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Sunday, 16 January 2011

New Beginnings...

My first Beginners Workshops of this year have taken place in the WWLP conservatory at Maderia House, Freshwater. I've had two lovely groups of enthusiastic ladies, who all worked really hard to produce some
exciting pieces of felt…


...and you can see lots more workshop photos on Flickr!...


Felt making is extremely hard work, it is very physical. By about 3pm most were on their third piece, but they were sitting down to do the rolling...!!! I think that with the physicality of the process comes a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. Certainly at the end of the day everyone seemed delighted with their pieces of felt and were keen to make more. Next Saturday we move onto the first workshop making Soft Pots, with Felt Bags & Felt Jewellery workshops following on the next consecutive Saturdays.

 
In March, Dimbola Photographic Museum & Galleries will be staging a series of taster workshops for absolute beginners. These will include topics as varied as calligraphy, creative writing, quilting, embroidery and feltmaking. My workshop is advertised as '"Softly, softly… First steps in Felt Making" and takes place on the 31st. March. For more details, and to make a booking, please contact Dimbola direct. If these first workshops prove successful then more will follow on later this year - I really hope so as it's such a wonderful venue, overlooking Freshwater Bay.


Last week I visited a really exciting new enterprise "Made on the Isle of Wight" which specialises in everything that's produced and hand-crafted on the island. They will be stocking a selection of my felt designs, including my Felt Hearts and Flower Brooches shown here. Their brand new showrooms at Bullen Mead near Ryde are certainly worth a visit...!  And check out their website too by clicking the link above.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year Plaiting...

The week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day is a great time for taking stock and planning for the year ahead, spending time at home and avoiding the shops if at all possible. KC has been keeping busy and warm by the woodburner, making plaits for the new stock...


The plaits originated as a simple method of providing a strap or fastening that perfectly matched a felted bag or pencil roll. Our supply of Shetland wool on cones seemed endless and their subtle shades, when plaited together, blend with the felted fabrics. Now the plaits have become an important design feature in their own right and KC is constantly devising new colour combinations.

Deceptively simple, yet incredibly time-consuming to make, the plyed strands of wool reduce in overall length by about 30% when plaited. Bobbins wound with between 8 - 24 strands of fine wool, sometimes over 100" long, have to be measured out prior to plaiting and three bobbins are needed to make each plait. Hopefully, now the humble plait will be valued more, both as a decorative and functional device, and as an extra hand-crafted element that's true to the 100% felted wool designs.


The new range of small felted phone bags, felted book jackets, pencil rolls and sketchbook covers will all be available to buy on-line in the Folksy shop. Many of these feature unique one-off vintage buttons and toggles, as well as having the distinctive plaited straps and fastenings. It seems like everyone favours useful, practical designs that are also attractive and the response we've had towards all these functional products is very encouraging.   

It's great to receive such positive feedback and we're planning for a busy year ahead. We hope you also have a great New Year, and whatever you're doing... Keep warm !
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