Monday 23 April 2012

April 2012

Annual WoW shipping photo!
WoW! Another WoW entry has been shipped off - number 4!
6 solid months of work completed – or is it? One never really knows if it is quite finished or not! We usually do the photo shoot only a week or two before entering it – this time we were re-shooting the day before packing! It’s usually the only time you get to see your garment altogether on a real live person, and see it in action. This being a particularly large piece, I couldn’t even have it set up on a mannequin during the process, so only really saw it properly 2 times. Only just completed, I would have liked more time to play with it and see what it can do, and make sure it was the very best it could be. But, my time is up, and I trust the WoW team to explore her potential from here.
It's nice to know that whilst all the preparation was going on here, last year's entry Fimbria Figura is enjoying the foyer of the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Wellington!

Tidying the studio downstairs felt great – getting ready for new projects after so long working on the one thing! (Sadly, others could not see the tidying, and said it looked like normal!) I have several other deadlines pressing on me now, but I’m kind of glad I have them, or I might feel a little lost! I also have TAFE – this term we are re-creating patterns of fabulous designs by Alexander McQueen and some Japanese designers. Such a challenge! So absorbing! This is the toile of the McQueen piece we started on last week (made by teacher Chris Twine). It took us 3 hours to draft the bias-cut draped dress – how long is the amazing ruffled top going to take?!!
One of the projects I’m working on is self-inflicted – well, aren’t they all?! Lovely Nan whose White Gum Wool I used in Vilte’s workshop asked if she could use my dress I made in that workshop in a fashion parade in Tasmania to help promote her wool.  She is launching the White Gum Wool label the first week of June at the Campbell Town Wool and Sheep Show in Tasmania . I was very flattered, but didn’t consider the dress to be good enough, so have jumped at the opportunity to create more work in this new style, and have offered to make a collection of dresses and wraps, shrugs, maybe even a headpiece or two! I will get as much done as I can for Nan in June, and ultimately hope to create 5 full pieces as a bridal collection for entry in the Flair Fashion Design Awards the month afterward.
I’m not sure how I stumbled across it, but all of a sudden last week I was on the Fibre Arts Australia website, looking at a workshop with the amazing felt artist Marjolein Dallinga. (She had the fabulous entry ‘Skin’ entered in the ‘Under the Microscope’ section at WoW – a truly amazing and beautiful piece.
'Skin' by Marjolein Dallinga

I remember seeing it and saying “I wish I’d made that”. For me it had everything – it totally answered the section theme, and was a beautifully made and skilful work of art at the same time. A few emails later….. and we now look forward to next years’ SvenJen adventure – yes, Svenja & Jenelle will be off to Ballarat in April 2013 for the annual felting odyssey – whoo hooooo!!
Last week I had a wonderful package arrive from Mandie Chandler at the fabulous EGMTK. It was such a treat amongst all the WoW chaos, giving me hope and inspiration for future projects. Based on the project I did at Vilte’s workshop, I decided I needed some tencel tops (so shiny!) some wool burrs (gawdjuss lumps of wooliness) and some fleeces! So crinkly – so sheepy!
Corriedale fleece

Ohhhhh, can’t wait to play with them! Unfortunately I didn’t get to do Vilte’s second class, ‘Wild Fibres in modern couture’, but I have seen some of the work in this style, and can’t wait to experiment with beautiful curly and fluffy fleeces! I also discovered another felt artist working in a similar style –  Charity van der Meer. 

Charity van der Meer's felted dress
So of course, now I need to shop for more things…. more chunky fleeces for one! I’d also love to find some beautiful silk yarn like this, which I believe Vilte spun herself….perhaps I finally have an excuse to buy a spinning wheel?!

So, life continues – busier than ever!
Happy creating, folks! Hope there is colour and fluffiness in your world this week.

Monday 9 April 2012

Blissed out textural felt

This weekend I enjoyed a wonderful workshop at Wendy Bailye’s beautiful new studio space in Samford. Bliss. Driving out on super-quiet holiday roads to the tranquil greenness of ‘The Home of the Powerful Owl’! Spending the weekend with my favourite felting friends, learning fabulous new techniques, and standing looking out at beautiful gardens as I rolled the felt.  
Wendy's new studio space
My view of Wendy's garden
It was serendipitous to snavel the last spot in this workshop by amazing felt-maker Vilte. When I stumbled across it and booked it, I thought ‘this will be a nice reward after the 6 months spent working on WoW’. It was even better than that. It just felt so good.

Vilte checking my work
A word on WoW – the photo shoot was 2 weekends ago, and the photos have been submitted and accepted! Co-designer Matt is now really coming into his own building ‘The Tardis’, a box which is to fit a very large amount of work in it! He is also being challenged with our tuning mechanism! As we have made a few modifications (it looks and sounds even better now!) we will be doing a re-shoot and videos before it goes. One day I will get to show you here! Back to felting. It was all about texture, and we started with Vilte showing us two of her techniques for making it. The challenging thing was to be working in reverse – but it is the only way to get this amount of texture! It was also the first time I had used other fibres apart from silk – bamboo viscose (beautifully shiny) soy fibre (matt and yellow, but an interesting difference) whilst others used tencel (so super shiny – me want!), flax (a bit brown and hairy for me) and even incorporated de-gummed silk cocoons – great texture!
Bamboo, soy and silk fibres
Silk cocoons in Jolante's work
We were also using a superfine merino (17 micron) instead of the normal 19-21 micron. This meant the felting happened very quickly. I was trialling the new fibre from Oatlands Handmade:
White Gum Wool : Ethical Superfine Merino from Tasmania’s Midlands.  Grown by sheep here in Oatlands, and I quote from the new band label : Grown to the highest standards of animal and landscape ethics: not mulesed, tails not docked, minimal chemical use, abundant, diverse forage, family groups for social structure, native pastures managed for biodiversity.  Grown on the property “Lemon Hill’ by Dragon Point Enterprises.  Scoured & combed in Australia.  Artisan-spun in Tasmania.   “Lemon Hill” is part of the NewMerino network which aims to place ethical practices and traceability into the supply chain for specialty wools.
and thoroughly enjoyed working with it. I have never used superfine merino before, and would like to play with a little more to really recognise the difference, but I do think I would have had a much tougher time with my normal lovely wool. I had ordered this, and a package of the fibres mentioned above from Ewe Give Me The Knits, and not opened them until the first day of class. What with being in the blissful setting, getting fired up with new ideas, then opening packages of fibres I had forgotten I had ordered – it was like Christmas!! Better than Christmas! Both Oatlands and EGMTK had included little present packages of trial fibres and badges – what sweet girls you are!
Cotton netting texture
Silk georgette rose with rolled hem edge, and bamboo viscose shining in the background
I came away from the workshop totally relaxed, invigorated, and of course, exhausted!! We made 3 sample pieces the first day (which progressively got smaller!) and a pattern and dress the next day.  I was pleased to only have to do a little finishing off the next day, so I could take it off to show and tell! And yes, I should have worked whith a shrinkage ratio of at least 30% instead of the average 25% I chose to use.....

I was a little jealous of the girls staying to do the next 2 day workshop, which was working with Wild Fibres – real fleecy locks and hairy looking things – but was kind of relieved to have some down time at home, and do a bit of homework for Advanced Pattern Making at TAFE tomorrow. Tragically, it would appear that I am incapable of drafting a two-piece sleeve by myself (not very advanced, eh?) but hope to find the answer tomorrow night.
Happy creating all, may your soul be fed by inspirational things this week, as mine has been!