer at the Knit&Stitch… maybe you would like to lead a workshop or have a venue for an exhibition in mind. Perhaps you have limited time but great computer or graphics skills and can work with us in the “virtual space”… we welcome all intiatives.

Remember as a member you can also now advertise your own workshops and events, all we ask is that you are a paid up member and that you tell us a little about yourself so that we can share that inspiration with the community in the promotion of the felting craft.

Thank you to all our valued members, see you over the year.

Please find the most up to date information on our webpage.

Follow us on Facebook

Feltmakers Ireland Facebook

This information is subject to date changes.

Interview with Niki Collier

Photo credit: Ivaylo Petrov

Niki Collier is a long term member of Felt maker Ireland.  She contacted us to let us know that her work has been selected to be shown at the National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny as part of an international Exhibition started on Feb 9th and running through to 23rd June. The exhibition is called

“Monumentality/ Fragility”

www.ndcg.ie/exhibitions

We decided to ask Niki a little about her life and work as a felt maker.

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

I think as a person I am always open for change. It is always very difficult to state I am this or that as when life presents its challenges, we end up reinventing ourselves.

I am a Dublin based visual artist and maker based in Marlay Park. I come from a small quiet town in Bulgaria and all the horizons that felt and creative community has offered to me still make me pinch myself.

Some people like my garments and accessories. Others get  my sculptures of microorganisms. Or people see my passion for felt and teaching and get fired up about felting when we have a workshop. But who am I? I am all these things and a hot headed disabled woman from Bulgaria, who had the audacity to marry an English bloke in Ireland? Wow, I am lucky!

I do all my projects with an urgency informed by the realisation that next moment in our life everything can go south. My nuclear family has a girl with complex health problems and often our team- me, my husband and my other daughter need to readjust not just schedule but also plans and priorities. Still she is the constant source of my inspiration and the foundation of my artistic practice

We live in a tiny two up to down terrace house on South Circular Road with Bongo, our cat. All members of the family love felt. They wouldn’t dare not to.

Here is a link to an interview on you tube- this gives you more insight into my life as a felt maker.

www.youtube.com

Before I committed to practicing felt making I had tried a few different paths.  I graduated as a teacher and after teaching for a short while I won a scholarship for doctoral research in UCD. After finishing the PhD I lectured for a few years. I loved lecturing, but it was not enough. After my daughter Coral, who has special needs, was born, I had to grow up that bit more. Then I found felt and that was it!

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

The enlighten to start working in felt came up from an idea for a lighting unit- I tried to make a prototype in various materials, but it was only when I made it in felt I knew I have resolved not just this project, but I opened up possibility to limitless creativity. I love wool and how it could express everything and could resolve all.

I wanted to try felting and contacted Felt makers Ireland who took me under their wing and gave me access to their knowledge and projects. I loved every minute of it.

Since I was a newbie I was very eager to learn. I have learned from many: Sheila Ahern, Nicola Brown, Horst, Lisa Klakulak, Diana Nagorna, Marjolein Dellinga and Nina Demidova.

I was gutted when I couldn’t get a place on Judith Pods and Gladys Paulus workshops with Felt makers Ireland, due to them being oversubscribed but I am thankful that being part of the group has allowed me to travel and network with other communities while participating in alternative workshops with them.

NikiCollier Art Ivaylo Petrov Photo Celebrations Children Day

Photo Credit: Ivaylo Pretrov

Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?

My process is simple. It starts with something that I see as a problem and I look for ways to solve it.

This need transpires into a collection that people wear or in sculptural pieces that I share with folk with passion for visual interpretation of us and our world.

In all my work I start with complex ideas and an array of materials and I use the process to learn and simplify both the idea and the materials so that they are welcoming to many.

What currently inspires you? 

My current source of hope comes from the wonderful thought that my viruses would be at the National Design and Craft Gallery till the summer.

I have just finished a two year long project on Celebrations. The project profiled Bulgarian community in Ireland arguing that growth comes from personal, geographical or professional change. It also explored boundaries of communities as they often include complex origin make up. For example in the Bulgarian community we have an American, many Irish and some Latvian and Nigerians. As I say in one of the stories- Children Day- our origin is Earth, my religion is Love, and the only politics I care for is Freedom.

At present I am working on headpieces and garments which interpret the perception of women as powerful creatures. The work has just begun. I work from a grid based ideation, followed by a lot of research- actual reading on the topic, usually scientific.

Then I do sketches.  Then I do samples. Then I photograph the piece and re-do it again. Only then do I try to share it with others.

I am developing currently some pieces as embodiment of my interpretation of sin and virtues. My aim in terms of technical goal is to explore consistency of colour but create pieces that are juxtaposed in texture- solid complex sculptures and delicate textured garments. I am trying to answer the question: Why are we afraid of Virginia Wolf and could we still get away with it?

I am applying for some financial support for my work, but to be honest I would be doing it regardless of whether I receive it or not. If I believe in something, I need to get it out of my system. The journey is my necessity; the possibility to communicate it to others is a privilege and an award which I often have not been granted.

NikiCollier Art Ivaylo Petrov Photo Celebrations Hope Faith Charity

Photo Credit: Ivaylo Pretrov

My Workshops:

apply at nikicollierdesign.com/workshops/

or www.facebook.com/nikicollierdesign/

I am pleased to offer 3 different type of felting workshops in 2019. Please read about them below.

Felt Fridays Feb & Mar 19

Six week course introducing the magic of felt making.

8th Feb
Flower
15th Feb
Picture
22nd Feb
Purse
1st Mar
Jewellery
8th Mar
Toy
15th Mar
Neck Piece

Price: €56 per class / €240 for all 6 classes

27th
Jan
Picture Unravelling techniques with fibres and textiles.
24th
Feb
Bag Strong felt with closures and surface detail.
31st
Mar
Scarf Using cashmere, superfine merino and silk

Fearsome Felters

Monthly classes creating fabulous felt.

Price: €110 per class

Felt Fun

Creative fun for Children of all ages

17th Feb Flower First Flower of spring would be made by you.
10th Mar Parade Hat Make your St. Patricks Parade Hat
16th Apr Easter Egg Make a felt egg and get a chocolate egg as a reward.
19th Apr Easter Basket Make your own basket and Easter Egg Hunt in the Park.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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For the day that is in it… “Happy Valentine’s Day y’all”! Share the love. Join your felt making community. Currently membership is open, and many of you have already signed up. Receipts are being processed and €5 vouchers will be sent out via email.

This is a little piece by our current co-chair Vicky Blomfield… who knew she was such an old romantic!? Just to inspire you all to think RED.

Be still my heart… This could be a submission for “Something red” our joint exhibition with Filtti Finland that will open in June of this year.

www.filtti.fi

How are your pieces coming along? Have you already submitted?

Here is the application form- also available on our community resources page-.

APPLICATION FORM FINNISH EXHIBITION

Last submission date for first entries is 15th March. Don’t be afraid, risk it… you just never know till you try!

We are currently looking for a venue (outside of Dublin) to host the returning Irish pieces. If you think you know of somewhere, for example you have contacts with galleries etc. in Galway, Cork, Kerry, the North and beyond, please do get in touch. We can always use your help and guidance.

hello@feltmakersireland.com

Vicky Blomfield

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MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL

MEMBERSHIP-RENEWAL

MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION 2019

The above link opens on computer but cannot be opened on mobile at the moment. Please email membership@feltmakersireland.com or hello@feltmakersireland.com if you have queries or problems. Thank you.

Please note that professional felt makers who are current paid-up members can now request that their workshop or event be advertised on our main website under “Learn”. We would ask you to complete an interview also with a link to your workshop to further enrich the community.

Exhibition Submissions Finland

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215Hi Folks,

We are looking for all you good folk to start submitting your photographs for our joint exhibition with Finland felt organisation “Filtti”. The submission date for the first round is latest 15th March. The application form is below.

We have been informed via our Finnish friends that there has been a slight name change to the Exhibtion- “Something Red” is the new title. This broadens the possibilities for submissions and is a more direct translation to English. Please do continue to submit your work, and thanks to those who have already submitted beautiful photographs for judging.

We will be looking for a venue outside of Dublin to host the returning pieces… your work will be shown Internationally and Nationally.

Good luck.

A TOUCH OF RED

 

APPLICATION FORM FINNISH EXHIBITION

Monumentality & Fragility- Exhibition

nikicollier art ivaylo petrov photo celebrations st georgeNew Exhibition Opening

“Monumentality and Fragility” at Kilkenny National Gallery, Kilkenny. This Exhibition runs from 9th Feb till Jun 2019 and features the work of one of our long term members Niki Collier.

For anyone in the community this is a great opportunity to see some wonderful new works.

www.ndcg.ie

Niki Collier

Niki Collier’s work is distinguished for intimate understanding of handmade craftsmanship. Her narrative is informed by science and community. It sits at the convergence of science and art to create conversations about empowerment, balance and resilience. From the oversized microorganisms to the soft gigantic pebbles each piece is devised by materials and techniques that show dedication to origin and legacy. The large and small sculptures that she develops have been shown in several solo exhibitions as well as curated in group shows both nationally and internationally.

www.nikicollierdesign.com

nikicolliersm

Sculptures of Viruses

Sculptures of three viruses Common Cold, Hepatitis B and Herpes Virus. Each of these has disrupted our contemporary culture by changing our conversation on monumental and fragile.

Viruses as living organisms are still both a challenge and a mystery regardless of our scientific advances. Doctors as part of the current perception of ”The Establishment” are often held hostage to our perception of them being heroes rather than humans.  Here the concept of small and significant are juxtaposed using scientific concepts to mirror our own fears. As viruses are necessary ingredient to life on our planet the destruction of them explores what is an act of heroism and an act of fear? The interrelation between personal fears – our vulnerability and resilience and how they influence macro decisions related to health and life.  It is also a dialogue of what makes an object beautiful to us- its form or its function?

The works are developed as wet felted sculptures.

The Common Cold virus is one of the best known surviving organisms on earth. It is a symbolic tale of how survival of the species is mostly about the ability to grow in change. The Herpes virus and Hep B are part of the history of gay rights as they have made the invisible visible and as such started the conversation of what we sweep under the carpet.

The viruses have been curated for DCCoI Pattern, Design Week in Bulgaria, West Cork Art Festival.

The European Prize for Applied Arts

Aims to reward the best creations of contemporary expression in applied arts and craftsmanship. It looked into monumental and fragile, the strong colour palette, exuberant proportions, the power and the violence allude to a monumental character from which a palpable fragility is released. With the European Triennial these two words were also part of the monumentality of this institution and the fragility of the nations and entities that make it up. Artists were asked to take inspiration from the paradoxical of these 2 themes-“Monumentality and Fragility”.

Joint Exhibition with Finnish Felt Association Filtti and Feltmakers Ireland

“A Touch of Red”

Feltmakers Ireland are delighted to announce a joint exhibition with the Finnish Feltmakers
Association which will take place in Jämsä a small town in Central Finland from the 1st July to 4th August inc. The opening will take place at 4pm on 30th June. The gallery is an old bank building overt two floors in the town centre.

Entries
Application for entries will close on 15 March 2019 for the initial round. Anyone wishing to enter the
competition will be asked to submit photographs of their entry with an application form. Those selected for independent adjudication will be informed by end March they must submit their pieces ready for transportation there after- date TBC ( mid April)

Entries are restricted to members of Feltmakers Ireland.
Cost
Submission fee €20 per piece, €35 two or more. Payment on 2nd round.
Exhibition Terms
1. Who can take part?
All current members of Feltmakers Ireland and feltmakers from Finland
2. What are the conditions of entry?
1 The work can take the form of literal or abstract interpretation, functional and non-functional.
Wearable and non-wearable.
2 The work must be original and predominantly made using the technique of felt, all hand-made felting
technique are accepted.
3 Other textile techniques (as well as non-textile media) may be included, though handmade felting
techniques must be principal one.
4 The work must be personally hand-made and after January 2018.
5 Work done during courses or under the guidance of teachers is not allowed.
6 The exhibition will be mounted in Jämsä a small town in Central Finland from the 1st July to 4th August 2019 inc.
7 Each entrant may submit up to three pieces of work
NB There is no restriction on size or other materials except that the pieces must be suitable to be 
transported by courier to Finland and there can be no glass.

APPLICATION FORM FINNISH EXHIBITION