Posts Tagged With: feltmaking workshop

Straw Boys, and Why Take a Small Group Tour?

R1- 9AHaving led small group tours for nearly 18 years, I think it is important to point out the value of traveling this way. When I first began traveling in Mexico, then Europe, what was so powerful was meeting local people, engaging in conversation (though my Spanish left a lot to be desired!), and feeling as if I had a glimpse into that person’s life, art JOM 1st scan 013and family. As my research and travel increased in Ireland, I sought out local guides who showed me places I never would have known about, and heard stories, folklore and mythology that brought those places so alive.

On a trip to Oaxaca in Mexico, we were staying in a small village and heard music, big brass instruments, coming down the road. Soon we realized this was a funeral procession, and we were invited to join it and proceed to the cemetery. Under a full moon rising from behind the mountains, a magical evening unfolded as we listened to the band, heard the priest incant blessings, and took sips of the local drink, “mescal”, that was passed to all. We were treated as honored guests and it made an indelible impression upon every one of us.

Another example, on one of our cultural tours to Ireland, my friend and one of our guides, Joe McGowan,  organized an evening with the “Straw Boys”. Dating back for decades, the tradition of the Straw boys is rich. Basically a group would create costumes disguising themselves, just of straw, and go from door to door asking for “refreshment”, or 101_0103-001raising mischief one way or another. This evolved into a group today, near Sligo, who still reenact the tradition which now includes women. We were so fortunate to be invited to a costume creating session, learning how to weave the straw into skirts and headpieces. After a light supper, I thought the evening would end, but no! The room was swept up, chairs and tables pushed back, a fiddle or two came out, and soon there was singing, dancing and great fun!

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Often with our tours, these special events and encounters happen because we are a small group, we are approachable and a common bond of humanity is there. Having shared so many special times in cultural travel , it is my hope to share such things with our clients.

101_0108 (2) Real people, real adventures, and real experiences make our tours unique! Please join us if this is the kind of travel experience you are looking for!

Categories: Fiber art tours, Ireland, Santa Fe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Felted landscapes” workshops: How Fleece becomes Art

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“Tree of Life” by Joan      Molloy Slack

Several years ago, while in Ireland, I first learned to create felt from the local fleece. We used the wet felting method and created a variety of samplers. Top-9Many people ask about the art of feltmaking, and I want to share some details of our workshops, as well as ideas about how the fiber work is created.

People have created felted objects for thousands of years, Top-14much of it functional, making everything from homes to capes to boots. National Geographic did a fabulous story about the history of wool and humans, tracing the ways people around the world have learned to use it for so many things. The fleece from various Top-10animals, not only sheep, was created into magnificent rugs and tapestries, and many cultures have perfected the techniques to suit their needs and climate.

After years of teachiTop-12ng workshops using wet felting, often combined with needle felting, I began to explore using this way of working in my own art, and find that I am continually excited about the possibilities. I have taught workshops with all ages, and have received grants to work with school programs. It is always fascinating how quickly people can learn the technique and how to use the tools, and what successful art is created!

 

 

 

Depending on the workshop length, I offer a variety of options. We often create samplers using blending

J. Campbell Felt class 004J. Campbell Felt class 035-001 techniques and specialized ways to create shadow and depth.  As we work, frequent discussions are held as the pieces progress, adjustments made, and the image takes shape.

 

 

 

I have often held workshops where we collaborate on a finished piece. 113_13511113_1369A favorite project was one where I developed a curriculum o113_1360n phenology, and taught students K-12 about the changes that occur throughout the year, such as the Equinoxes and Solstices. We created several panels that had to do with the 4 seasons, Celtic symbols, the Greenman mythology, and universal symbols.

I enjoy teaching workshops where there is time to go into more depth and explore ideas more fully than can be done in short classes. So much can be done with felt making! We can use the wool fleece as a “painting” medium,  and can design a multitude of effects, from strong colors to blends.

Cloon Lough (9)For example, while walking in the landscape during a felt making workshop, I might take photos such as these, then , based upon the inspiration  create a felted piece.

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Culloo Rocks and St Brendans well (11)

 

"Standing Stones" by               Joan Slack

“Standing Stones” by Joan Slack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some images from workshops and the work that students produced.

Preparing to "wet" felt

Preparing to “wet” felt

 

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DSC_0829J. Campbell Felt class 029

 

 

 

 

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Below, a student is working on a collaborative project at my John Campbell Folk School workshop on “Pictorial Felt”

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J. Campbell Felt class 027

Categories: Fiber art tours | Tags: , , , , ,

Fiber art workshop-Santa Fe overview

IMG_0147-001DSCF3970If you love art and travel, our upcoming fiber art workshops are for you! The Santa Fe workshop will take place in April and promises to be a truly unique and in-depth experience. Not only will we be visiting a wealth of regional sites, we will also be creating fiber art pieces to interpret the landscape in our workshop. Each day will be filled with time to explore, absorb and create. We will visit local galleries and learn about the intricate pueblo pottery designs, and visit to the area rock art sites will be sure to inspire.

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We will be delving into needle felted landscape “painting”, using colored fleece to create impressions of the region. I have taught this technique in many workshops, both regionally and nationally, as well as in Ireland. During two week long workshops at John Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, we explored a multitude of ways to work with fleece and create original designs. First, we discuss composition, color and size, and how to create the most compelling design. Students often use photographs or sketches of DSCF8228places we have visited as inspiration, composing from their “visual” notes. After laying the fleece on a pre-felt background, being careful to add enough layers, we begin felting. Layers and colors are built up and adjusted to create a background. 
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Then, once the student is satisfied with the layout, more details can be added. All of this is done with various sizes of needle felting tools, and  truly, no experience is necessary to create a sDSCF8206successful piece. We take tie to step back and discuss the progress, make adjustments and continue on. Felting this way is so satisfying and exciting! While DSC_0627landscapes are the focus, we leave plenty of time and opportunity for students to explore further, expand an idea, and go down a creative path.

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J. Campbell Felt class 027J. Campbell Felt class 035We hope you can join us for our Santa Fe workshop in April. Art galleries, ancient petrolgyphs, weavers, mountains, desert and valleys, pueblos, and fine cuisine guaranteed!  See all the details on out tour page about Santa Fe.

Categories: Fiber art tours, Santa Fe | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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