This month we asked our valued member Helene Dooley. Helene has extensive felt making skills she has been a member of FI since 2014. She enjoys nothing better than pushing the boundaries of her work and loves the creative freedom that working with wool fibre facilitates. Helene has frequently tutored and her work was recently featured in the international publication, “Felt Matters”( IFA). She is a regular contributor to the Felting and Fibre Studio, an international collective of Felt and Fibre artists. You will find her on instagram @feltzenas well as renowned dressmaking and other craft skills She is also the joint Irish Representative for International felt makers Association.
“Viscose is a wonderful material to work with! It is available in awide range of colours and is relatively inexpensive to buy. A little can go a long way! It can be used to add lustre and strength to felted wearables. It also enhances drape and discourages pilling in the fabric. I use viscose paper when I am seeking to achieve a more defined effect on my felted pieces. My video will take you through the four steps I use to make viscose paper. It is quick and very easy to do so I hope you will check out my video and give it a go”.Helene
You can subscribe to Feltmakers Ireland You Tube channel where we now publish online tutorials, demos and interviews regularly- these are sent directly to the membership first before being shared with the general public at a later date.
interview first published in dec 2019… yara will be leading an exclusive feltmakers ireland members only finger puppet online workshop on may 1st… limited to 30 places on a first come first served basis- this is filling up quickly. please submit your interest to FIONA- ADDRESS email@example.com
Felt makers Ireland follows several felt makers on Instagram to get our regular fix of inspiration. A member put us in touch with Yaroslava Troynich, a 41yr old Russian textile artist, based in Helsinki, Finland. Her specialty is felted animal puppets. She says “this is fun textile way to worship wildlife” we decided to get in touch to find out more…
Tell us a little about you as a person? e.g. upbringing/ where you work/ work other than textiles…
My life seems to me like a huge pile of wool, which I could transform into endless forms.
I was born in USSR and had no artistic background in my family. As a child I was fond of sewing textile toys and dreamed about art school and industrial design. The next big dream was to become a policeman to fight for justice and make the world better. However, the world itself captured all my attention so in the end I graduated from university as a journalist! For several years I have been traveling the world and contributing to Cosmopolitan and National Geographic in Russia and continued to write for local media after moving to Finland in 2007.
Most of all I loved to make stories about remote places, where wildlife, traditional lifestyles and crafts remain. The best moments of my life have mostly connected to wildlife – snorkeling with manta rays in Galapagos, planting rainforest for orangutans of Borneo or searching for the sloths in the Amazon.
Humans and wild nature cohabiting and environmental issues were always on my top interest list.
How and when did you start your textile journey… what is your experience, tell us a little…
Once in 2009 I came across of artwork done by Stephanie Metz. Her meaningful sculptures made of white wool and some experimental textile pieces were shockingly modern, pure contemporary art.
In Russia felting is very traditional craft and to me it felt quite outdated. But this was the first moment I began to look at it differently. My inner artist woke up. I tried needle felting and was amazed of wool’s ability to take any shape. But I really fell in love with wool after my first wet felted piece. The feeling of soapy babbles on my hands and witnessing of wool fibers transformation into something totally new – this magic has forever bewitched me. Quite soon I realized that I want to work with 3D-felt. In my childhood I loved “bibabo”, traditional Russian hand puppets, with their history dated back to 17 century and originated in Italy and France. Ideas came fast and naturally. My first fox puppet was born, and it felt like a real gift from textile and craft gods. Surprisingly, combination of traditional felt with traditional toy turned in to very modern and unique art object. Suddenly everything came together: my love of puppets, of wildlife and of wool. That is the story of my own transformation into textile artist specialized in felted animal puppets.
My artwork is my small personal contribution to environmental awareness. These puppets are really great communication gadgets. They help to connect parents with children, create new stories and learn new things. They have strong social position – they support environmental education and promote love to animals. My special pride if they work with ecologists in the national parks and museums and with teachers and psychologists.
I have been learning a lot from great textile artists to develop my own skills, tried new areas of textile art but nothing makes me as happy as these animal puppets. Felting process itself has great art-therapeutic effect on me. So, I do share these benefits with others on my workshops around the world. I love to teach adults and transform them into artists and kids at least for a day. This transformation is no less amazing than wool metamorphoses. Sometimes I feel that it can be my real vocation to inspire people for creating via my puppets.
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation? e.g. for hobby/ creativity/ art/ fashion/ health/ money…
My strongest motivation is a game with the world, special quest. I want to explore its secrets and search for opportunities to create new, positive and inspiring things.
Almost all my ideas I draw from the nature. Weird animals, beautiful animals, endangered animals. While visiting national parks I have chance to encounter wildlife closer. Even though I don’t follow physiological accuracy in my work, I study animals a lot, examine pictures, watch nature documentaries and read about their habitats and personal lives. I am minded in spirit of minimalism, restrained Scandinavian design and naive art, so I try to create live animalistic images using as little details as possible. But I also like to add some humor or bright travel and cultural heritage inspired details to my work. Especially, I feel free with my finger puppet collection. Some animals can wear Russian felted boots at some occasions and use the laptops at their homes. This kind of art makes me play all the time. I draw very poorly, so my rare sketches look like ugly construction schemes. More often I just have an idea inside my head and then test it directly on the wool. Complicated shapes I break into many simple forms and play with it. I combine different felting technics but my main one is wet felting. There are wool, soap, water and hands only. I use a lot of different fibers for creating animal hair, especially I love hairy goat mohair. I try to make my felt durable and flexible in the same time to keep the most of mobility for the toys. Sometimes my projects involve dyeing of materials and even painting on top of the wool toys.
It is weird, but 3D objects at first are just flat and in the beginning of my journey I was too depending on the patterns and constructive solutions but nowadays I become increasingly aware of limitless sculptural opportunities of felt. You can always change, reshape, improve. Felt makes me feel braver as an artist because in this process even apparent mistake can turn in to genius idea. Besides, it is difficult to make mistake with animals – they always come out wonderful. Probably, because they are born twice – at first from the idea and wool and then again become alive on top of the hand while playing.
What currently inspires you?
Lately I am passionate about the animation to give my puppets even more life and voice. It is inspiring to integrate and collaborate different types of art and creativity in to the one beautifully felted structure. Well, and sponsors of all my ideas and inspiration invariably remain wildlife and life itself, with all that everyday routine and new changes. The coolest ideas come to me when traveling or hang out in the mountains, through the forest or along the cold ocean. The Amazon jungle and Himalayan snowy peaks are my eternal favorites. But during my life in Finland, I fell in love with the north. Perhaps the northern animals are not the most vivid and expressive as objects for creativity, but the power of life in northern nature, with its short as a flash summer, is simply unique. This power nourishes me. In Finland, people are very respectful to their nature resources, and this gives me the feeling that I am in the right place. After all, partly my work is pure nature worship, and toys are a tribute to the nature.
Thank you Yaroslava for taking the time to answer our questions for supplying the wonderful images of your work and for providing the dose of Instagram inspiration that we need. If you want to see more follow Yaroslava at the below.
Breda Fay reports on her most recently undertaken on line course:
I have just completed an exciting online workshop with Molly Williams called “Contemporary Dancer”. Six weekly lesson included presentations, videos and downloadable worksheets, illustrating simply and clearly the step-by-step procedure. Weekly online meetings with tutor were timetabled as much as possible to suit participants. Any queries or difficulties could be discussed with Molly and it was great to see other participants’ progress. Over the six weeks we progressed from making a wire armature skeleton, to covering it with fabric before wet felting horizontal and vertical layers of fibre for the musculature. A large piece of embellished prefelt was then made for the colourful skin which was cut out and sewn onto the model before fulling and shrinkage. There was also an option to make the skin directly onto model. This was the one I chose. Finally a head dress is designed for the figure before it is finally glued into a plinth. I cannot believe the I’ve got through the six weeks and have a very viable and I think stunning sculpture!
Molly Williams’ bio
Molly is a textile artist specialising in figurative felt sculpture. Contemporary and Modern dance inform the shapes and movement of the felt sculptures, and figurative shapes are a feature of her textile art. Molly lives in the UK and works from her studio in the garden. She teaches felt sculpture workshops internationally. Molly’s research interest is in Ottoman textiles, costume and ceramics and she has studied Ottoman costume and design to create replica kaftans and pattern design to be used to print textiles, wall art and other products. BA Hons Embroidered Textiles – Middlesex University Qualified Design and Technology Teacher – Christ Church Canterbury University Memberships: Prism Textile Arts Society of Designer Craftsmen International Felt makers Association Websites: www.mollywilliams.co.ukwww.fruitfulyear.co.uk
To offer our members something for 2021 we are running a draw. The draw will take place on 5th March…. all membership renewals as well as new members will be entered into a hat ( all membership renewals up until 3rd march will be entered).
One lucky winner will be chosen at random- and offered a bursary up to the value of €200- paid for by Feltmakers Ireland… for use on an online workshop course- of their choice. Its a great prize, a lovely offer of hope and learning as we face into another year. We would hope that the lucky winner might write up a little blog article of their work or their workshop experience. Not giving away any valued techniques of course but more a “what I learnt and how I managed online” diary piece. Good luck everybody!
News of a collar project : Think it sounds really exciting and I LOVE projects that don’t need more space than my kitchen table.
Link to Application Form below where all the details are explained as well as lovely stories about 2 crafters from the past! Just reading it inspired me to root out a collar my grandmother made in 1925 … probably by oil lamp/candleI also like the suggestion that you can collaborate with another crafter!!!!
As part of the Government’s “Keep Well” campaign, DCCI has developed an online exhibition. Switch off Be creative. Design a Collar, Ruff or Cuffs. Collars, ruffs, cuffs, lunula & torcs are universal forms of adornment that have been worn for generations.
Your entry must be wearable, creative, innovative & contemporary in design, it can be made in any material i.e. silk, wool, linen, paper, wire, metal etc. or combined materials and can be created in any discipline utilising any techniques, be handcrafted or created using digital technologies. Collaborations will be accepted i.e. a glass artist working with a lace maker; a basket maker with a milliner; a metalsmith with a feltmaker… the possibilities are endless. All entries will feature in an online exhibition, on DCCI’s social channels and on www.dcci.ie/learners/keep-well. Collars must be photographed on a plain black background and submitted with the completed application form. Apply here https://www.cognitoforms.com/DesignCraftsCouncilOfIreland1/DesignACollarRuffOrCuffs #KeepWell. gov.ie/healthyireland
Breda Fay here reporting on February GANS Meeting ( Wednesday 17th Feb, via Zoom). I’ve decided that I will do a short report rather than linking you to DCCI page. You can always follow DCCI web page for more info.
Meeting started with condolences being offered on death of David Shaw Smith – not sure how many of you are as old as I am … but I remember his series of programmes on Telly about crafts in Ireland and actually bought the book HANDS which was published about the series. His work was certainly a catalyst in protecting as well encouraging the native crafts of Ireland. If any of you have memories of it, Hillary @making.ie would love you to pen a few lines.
Congratulations to all the guilds who are participating in “Getting Creative during Covid” Mental Health projects – Feltmakers Ireland are one of the guilds who have received funding for a project “Keep Well and Felt with Us” being organized by Niki Collier (in conjunction with Caoilfionn Murphy O’Hanlon and Liadain de Buitleir). You’ve probably seen it advertised and interest has been amazing …. So much so that instead of a session with each of the feltmakers … there will now be three with each. Good luck Niki. I got my pack today!
There were a number of presentations which all emphasized that despite all the difficulties of isolation, it is really important for each guild to maintain our presence. Many are doing projects which encourage members to work at home with a particular focus…. maybe putting all the pieces together to form one collaborative piece, some are organizing online exhibitions….. Presentations this morning:
Showcase Ireland’s first virtual event
The Glass Society of Ireland on it newly published book (only 5 left)
The Irish Guild of Embroiderers on their recently published (and still available) book “Twenty Twenty”. The cover design is by Colleen Prenderville (known to many of us)
Borris Lace Group’s partnership with South Armagh Lace Collective in “Laces Across the Borders”
Some things you might be interested in:
The Quilters Guild of Ireland are looking for 10 inch submissions from members/non-members on the theme HOME for quilts (they’re planning 10) which will be sold/auctioned to support women’s shelters (quiltersguildireland.com)
DCCI are going to make a callout for COLLARS for an online exhibition – watch this space!
Society of Cork Potters are calling out for items themed “ON HOME GROUND” for an exhibition which will be run in conjunctions with A Taste of West Cork in September (www.corkpotters.com)
Any members down around the Cork area, watch out for Bench Space, an organisation that is making an equipped workshop available for crafts people. Currently it has mainly woodworking tools but hope soon to have equipment for textile, iron, glass work
SO JUST TO SIGN OFF FOR NOW FOLKS
I think it is really important that there be a FELTMAKING presence in the August Craft Month Project. Let’s use it as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of DCCI AND we might be in the park again by then! Think small but maybe collaboratively??? Get back to me with ideas and offers of help!!!
I’m really missing our Sunday Sessions. Have done a few online courses – see previous blog of recommendations by Annika. It was great to see so many participating in Feltmakers Ireland first online course with Gabi McGrath – hugely successful, nationally and internationally. I’m not sure if there are spaces on Niki’s course. You might have some ideas for online activities or courses????? Let us know firstname.lastname@example.org
Also keep in mind our draw for paid up members which will take place beginning of March.
At the end of January Felt makers Ireland hosted its first online zoom workshop ever! The first of many, we hope, while we can’t all be together face to face.
Our Tutor Gabi Mc Grath led participants through a 3hr workshop making an A5 felted book cover with closure mechanism.
Gabi is a familiar face on the Irish felting workshop circuit, a former chair of Feltmakers Ireland she is familiar with many of our members and happily has experience teaching via zoom.
30 participants were enrolled, and it is thanks to the dedicated volunteers on the committee that the workshop was able to go ahead.
We were delighted to have such a turn out and an enthusiastic bunch. It’s a strange world that we all find ourselves navigating but for one morning in January it almost felt like we were together- felting!
Thanks to Gabi and her top tips and guidance many participants have since sent in images of their finished pieces… here are a selection!
Thanks also to so many of the participants for sending wonderful images and feedback to our very first online course.
We hope you are all doing well, staying safe and finding some time for crafting. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, there is one actual benefit from the pandemic, and that is that more felting workshops than ever are offered online. This means that you can learn from artists across the world and establish contact with other makers from many different countries. The best courses are quite pricey and fill up quite fast, but if you compare with the time and cost involved in doing in-person workshops they start to seem a bit more accessible. Also, remember, all renewing members will be placed into a draw for a bursary award to the value of €200 for an online international tutor workshop this year.
In this blog I want to present a list of artists whose courses I have done, or would like to do, in case any of you are looking for workshops to do in the coming year. Learning about new techniques and being encouraged to keep making has helped me retain a modicum of sanity in the last year and I am planning to keep it up in the new year as well. If any of you know of other courses and artists not mentioned here that you would like to recommend, please send us a line.
Fiona Duthie: Fiona Is well known for excellent online workshops. They one I took last year definitely improved the quality of my finished felt. She is also very generous with help and advice and added a number of extra tutorials to the course in response what students were interested in. Fiona is opening registration for her spring courses on January 4th.
Pam de Groot: Pam’s workshops focus on 3D felting, and allows you to explore how felt can go from 2D to 3D and the effects and structure you get by varying the thickness of wool in a felted piece. Pam has not posted dates for courses in 2021 but sign up to her newsletter if you are interested and be first in line when registration opens.
Eva Camacho-Sanchez: Eva is a Spanish artist living in the US. Her online classes are mostly 2D, incorporating, mark making, stitching and Joomchi. Joomchi is an old Korean technique where water and agitation fusing mulberry papers together to create a strong and interesting surface that can be used on its own or with felting and stitching. Eva has not yet put up dates for 2021, but join her newsletter if you are interested in her courses.
The Online felting Studio with Ruth Lane and Teri Berry have courses that are quite a bit cheaper, but much shorter that the ones I mentioned below. Ruth lane teaches 2D embellishments and mixed media approaches to felting and Teri berry ‘s courses include an interesting looking concertina hat. These would be good if you wish to dip a toe into online learning.
Mandy Nash: Based in Wales, Mandy did a few live zoom classes last year. I attended two of them (remotely) and learnt how to make two types of fabulously colourful felted fish. These are now available as a video down load. They are quite long as they include the recording of whole day workshops. They are very reasonably priced, but require a specific wool (bergschaus) for best results. This is a very interesting wool as different colours of a separate layers of wool migrate through the layers and give both vivid and subtle colour gradations when felted.
Patti Barker: Patti has a number of shorter tutorials and workshops. They are very reasonable and for the “Demystifying felt resist “ course she did Last year she even sent you all the materials needed. She does not have any dates up yet, buit her courses can be found here:
Molly Williams: Molly’s workshop teaches how to felt human figures in 3D around a metal armature. I am signed up to begin one of her courses in January, so will keep you posted. She has opened registration for courses beginning in March.
International Feltmakers CiFT: the International Feltmakers offers a course that gives a certificate in Feltmaking, CiFT. You receive course information online and send samples for feedback to a course coordinator. There is also a facebook group were students can interact abd support each other. I have not done this one, but would be curious to sign up some time in the new year. If you have experience of this course, please send some feedfback or information to Committee