Recap: April 2023 Sunday Session – Cracked Mud & Geode Techniques with Hélène Dooley

Sunday Session

WHERE: CIE Hall/Inchicore Sports and Social Club

It was the turn of another talented Feltmakers Ireland member Hélène Dooley, to lead April’s hands-on Sunday session. Hélène is a member of the IFA’s (International Feltmaker’s Association) team of online tutors. You can find her online on Instagram as FeltZen.

Again, we were all looking forward to another practical hands-on session, FI having had the good luck to secure a venue with plenty of table space, access to hot water, etc., to accommodate our needs.

The theme of this month’s session was Surface Decoration or surface design, and the two techniques that Hélène chose to demonstrate to us were ones that she had learnt from two wonderful feltmakers, Lyda Rump of Holland and Marjolien Dalinga of Bloomfelt, who came to run a workshop on the invitation of FI some years ago.

Hélène had very kindly created packs for everyone and handed out at least 25 of them, so we had a full house of eager feltmakers, both beginners and some more seasoned makers. Hélène also made lots of lovely samples and finished projects of the techniques, which she shared with us.

We started off with a show and tell by Hélène, who explained what was in store for us.

An AMAZING owl created by Hélène.
The Cracked Mud Technique

The first technique was one called Cracked Mud.

The joy of creating in a group means there are many different suggestions from everyone on what materials to use: in this case, there were ideas on the narrow resists to place between the layers of wool.
Hélène provided a plastic bag for everyone to cut up, but other suggestions to use were low tack masking tape or narrow pieces of ribbon. The main principle is that the resists should be long enough to protrude beyond the main body of the piece so that you can pull them out easily afterwards.

Personally, I really enjoyed this Cracked Mud technique, having tried it before with disappointing results. The difference was that I had used homemade prefelts in my previous attempts, and the results were very furry and uneven when I cut around them. In contrast, Hélène had used commercial prefelts in her packs, and the result was a much more pleasing, graphic result with a clean look and strong shapes against a strongly contrasting background.

Cracked Mud Samples were created during the Sunday Session. Photos courtesy of Hélène.
The Geode Technique
Hélène showed us finished pieces using The Geode Technique

Technique no 2 is called The Geode Technique. I have also seen this referred to as The Felt Carving technique. This technique was taught to FI participants by Marjolien Dalinga of Bloomfelt. This method involves creating ridges (or pleats) in the thick felt surface (made of six layers or so of homemade prefelts) and stitching a line of tacking at the base of the ridge to help the layers to fuse together when felting. Then comes the ‘carving’; using sharp scissors, you make cuts into the top of the ridge, revealing the different coloured stripes to create the Geode effect.

The important thing is to use a strong thread at the base of the ridge (fold) so that it can easily be removed afterwards. Suggestions for the thread went from commercial spools of nylon thread to fish gut or dental floss.

The very enterprising Elizabeth, sitting next to me, gave me some plastic baling twine, which she had brought from her home on the farm in Westmeath, as that was what she had at hand. It’s also a very good alternative as it’s possible to unravel this twine and use a single strand of it for sewing…ingenious!!


It was great to take a walk around the room, looking at everyone’s work at the end and seeing all the different approaches. There is always so much to learn from looking at everyone’s individual creations.

Needless to say, we were kept constantly fed throughout with amazing homemade goodies and hot tea and coffee by membership secretary Fiona and her catering team.

Many thanks to Hélène for her wonderful organisation and facilitation of the session and to Fiona and the committee for the lovely warm hospitality that we all received.

For the Sunday Session attendees, Hélène had very kindly created a PDF of both techniques, with great photos to illustrate them.

By Clodagh Mac Donagh


Sunday Session: 2nd of April – Cracked Mud with Helene Dooley

This Sunday, the 2nd of April, Feltmakers Ireland member and tutor Helene Dooley will share with the group how to create the Cracked Mud Technique and the Felted Geode Finish.

You can either watch or create alongside; if the latter, please bring the following equipment and materials.

  • 2 towels
  • Bubble wrap either one piece at 30 cm by 60 cm or 2 pieces that are 30 cm square (minimum sizes).
  • Water Sprayer or ball brauser
  • Bowl
  • Olive soap or preferred soap
  • Sharp scissors, as you will be cutting into both samples
  • Sewing needle, which is long enough to sew through very thick prefelt. Please ensure the needle’s eye is large enough to accommodate the thick thread.
  • Glass headed pins
  • Plastic bag for carrying wet gear home.
  • Merino superfine 5 grams each in three colours, two bright (sample 1) and one grey (backing for sample 2).
  • 3 prefelts: two bright and possibly one black prefelt, approximate size 20cm square OR 1 x 6 layer of prefelt in this colour combination.
  • 2 strips of light plastic approximately 30cm long
  • Strong thread, preferably nylon base, which will not felt into the sample (or break during felting).

Find Hélène Dooley @feltzen on Instagram.

Feltmakers Ireland meets at the CIE Hall/Inchicore Sports and Social Club, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM.

There is ample (and free) parking.

Hope to see you at the Sunday Session!

Recap: 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 leave its native Australia to be processed in China or Germany, Italy or the UK.

Annika had many tips for handling the fibre, including laying it down very finely on bubble wrap 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 its 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 swap 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 obtaining 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.

Feltmakers Ireland and Leiko on Nationwide 14/12/2022

Dear members. Nationwide last night featured Feltmakers Ireland’s November Sunday Session and maker Leiko Uchiyama. We are sorry we could not tell you in advance as we had not been told it would be on last night.

It can be watched online on the RTE player for at least the next 30 days.

The choice of what to include in the programme was entirely up to the RTE crew but we feel it gave a positive picture of felting and Feltmakers Ireland.

Congratulations to Leiko! That was a lovely segment about your work.

Feltmakers Ireland Sunday Session 11/12/2022 with Carmen Draghici at CIE Social Club Inchicore

A big thanks, especially to Clare Brophy, who had a special treat in store for us for at this December’s Sunday Session, with Romanian felt artist Carmen Draghici, and her lovely daughter Corinna. You can find samples of her work online at FELT JOY. She has an Etsy shop. She was only able to bring 2 beautiful pieces with her, due to Ryanair’s weight restrictions.

Carmen’s Facebook Page:

Clare had discovered Carmen’s fabulous felt work online, purchased a piece,  and was bowled over by the quality and design of the jacket that she had bought. She invited Carmen to come to Ireland from Constanza, southern Romania, to lead a Sunday Session with us.

Carmen, luckily, was very happy to come to Ireland to meet all of us. Although Hungary has a very rich Feltmaking tradition, its neighbour Romania does not, as yet anyway,  and she was delighted to be in the company of other feltmakers.  She envied us our regular opportunities to felt together, and is going to investigate if she can bring us to Romania next year!

Carmen had planned a project with us, wet-felting a small Christmas Cushion, using some special lace brought with her from Romania. However, as 4 of the group were new feltmakers, it proved too  ambitious for the 2 hours. She suggested  finishing it at home or turning it into a table runner instead. There was much to learn from Carmen, an engineer by profession, from laying viscose fibre down cleanly to achieve  sharp shapes, to using different unfamiliar fibre layouts, like herringbone, and diagonal, depending on what you were making, and using, for the most part just one layer of fine merino tops. It was also new to some people to to have an upside-down layout, and use a resist.

Personally speaking, I would love to have her back again to learn more of her tips and knowledge as she seemed to be a mine of information as well as having a great personality and we did not have enough time with her. She herself was frustrated by the  short time involved and the differing levels of experience within this group, and wanted especially to give the new people good standards of finish.

I arrived at the Sunday Session with my friend Nara Fritch, from Seattle, US, but now long time resident in Ireland, living near me in Skerries. Nara keeps Alpacas and was totally entranced by an invited guest of Committee member, Annike Berglund, leader of the Feltmakers Ireland Wool Project Her Guest, Grant Bartholomew had requested to be an observer at the Sunday Session.  Grant is an Alpaca farmer, from South Africa and living in Ireland for 3 years. He arrived with his family. After our session with Carmen, he briefly explained the different types of Alpaca fibre he had brought with him.  

by Clodagh McDonagh

The committee has decided to  devote another Sunday session later to the picking and washing of a raw fleece and  give everybody a chance to felt a small sample using one of a variety of Irish local wools.

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.


  • 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.


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)

Sunday session with Fiona Leech 02/10/22

FI had a very interesting October Sunday Session in Killester yesterday. Fiona Leech talked us through her journey into felt. Probably known to many of you social media users, Fiona is the face of FeltAtHomeDesigns and also Membership Secretary and Workshop Organiser for Feltmakers

Fiona gave us an inspiring insight into her early career with lots of samples for us to touch and feel as well as notebooks where she developed ideas. We viewed an early hand-knitted wall panel of a Henri Matisse lady – all done with scraps of wool and NO PATTERN.

Everyone fell in love with her Aardvark crochet family and will be searching for Toft amigurumi crochet patterns of the ‘many animal in the world’. 

Her 100 Days project was picked up by an Australian Magazine that extolled her talents as a textile artist. 

We were all very appreciative of Fiona’s generosity in her willingness to share how she achieved the clean cut circles that identify much of  her current art. 

Thanks to Fiona and Dee who managed to have coffee and cake for our break although the Coffee Dock was closed.

Finally an image of Fiona’s piece in Sculpture in Context 2022 in the Botanic Gardens.

Reminder: Sunday Session 04/09/22 10:30 Killester


ST. Brigid’s Church

Howth Road 



Peer learning: felting a hand

We will share knowledge and experiences combining needle and wet felting around armature

1 please Bring your own needle felted 3D work and tips from your experience

2 A look at different wires for armature, bring wire and pliers if you have them

3.  Bring needles and sponge to protect surface and needle tips.

4. Wool batts or Roving?

 5, Stiffening or waterproofing the result? Pva glue? Paverpol?

All questions welcome!

Hope to see you there!