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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

MAKING BOOKS...

Books have played such an important part in my life!

I worked in childrens publishing for many years, and wrote and illustrated a book called ’Making Books’. We took the ideas into schools and libraries holding practical workshops for children, showing them how to make their own books.

Now I’m a feltmaker and in my sketchbook workshops I show how to design felt covers specifically for notebooks and journals. The felt can be decorated with
threads and beads, and then attached to the book cover with hand stitching…


 Spiral bound notebooks make perfect workbooks, especially for textile samples. 
The pages have room to expand and accommodate the extra thickness of inserts, 
surplus pages can be removed easily and pages of different materials can be added. 



I’ve always made books, journals and anthologies for myself and friends,
 often themed around a particular subject .. 
It's impossible to throw beautiful cards away - greetings cards with personal 
messages, hand-written envelopes and postcards with foreign stamps 
are all very special. 
Some of my cards are over 50 years old, sent by friends and family that are 
no longer with me, making them even more precious.

Recently I put this little collection of bird cards together,
the A6 format is the exact size for postcards and 
the felt bird cover makes it complete... 


Putting cards into books makes them more accessible and gives them a new life... 
The Bird Book is too valuable to be tucked away and sits on my desk, 
it’s cut-out pages fanning open like wings.

The large A3 book with the embroidered ‘Honesty’ felt cover is a workbook 
containing felt projects in different stages of development

.
It’s a practical way of presenting ideas, sketches and reference pictures 
altogether during a workshop. It’s easy to transport & easy for students to look at...
(So much simpler than trying to show photos on a phone or ipad...)  

On a much smaller scale this tiny sketchbook is barely 4” square 
covered with a scrap of felt...


and sometimes you’re fortunate to be given an interesting item or 
piece of jewellery which makes the perfect clasp....


My library of hand-made books includes many notebooks and 
collections of reference materials, photos + cards … 
Like the ‘Rust & Indigo’ book — full of additional notes and findings from my 
rust dyeing experiments, documented on this blog in 2017


Some years ago I made a ‘Beach Book for my illustrator friend Wendy Bramall
 - we met at Art School and have been friends ever since… 
She provided me with the front cover painting and all the beach treasures.
I constructed the book, binding together a selection of water colour papers
which she has filled over time…


It's been a wonderful collaboration….


As I wrote at the start, 
making, writing and illustrating books have played a major part in my life 
and remain such an integral part of my thinking.

I aim to pass on some of my knowledge and enthusiasm
 in my sketchbook workshops. 

The next is planned for the autumn so watch out for dates and details...

(And don't forget you can enlarge any of the photos by clicking them!) 

Friday, 1 March 2019

A pair of BLACK BIRDS...

Over the past 10 years of teaching feltmaking 'Painting with Fibres' has become 
my most popular workshop... And I can understand why...
It is a marvellous introduction to making felt! 

Beginners feel they have achieved a great deal in a day, not only learning a new skill
 but coming away with a substantial piece of work.

Then in the hands of more experienced feltmakers the combinations of 
colour, fibre and texture are endless...


For this new season of workshops I wanted to felt a pair of pictures that illustrate
what can be achieved in just a few hours of "painting with fibres" 
using a simple design and lots of interesting fibre & texture.. 

Although it can be a broad, bold medium, felt pictures can also be 
planned and executed in a controlled way.
I suggest everyone brings along a small sketch or photo to the class as a 
starting point. You can see mine in the photo below,
click on the photos to enlarge...

The first panel demonstrates the felting process,
laying out wool fibres...


adding textures and a simple bird shape cut from prefelt.


The finished felted picture below has no further embellishment


The second panel shows the same laying out process,
with a different choice of coloured fibres + textured threads


 After felting, this picture is taken to the next stage with embellishment


using machine and hand stitch, with beading
 to create extra detail and interest


The contrasting colour schemes completely change the mood 
from a fresh cool early morning scene 
 to a warm glowing evening sunset, 


with the shape of the black bird identical in both!

When people handle the fibres for the first time they are drawn to
 the tactile softness and the colours... 

Those who would never dream of boldly mixing paint onto a canvas seem 
to have less inhibitions when it comes to using fibres. 
They discover the joys of using colour! 
It's not threatening, it's a very gentle process! 

Bright colours merge as in the second panel - orange/cerise/purples/magenta - 
blended together with your hands...  

This workshop demonstrates that you can create pictures in felt, 
using fibres and textures as if you were painting a landscape and
 'Painting with Fibres' describes the process perfectly.

The first 'Painting with Fibres' workshop in March is now fully booked 
so I've added an extra date on Sat 1st June 
and you can find all the Spring workshop details here...



           

Friday, 1 February 2019

FELT Open Day #2

It’s the beginning of February, and although the bulbs are trying to push through
as I write this the temperatures are sub-zero and we're snowed in... 
It’s bitter out there…



But what better way to create a warming glow than making FELT with friends...

 and following on from the success of the first FELT OPEN DAY last year 
another day has been arranged, taking place at Seely Hall Brook on 
Saturday 23rd February 10am - 4pm.
 A definite date for your diary if you are interested in FELT and 
would like to find out more about the activities & workshops
taking place at Seely Hall this Spring.



A wonderful creative day is planned! 
FREE admission - open to EVERYONE... 
Feltmakers and visitors are all welcome to come along and 
join in this informal get-together… 

Come and make felt, stitch, embellish, or just socialise, chat and
exchange ideas with fellow feltmakers, 
and hopefully get inspired… 




There will be a limited number of large work tables available on the day 
for wet felting, plus smaller tables for sewing activities.
If you would like to make use of these let me know and I can reserve you a place.

Although there will be no formal tuition on the day I will be on hand to give advice
and help with any new projects.

 

There will be feltwork on display from my workshops, plus students' work
and feltmaking in progress throughout the day, so if you are new to the craft 
or just curious to see what FELT is all about then
 this is a perfect opportunity!

All the felt featured in this post is students' work


I will have details of the NEW Spring programme of workshops 
coming up in March, April & May and will be taking bookings.




There’s NO charge for the day and everyone is welcome!

Hot drinks, tea, coffee + home-made cakes will be available. 
I suggest a small contribution for refreshments with donations 
going to the Seely Hall Fund.

This will be the second FELT DAY I've organised and if it's anything
 like last year it will be an amazing day 
and a perfect start to the feltmaking year!

I’m really looking forward to catching up with 
all my old felting friends and hopefully 
lots of new faces too… 

So please spread the word !



And if you want to contact me for further details
call Gill on 01983 752872


Friday, 14 December 2018

ILLUMINATIONS...

As Christmas approaches and the nights draw in I’m thinking back over 
another busy year of feltmaking…  
and one of the highlights of the year came from a very unexpected direction…

I’m really proud to have been involved in the Festival of Flowers at Winchester Cathedral, helping the West Wight Floral Society with their arrangements.



The WWFS had been invited to participate in this magnificent event,
entitled ILLUMINATION, a theme inspired by the Winchester Bible. 
Their arrangements were to represent the colours of the Medieval artist’s palette

The fun and hard work started way back in the spring when the society’s 
vice chair, Chelsea gold medallist and fellow feltmaker Sue Clarke explained 
her plan of incorporating hand-made felt as a backing for NINE large panels 
that would support the floral displays…
  
I offered my services and was thrilled to help —initially just to demonstrate to
 the team how to layout and felt the coloured fibres that would 
make up the panels…

The main efforts of felting and embellishing the panels was done over many weeks
by the ladies of the society, led by Sue whose vision and 
creative expertise saw it all through… 

The next time I saw the panels was when they were installed in the Cathedral, 
covered with flowers…


What an amazing spectacle, as can be seen by the photos…


The textured quality of the hand-made felt can be seen clearly in these details



Alongside this grand display of ILLUMINATION… 
this year has also seen several of my feltmakers experimenting with
 illuminations of their own!

On a much smaller scale, these felt light shades and lumineries are
incredibly effective…

 

The soft warmth of the felt (combined with other textures such as lace) 
gives a wonderful glow - 
perfect for warming up those long wintery evenings... 


as does Tash's amazing foxglove lamp!
  

And the effect of simply placing led candlelights into little felt bowls 
is quite magical!!!


Many thanks to Soosun, Dorothy, Tash and Helen for letting me include these..

But a word of caution...
If you are inspired to make any felt illuminations of your 
own please do not place lit candles or high wattage light bulbs close to felt! 
All the examples shown here use small battery powered led lights 
and low energy saving bulbs to be safe!



Finally - a special THANKS to you for taking time to read my blog.

I'd like to wish you a very peaceful and restful Christmas
where ever you are in the world 
and a happy creative 2019...

And if you are visiting the Isle of Wight maybe I might see you
next year at one of my workshops...  


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The NUT Bowls...

After our extremely long HOT summer the arrival of autumn comes late this year              with winter following close behind...
Driving through the countryside today the chilly north-easterlies are blowing down the last leaves and the hedgerows are almost stripped bare of their fruits and nuts…I’ve always collected seeds and pods and with the autumn 3-D workshops in mind I wanted to felt a large bowl to hold them. A flat ‘platter’ shape with a curved rim, firm enough to support handles…

The resist I used was approx 14” diameter, covered with 3 thick layers of BFL white and oatmeal, with an extra layer round the rim for strength and decoration… 

Wetted out, rubbed and rolled until the fibres felt tight against the resist I made incisions in the centre with a scalpel - fraying the fibres to achieve a soft edge and keeping the resist in place so as not to cut right through. The opening revealed the white core of the bowl which I decorated with simple nut-shaped prefelts.
I continued the felting process by placing the felt bowl into a similar sized plastic bowl. I was able to use the plastic form to create a gradual curve in the felt rim, at the same time containing the warm soap solution. This is a really efficient way of felting! I wanted the top and bottom layers to fuse together to give a real thickness
Eventually the bowl felted together and the rims strengthened, but only after a considerable amount of hard work! A large surface area and many layers of fibre needed a lot of coaxing…

When the bowl was completely dry I added the simple wood handles,


 pieces of sycamore drilled and attached with leather strips…

 I also made a second bowl  - same method just slightly larger... 

This time I’m going beachcombing to look for some driftwood to make handles 
The bleached wood should work really well with these coloured fibres...



Saturday, 1 September 2018

The Felted Garden AUTUMN WORKSHOPS...

During our glorious long HOT summer I'm sure making FELT was the 
last thing on everyones' minds, including mine... 

Now I can't believe it's the first of September! 
The weather is still very warm but lengthening shadows and 
the early morning dew signal a definite change.  
AUTUMN has to be my most favourite time of year...
 and this new season of workshops takes inspiration from the 
colours and textures changing all around us...

Here are some dates for your notice board...






'PAINTING with FIBRES' WORKSHOP
Saturday 6th October 10am—4pm



This popular workshop is great introduction to wet felting!
 You will learn basic feltmaking techniques and experiment with fibres & textures.
Bring along a favourite photo or sketch as a starting point and create
a flat piece of felt - a picture or design that can be stitched into later.

This workshop is for ALL abilities. Beginners welcome!



“SEEDS & PODS” WORKSHOP
Saturday 27th October. 10am - 4pm


Many felted pots have distinctive organic forms and I shall be
 bringing lots of seeds & pods along to this workshop
I will show how to felt in 3-D using a resist and you can create a 
bowl or pod inspired by the shapes and colours of autumn!

This workshop is for ALL abilities. Beginners welcome!.


‘3-D OPEN WORKSHOP’ 
Saturday 10th November 10am - 4pm

This workshop is for experienced feltmakers..
 It's an opportunity to come along and felt ANY 3-D form - something you've been 
wanting to make for ages but needed the time and space to make it happen! 
Maybe an unusual shaped vessel, bag, hat or even a pair of slippers!



There will be no demonstration at the start of the day, just an
 informal discussion instead so we can share ideas and re-cap on techniques.
 This will leave more time for experimenting & felting during the day.
Don't worry - written instructions will be available and I'll be on hand 
with practical help!  


'FELT SCARF' WORKSHOP
Saturday 17th November 10am - 4pm

This workshop for ALL abilities. I will be showing how to felt either a lattice scarf 
or a ’nuno’ style scarf and you will go home at the end of the day
 with a unique piece of felt to wear!


There will be a selection of beautiful hand-dyed fibres available to buy on the
day, but if you already have fibres you'd like to use bring them along.



'3-D SMALL PROJECTS' WORKSHOP
Saturday 24th November 10am—4pm

A NEW workshop for all abilities
3-D felting but on a small scale!!!
Seamless purses and cases for phones, pencils, scissors, specs…

 

Fun, functional and simple to felt they make perfect gifts!
Lots of designs to choose from, make 2-3 in the day,
and take away all the template shapes to continue felting at home!
More info about this workshop here


'FELT BIRDS & ANIMALS' Workshop
Saturday 1st December 10am - 4pm

With Christmas getting closer these fabulous felt birds & animals 
make great gifts and wonderful tree and table decorations!


This workshop is for ALL abilities
Beginners welcome!
£40 for the day which includes
ALL materials, enough to make several birds and animals.



ALL the workshops will be held at The Seely Hall in Brook Village,
 Isle of Wight.. PO30 4ER




The workshops are £35 per person per day,
there's an extra charge for materials or you are welcome to bring your own fibre.

The 'Felt Birds' workshop is £40 per person for the day 
and this includes ALL materials.

For more details or to make a booking please contact Gill 
on 01983 752872.
  





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