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.
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.
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)
It is that time of year again! Dublin’s Botanic Gardens are hosting a giant sculpture exhibition both indoors and outdoors. This is the 37th year of this exhibition and it is well worth a visit. The gardens are magnificent at this time of year, and you will find all manners of sculptures nestled in among the plants and trees. This is a great way to get children interested in art as it allows a natural interaction with the gardens while looking out for sculptures. It is a fabulous day out when the weather is nice.
Link to sculpture in Context website:
This year even more feltmakers are exhibiting so congrats to all and make sure to go visit!
As there are quite a number of feltmakers included there will be two blog posts covering the exhibiting artists. Artists will be listed in the order we have managed to contact them and get their information. If you have not been asked for details but are exhiting in Sculpture in Context, please contact us as there are so many artists involved that we may have missed someone. You will be included in the second part of this blog. This first blog covers the work of Fiona Leech, Tamzen Lundy, Annika Berglund, Ramona Farrelly and element15.
Toxic Tears by Fiona Leech
Bright red spots immediately conjure up recognition of poison and green, in contrast, is synonymous with nature. That is why I chose these colours for my felt hanging sculpture. The concept of this piece is to raise awareness that every rainfall is toxic. It’s called acid rain due to high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere. These toxins are invisible, so I made the piece very visible and tactile for maximum impact.
I am a Dublin based felt and textile artist. I work mainly with wool fibre which is sustainable, bio degradable, renewable and recyclable.
We are all connected by Tamzen Lundy
We are all connected is a response to the global refugee crisis, it is symbolic of our Irish diaspora and our tradition of immigration and emigration. The movement of people because of war, economics, and hardship. The red thread that binds and connects these journeys. I have collected beach material from the wild Atlantic way, places of great natural beauty, which are also landing and exit points for long and dangerous journeys. Choosing small glass bottles as if they encase a fragile message to loved ones. One bottle remains empty, to be filled with future hopes.
“No one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land” (by Warsan Shire, poet “Home.”) A poem that inspired this work.
The materials used in my piece are fully sustainable. I have used repurposed glass bottles to contain sand ( from Irish beaches… also the component for making glass). The felt tops are 100% wool, from sheep, a fully sustainable, and biodegradable material and the fibre attaching each bottle is linen, plant based, water consumption friendly material.
In my arts practice I endeavour to use materials that are as sustainable as possible. I collect and reuse packaging and I choose wool as my primary medium.
Everyday Moments by Annika Berglund
Covid changed the world. The everyday had to shrink to fit inside square walls. It consisted of the circles we walked inside these walls and the bubbles we embraced.
My work became focused on the immediate and the simple; the confining but protecting square, the circle of the nurturing bubble, the threatening image of the virus.
Felting became both practical during lockdown and symbolic;
wool fibres, through soap, water, rubbing and being knocked around, create connections that hold together to create a very strong fabric of interlocked fibres that cannot be pulled apart again. Cohesion through adversity if you will…”
Ariadne’s Gift by Ramona Farrelly
At present I am creating work that tries to incorporate the healing process of art.
The idea for this piece comes from a premise that the metaphysical wounds we suffer throughout life provide us with learning that helps us navigate and grow during our time on earth and allows life to become ever more meaningful.
The red vessels represent these wounds and they, put together, form the Chrysalis through which we intrinsically metamorphosise. In Greek mythology, Ariadne’s golden thread which, represents the soul’s knowledge, helped Theseus navigate through the labyrinth and so it is represented here as such.
Kinship by element15
element15 is a collective; individual artists cultivating their practice in tandem with each other, distinct but connected. The sustaining nature of our creative bond is a mirror of a tree’s root system, providing anchorage and sustenance to flourish in a world beset with profound challenges. In many cultures, a red string or thread represents the labyrinth of connections tying together those whose lives intertwine. By working collaboratively on Kinship we use the symbol of the red thread as a visual connection from us to the natural world, from our sculpture into the earth. www.element15.ie
The following are the names of the artists who collaborated on the piece:
I joined the Feltmakers Ireland committee back in 2018. I took over the role of Chair back at the start of this year, ah, and what a year it has been.
A Global Pandemic wasn’t on my prediction list for 2020 and it certainly was not on the FMI “aims and objectives”! Who would have thought it? How our lives could be changed, futures altered and humans “Endangered”.
The title for our 2020 exhibition had already been decided at the end of 2019. After a few brainstorming sessions and with the Climate action protests at the forefront of our mind, we all agreed it was an appropriate topic. Ambiguous enough to give scope to creativity but clear enough to hopefully link the incoming submissions.
I am terribly proud that as a group we managed to put on an exhibition at all this year. Our proposal was for a gallery space at the Knit &Stitch in the RDS, this was cancelled… we had a plan B in place, a lovely space in the visitor centre at the Phoenix Park- 3 weeks before we were due to open this space changed too!
We flexed a little and changed course, in the end the judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox were extremely impressed with the standard and marked and ranked the pieces. This we communicated to the applicants.
As a committee however, we decided we would try to show everyone’s work. With the year that’s in it, our aim is to keep the community motivated, to promote the work of local artists and to support… and so it was- all applicants work was shown albeit in a smaller location in the Phoenix park and we hope that you have enjoyed the on-line “meet the maker” interviews and photographs too…
Here’s mine. Tamzen x
The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc
My piece is titled “Coral Bleaching” it highlights the topic of habitat loss, specifically in the Great Barrier Reef, the phenomenon of coral bleaching linked to elevated sea temperatures.
It is a textural piece using wet felt techniques including cords, attachments and shibori as well as hand embroidery and bead work.
I love colour and texture, so I’ve used bright fluo combinations. I interspersed these highly coloured sections with neutral undyed “ bleached” out wool, where hopefully the textures speak for themselves.
Last year I undertook the #100day project and many of the small pieces I created reminded me of coral or sea creatures. I spent some time collecting plastic waste and ghost fishing nets and incorporated small pieces of these into my work. I suppose that this “Coral Bleaching” piece is a continuation of that work.
Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
In my family this really has been a crisis year. I was acutely aware of the Global situation as it unfolded. I watched Covid 19 news closely as it emerged in China back in January. Back in 2003 I was working in Hong Kong when Sar’s emerged. I remember the nervousness of having my temperature checked at the airport en route home from a business trip.
With my own fashion design work, I travelled to Germany in February this year to consult with a large retailer ( and took a face mask with me “just in case”, but it stayed wrapped and sealed in my pocket).
By the end of that month, our relatives in Milan, Italy were in lockdown.
My Indian boss, whose family live in Madrid- had already started home-schooling.
On 12th March I picked up my 3 Children from school. My partner and I still didn’t realise then that by the end of the month both my freelance business of 15years would have ended ( I hope suspended, but I simply don’t know) I would have become full time- “home- school” teacher on PUP!
As large European retailers simply cancelled orders for knitwear, product that was already designed, manufactured, and shipped, the knock-on effect to the manufacturers and all their auxiliary partners (including me) was extreme. Capital dried up, goods stopped at ports and contracts abandoned, claims of “Force majeure” as European retailers shuttered their doors and passed the problem to the Asian manufacturers, ( and freelancers like me) who soaked up the losses.
I turned my focus to staying healthy, keeping mind and body together, working on my own creative projects and my family.
Luckily for my birthday my folks sent down a great big package of fibre, so materials weren’t a problem and crafting as always played a huge part in my life.
Art and Craft is not something I do in my spare time; it is the thing I do. The Earth without Art… Eh.
I’ve used this time to make 2 videos for DCCI and to start to video my work for future on-line felting tutorials. I am also organising a local #madeinmaynooth market for artists and crafters to simply set up a socially distanced stand and hold a “art and craft walk” on a designated day in the month.
I’m doing this as well as setting up an etsy store, supporting my kids as they transition back to school and volunteering with the FMI committee.
Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
It was at a Knit & Stitch show a good few years ago now that I first saw a demonstration. I studied Fashion and textiles at university and design knitwear ( very commercial, colour and trends) but felt was not something I had done before. I loved the versatility, 2d and 3d. It was almost like magic, fibre to cloth, with no needles!
Felting means I can be creative at my kitchen table. I can be present in the house, I can chat to the kids, but I can also work creatively for me.
I have an output for my creative madness that is both flexible and forgiving, qualities I respect and strive for in life.
I’d like to take this opportunity as the “Endangered” exhibition closes to thank our hosts the OPW, Phoenix Park visitor centre, The DCCI, The feltmakers Ireland voluntary committee for their hard work, our two esteemed Judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox and all the applicants for their wonderful work.
We hope that through these tough times you have been inspired to keep crafting, keep creative and keep safe.
3 more Artists for you today, Elaine Peden, Maureen Cromer & Tamzen Lundy. All exhibiting currently in Finland, then onward to Portumna 8th-22nd Sept as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival.
Artist – Elaine Peden
Red in a world of black and white
The tiny coccus beetle found in Mexico huddles on the sunny side of a prickly cactus leaf, transforming into Red. Introducing white and red elements on a black background, this ismy interpretation of white noise , fake news. Red givesclarity to the art of thinking clearly .
Sale price. €100.00
Materials used – dyed and I dyed Kap merino wool fibres with 3D elements and layering
Land of the Dawn lit Mountain
Notes – A wall hanging.
An evening walk in the Dublin mountains watching the movement of light through the evergreens , the magnificent Red glow of the sunset marking the close of another day
Sale price. €250.00
Artist – Maureen Cromer
Mending the Soul
The soul here stands for the “self” – who we are. We are constantly learning, growing, blooming But, of course, sometimes we need to heal from injuries, to mend, physically. But more importantly, to mend both mentally and spiritually.
The white body of the work represents this soul, while the red threads show the mending underway. The needles have been left attached, because self care is an ongoing process.
Sale price. €325.00
Materials – Native Perendale and Southdown fibres, Wensleydale locks, Irish linen, cotton mesh, silk fibre, silk hankies, rayon, silk and polyester threads for free motion machine embroidery, cotton and vintage red silk threads for hand embroidery, sashiko needles.
Tamzen Lundy- Ballymurphy Precedent
Tamzen Lundy- Migraine days
Artist – Tamzen Lundy
The Red Thread of Fate – Ballymurphy Precedent
Inspired by the ancient Chinese belief that those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance, are bound by an invisible red thread which may tangle but never break.
I took this idea of connection and applied it to a little known story from Northern Ireland, where I grew up. A story of brutal bloodshed. The shootings happened in Ballymurphy, a Catholic housing estate in Belfast, in 1971. These shootings, carried out by British soldiers on civilians, killed 11 people over 3 days. The relatives continue to fight for the truth. The same parachute regiment were involved in the Bloody Sunday events in Londonderry, 5 months later.
I have used red Irish linen as the red thread, knotted according to the number of bullet wounds per person. The thread is broken to indicate the different days of the massacre, however there is the illusion of connection to represent those individuals bound by their fate. The colour red representing bloodshed. The flax of the linen is an Irish grown product – on home soil.
Many of the members of Feltmakers Ireland fall somewhere between “beginner” and “experienced” and just love the process of felting as a hobby (Ahem, obsession)… I am one of those… I also recently volunteered to join the committee of Feltmakers Ireland. What is it they say about volunteering?… it often gives you back as much as you give it!… So here is a little about me…
Tell us a little about you as a person? E.g. upbringing/ work other than felt etc.
I am originally from Belfast, N.Ireland. I was already in the middle of my Degree in Fashion, having gone to study in Manchester, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. Happily my immediate family were not directly affected by violence; however I remember many security checks, bomb scares and actual bombings as well as the 3 day ceasefires at Christmas and the constant threat of disruption.
My secondary school was the first integrated, comprehensive, co-educational school in N.Ireland and I feel very thankful for this opportunity in my formative years.
I went from my degree in Manchester University to my first job as a Childrenswear designer for a very large retail company at their headquarters in Brussels. After a few years I moved closer to home, to the knitwear department of Penney’s/ Primark in Dublin, where I worked for a further five years as the buyer for women’s flat knit.
This was a very pressure driven environment, with performance rated according to sales results “you are only as good as your last range”… However it was also incredibly driven and exciting.
I enjoyed extensive travel several times a year to the Far East as well as regular trips across to New York and around Europe. This lifestyle suited while I was young and without a family but as soon as my first child was born I knew it wasn’t for me.
12 years ago after the birth of my first child I started working freelance on design packs for contacts I had made along the way. Very conscious of the environmental and ethical responsibilities of the fashion industry I only work with one trusted factory in Bangladesh. I have visited them many times over the years and have an established relationship. I still travel to various retailers across Europe or to attend trend fairs, but these days the travel is on my terms.
Photo: Me on travels in the Far East.
I now have three children and split my time between being a freelance knitwear designer in the mornings and looking after them. I work in my little studio at home, communicating with the factory via Skype and Whatsapp. One day I will be working on colour predictions for the coming year, the next I will be sketching out designs. I might be competition shopping or visiting a client somewhere in Europe to help them plan their range. Then in the afternoon I collect the kids and am mother to free range children.
How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey?
I started felting approximately 3years ago. Having seen a demonstration at the knit & Stitch show. Remarkably even with a fashion degree and working with textiles for 20years, the process of felting was a completely new medium to me.
That in itself was exciting. I was struck by the immediacy of the textile. In many ways the medium seemed unrestrictive, allowing the creative freedoms of paint while being suitable for both 2d and 3d applications.
I use colour every day and am designing every day too, but after many years doing this and now using a computer rather than sketchpads and markers, my paid work feels sterile. I’m striving to be closer to the product again. I think this is why I love this hobby and why I try to find time to volunteer in primary school to teach kids art. What was it that Picasso is meant to have said “Every child is an artist it is trying to stay one…thats hard”.
Photo: A Giant Collaborative Project- dream catchers with local primary school
I am impatient by nature, and creative. However I am also a planner and have always been organised. I think this is why the medium of felt appealed to me, it seemed that this textile, might satisfy these parts of my personality.
I’ve also found that it is a craft that allows family life to continue… it can be done at the kitchen table, I don’t have to worry about paint drying while I tend to one of the kids… felt is very forgiving and I need that versatility in my life.
I have been lucky in my short time with felt makers Ireland to be able to attend the inspiring workshops of Gladys Paulus and Wendy Bailye. As well as this I have learnt the basics of hat making and jewellery from some of our own members. Together with my own textile background and in order to satisfy my creative spirit I find myself experimenting mostly in sample form but occasionally working on a larger piece. I know that I am only at the start of my journey with felt but I do feel like I have found my medium.
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?
Felting is my hobby. We hear a lot of talk these days about mindfulness. I remember working in sketchbooks and on projects when I was younger and really finding a flow, this is mindfulness or being present in the moment. Time seemed to work in a different way, when I was really in that creative zone, I could lose days.
This is what I love about felting the combination of the cerebral planning (I still rough plan in my sketchbooks) and the physicality of process. This is as close as I’ve managed to get to that complete absorption that I remember as a child.
After twenty years working in the fashion world it is easy to become cynical too. Trends come and go (and I’ve seen many twice at this stage). Do we buy what we want or what we are told? Fast fashion V Slow made. The Normcore trend (a reaction to fashion oversaturation resulting from ever faster-changing fashion trends, Normcore wearers are people who do not wish to distinguish themselves from others by their clothing, and yet buy into the trend by buying certain brands). I think felting helps me feel creatively authentic. Close to the end product and sometimes just doing something creative for the pure indulgent sake of it.
What currently inspires you?
The challenge of seeing what other felters are capable of making inspires me. I now have the position of secretary of Feltmakers Ireland. The contact I have with ( often longtime) members is very inspiring.
I discovered nuno felting in the Wendy Bailye class, up to this point I had never added other textiles to my wool. Now I find myself cutting up scraps of Donegal tweed or bits of yarns and seeing what happens when they felt together. I’m just in awe of the possibilities at the moment.
Of course sometimes I get stuck and months pass and I do no felting. Life is busy. I live with migraines and the battle to manage these each month is ongoing. The kids have their activities, I volunteer at their school and family life is very full. Never mind being self-employed! Sometimes it’s not always possible to do as much felting as I’d like but each time I manage to come back to it I find myself unconsciously smiling and getting lost again.
At the moment I’m just allowing the act of felting to teach me rather than imposing myself on it.