Sunday, October 3, 2010

Felt United Day

Yesterday was the second annual international FeltUnited Day.  In my day dreams I'm preparing a great interactive community  project.  In my real life, I displayed a variety of feltwork and demonstrated feltmaking on the lawn of Frittelli & Lockwood's Textile Studio as part of Saratoga Springs, NY's Beekman Street Arts District celebration of American Craft Week

Typically, I arrived to set up missing the sides of my tent, so the breezes were my enemy.  I was trying to make very fine nuno.  As any felter knows, the slightest breeze will set fine fibers aloft.  In frustration, I switched to felting mice (cat toys) easily shaped in my hand where the fibers could be contained.  I quickly decided that it was too lame to make mice on such a special day.  In defiance I decided I NEEDED TO MAKE NUNO and the wind would not beat me!  I started laying out merino and silk fibers a few inches at a time, patting down and dribbling water on the layout to hold the fibers, rolling up as I went along.  Visitors asked if that was glue I was putting down.  They said they just couldn't wrap their heads around the process.  After I explained in detail, they were usually in awe of the possibilities.  (Me too).  By the end of the afternoon I had  finished my layout, but didn't get to the rolling stage.  I was curious how long it would take my fibers to migrate through the fabric in the cold, but not curious enough to stay late. 

 I was eager to warm myself up.  We finished with dinner at the pub across the street.  The day was long and cold, but satisfying.  I feel like an under achiever in the scope of all the FeltUnited activities going on around the globe, but at least I did contribute to our universal goal- to raise the awareness of felt as a craft and an art form.
Hats off  to Elis Vermeulen and Cynthia Reynolds for their contributions of time and energy to make this global event cohesive.  It is a wonderful thing to feel united.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival

We had a great  response at the fiber festival held at Washington County Fair Grounds.  Harry helped me load the cars and answer questions at the booth.  Couldn't have done without his help.  He's gotten very good at felt talk.  It was trial by fire when I came down with the flu before my first open studio.  He stepped up to the plate and won a gold star from me, but this is where I know he'd rather be, with his bike on a mountian:

In its second year, this fiber event about doubled in the number of vendors.  Nothing like the sea of people at Rhinebeck, but the visitors seemed happy about that!  We took a lot of names on the Luckystone email list, and it was great to learn that everyone seemed familiar with the Shirt Factory- home to my studio.  There has been a big effort to promote and improve the building to increase visitation and improve the visitor's experience and it appears to be paying off.  The general feedback is "what a cool place".

Demo- took me much longer than I expected to finish a nuno scarf.  I should have known it would... I enjoy the methodical but spontaneous lay out process.  I laid out a fine layer of merino and silk on shibori dyed silk fabric for my demo.  Answering questions and the usual interruptions in public slowed me down even slower.  My plan was to demo nuno in the morning and make bracelets with kids in the afternoon.  I kept to schedule but it took me both mornings to finish the scarf. It's always funny to answer how we get the wool to stick to the fabric and let people know that no, it isn't boiled.

I displayed a lot of felt as examples of workshop topics I teach.  Strong interest in the felted and stitched pieces I had out as samples for the Artfelt Techniques workshop I'll be teaching at Rhinebeck's NY Sheep and Wool Festival in October.  I think people relate to stitched work more readily than felt alone.  I believe it is the element of the familiar.   I planned the workshop to encourage people to have confidence to explore.  An alternative to feeling that they aren't artistic... I just want them to feel when they create their felt.  Always my band wagon, to coax people to trust in their abilities, if they have an instinct to try.

I owe a word of thanks to Fiona Duthie who included info about my studio and a blurb I wrote about teaching at these two NY fiber festivals in her Fall 2010 issue of Living Crafts Guide to Fall Fiber Festivals in the US.  A couple of visitors to  my booth came from reading the article in this Canadian publication.  (Fiona was a student at the June felting retreat I organized at Silver Bay with Polly and Sachiko).
I apologize that this wasn't posted after I wrote it.  Still learning about posting  technicalities!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sachiko's Felting Techniques & BYOF Workshop

For a few days after the Silver Bay retreat, Sachiko hung out in my studio.  She was so energized from teaching, she just wanted to felt.  I worked on dull paperwork while she spent hours on an intricate double sided layout that she felted.  It was as gorgeous before felting as it was after.  We had fun, she was a wonderful visitor. Always some wisdom or humor from her, and we had long talks about her life and artistic philosophy.  I'm always curious and eager to hear about unfamiliar places and experiences so I loved it all.  Here are some images of Sachiko at work in the studio, and during a break at the fabulous Chocolate Mill in Glens Falls!
Sachiko's intricate layout, prefelts, fabrics- double sided
detail of Sachiko's layout

serene Sachiko with her beautiful sweet at the Chocolate Mill
 The felting Techniques Workshop was filled with new concepts in felting, new to the students.  It was a sample workshop, not the way Sachiko is used to working.  As you can see, she generally spends a L O T of time on layouts, but I asked her to focus on introducing a variety of her techniques (non Ori-kiri) and being the sport that she is, she complied.  The result was very diverse work from participants and a lot of enthusiasm, which Sachiko generates easily!
Emily laying out calamari felt
checking out Emily's felted calamari piece
Sachiko expounding
Sachiko showing her Ori-kiri to the class

The next June felting retreat was the "BYOF" (bring your own felt), held in Kelloggsville, NY, in what Polly has dubbed the "Odd Felter's Hall".   It was a mentored retreat, organized as a fund raiser for our family cottage, The Woodlot.  Mentors included Polly, Cher Benda, Sachiko and myself.  Felters stayed at the Woodlot, about a mile from the Odd Felter's on Skaneateles Lake.  Our nieces (and family members) contributed by catering our dinners.  It was great being with old friends and new in such a familiar place- I've attended many of Polly's retreats at the Odd Felter's Hall over the years.  Our participant's work was diverse, as always.  Here are a few images from our week...
Early morning fishing and canoeing on the lake
Alyssa's finished piece, her 1st felt!
Polly and Rosanne hang show & tell

Jack & Anna Featherly of, our chefs du jour!

Sherry's coat yardage
Emily with her beautiful felt
Patricia shows her piece
The odd felters!
Ali and Linda's silk
The Woodlot

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Post

I always have a lot to say, but having a forum to express myself in is intimidating.  I feel like I need to back up, and chronicle past events, but I will try to focus it, to be relevant.
Sachiko models her Ori-Kiri
Sachiko & Polly on Silver Bay, Lake George, NY

This summer has been so full, I can hardly believe it is over.
I planned and organized for over a year to host a felting retreat held at YMCA of the Adirondacks at Silver Bay on Lake George NY this past June.  It started with my invitation/request to Sachiko Kotaka to come here to teach for me in the US, and evolved into Sachiko coordinating her visit with my sister Polly (Stirling).  From there, I got excited about the prospect of the two of them teaching together at the retreat.  They had never taught together in the US.  Sachiko had never taught in the US at all.  Polly agreed to teach, but they each wanted separate sessions.  With the economy as struggling it has been, I wanted it to be affordable to students, so I decided on a four day retreat.  There was a lot of interest from people from the start, and registrations filled rather quickly.
Sachiko Kotaka, Ori-kiri detail

Polly Stirling in Comfort Felts Workshop
June Green listening intently to Sachiko's critique
Anna Finzi's Ori-kiri layout in progress

Sachiko leading class discussion about "healthy" Ori-kiri
The venue was beautiful, worth the heavy camp style meals.  Polly and Sachiko  managed to squeeze a LOT into the two day sessions they taught, and students managed to squeeze out a remarkable scale of work in each two day session.  Polly taught "Comfort Blankets" and Sachiko "Ori-kiri Felt".  I hoped to participate in the felting, but spent almost all of my time in my "shop" corner- measuring and cutting cotton voile and silk, and weighing wool for students.  It was such a full on four days- everyone was urged to stretch  out of familiar comfort zones- show and tell was amazing!
Student's Ori-kiri layout
Ori-kiri, Sachiko Kotaka

Fiona Duthie's Ori-kiri blanket
Irene's comfort blanket
Kathy Korin's Ori-kiri
Susan Blakney's Ori-kiri window panel
Sara West's Ori-kiri
Wendy the Weaver's Ori-kiri