Christmas Sale and Workshops with Women of the Cloth & Guests

This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve taken part in the Women of the Cloth pre-Christmas event at Sprout Community Arts in the Furzedown area of Streatham.  This year, as usual, we have invited a new and different set of guest artists & makers to join us and provide variety, new interest and different workshops for our regular visitors.  Take a look at the Women of the Cloth website News & Events page for all the details, but below is a taster and brief guide to workshops on offer:-

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Chelsea Fringe, the alternative garden festival

Each year amidst the hubbub created by the Chelsea Flower Show in London, a whole host of alternative garden-related events are taking place, some in little known places, others in more well known spots.  The event is known as Chelsea Fringe and this year I will be taking part with Kim Winter of @flextiles in our other guise as Women of the Cloth.

On 30th May, for just £10, from 10.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m. you can come along and make either a needlefelted bird with me, or a wet-felted bird pod with Kim.  Minimum age is 8 years and you will need to book directly with the venue South London Botanical Institute – places are limited, so don’t delay!  Founded in 1910 in Tulse Hill, the Institute has a beautiful botanical garden and runs a wide range of courses, workshops and events for all ages. It’s a bit of a hidden gem.  There will also be a Chelsea Fringe fair on 17th May at the Institute when a smaller taster session, needlefelting a ladybird, will be on offer in the afternoon.

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Community Feltmaking

I’ve had a wonderful time lately making felt with various community groups around south London.  Feltmaking is  such an ideal communal activity because it enables just about anyone to take part in a productive, creative session and go home with something colourful and beautiful made with their own hands.  No particular artistic ability is required for success, and it’s great fun watching everyone around you produce such different creations, starting off with the same tactile materials at their disposal.  Conversation and laughter flow freely as people experiment with skills they didn’t know they had!  In some cases SONG too …

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I made my way to Plumstead in south London last week to make felt balls and cords for necklaces and bracelets with a group of women from Nepal and Brazil as part of the Cultivating Communities project run by Groundwork London.  This project forms part of Groundwork’s Women in Migration Oral Histories initiative aimed at improving social cohesion, with the workshops providing participation in a communal activity of making whilst singing traditional songs as we worked.  Pretty much all cultures have a bank of historical songs associated with textile activity, from the Ikat weavers of India to the wool spinners of Yorkshire and Lancashire.  Before reading and writing became widespread abilities, knitting and weaving patterns were conveyed through rythmic songs which helped the counting process so that traditional patterns could be reproduced accurately, and people just generally sang songs as they worked.  Keeping these traditions alive is important to our cultural heritage, and we had a great afternoon of spontaneous singing and feltmaking together in Plumstead.  Next workshop will incorporate knitting & crochet too.

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At the London Wildlife Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening in Peckham I have had the pleasure of offering feltmaking workshops to visitors at their spring Open Day, as well as working with Alzheimers sufferers as part of the centre’s Potted History project which makes use of reminiscence and horticultural therapy to improve the self-confidence and wellbeing of socially isolated older people in the London boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.  My morning of feltmaking with the group, who attend weekly sessions, was a great success as everyone was enticed by the tactile materials and all were able to focus on a pleasurable, creative activity using colours inspired by the wildlife garden.  Everyone produced a beautiful, complete piece of felt – one man incorporated some deceased beetles in his piece to remind him of where he had made the felt.  He had to be discouraged from felting around his glasses and his bus pass, he got so carried away!

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At Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses in Lambeth I spent a day in the school holidays sloshing about with soap and water making sheeps’ fleece into felt with a range of families as part of their education programme which provides seasonally-themed sessions designed to broaden understanding of the natural world through play. What fun we had playing with colour in the beautiful setting of the greenhouse and its gardens, with food and flowers growing all around us.  It was a hot, sunny day and being in the greenhouse might be better for the plants than we humans after a few hours …

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Lambeth’s Lady Margaret Settlement charity hosts the All Sewn Up Project which provides local women with marketable skills in textile techniques through City & Guilds accredited courses, which rely on the ongoing fundraising initiatives of the wonderful Project Manager Pascaline Lambert for support.  I have run two feltmaking workshops at the project now and what a range of enthusiastic motivated women I’ve had the pleasure of working with!  We started by making flat pieces of felt to use as table mats, or to be sewn into useful items such as spectacle or phone cases, then in the afternoons we made decorative bowls or felt beads & cords.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and were keen to learn more techniques.

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Next stop will be Southmead Primary School in the London borough of Wandsworth, where I’ll be joining art teacher Lucy Ruxton for a day of textile activity – felting, weaving, dyeing, stitching, glueing – with kids working around a medieval theme,  then back to Brockwell Park Greenhouses for some needlefelting of snails, ladybirds, beetles and other bugs, outside in the garden if the weather allows us.  If not, in the hothouse conditions of the greenhouse!! Fans at the ready …

Next event with Women of the Cloth in Dulwich

JEANNIE AVENT GALLERY

14 North Cross Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9EU

Following on from last year’s residency at Jeannie Avent Gallery, which was a great success and a lovely place to be, we will be back there for two weeks from 3rd April 2014

As usual, we will have a variety of work on show and for sale, with various guest textile artists adding yet more choice of work and techniques to see and to buy.

We will be running workshops, a few of which are listed below, more to be added soon. Email us at womenofthecloth2012@gmail.com to book places:

Sat 5th April – 10.30 till 16.00  Feltmaking Day: make some colourful felt using sheeps’fleece, soap & water

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Sun 6th April – 11.00 till 15.00  Creative Weaving with Joan

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Mon 7th April – 10.30 till 16.00 Needlefelting: Garden birds

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Weds 9th April – 18.45 till 21.00

Felt balls for necklaces & bracelets

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Thurs 10th April 14.00-17.00 and Sunday 12th April

Lino block printing with Robyn Archer

Create your own carved lino block using traditional carving techniques. Print your design onto a tote bag and greetings cards.

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Sun 13th April 14.00 – 17.00 – Beginners’ Embroidery

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Mon 14th April – 11.00 till 16.00 Needlefelted Dogs

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Mon 14th April – 18.45 till 21.00 Shisha Mirrorwork Embroidery

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Full day workshops £50.00 including materials, half day or evening workshops £25.00 or £30.00

Feltmaking, stitching, weaving, needlefelting – workshops galore

What a busy workshop season it’s been this Autumn!  I’ve just finished a two-week residency at Sprout Community Arts in the thriving community of Furzedown in Streatham, London SW16 with my fellow textilers Women of the Cloth

Our workshops proved very popular this year and we had the pleasure of teaching new craft skills to many newcomers, all of whom went home with gorgeous colourful items to adorn their homes or to give as gifts to friends and family.  Slipper workshops are always a sellout.  I just love all the different designs and colourschemes people come up with

My textiles Autumn 2013 033           New this year was our Needlefelted dogs workshop, run by Janet Thompson.  She had envisaged that everyone would make a little Jack Russell as a first piece, but participants had other ideas and whole array of little dogs trotted out at the end of the workshop!

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My favourite newcomer was 12 year-old Tatum who wanted to learn Indian Shisha mirror embroidery so that she could add a Bindi to the forehead of a beautiful portrait she is stitching for a competition.  Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the piece she is working on, but here are her mirrors at the first stage of stitching.  She picked it up in no time and came back to show me the completed Bindi and learn some additional stitches.  Great stuff.  If you see this post Tatum, let me know when the whole embroidery is finished – I’d love to see it.

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I had 6 round the table for an abstract feltmaking day – a bit of a squeeze at Sprout’s table, but some beautiful designs were created by beginners and some who’d been to previous workshops of mine.

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The next day we had Joan showing people her very popular figure weaving techniques – the colourful, happy figures make great tree decorations.

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No sooner had I finished at Sprout, than it was Crafty Pint Christmas workshop time, at The Railway pub!  We had 40 keen crafters doing a mix of Felt Baubles, Willow Woven stars, wreaths & Christmas trees plus lino cutting and printing a set of cotton napkins.  What a feast of activities to delve into.  It was great fun – mulled wine a welcome addition thanks to The Railway.

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One more workshop to go before Christmas – Felt baubles, stars & hearts for the tree at Serendipity Tea Rooms on Monday night, 16th December – 6.15-9.00 pm £25.00 including tea and CAKE!! 

Do come and join in.

Workshops dates for 2014 being added slowly but surely … see the sidebar to the right of the page.

Needlefelting is flavour of the workshop month!

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This week the needlefelting needles have been prodding away at a furious pace.  People seem to love it – it can get quite addictive when you begin to see the possibilities for adding detail to your creations.   Between 10 am and 4 pm on Saturday, 24th August with Makerhood at the Southbankcentre’s Village Fair by the River Thames in central London some 40 people (could have been more as I lost count) sat down at my table to make needlefelted ladybirds.  They all had great fun and couldn’t believe that a little barbed needle could turn a pile of dyed sheeps’ fleece into a solid object.  It just takes a bit of patience and concentration – anyone can do it, even those who feel they have no creative ability.  You do have to watch your fingers though, as the needles are very sharp!  8 year-old Lewis found this to his cost, but he carried on bravely and happily completed his beautiful Ladybird.  It was a moment to savour as he was so proud of his creation.

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Another workshop this week involved local craft group Crafternoon at Serendipity Tea Room in Streatham, who make a flock of needlefelted robins, all with their own individual quirky characters!

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Finally, not technically a workshop, but at a large Bank Holiday family gathering at the home of keen kitchen gardener Penny, I found myself teaching the family’s youngsters needlefelting and not only was a Ladybird and a fieldmouse produced, but also some needlefelted carrots!!

Next needelfelting workshop will take place on 6th October at my Lambeth Open House weekend with Women of the Cloth.  Details of all Open House weekend workshops to come.

A summer of Workshop Fun!

This summer has been full of workshops – Indian embroidery, in my home studio and at Serendipity Tea Rooms , always sets people a challenge.  We have concluded that it takes an average of three tries before the technique of sewing on a shisha mirror actually sinks in, then the fun can begin.  Embellishing with beads, coloured threads, buttons and sequins – it’s all very absorbing.  Time flies …

Choosing colours & eating biscuits!

Choosing colours & eating biscuits!

Then there was a felt fish workshop at Streatham Festival’s Make your own Fete at the Railway Pub, with Crafty Pint and Flaming Nora  organising such a brilliantly creative day for what seemed like millions of local kids on a hot sunny day!

Kids' felt fish drying in the trees, Make yr own Fete @TheRailwaySW16

Kids’ felt fish drying in the trees, Make yr own Fete @TheRailwaySW16

Needlefelted garden birds is always a popular workshop and this summer has been no exception with workshops at the Railway Pub and another two coming up NEXT WEEK at Serendipity Tea Rooms on 22nd August and then with Makerhood at the Southbank Centre’s Village Fair on 24th Aug

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A flock of happy needlefelters and their birds

I even got to take part in a workshop myself learning Willow Weaving with Crafty Pint tutor Geraldine.  I absolutely loved it and took home four different finished items, all set to experiment with incorporating willow weaving into my feltmaking or vice-versa.  Can’t wait to have some time to do that- I think my needlefelted birds are going to like the willow bird feeder!

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Willow bird feeder

In between workshops, Kim Winter of WordPress blog Flextiles and I joined forces as Women of the Cloth for the Lambeth Garden Museum Summer Tumblr, which was a treat of a day spend in the knot garden in brilliant sunshine with lots of other artists/makers demonstrating our crafts and selling our wares.  What a relaxing day we had in a beautiful place chatting with like-minded souls and interested visitors.

Women of the Cloth, Kim & Carol, @GardenMuseumLDN Summer Tumblr

Women of the Cloth, Kim & Carol, @GardenMuseumLDN Summer Tumblr

When the summer of workshop fun is over, we Women of the Cloth will be taking part in the Lambeth Open studios weekend on 5th’6th October when we’ll be joined by several other textile makers for a housefull of colourful cloth activity.  Watch this space for more details to come.