Saturday, 23 April 2011

Merino Tops Fibre Packs… UPDATE!

The huge fibre order finally arrived a couple of days ago, but I hadn't quite appreciated just how bulky a 20+ kilo parcel would be! KC had to help the poor postman man-handle it up our very steep drive...

...But I was ordering for the summer workshops, including the children's Fibre Days, plus all the Merino tops needed to make up packs. And some for me… It was just like Christmas and my birthday, which coincidently happened to be a couple of days ago. It's been a week of parcels arriving!

And it's taken us several days to sort it all out, to put fibres aside for workshops, make up packs and store everything away. Fortunately KC is incredibly organised, as you can probably tell, but we did have to dash out for more storage boxes...

The original idea behind the packs was to be able to offer them at the workshops, enabling those who were keen, to continue making felt when they got home. Each pack contains enough coloured tops to make several sample pieces of flat felt (which can be made into a book cover or a purse). There's sufficent to make a bag or bowl, or lots of felt jewellery. I've had so many enquiries recently about the packs that I've decided to make them more widely available and sell them on-line. 
There are five packs with different colourways, as shown here : Pinks & Purples; Hot Reds & Oranges; Natural shades, including Blue Faced Leicester tops; Olive Greens & Browns and Aqua Blues & Lilacs. Each pack contains six different coloured lengths of Merino tops, each approx 36". Although the lengths are approximate the minimum weight of the total fibre is 100gms. There is also a 40gm sachet of grated olive oil soap in each pack. Everything you need to get going!

Some people who are new to feltmaking ask about the Merino Tops. Merino wool is one of the best for beginners as it felts very easily and is available in a wide range of colours. 'Tops' is a manufacturing term, describing fleece that has been cleaned, carded & processed so that all the fibres lay in the same direction, in a continuous rope-thick length that can easily be pulled out in tufts.

The packs are £6.00 each and are available to buy on-line through my Folksy shop, where you will find further details, and payments can be made via PayPal. If you do live on the Island you can always contact me direct : gc.felts@freeuk.com I can either post the packs to you or you can come and collect them...   

Monday, 11 April 2011

"Felting for Fun…"

Following the success of the first feltmaking workshop held at Dimbola I'm
really delighted to say that I've been invited back for some more days of
"Felting for Fun"...

I've arranged two 'Felt Jewellery' workshops, as they're proving to be really
popular and previous feltmaking experience isn't necessary
"FELT JEWELLERY" : Thursday 16th June & Thursday 7th July.
Creating felt flowers brooches & corsages - perfect for those summer weddings! Making felt beads & bangles using a variety of simple felting techniques, with lots of ideas for decoration using needle felting, beads & embroidery. 
Click here for more Felt Jewellery photos & information.

The workshops will run from 10am through to 4pm and be held in the Freshwater Gallery at Dimbola, a lovely spacious room that used to be Julia Margaret Cameron's dining room. So we can work in the knowledge that the likes of Tennyson, Darwin & Thackery once shared this historic room with us.

As with previous workshops all the materials and equipment are provided, you will just need to bring an apron and towel. The cost of the day is £35, which will include morning coffee, a light lunch with vegetarian options and delicious home-made cakes & tea in the afternoon. The hospitality at Dimbola is fantastic! I love the wonderful smell of baking that fills the house whenever I'm there - it makes it feel like a real home. And if the weather's good we can always sit outside and have lunch on the terrace, overlooking the Bay...

To book a workshop or to check availability of places contact Dimbola on 01983 759531, or email Shirley at shirleyiow2@hotmail.com

Friday, 1 April 2011

A Week of Workshops...

This week of workshops has certainly been a week of contrasts. I had a group of 6 year olds making pop-up cards on Monday afternoon, 10 year olds making Egyptian projects all day Wednesday and a group of ladies making felt on Thursday. 

The felt making took place at Dimbola Lodge as part of their season of taster workshops. I do wonder what Julia Margaret Cameron would have thought about these 'goings on' in her home. Our group of beginners were quite a snug fit in the upstairs room that used to be Julia's study, next door to her bedroom. I'm sure all the laughter and creative energy roused her spirit and she would have greatly approved. Dimbola has such a wonderful atmosphere and we're made so very welcome there, with great hospitality & home-made cakes! And such a lovely group of ladies, which made the day. All were experienced craft workers, just new to felting. Enthusiastic, amusing and really good company. All worked hard to produce lots of brilliant pieces of felt and there's more photos on my Flickr pages...

On Wednesday I was back in school with a class of 10 year olds. Several years ago I'd written a craft series called 'Art from the Past' and the Cat Mummys was a favourite project from the Egyptians book. This was a good opportunity to see how these children got on with making them…  And they loved it, especially the boys, transforming cardboard tubes and newspaper into cat mummy shapes. They left the glue to dry over lunch, then bandaged and painted them in the afternoon (probably a bit like the ancient Egyptians..?)

I don't know whether I might be driving my 6 year olds a bit hard on Monday afternoons, I did have tears from one little girl last week, but I thought I'd press on with pop-ups this week. Ben did complain that his Tiger didn't look much like mine… I tried to explain that I did have a slight 50 year advantage, but he wasn't convinced!

The common thread with all the workshops, whatever the age range, is the passing on of practical knowledge. I have always 'made things' - I've been very fortunate - it's been part of my upbringing and way of life, and it was my occupation as a writer & illustrator of children's craft books. Now these workshops are a new departure for me, putting knowledge into practice...

They're proving to be a great challenge, a little bit scary, but good fun!  

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