Feeling Inspired

Yesterday was the last day of a 3 day workshop with the genuinely lovely and inspiring, Louise Anderson. Normally I feel a bit deflated and sad when a workshop comes to an end but this time I think I am feeling too energised and excited by the new possibilities to feel sad that I will not be meeting up with my classmates again. It sounds trite but this workshop really has changed how I look at even the most mundane of objects, I am noticing colours and shapes that I was previously oblivious to.

Louise is a lecturer from UCA, a university that I mentioned a few weeks ago, but she was teaching this course, Colour and Abstract Design for Textiles, from City Lit in London. To be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it came recommended from another UCA lecturer so I signed up and kept and open mind, and I am so glad I did!

The first half day was spent on the basics of colour theory, a favourite topic of mine and one I would have happily spent all 3 discussing. Then we moved onto using view-finder techniques to find interesting combinations of line and shape from various still life objects. The second day was spent predominantly working from photos for inspiration and the 3 day for me was spent working with scale and repetition (I went off on a bit of tangent here, I don’t think this was intended to be part of the class).

Here are a few of the designs I produced over the 3 days…

This next series was derived from the photo on the left, the panel in the top right was drawn from the photo while the panel below was a more geometric representation of the one above, focusing on the elements I found most pleasing.

Photo found on http://katia-lexx.livejournal.com/1325217.html but no credit given to the photographer so I’m afraid I do not know who took it.

Then I played with repetition and scale, out of all the designs this is the one (or at least sections of it) I can see myself translating into felt and fabric prints.

This next one solicited the most interest from my classmates, this is it after playing with scale and repetition.

I’m not sure I like the large layout, it is too chaotic and makes me feel tense just looking at it, but small sections of it are appealing and worth further exploration…

We also had a brief discussion about rust dyeing as part of the “how to translate your designs into textiles” segment, so when I spotted a rusty, ornate metal plate in the garage, I had to give it a go didn’t I? 🙂

For a first attempt a rust dyeing I am enormously impressed with the results, the print is far clearer that I expected and it only took 2 hours (I was told to leave it for 2 days but could see the rust seeping through after just 30 min). On the left is cotton muslin and the far right is a scrap of habouti silk.

A close up of the cotton print…

I have already wrapped another piece of cotton around the plate for attempt number 2, fingers crossed it is as beautiful as the first!

Rainbow Hat

This week, in between running the online concertina hat class, I have been working on a commission from New Calendonia, I confess I had to look up where that is, and turns out it is in the Pacific, off the east coast of Australia! I don’t think I could pick a location further away if I tried! 🙂

We have been making good use of the translator function offered by Etsy (my customer speaks French) and I think it is working well, but its a little bit nerve-wracking not knowing how much is getting lost in translation. She asked for a rainbow version of this hat:

 

This was the sketch I sent to check we were on the same wavelength:

img_7854

 

I spent most of this weekend working on it and this is the finished hat, still drying:

 

The second concertina hat class is progressing really well, we have such a talented group of felt-makes I can’t wait to share some photos of their work with you, I am so proud of them all! 🙂

Finally, a word of caution for anyone selling to customers in Germany, I have been working with a customer in Germany to contest a DHL customs charge for nearly 50% the cost of the goods I sent her, it appears they have decided the UK is no longer a part of the EU and therefore, subject to customs fees. My customer is understandably angry and I am more than a little annoyed with the half-wits at Deutsche Post. If you are selling to Germany, you might want to forewarn your customers of this potential issue.

Update: Deutsche Post have acknowledged they made a mistake and said they will forward the parcel which is now more than a week late 🙁

Christmas is Upon Us

Apologies to all the “Bar-humbug-ers” trying to take the ostrich in the sand approach until Dec 24th, but Christmas is officially just around the corner… It must be!…The supermarkets are stocked to the rafters with Christmas treats, I have been discussing the logistics of making Christmas stockings with the same group of children who made the autumnal pictures and I attended my first Christmas fair this weekend.

I have 3 more fairs before the end of November and keep running out of stock (granted this is a much better problem to have than having stock that refuses to sell!)

This was my corner of the West Surrey Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyer’s table at the Christmas Fair, it was a fun day out with Elaine and Heather, who you can see in the photo, and I sold the beret and snail hat you can see on the top shelf. The snail hat went to a young lady who I think will actually wear it around town, not just to music festivals which is brilliant, I am so happy he found someone to love him 🙂

img_2066

 

The bathrooms at this site were less than wonderful portacabins, but when I happened to look up I saw this and thought it rather pretty, it reminds me of eco-dyeing:

img_2072

 

Today was spent furiously making scarves and another hat to replace some of the sold stock so I don’t have to turn up to the next few fairs empty-handed. This will be a beret and the scarves I made are busy cooking in the dye pot.

img_7850

img_7847

 

A few weeks ago I saw an advert for a short millinery course at my local college and on a bit of whim signed up for it, I’m not sure the cut and sew techniques we have been using so far will replace the more contemporary felt-making techniques I normally use but it is interesting to see how some styles are constructed and of course the engineer in me is already trying to work out how to make similar shapes in seamless felt…. 🙂

This is the first hat from that course, I would call this an “Andy Capp cap” after the well known British cartoon but this probably doesn’t translate very well across the Pond, what would you call this style of hat?

img_7841

img_7844

img_7845
Back
img_7846
From above

Are you ready for Christmas?

Review of 2014

I started 2014 with a handful of objectives:

  1. dedicate more time to creative activities (I have already “bought” some extra annual leave at work that should allow me to spend 1 day every 2 weeks dedicated to felt making and other creative interests)
  2. create at least 50 good quality pieces for sale
  3. find alternative sources for selling my works, including at least 2 craft fairs and improve marketing of my work
  4. complete my City and Guilds felt making course before August
  5. post at least once per week
Here’s how I feel things went (with a few pictures of my favourite pieces to break up the text):
1. I haven’t really spoken about this on my blog but mounting stress at work combined with a family bereavement and months of legal battles trying to get rid of the tenant from hell led me to have a bit of an emotional wobble in the middle of the year that saw me signed off work for 4 weeks.  I am more grateful than I can express that my employer also let me take a couple of months of unpaid leave, especially given the rest of my department have been leaving in droves and there is a hiring freeze. Long story short, I spent 3 months almost exclusively being creative and making felt. It was heaven and just what I needed! 
2. Taking 3 months off work was a bit of a cheat here but I was doing pretty well on this one, averaging 2 or 3 pieces per week. Towards the end of the year I set myself an additional goal of listing 90 items on Etsy by Thanksgiving, it was close but I did it and my sales have increased in the last quarter but I can’t be sure if that was due to the Crimbo rush or my increased presence on the site.
3.  I did scout out a few craft fairs and was shocked to find that fair organisers will charge upwards from £20 but provide very little or no advertising (they apparently expect the stallholders to do that for them!). I felt really sorry for the handful of jewellery sellers at one fair, quietly waiting for customers to arrive. Needless to say I didn’t sign up to those fairs. Of the events I did sell at, those I attended with my local Guild of Spinners and Weavers were the most enjoyable and lowest risk (they just ask for 10% of any sales, so no sales = no charge).
4. Regular readers of this blog will already know I did achieve my C&G qualification and received my certificates in November. It was an interesting course and I learned a lot and did some strange things with paper and card that I am sure I would never have done if left to my own devices. I also feel blessed to have spent 3 days with Yvonne Habbe in May and 6 weeks with Fiona Duthie in October her online SDO course. Both are excellent and generous teachers, and come highly recommended. I would like to study feltmaking further but think I would benefit from more face to face teaching. 
5. July was a struggle with only 2 posts but most other months my enthusiasm for blogging has shone through and this blog reached its centenary just a few weeks after it’s first birthday (that’s an average of nearly 2 posts per week). This goal has had the unexpected benefit of pushing me to make time to be creative, even when I feel overwhelmed by the rest of my life and just want to curl up into a ball, knowing that I needed something creative to share on my blog has proved to be a useful tool to drag myself out of self pity. On a related note, and after much encouragement from friends I finally set up a Facebook page too. So now I have 2 portals to keep me out of the doldrums 🙂
The New Year is just round the corner, I need to put my thinking cap on and decide what goals I would like to reach in 2015. What are your goals? Where would you like to be in 12 months’ time?

End of March

Here we are again, another month passed by in the blink of an eye….

As a recap, these are the goals I set myself at the beginning of January:

  1. dedicate more time to creative activities
  2. create at least 50 good quality pieces for sale
  3. find alternative sources for selling my works, including at least 2 craft fairs and improve marketing of my work
  4. complete my City and Guilds felt making course before August
  5. post at least once per week

Overall it has been a busy, and I think successful moth:
  1. The first couple of weeks were almost entirely consumed with my day job going crazy, my awful tenant (soon to be ex-tenant) and a family bereavement, not much room for creativity with all that going on but the last couple of weeks have been much better and I did manage to take one day off work and had a very productive day.
  2. I’ve done very well on this goal, making 3 new scarves for my C&G course and 2 more on commission, not to mention various bowls, a pair of slippers and my woven vase.
  3. I conducted a reconnaissance mission on a craft fair in Guildford that happens 3 times a year last weekend only to find it had been cancelled. On a more positive note I’ve been much better about posting items on Etsy with 6 new pieces finding their way into listings and half dozen more with photos taken just waiting for me to write something interesting and then of course there is my woven vase that has been accepted to a juried national exhibition, how cool is that?!!
  4. Little bit behind here, but that is mostly due to my doing 3 times more work than I needed to for my last assignment but it was totally worth the extra effort. I expect to get back on track this month, I should be able to complete this month’s assignment in a couple of weekends.
  5. This was easy, in fact I think blogging has become a bit of a habit for me already, it’s a rare day that I don’t at least pop in to see if any of the blogs I follow have posted something new.
On the whole a very productive month despite the flaky start.

How was March for you?

1 3 4 5 6 7