Workshops Galore!

Before getting on to the pressing business of setting dates for my own Spring workshops (see below) I thought some of you might be interested in the feltmaking and embroidery workshops I have attended myself in the past few months.  I’ve had a great time extending existing skills, learning new ones and, of course, getting together with lots of textile enthusiasts from around the world.

Last Autumn I travelled up to Big Cat Textiles in Newburgh, Scotland to take two feltmaking courses with Inge Bauer who set up Wollknoll, a centre for feltmaking in Germany.  During a 5-day period we did LOADS of feltmaking, starting with ultra fine nuno-felt (felting onto fabric) to make neckwear with beautiful draping qualities.  We used hand-dyed silk ponge fabric along with 19-micron merino wool tops, some of which were also hand-dyed by Inge using her own scientifically developed slow heatup/cooldown dyeing techniques.  Using such gorgeous materials is always a treat in itself.

These are some sample pieces made using different layouts to test shrinkage factors.  Everyone creates a different shrinkage factor according to how much fleece they use, how much they work into it, how hot their hands are, etc., so it’s important to find out what your own factor is before embarking on a larger piece of work which needs to be a certain size.  I went on to felt a number of lovely pieces of neck and wristwear using the measuring techniques learnt at the start of the week, and I have since gone on to develop the techniques further and complete a number of commissions from people who’ve seen me wear my own, and I am itching to find the time to make some new waistcoats to perfect my shrinkage knowhow.  We also made felt bags with multiple interior and exterior pockets which involved lots of layers and resists to stop each section felting to another.  Very complicated and time-consuming!

On to California – my eldest daughter moved to San Francisco last September and I went to visit her in Jan/Feb this year.  Not only did we have a great time exploring the city, driving down the the coast along Big Sur, meandering through central coast wine country and perusing the arty shops in Paso Robles, we also attended a couple of stitching workshops with my friend Meryl, a San Francisco resident whom I met on an Indian textile trip across Rajasthan and Gujarat in 2012.  Firstly, we joined a Hungarian Folk Embroidery workshop led by Sarah of Threadwritten Textiles.  Always fun to learn a new stitch – this technique is largely Open Chain stitch worked very closely together to form solid shapes.  Very similar to the use of the same stitch in Indian embroidery, where it is used in a more ‘open’ way to form ladder-like lines rather than shapes such as these.  It takes time and patience but the result can form beautiful shapes as you’ll see from some of the designs here.  My completed piece is used as an example on Sarah’s blog, so I must have done something right!

Next we took part in a workshop at A Verb for keeping Warm in Berkeley – a wonderful yarn & workshop emporium – based on Alabama Chanin’s reverse applique technique using stretch jersey fabric.  Although applique & reverse applique are not new to me, it was a chance to practise the technique on a different type of fabric which doesn’t fray, so edges don’t have to be turned under which is a huge timesaver!  First we cut out a stencil using a soldering iron on mylar film, then sponged fabric paint onto one layer of the fabric, stitched it onto the second layer, then cut away pieces of the pattern to expose the bottom layer of fabric.  Some really nice effects can be achieved, plus beads and extra stitching added for decorative effect.  Chanin makes whole garments using the technique, which are comfy and snug to wear. What a nice day spent with my daughter and friend in lovely surroundings using tactile materials.

Lastly, my fellow Woman of the Cloth Kim Winter and I took part in a Couture Nuno Felting course led by Liz Clay in the beautiful setting of West Dean College.    Liz experiments with creating new surfaces using British wools and largely natural materials.  She has produced felt fabrics for well-known fashion houses and has her own collections, as well as developing work for exhibitions.  Kim and I are used to making felt structures without seams, but Liz leans towards making sheets of pre-felted material, cutting out particular shapes to encourage interesting drape and shapes, then completing the felting process when the pieces are assembled.

We learnt a lot in a few days and everyone produced some interesting results.  You can see here Kim working on sizing for her neckpiece inspired by Bracket Fungus, with a toadstool clasp.  We can always count on Kim to come up with something to set our imaginations whirring!  Certainly my little brain has been humming with ideas for using all these new techniques for different projects, but also feeling ready to get back to my own workshop schedule and enjoy the thrill of gathering a bunch of women (mostly!) around the table to enjoy a few hours of making together.  See new dates being added to the sidebar list, but do feel free to contact me via the booking & contact page if there is something I have missed out that you’d like to learn.

A contented group chatting and working together

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Dulwich Festival Artists Open House

 

Avent Gallery 2014 015 I will be with Women of the Cloth’s Kim Winter at Dulwich Artists Open House during the weekend of 10th & 11th May at 28 Worlingham Road, London SE22 9HD.

We will be exhibiting as ‘Cloth and Camera‘, alongside members of the South London Photography Group in the home of one of our guest artists Dianne Brown, whose colourful upcycled t-shirt rag-rugs were much admired at our recent Avent Gallery residency.

Do come along and have a look at Kim’s beautiful shibori-tied, Indigo-dyed scarves, my nuno-felt scarves, cushions, small tactile gift items, felt wall panels and Dianne’s gorgeous rugs!

There will be plenty more Open Houses in the surrounding streets, so you can have a lovely day wandering around popping into different houses to see an array of artworks, with coffee or pub breaks in between.  What could be nicer!

      raw silk shiboriDianne rug 3

Textile heaven in East Dulwich with Women of the Cloth

 

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Well, we’ve come to the end of another enjoyable textile event – our second Spring show at the Jeannie Avent Gallery in London SE22.   It was a riot of colour, chatter & textile activity with lots of new visitors as well as old friends who had visited us here last year. Workshops were well attended & people went home with an amazing array of gorgeous tactile textiles, made with skills they didn’t know they had! Shibori scarf by Flextiles

Kim’s beautiful shibori tied, indigo dyed scarves flew out of the gallery, destined to be gifts for friends, mothers, daughters & aunts.

Janet’s beloved needlefelted dogs were gathered up by those who just can’t resist their imploring little faces and quirky characters, to be cherished by dog-lovers everywhere.

Needle felted dogs by Janet ThompsonWe said goodbye to our favourite of Dianne’s colourful rag-rugs made with recycled t-shirts, which was bought for someone’s toddler daughter to step out onto when she leaves her bed in the mornings – soft, deep pile underfoot.  Gorgeous!

Rag rug by Dianne Brown

 

 

 

 

Women of the Cloth 2012 098And goodbye to Joan’s orange weaving which had given such a zing of gorgeous colour to the wall.

 

Carol’s workshops attracted a wide range of participants as always.  A day of feltmaking resulted in these accomplished pieces of work by first-time felters and by one who has been twice before.

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Beginners’ embroidery introduced Mary Thomas to a different way of producing abstract art, and 9-year-old Christopher embroidered a little garden for us all to enjoy.

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Shisha mirrorwork embroidery class presented a challenge to some, but by the end of the evening all had managed to get the basic stitching techniques into their fingers, and took home their practise pieces ready to do more.  Lara and Emma enjoyed it so much they want to come back , and they are most welcome.  We had a good laugh at some of the hiccups along the way, such as someone sewing her embroidery to her dress!

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Mustn’t forget our needlefelted birds and dogs workshops – as popular as always.  Robins are always favoured by first timers at the birds workshops as they are an easy shape to work on to start with, and 13 year-old Marielle made a lovely little dachsund for her first try!

dachsund needlefelt

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Avent Gallery 2014 041A big THANKYOU to all our supporters and friends, and to all our new visitors.  We had a great time sharing our textiles and our making skills with you all – until the next time ….

Kim, Carol and Joan – Women of the Cloth

 

And our wonderful guest artists

Janet Thompson

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Robyn Archer 

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Mary Rodriguez Thomas

Stitched textile by Mary RodriguezDianne Brown

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Unleash your creativity through Feltmaking

When I’m in the midst of running a feltmaking workshop I am always amazed at the wide variety of colour schemes emerging on the table.  I always have a full range of colours to choose from, as well as some beautiful silks and yarns for embellishment – it’s like an adventure playground of colour!  I love it every time.

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Feltmaking allows us to explore our creativity with freedom and does not require particular skills in the way that drawing or painting do.  So,  those familiar feelings of uncertainty, anxiety & lack of confidence are replaced by curiosity about the process, enjoyment of the colourful materials and a general feeling of wellbeing.

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It’s fun and expressive – everybody goes home with one or two pieces of beautiful material, made with three simple ingredients – dyed sheeps fleece, olive oil soap and water – oh, and a bit of rubbing and rolling!

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We start with flat pieces of felt, which make lovely table mats or even framed artworks.

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Then we move on to learn 3D feltmaking processes using resist templates.  Start by making a decorative bowl, a beret, a hotwater bottle or tablet cover, a tea cosy.  Whatever you fancy.  Again the fascination is in the process and the creativity in the choice of fibre/colour/shape & form.

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One of my most popular feltmaking workshops involves making a pair of slippers which hug your feet.  This is achieved by putting the slippers on when they are almost finished, and rubbing them into the actual shape of your own feet.  A workshop in the summer saw 8 pairs of slippers made in a day, and this picture is a good illustration of what I mean when I say I’m amazed at the range of colourschemes people choose!

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So, come on, unleash YOUR creativity in 2014 by learning feltmaking – a wonderfully expressive, tactile medium which is so versatile you can keep on learning new things forever!

If you don’t see the workshop you want in my listings, do email or ring me and I’ll see if I can set a date either at a weekend or during the week.