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A summer of shows and classes

As I'm sure it has for most of you it has certainly been a busy summer, both professionally and personally. Professionally it was all about the shows and classes. In July and August I had two big shows back to back - the first the Bellevue Arts Council show the last weekend in July at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Seattle, the second the American Crafts Council show at the Festival Pavilion in San Francisco the first weekend in August. The below photo shows me at my booth at the Seattle show.

Both are beautiful shows but from my point of view, they could not have been more different. The ladies in San Francisco are definitely 'my people'; self-confident and more than happy to dress outside the norm - in fact, they positively want to do so. My vests were a big hit in San Francisco and I sold all my remaining dresses and shawls. In Seattle however if it had not been for one lady who bought four of my dresses, and another lady who bought two more, I would have made a loss. 

The below shot shows Chip (my husband) and me on the Golden Gate Bridge.


I have also been doing a great deal of teaching. I made my first international teaching trip up to Picton, Canada, where I taught three classes one on scarves, one on flowers and one on dresses. I had such fun and I am utterly grateful to Linda Swaine owner of the Rose Haven Farm Store for organizing this event. Here one of my class participants, Donna Tropp, making and then wearing the dress she made in the class.

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I loved teaching the classes there so much that I may teach a coat class there in April/May 2013. Stay tuned!

Following on from my successful Felted Slippers class on September 8th & 9th I shall be back at A Place to Weave in Waltham MA this Saturday, September 15th from 10am- 4pm for a class on Felted Hats.  

Then in October I'm participating in Lowell Open Studios on Columbus Day weekend - Saturday Oct 6th & Sunday Oct 7th - 10am-6pm. Both my studio and my loft will be open. My previous seasons' felt work will be priced at 40% off. I will be selling my paintings at $0.75c a square inch plus the frame ($100). 

And last but not least I'm looking for an intern - two days a week - actual hours negotiable.
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I had the privilege of teaching five wonderful women. They call themselves the YaYas. They have been friends for over 20 years. They came together to celebrate a special birthday for one of their own, Gayle. Imagine, a whole weekend with your best buds. This, however is not a picture of Gail, but a picture of Suzanne, the organizer of this wonderful event. The event started with a Nuno Felt Scarf class taught by me at Bead + Fiber Gallery. We started at 11 am and everyone worked like mad till 2:30 when the scarves were finished .

What I love best about teaching these classes is the camaraderie that comes about while doing the work. With this class these feelings were amplified ten fold. The energy, caring and love that was in that room left me high the rest of the day. 

When they were all finished I snapped this photo for my wet scarf club.Happy Birthday Gail, Gail is the women on the right side of the picture.
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I love experimenting with new designs and materials, I just like to see if I can do it. These felted fingerless gloves are a perfect example. I wanted to try to create fingerless gloves that paid homage to Karl Lagerfelds' fall collection. In his fall show many of his models wore fingerless gloves in black with a touch of lace or ruffles. Mine are Merino wool with silk, tencel and lace inclusions. I love these fingerless gloves. They have both a feminine feel and a very tough urban feel.They were so much fun to make that I made  three more pairs all different.

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The green ones are made with Merino wool from my boutique, Algae  and Yellow Curry . I also added wool eyelash yarn as an inclusion.These green pulse warmers have turned up cuffs and the opening around the fingers is turned and stitched down. I think they have a very collegial feel.   I then decided to experiment with silk velvet. Which resulted in the purple Nuno felt pulse warmers, below..
I used cut silk velvet,  Merino wool in Pansy from my boutique. I finished the gloves by hand stitching velvet ribbon around the cuffs and the finger openings. The palms have a vine pre-felt design with hand embroidery emphasizing the design. I can't seem to get a good picture of the palms the color difference between the pre-felt and the wool is very close.
I think these have an Edwardian  feel. Purple and velvet, I can just see the women wearing this stepping out of a horse drawn carriage in the 18th century.

purple pulse warmers.jpgIn the last pair I finished, I wanted to create something a little bit wild. I really don't know how to describe them. They are a blend of all Merino wool from my boutique, Algae, Deep Water, Dirty Martini, and Hot Tamale. I know they have a reptilian feel but, they are a lot of fun to wear. You will definitely be noticed when you wear these felted pulse warmers.

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All of these felted pulse warmers are for sale in my boutique.

SO why do I call these fingerless gloves pulse warmers. Well, there is always a gap between the end of the glove and the sleeve of your coat. In our cold New England weather, wind rushes up my sleeves and chills my wrists. When I set out to design these gloves I wanted to make them long enough to cover my wrists to prevent a cold pulse, hence pulse warmers.

It is still bitter cold here in Boston. I know what you are thinking it is winter, get over it, but the harsh winter days just keeping coming on, with spring a distant memory. By now, If you are like me, you are bored, Bored, BORED with your winter clothes. The quickest way to change a look is to accessorize. A new warm bright scarf is just what I needed to banish the gray all around me.

I have made many scarves, Nuno and felt, but I wanted to try something a little different. When I am selling my scarves, I am frequently asked, " How do I wear it?" The question always throws me off kilter, I thought it was intuitive, I couldn't have been more wrong. That was my challenge, to come up with a scarf, that didn't need directions.

Here are the things that people found challenging about wearing a scarf; "what do I do with the excess?", How do I keep the ends from trailing on the ground?", How do I tie it around my neck to stay?" All the questions are design problems and I added my own problem, the scarf would have to be, feminine, light and block the wind around my ears and be versatile.

The three scarves in the video are the result of this challenge. They are all 36" - 40" in length, no more dragging on the ground, and no more excess.  They all have a slit near one end of the scarf through which you pull the tails from the other end ,Voila, no more wondering how to tie the scarf. 

I created the scarves by using the resist method and by exploiting the felting process. Each felt scarf is double ruffled, the ruffles were created by placing a resist ( a piece of thin plastic) between the layers of each ruffle. Then, because of  nature of felt is to contract more (shrink) when it is thicker than when it is thinner, I laid out the center of the scarf with three layers of woo roving, but the ruffles are only two layers of wool roving. This is what causes the ruffles, the center line, three layers thick, contracts,  more than the ruffles, the outer edges. I also made each side of the scarf in contrasting colors, making them reversible and because of the sculptural quality of the felt, the ruffles can be made to stand up around my ears, keeping them nice and toasty. I am planning on retailing these fun flirty, felt scarves in my boutique.

Here is one of my favorite fashion quotes that inspires me in my creative process.

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary"   Cecil Beaton, English Photograph and Fashion Designer 1904-1980


"Felting Over A Ball", Day 2

I taught a great felting workshop this weekend with two wonderful felting students. We learned a felting technique called "felting over a ball" to make 3-D sculptural wool vessels. On the first day of the workshop we laid out the wool on our Gertie balls, put the ball and the wool in the pantyhose to hold the wool on the ball, and began to wet the wool with warm soapy water.  On the second day , we  continued to agitate the wool by rolling the balls on bubble wrap, then we deflated the Gertie ball removed it from inside the vessel and started to shape wool vessel into a form we liked.  The vessel is rubbed vigorously on a wash board to harden all the edges and stretched into shape as the wool felts.

IMG_0575-ball-in-pantyhose.jpg Here is what our felting project looks like inside the pantyhose when we start the second day.
The vessel is removed from the pantyhose that held it together. It has begun to felt! Now the wool has enough integrity that we can begin to add hot water and soap to shape and harden up the wool. IMG_0580-removing-pantyhose-2.jpg
IMG_0604-working-the-fibers.jpg The vessel is rubbed on a washboard to agitate the wool,
pulled, IMG_0614-hardening-the-edges-2.jpg
IMG_0615-stretching-and-elongating-the-vessel.jpg and stretched into shape.
and voila!  


Beautiful Felted Vessels!  Felting is magic when it happens!

TThis weekend I am teaching an exciting felt making workshop on making 3-D sculptural felt vessels using the "felting over a ball" technique developed by Beth Beede, a very creative Massachusetts felt maker.  There is a good description of the technique at:  Also Carol Cypher describes the technique in her book" how we felt".  Pat Sparks has another good post on her site at "Experiments with Hat on a Ball".

With all this background, here are some pictures to inspire you. These photos were taken of
my class yesterday. We had very enthusiastic felt makers! (Thanks to Ann Marie and Sharon for letting me use their photos) I'll post some videos of the class, as well, so you can hear and see how  the steps are done when using the "felting over a ball" technique.  


The first step is to lay the wool over a 9" deflatable Gertie brand ball. (You can click through the pictures to  enlarge the image)

Then you carefully lay down the wool in layers.  We will be adding about eight layers of wool on the ball.

You pat the wool down so it stays on the ball.

As you are laying out the wool, you can add more colors.  Since the wool fibers will migrate as the wool is agitated, the colors will show through in the final vessel.  You can achieve wonderful blends of color and texture by doing this.


Now, I have 8 layers of wool covering the Gertie ball.  You can see how big this ball of wool gets!  in this picture I am decorating my vessel  with silk fibers, acrylic yarns, and sparkling cellulose fibers so the outside of the vessel will look really interesting when I am finished.

IMG_0575-ball-in-pantyhose.jpgThen we push this gigantic ball into a pair of pantyhose to hold the vessel together as we agitate the wool.  Here is what it looks like when we have stuffed the wool ball into the pantyhose.

This was the first day of two 4 hour workshops.  In the next post, I will show you remove to the vessel from the pantyhose and continue the felting process.  More to come!

Life As An Itinerant Felt Maker

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New year, new felting classes. I teach felting at three different locations and I am forever packing and unpacking my car. I am always in fear of having forgotten something, and inevitably I do. Yesterday I taught at a felt hat class  Bead + Fiber,   to two delightful sisters. Maureen and Martha.  So what did I forget? My glass washboard. I love my glass washboard for making 3-d objects. After you have rolled and "fulled" the wool to a certain point, the washboard makes the "fulling" process go so quickly. Lucky for me, these two women were such good rollers and fullers that the washboard was unnecessary. What! You haven't tried a glass washboard? If you work on 3-d felt, it should be in your tool stash, you can buy one at Columbus washboard company. They are the last washboard manufacturing company in the USA hat class.jpg This is Martha laying out her hat and in the background you can see Maureen working on her hat.
maureen hat class.jpgHere is Maureen laying out her hat.

If you live in the Worcester area, I will be teaching a 6 week felting course starting on February 24th at the Worcester Art Museum, night they will having an adult ed open house. from 5:30 - 7:30 come by and say hello. I will be doing a felting demonstration and would love to see you there. There will be free eats and drinks. 

I also have a few classes coming up at the Boston Center for Adult Education  On January 23rd I will be teaching a Nuno shawl class and then on Jan 31st I will be teaching Embellished felted, beads, baubles, lariats and flowers.

There is still room in all the classes and if you register and let me know by e-mail your name will be entered to win a fabulous scarf kit, a $60. value. 

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How to felt: 3-d felting

3-d felting is one of the more interesting and fun ways to felt.  As I showed you, my children and I recently created slippers using a 3-d method of felting called the resist method.  This method involves cutting out a piece of foam and laying the wool down around the resist.

First, one traces the shape of the foot on the piece of paper.  Then, one adds 3 inches to the entire slipper.  These three inches are so that the wool can shrink and end up fitting the person's foot.  Next, one traces this shape onto a piece of foam, and cuts out the slipper shape.

Once you have the slipper shape, you can begin to lay down the wool. I recommend 6 layers of wool in total. Then you wet it, flip it over, and carefully lay wool down on the other side.  Once both sides are laid out, you can roll the wool up and begin felting.

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After you've rolled the wool for at least 30 minutes, you can take the slipper out and, if it passes the pinch test, you should cut it open and remove the resist.  The slipper can then be hand felted by rubbing it against a rough surface such as bubble wrap or a washboard.

This is basically what I do when I create a pair of woolen slippers.  If you're interested in learning this, and you live in the Boston area, check out my upcoming classes at Boston Center for Adult Education.
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Making Slippers is Hard Work

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December 26 at B.Felt Studio was a slipper extravaganza. Ian, Emma, Oliver, Rory, Miranda, Lily and Sandra came to my studio at 12 noon filled with the enthusiasm of the unenlightened. They had no idea what they were in for. I had tried to warn them, but to no avail, they partied all night and thought they could cakewalk through the day. HAH. It was a lot of fun and hard work. The quote of the day, my daughter, Emma says " Mom, I can't believe you do this everyday !' "I'm exhausted". They finished their slippers by 8:30 that night, seven pairs of slippers successfully made and here is the video to prove it. It was the largest slipper class I have ever taught. 

Making nuno felt requires lots of agitation.  Agitation makes the wool fibers pass through the silk  to laminate the wool and the silk together.  Soap and water lubricate the wool so that it can pass through the silk weave.  To agitate the wool fibers, we wrap the wool in bubble wrap and roll it.  After rolling the wool we will peal off the netting that is holding the wool and the silk  together and roll the scarves again.

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