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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

CHRISTMAS GREETINGS & THANKS...

With Christmas just a week away now I wanted to take 
this opportunity to send CHRISTMAS GREETINGS 
to all my felt making friends and blog followers...
   

THANKS to all of you who came along to see me at the Christmas shows.
 It's always lovely to see everyone, especially at this time of year.  
My last fair will be at the Alpaca Farm this weekend 
Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd from 10.30 - 4pm
so if you still have some last minute shopping to do here's your chance
and there's more details here...

THANKS to everyone for the wonderful support over the past year! 
The workshops continue at Oliven the Patchwork Cafe
 in the New Year, with all the dates here
We are working on even more ambitious ideas & plans for felt making in 2014. 
I shall be teaching on the mainland for the first time at the end of January, 
which is really exciting! And I have a project to be featured in the March 2014 
edition of 'EMBELLISH' the Australian magazine. 
There's a busy year ahead and I will keep you posted...

THANKS to all my blog followers, where ever you are! 
I was hoping that I might possibly reach 100,000 views by the end of this year,
which is an amazing total! It's almost there, so please keep checking in 
and thank you all so much for taking such an interest in all the 
felt making going on in the Isle of Wight... 
Finally THANKS to Greta for letting me feature her stunning wreath here. 
It really is the perfect felt makers' Christmas decoration and what a wonderful 
warm welcome it makes! 


I hope you all have a well-deserved restful, peaceful Christmas 
and I hope your 2014 will be happy, busy and very creative.


Friday, 1 November 2013

AUTUMN update…

It's the beginning of another month… October sped by so fast & furious that I'm sure November will be just as frantic! Here's just a quick update. My work will continue to be on display at Anne Toms' Gallery in Yarmouth until the 18th of this month. Having photographed the pots and pebbles on a very bleak beach last month, it made a dramatic change to photograph them in the warm interior setting of the gallery, surrounded by some wonderful work... 


 And everything seemed to take on a completely different character...


Thanks to all of you who braved the worst weather for decades and visited the gallery last Sunday to see the demonstrations. In these situations it's not always practical to demonstrate the wet felting process and explain techniques, so many thanks to Anne for making it possible.


It was extremely blustery in Yarmouth with record gusts of 99mph at the Needles just a couple of miles down the coast! But the Islanders are such a stoical lot and certainly not deterred by threats of a mere hurricane, so we had quite a steady crowd of interested people throughout the day. 

I have a number of craft shows coming up this month - more details and dates here - if you are planning on shopping early for Christmas there's plenty of opportunities.

As well as my felt designs I will also be bringing along copies of my two new craft books to the shows, together with a small display of some of the actual models made for the books which I have back 'on loan' for a while. You can see some of the work in progress on the books in this post from earlier in the year. 


So if you are looking for a creative (& educational) Christmas present for a young friend - at a very reasonable price - look no further...

And I hope to catch up with you at one of the shows!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

YARMOUTH GALLERY Showcase...

FELT Display : October 23 - November 18. Open Daily 10 - 5
FELT Demonstration : Sun 27 Oct. 11 - 4

Anne Toms' Yarmouth Gallery is a small stylish exhibition space located at the heart of the ancient harbour town of Yarmouth in the westerly corner of the beautiful Isle of Wight. 

It has always been the aim of the gallery to promote art, craft & design by Isle of Wight artists, as well as those from all over the UK, with a constant programme of exhibitions of work by professional artists from many disciplines. Imagine my delight when Anne invited me to be one of her 'featured makers' in the first of a series of showcases planned for the winter months.

Anne asked for some material for publicity purposes and this prompted us to take some of the new felt designs down to the Bay for KC to photograph. Here's a preview and you can click on the photos to enlarge... 




 
These felt bowls and pebble weights, along with other designs will be on show at the Gallery from October 23rd to 18th November. I will be there on Sunday 27th October to explain more about my work and the practicalities of felt making with informal demonstrations on-going throughout the day - so it would be great if you are able to come along.  
  
The Yarmouth Gallery is situated in the High Street, Yarmouth, PO41 0PL and is open all year round. 

For more information and details of opening times follow this link...


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

TEXTURED TREASURE...

LOOK what my Mum unearthed in a local charity shop today! This amazing collection of threads of every kind of texture, shade and thickness imaginable.

Each colour selection jam-packed into large plastic sweet jars, so old and discoloured that you couldn't make out the contents properly through the smokey plastic, until they were tipped out at home and their true colours revealed...



Embroidery silks, crochet cottons, some famous names and foreign labels, DMC, Appletons fine wools, mohair, chenille, slubby hand-dyed textures, variegated threads old & new…

Apparently they belonged to the grandmother of the lady working in the shop. She obviously led a very creative life and appreciated the value of her threads, saving every scrap left after finishing projects (just like Mum & I)

Coincidently, 10 minutes earlier we had been looking at new threads for sale and in particular skeins of Cotton Perle at £1.30 each

EACH jar of threads cost just £2...  And these are the contents of THREE jars...


Green must have been a favourite colour as this was the most tightly packed jar, with such an interesting mass of skeins and tiny twists all neatly tied up.


I just love colour and texture so apart from any practical use they just look amazing!



As someone just starting out on the embroidery road I don't yet have a stash of threads and certainly couldn't afford to buy this range and quantity, so this sets me up very well. Also, acquiring threads in this way just appeals to my frugal nature!

As I've been sorting through them I can't help thinking of their previous owner. What did she make with all these threads? And how she treasured all the left-over scraps thinking that one day they would come in handy! Now they've found their way to me and what I personally don't use in my sewing and felting I will take along for everyone to use in my workshops.

Our local charity shops are absolute treasures troves and it's been my lucky week...




I found this large Melin Tregwynt cushion a couple of days ago, 

I'm not going to say what I paid for it, but needless to say it was another bargain!



Sunday, 1 September 2013

FLOWER CUSHION - Alpaca Style...

There was a noticeable chill in the air this morning as the seasons change and we slip into September... But what a wonderful summer we've had, and a busy one too with lots of new workshops for children & adults at West Wight Alpacas.

As well as the usual felt making workshops at the farm I made a variation to my Shibori Felt Cushion design, this time using natural shades of alpaca. This 'Felt Cushion' workshop has proved to be very popular as it suits all abilities - beginners who come along to learn how to felt and experienced feltmakers who want to experiment with the alpaca fibre...


I simplified the original cushion project decorating the centre piece with beads instead of the cluster of 'shibori' felt balls. The rest of the flower design was made as before, using layers of pre-felted petal shapes. The dark brown petals were completely felted into the grey background square and the lighter shaded petals were partially needle felted over them to give the 3-D flower effect. 



Then the beads were stitched onto the grey felt circle. I also hand-stitched through the base of the petals to strengthen the needle-felting, attaching the layers firmly to the felt background as I know the cushion will get plenty of handling! The finished centre piece was placed over the top and stitched to hide the ends of the petals.

I particularly like the way the alpaca fibres give the petals wonderful tufty edges

Finally I made up the cushion by machine sewing the felted flower square to a fabric backing and stuffing a cushion inside...


And you can see it certainly has got Toffee's approval!

There's a new programme of workshops planned for this autumn at West Wight Alpacas. We are including another Felt Cushion workshop, as well as workshops for children during half-term and the Christmas holidays when they can come along and make a special Christmas stocking using alpaca fibre. 

I will be posting up the new dates very soon...


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

NEW STEPS with Stitch & Thread...

During the summer shows I wanted to have some work in progress, something new that I could show visitors as well as my usual pile of samples. It's really difficult to felt in these situations as space is limited and you're constantly drying wet hands so I was looking for something else to have on the go...

Never being one to throw any piece of felt away however small, I have acquired plenty of colourful off-cuts over the years so I decided to experiment with some hand-stitching... 

Now this may sound like a confident casual remark, but my last attempts at running stitch take me back to Mrs Rigby's class when I was age seven! My stock of threads are a jumbled mess and I've never actually bought a sewing needle in my life...


BUT I just started to stitch into the felt regardless - a nice colourful off-cut about A4 size which I thought might make a book cover. The felted pattern vaguely suggested leaves, so I began by outlining shapes with running stitch. I worked out how to do a French knot, then some little stars... 


Now a convert to beading it became obvious to include some in with the 
stitching, plus some tiny buttons

I've been felting pebbles recently so the next step was to try and embroider on these 


I love the idea of working in the round, just trying out 
different stitch patterns… 


and these pebbles made perfect samplars.


This is such an exciting development and I can see endless possibilities of stitching and working into the felt that has been made so plain - up to now!!!

In the autumn programme of workshops at Oliven we have a new 'Stitch in Felt' workshop with expert embroiderer Su Douglas. This class is specifically aimed at felt makers like myself who have no real experience of hand-stitching and would like to learn some basic stitch patterns that can be used to embroider felt pictures and 3-D forms such as bags, bowls, pebbles and decorations for Christmas. All details about the new workshops dates can be found here.

Judging by the response from those who have seen these samples I think stitching into felt is a natural step forward for many. 

Now I'm looking around at some of my felt pieces wondering whether they could be embroidered and this little bowl just needed some decoration. I particularly like the way 'Feather stitch' has such an organic feel and suggests ferns, feathers and even seaweed...



So what's next? 

Embroidered slippers or maybe gloves...

Thursday, 1 August 2013

SUMMER SHOWS...

After all the weeks and weeks of preparation the Open Studios weekend came and went so fast...

Shalfleet Village Hall is in a great location, tucked behind the old church, surrounded by meadow and graveyards. But it is rather remote and we weren't sure how many people would find us. We needn't have worried - lots of red bunting and banners attracted nearly 400 visitors during the three days - despite the heat! The tiny hall was buzzing...


As well as chatting to visitors we all tried to have some work in progress so we could demonstrate and explain techniques... 


Here's Wendy's delicate hand embroidery, Murray's landscapes and 
Pat's wonderful fantasy paintings, plus my felt display. 

It was extremely HOT and cold drinks under the gazebo were very popular!

Sarah managed to capture John relaxing in the shade - taking time out from his tea duties...



But it was far too HOT for some...


And then we had our exhibition at Quarr Abbey the following week. It was a great opportunity to show my new soft pots, bags and scarves at both venues, to catch up with old friends and meet lots of new people who are keen to learn all about felt making! I will be posting up the new workshop dates very soon - there will be the regular classes for beginners, plus some exciting new workshops for more experienced felt makers. 

I've been working on some ideas for combining felt & hand stitching and we're planning to develop these into workshops for the autumn, so watch this space!  

In the meantime we still have places on the August workshops at Oliven in Newport (for adults) and at West Wight Alpacas for adults & children, so check the links for more details.    

A very BIG thank you to everyone who came along to see the shows. I do hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and all this wonderful sunshine. 

Let's hope it lasts...



Monday, 8 July 2013

New Work for OPEN STUDIOS...

It's been a very busy year so far and with the Isle of Wight Open Studios just a couple of weeks away there's not much let up! I wanted to try & exhibit some new felt designs this year and I've been experimenting with much larger 3-D shapes & forms, as well as trying different ideas for decorating and embellishing the felt with beads, fabric and stitching.

So here's a quick preview of some of the new work...


The photos are deceptive as the large blue & red Soft Pot is about 40 cm tall - I've incorporated fabric into the surface design as well as using pre-felts to create the strong geometric patterns...

After my first attempts at beading I was keen to try decorating some Soft Pots... I love the way the wooden beads and buttons really do work with the natural coloured fibres.


  I've machine stitched some wonderful pieces of coloured silk to these new summer bags, again the colours of the silk really compliment the felt. The decorated felt covers on these notebooks make them really special - with some perfect vintage button fastenings!


There's a new selection of 'nuno' scarves in lovely summery colours, as well as the usual range of felt bags of all shapes & sizes, kindle cases, flower brooches and even the lavender birds have a new home!


Open Studios takes place all across the island and it's a unique opportunity to meet the artists and see them at work. I shall be exhibiting this year at the Village Hall at SHALFLEET from Friday 19th - Sunday 21st July. It's a lovely old building just behind the church and a new venue for Open Studios 2013. There's free admission, refreshments will be available at the hall - home-made cakes & cream teas - as well as easy access & parking. There's more information in the Open Studios yearbook available on-line if you follow this link.

The following week I shall be at QUARR ABBEY from Thursday 25th - Tuesday 30th July with the Crafty Artists, and although our exhibition isn't part of Open Studios I do hope you will pop in to see us there. 

I will have all these new designs on show and hopefully plenty more as there's still some time to go…

Look forward to seeing you and lets hope the sun keep shining for us!



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The 'DAY JOB'...

I have been promising to write more about the job that has taken me away from my felting in recent months, so here we are at last! But first a bit of background...

In a past life I studied Illustration at Harrow Art School and worked in publishing for over 30 years, free-lancing as a writer, illustrator & designer and ending up specialising in children's craft books. I have always considered this to be my job - it's on my passport - that is up until a few years ago when the recession, new technologies, cutbacks in schools and library services all contributed to a general downturn in the publishing world and work dried up, almost overnight...

But it did give more time for my felt making which quickly developed into an exciting new way of life as is well-documented here at Felting Matters...

And then life changed again, as often happens, and last year I was contacted by a children's publisher and asked to develop ideas for a craft series - I was back at the drawing board...


The first two books in the series were to feature 'Jungle' & 'Safari' animals, showing children how they could make models following simple step-by-step instructions. I was asked for samples and first made a lion from a margarine tub, card tubes and scrunched-up newspaper, with chunky pipe cleaner mane & whiskers. He was used for this cover mock-up, although he's been through some colour changes since then....



Each book features 15+ projects and these were designed using basic materials found around the house - recycled packaging, cartons, tubes, plastic bottles & containers, newspaper, kitchen towels, etc.

The projects also had to have a function where possible - so there's a Giraffe CD box, Lizard fridge magnets, puppets, pop-up cards, mobiles, spider badges and a Warthog money box made from a plastic drinks bottle (my personal favourite!)

 
You can see in these model making pictures I followed reference photos closely to match the animals colouring and markings - click on the photos to enlarge. An information poster is included with the books, with facts about all the animals, which I researched as part of the brief.

All the models have step-by-step instructions which were written as the projects were designed and all the steps are illustrated. There are also pages of template shapes to follow and eye sticker sheets, which is a really useful extra as they are the most difficult things to cut out.

It was quite an undertaking, which has taken many months to put together and wouldn't have been possible without KC's involvement. He made some of the models, putting my instructions to the test and ironing out many 'technical' problems. He also photographed the whole process so we had good reference for the artwork, which consisted of 6-8 steps per project and took six weeks to complete. He took shots of the models just before they were all packed up and sent off, just in case... Work in transit is always nerve-wracking! 

Here's just a selection of some of the projects...


And now it's all gone to production and books should be available later on in the year - hopefully in plenty of time for Christmas. I will post up the publication dates as soon as I hear... 

Will there be more titles in the series? 

I do hope so as it's been a great job to work on - so everything's crossed!




Saturday, 1 June 2013

SUMMER'S here...

...at long last! With some glorious weather and lots of holiday makers out and about on the Island enjoying the half term break. It's also catch-up time, not just here on the blog but also in the garden, which has also been sadly neglected as the day job took over. But I'm pleased to say that the publishing work has now finished - for a while - I'm planning a special blog feature about it all which will appear very soon...

Meantime, we have been busy in the garden tidying up and recovering our losses... At the end of last year we cut back all the lavender very hard. It needed doing but we couldn't have anticipated such a long harsh winter ahead. Living so close to the sea, with temperatures unusually low the 'Imperial Gem' surprised us by surviving the severe conditions but we lost all the 'Hidcote' varieties - which was very sad. So today we've been digging out all the dead wood and sewing wild flower seeds over the cleared area which should quickly give us some colour back.


I do have a plentiful stock of dried lavender from previous years, stored in bags & pillow cases around the house and in amongst all my wools & fibres. Not only does it smell so wonderful, but it's a natural insect repellent and should help to keep the moths away. I also use it in many of my products - to fill cushions, pincushions, bags, brooches and my lavender birds - as well as selling packs so you can make your own.

I have been working on some new designs for this summer...


 ...as well as the felt bird brooches there's new larger felt birds 
filled with lavender.

The busy summer season starts in a couple of weeks time and one of the great things about organising events here on the island is the amazing choice of venues. Our group of 'Crafty Artists' is exhibiting at Fort Victoria, Yarmouth on 27th - 28th June in the wonderful new exhibition space created there in the old fort, right on the sea front.

We have the OPEN STUDIOS launch at Quay Arts in Newport on July 1st followed by our show at Shalfleet Village Hall on the 19th - 21st July. Again this wonderful old building has just had a complete make-over and makes a perfect rural setting for Open Studios. There's more information about all the OS venues in the yearbook



Both refurbishment projects at Fort Victoria & Shalfleet were made possible by funding from the West Wight Landscape Partnership. Although no longer active the lottery funded WWLP's three year tenure has left a lasting legacy in the West Wight as they did such good work and helped sponsor so many local projects.  


I'll be back at Quarr Abbey Art Gallery from the 25th - 31st July. This is another very special place, wonderful buildings, gardens & tea room and our exhibition ties in with the second week of Open Studios, so it's going to be a very busy time. 

The workshops also continue throughout the summer at the Alpaca Farm in Wellow and at Oliven the Patchwork Café in Newport and there's more information and booking details if you follow the links...


 Hope to catch up with you soon...


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

3-D FORMS & TEXTURES…

May the first already! It's seems unbelievable - Summer has arrived and we've completely missed Spring! I'm afraid I have rather neglected things here with a terrible two month gap between posts. It's been a hectic time as I've been managing workshops alongside 'the day job' - a really exciting publishing project - more about that very soon...

Meantime recent workshops have had a distinctly 3-D theme - lots of bags & bowls, slippers and an advanced 'textured vessels' day, so I'd like to try and include as many photos as possible... 


For me the most satisfying aspect in explaining how to create a seamless 3-D form by felting around a resist, is that once the method is understood it can be used to make ANY form - it's only the shape of the resist that determines the end result. So bags, slippers, hats & gloves can all be made using the identical process with maybe a few adjustments.


Laying out fibres around the resist can be tricky at first. It's good to watch bewildered faces at the beginning of the class slowly gain confidence as the day progresses. I can see them thinking "I'm never going to get this" - yet they do - and everyone goes home smiling, with a piece of felted work, and a great sense of achievement!
  


I must just mention Soosun who took up the 'gauntlet' challenge laid down in the last post and actually made this wonderful pair of matching grey gloves and slippers (called 'Winter Weather') in one workshop.

The 'Textured Vessels' workshop was another step forward and gave some experienced felters the chance to experiment with shapes and textures. The results were spectacular! One of my students Greta has gone on to study textiles and is incorporating her felting skills into her course work - here is some of her amazing work...


This all shows that once you have felted a shape or vessel it's just the foundation for so much more experimentation, stitch and embellishment - you just have to be brave and take the next step!

These are just some of the results at the end of the days - some still wet and soggy, and some still in need of finishing but all tremendous, individual pieces of work!

For details and dates of all the new felt making workshops at Oliven in Newport and the Alpaca Farm in Wellow click on the names.

Just to finish by saying that I'm getting ready for my first craft show of the year. I'll be exhibiting with a group of friends on the 11th & 12th May in the newly refurbished Village Hall in Shalfleet. It's such a perfect venue, just behind the church. There'll be tea & homemade cakes on offer, as well as some very nice craft work... 

Hope the weather continues to stay dry and sunny for us!    

Friday, 1 March 2013

WORKSHOPS update...

February maybe the shortest month of the year but it's certainly been one of the busiest yet! Lots of workshops - including some with distinctly winter warming themes - scarves, gloves and hats! Perfect for this exceptionally bitter weather. Not only can we keep warm by making felt but the end results are very heart warming too. 


The first felt glove workshop at Oliven booked up fast and was a great success. We are holding another one on March 27th and combining it with another popular class - felt slippers - so it could be possible for any fast workers to get both matching pairs (almost) finished in the day? I'm throwing down the 'felted' gauntlet here and opening up the challenge...



Here are just a few of the February workshop photos...
Everyone had great fun during half term at West Wight Alpacas making felt jewellery



and here are more felt hats, flower cushions, scarves 
and some wonderful felt pictures...


As I've said before it's difficult to photograph the wet felt at the end of the workshop, especially this time of year when the light is so bad. But finished work does come back - dry, sometimes embellished and often worn - which completes the whole process and makes it so worth while.

On Monday I spent a lovely evening with the Cowes WI ladies, talking about how felt making has taken over my life in recent times and showing them how to make felt flowers. They were all keen to have a go, but I hadn't anticipated quite such a large group (40 +) ! We had to limit the numbers but hopefully I'll be invited back and will be able to include more in the practical session next time.

It has been a very hectic month - I find it amazing that the workshops continue to be so popular and all the time new people are interested in learning to make felt. We have a new programme of dates for March & April at Oliven in Newport and you can find more details here...


And I shall be starting off the new month with a 'Felt Jewellery' workshop at Brading Roman Villa this Sunday. This is a lovely relaxing class - great for all ages & abilities and I think we have some visitors coming across from the mainland for the day to join us...

So it should be fun!


PS. And so it was! As can be seen here - lots of wonderful felt flowers, beads and bracelets and a couple of 'pea pod' brooches... 





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