Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I now have the pictures from photographer Bernie McCoy and here are a few to remind us of our last session in St. Mary’s!

On the last day we needed to shave the completed felt in order to bring the colours back to life!  Laying out our design on a natural cream/white background meant that once the felting process was completed light coloured fibres had migrated through the surface decoration and coloured fibres had migrated through to the base.  We could have left it like this but decided to shave the top and then we would have a more vibrant piece to decorate the school walls.
Helping the younger pupils lay out a wall hanging
Helping the younger pupils lay out a wall hanging

During our last day we welcomed photograper Bernie McCoy and as she took photos of work in progress pupils from junior infants, senior infants, first and second class joined up in the GP room and got the chance to make a wall hanging for themselves!  Thanks to all the older pupils who helped them with this process, it was great to see everyone sharing some of the skills learnt throughout the project.  Tomorrow we have a wrap up session with the Crafts Council at the Dock in Carrick on Shannon and I look forward to meeting some of the pupils and their parents as well as see work that other schools in Leitrim have done as part of the greater Craft in the Classroom project.

Advertisements
A colourful collection of plaited felt cords

A colourful collection of plaited felt cords

A wonderful embellished bowl

A wonderful embellished bowl

Designer felt bags!

Designer felt bags!

Over the course of our final two days many pupils choose to make felt vessels, bags, balls and cords. Embellishing both bags and bowls worked extremely will as I am sure you will agree from some of our photos. Everyone loved making felt bracelets, plaiting the wool roving and then dipping in warm soapy water before rolling, rolling and rolling some more!

When the pupils went home on Tuesday afternoon I stayed in the school for another while and started rolling the wall hanging by hand. We had measured the piece prior to felting and it measured over 2m X 1m, hopefully someone will email me the exact measurements as I totally forgot to write them down! Once I knew that the surface wool and silk fibres were firmly attached and the whole piece was starting to shrink I then went back to my friend’s house in Carrick and put it in their washing machine on a 40 degree wash. The wash cycle was a bit longer than I would usually do in my own machine but the wall hanging felted perfectly although it did shrink a little more than I anticipated! When it came out of the machine I rolled again by hand, stretched out the edges and the left it lying flat to start the drying out process. On Wednesday morning Killian took charge of my electric razor and with help from other interested pupils the surface of the felt was shaved. The reason for shaving the surface is to snip of the white fibres from the base that migrate through the coloured wool during the felting and fulling (shrinking) process. From a technical point of view it is interesting to note how muted the surface design becomes as the wall hanging felts and strengthens up. If you look at the back of the finished piece the colours from the front are also clearly visable on the reverse, a sign of a well felted piece! The Crafts Council’s photographer Bernie McCoy arrived on Wednesday morning to take pictures of everyone at work and I am just waiting for her to send me some images of the finished piece and I will get them posted here to the blog. I will also check the measurements of the finished wall hanging and we will be able to calculate exactly how much it has shrunk!

Well, it is going to take a couple of posts to catch up with all the work everyone did last Tuesday and Wednesday.  More felt balls, more felt vessels, loads of plaited and felted cords, the completion of our fantastic large wall hanging and a smaller piece of flat felt where all the older pupils helped the youngest children from junior infants, senior infants, first and second class all get the chance to have a go at felting for the first time!!!

Carrying the rolled up wall hanging with the respect it deserved!

Carrying the rolled up wall hanging with the respect it deserved!

For this post I think that I will concentrate on the wall hanging as it really was our largest challenge (the bowls MIGHT have been more ambitious!) over the course of our ‘Craft in the Classroom’ project.  I definitely think that everybody contributed to create an AMAZING piece as a permenant reminder of how successful our time together was.  When I arrived on Tuesday morning I got a little time to myself and was able to wet out the piece and give it a once over with my large floor sander.  The sander is used with a piece of plastic between the wet wool and the foot of the machine and is really like turbo charged hand rubbing to get the felting process started!  As soon as all the fibres weren’t in danger of blowing off the backing we rolled the wall hanging inside a monstrous woven plastic mat that I had got from Mehmet Girgic in Turkey especially for this very task!  A procession ensued and the rolled up hanging was carried in ceremony outside to the playing area.  We were really lucky to have Mairead with us again and she was happy to supervise both pupils, students and teacher with the stamping and rolling

Starting the stamping and rolling process

Starting the stamping and rolling processneeded to get the wall hanging to the next stage. Normally if I am making a rug or wallhanging by myself I have to push myself to keep working at this point A good CD or something to occupy my mind is a very good idea and I can just get into a rhythm with the process in order to create a technically better finished end product.A bit of parental and teacher help!

Everyone worked really hard and after about an hour and a half hours of rolling we were ready to unwrap the package for the first time.

Opening the package for the first time

Opening the package for the first time

Once we had given the wall hanging the once over we turned it upside down and re-rolled in the plastic mat.  Another hour and a half of stamping and rolling and we were ready to call it a day!

Our wonderful wall hanging after the first day's stamping and rolling!

Our wonderful wall hanging after the first day's stamping and rolling!

Check in over the next few days to follow our progress as we finish the wall hanging and complete some wonderfull bowls and other felt items.

Filling in the colour on our wonderful felt wall hanging!

Filling in the colour on our wonderful felt wall hanging!

All the students in third, fourth, fifth and sixth class have participated in filling in the colour on our wonderful felt wall hanging.  Tomorrow we will start to roll, felt and full the hanging and what a lot of work that will be!  Because we are felting a wall hanging we don’t have to shrink the piece for quite so long as a rug (because it will be hung on the wall and not walked on) but I guess that we will need at least 4 to 6 hours of stamping and rolling before we have our finished work.  Parents have been coming into the classroom to look at the work to date and if any of them want to help with the rolling we won’t say no!

A stunning organic shaped vessel

A stunning organic shaped vessel

Pupils who haven’t already made felt vessels and bowls will have the opportunity to try them out this week and then I think that we will do some experimental work incorporating found and recycled items.   Ciaran brought in a huge woven plastic sack that held logs and this will be great to include in a piece, the texture and colour will be brilliant and it is interesting to learn how we can include items into our felt that actually won’t ‘felt’ at all!  Other pupils have brought in a brilliant selection of animal fibres, buttons, beads, old jewellery and different bits and pieces so we will see what we can produce with all the goodies!

Rolling and working the fun felt balls

Rolling and working the fun felt balls

If you would like to see more pictures of our work for the Craft in the Classroom project please visit check out our pictures on Flickr.  You can also see the comments that artists aroud the world have been leaving about the images!

Update on our project!

Our wallhanging ready to fill in with colour!

Our wallhanging ready to fill in with colour!

We had  a busy afternoon felting last Tuesday followed by more hard work on Wednesday morning.  Following on from the feedback at our taster session I had decided that we would split up into different groups, each group concentrating on learning and working with one specific felting technique. 

Obviously we needed to get started on our large collaborative project and I am sure you will agree that from the photo above that this wall hanging is progressing brilliantly!  We did have quite a bit of dissent on Tuesday (read about it on my blog) when deciding on the layout of the piece but eventually we settled on the design and from then on the work went smoothly.  The first group working on this piece laid out the outlines in black merino and on Tuesday the colour was added by the next group of pupils.  The word ‘Drumlea’ and the football to the bottom right will be left without any fill colour while the rest of the wall hanging is now filled in with brightly coloured merino and a little mulberry silk in certain areas to highlight the wool.  Where we are leaving unfilled will end up as beautiful cream coloured textured nuno felt.  This is because all the surface design is laid out on a cotton topped wool base and once felted the cream wool from the bottom layer will become visable in places on the top of the hanging, this type of wet felting is called the ‘Osman’ technique and has been pioneered by master Turkish felter Mehmet Girgic.

While all this activity was going on with the wall hanging more pupils were involved in making felt vessels and felt balls!  The balls were mainly supervised by Clare and I worked with the pupils on the felt vessels as these are quite a bit more difficult to make than anything else we had previously made.  We worked with wool that had been carded into batts as opposed to tops, the fibres are laid in a more random fashion and this meant that everyone would be able to make a quality bowl or vase providing they followed my directions!  Working around a resist of plastic laminate floor underlay the pupils laid out a package with 4 layers of wool followed by a decorative top layer if desired.  Some really amazing work was produced over the 2 days and if you check out my Flickr account you can see a couple of the pictures.  For some reason today I am only able to upload one image to this blog, the wonders of technology!  I know that Clare has some more images of work in progress so hopefully I will get them online over the next few days along with some more feedback from the pupils.

Our third group worked on the felt balls.  These were made by winding long strands of wool tops in a tight ball shape, dunking in soapy water and then rolling, massaging and throwing until the ball got hard enough to bounce.  Personally I find balls very difficult to make well and I think that the pupils did a great job, a few were even finished in time to experiment with bracelets and cords so I think that we can expand that idea a little further next week.

Overall the work and progress of everyone has been brilliant!  Obviously at any given time not everyone is totally happy with what they are working on but realistically that is life.  Over the course of the two days some beautiful pieces were created and I am very excited to see how the big wall hanging will turn out.  Next week I am bringing up an extremely large woven plastic mat and we will transfer the wall hanging onto this, wet it out and then roll and kick it around the playground (weather permitting) for a couple of hours.  One of the things that strikes me during this Craft in the Classroom project is that it can be difficult explaining the relationship between time spent on felting and the quality of the end results.  The longer pupils spend on laying out their wool, rolling and rubbing the better the finished piece will be.  Hopefully now that we are well under way everyone is beginning to appreciate how true this is and I am now really looking forward to our next sessions at Drumlea!

Nicola,  we though the felt was going to be boring but it was really fun.  We  didn’t know what felt was until you came.  Everbody enjoyed it especially us.   Dylan, Ciaran and Stephen

The felt is great, I thought it would be boring but I was wrong.  Thank you Nicola.  Fearghal 3rd Class

We really enjoyed you working with us.  We went on your website and we saw some brilliant pictures.  We liked the way our pictures turned out, they were very cool.  We will see you again.  Stephanie and Niamh D

We enjoyed the felt very much but thought it could be easier to do.  We look forward seeing you soon.  Donal and Jake

Thanks very much to all the pupils and friends of St. Mary’s National School who have left comments on the blog or emailed me with their feedback.  Here goes with the responses so far ………….

My brother Manus is taking part in this art project. I think they have had great fun, by looking at the photos.  I would like to make a sun and a forest. Hopefully the junior classes will get to do some too.  Cian, 6 on 14th March, brilliant on the computer!

I am flabbergasted how lovely these turned out.  Amazing the designs they created are all eye striking.  Good work.  Deb Seeger, well known American textile artist

I had great fun on Wednesday last.  I enjoyed getting the soap all over my hands.  I will have great fun the next time. Manus 3rd class
 
I thought the felt was really cool.  I liked getting my hands wet we all enjoyed it.  It was very good.  Peter 4th class

Ciara really liked the colours of the wool, Niamh enjoyed rolling the bubble wrap, Shannon thought it was hard work but it was worth it in the end and Angelina liked the patterns at the end.  Ciara, Niamh, Shannon and Angelina 4th class girls

I was thinking that the felt was going to be boring but it was really fun.  Dylan Mimna 6th class

I thought the felt was interesting but I thought it might have been better.  Pamela

I didnt really enjoy making the felt but I liked the end result.  Kayla

I enjoyed rolling the felt with the bubble wrap and I would like to make something 3D.  Clodagh

I thought it was difficult to pick a few colours.  I thought the rolling was fun and my end result was cool but I would like to make a 3D item next time.  Sinead

I really liked the felt making and it was better then I expected.  I would like to make an eagle because it is my favourite bird of prey.  Matthew 6th class

I thought the felt making would be boring but it was fun.  They have all dried out and they look really nice.  We were talking about the wall hanging thing today and I think it will turn out really good.  Looking forward to seeing you again.  Killian from 6th  class.

Our felt pieces dried and they look good.  We enjoyed it a lot and we liked getting our hands wet and soggy and soft!!  Afterwards our hands were wrinkly.  Looking forward to seeing you next Wednesday.  Concon and Curley 6th class.

and the last comment…… I am not sure who wrote it but thanks!  Hi Nicola Brown,  I think that your felt was the best of all.