Since being asked to join the International Feltmakers Association Committee, I have attended a number of meetings to find out more about how this organisation is run (entirely by volunteers) and what my role as Communications Officer entails. The highlight of my felting year so far has to be this year's AGM and Conference held in the stunning location of Landskrona, Sweden.
The Conference was organised by our International Officer, Carin Madsen Kollberg, in collaboration with Asa Stentoft of Hemslöjden i Skane, an organisation promoting handicraft in the region.
The days were full of excitement, ranging from workshops to talks to excursions to fine dining. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Swedish people, the friendliness of the other delegates from around the world, the beauty of the region and the fabulous spring weather.
I attended a workshop with Yvonne Habbe on sculptural objects, using a technique I had heard of but not used before. She also gave a fascinating talk about the large-scale project she worked on whilst contemplating the life of a nomad.
I had plenty of opportunity to walk around the town of Landskrona, with a tour and also with other delegates. An elegant, calm town, it was a real pleasure to visit.
Not only is there fine architecture in Landskrona but a tremendous interest in gardening, with lovely allotments (each with its own summer house), parks and avenues.
A couple of trips into the countryside gave me a small taste of the region...some of us even stayed on a couple of days after the conference to visit the island of Ven, where the Swedish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, had his observatory.
All in all, it was a very successful conference. Personally, it gave me the opportunity to visit a beautiful country, meet people who share my interests, make new friends, and appreciate just how much work goes on behind the scenes to organise a brilliant conference. Thank you to everyone involved. I loved it!
After months of planning, I went out to Latvia at the end of May to help Jo and Ian get ready for our first Latvia Alpaca Adventure. I stayed in their flat in the village of Ergli and went to the farm every day. Workshops were to take place in the greenhouse and, thanks to a long winter, there was a fair amount to do. Rather more than I had anticipated, in fact.
So many wonderful things happened during the week, some planned, some not. Here are some of my selected highlights.
The felt workshops were led by Ieva Prane in her studio and me in Ergli, in the local High School, and on the Griezetes alpaca farm. Jo Storie introduced us to some interesting embroidery techniques to apply to our felt. Another day spent in the peaceful sunshine on the farm.
Latvian culture and countryside...
The contrast between Riga, the Latvian capital, and the countryside around Ergli and the farm is incredible. We sampled local moonshine, sang with the Ergli choir, tasted gorgeous goats' cheese (not to mention meeting the goats themselves) and painted porcelain.
The sun shone throughout the week, the atmosphere was serene and the Latvian hospitality was wonderful. A lovely Latvian adventure indeed.
I am busy in the studio, working on collections for the Whitefox Gallery in Coldstream and the Quay Gallery in Aberdour at the moment.
However, I wanted to send you a quick reminder about our Open Studios weekend on 12 & 13 September at St Margaret's House. If it isn't already in your diary, do put it in now.
My feltmaking studio...409 (on the fourth floor)...will be open both days from 12 - 6pm. And what a perfect opportunity to have a super SALE.
Lots of fine felt favourites will be discounted, including some of the Highland Strata collection featured on the catwalk at the end of last year.
You will also be able to shop directly from my Etsy shop which includes Cowls and Brooches. Great gifts for friends, family or yourself. And, of course, there is also my sculptural felt and wall art. Suffice to say, there will be plenty of fabulous felt on offer, with very reasonable prices. So do pop in and have a look around.
It was a long time in the planning but, in May, I finally got the opportunity to attend a workshop with Hungarian feltmaker, Judit Pocs. The 2-day workshop was impeccably hosted by Truus Huijbregts and her husband at the Dutch Felt Academy in Friesland. We (that is, the Scottish contingent of Susan, Pauline and myself) stayed nearby in the pretty village of Boazum enjoying the fabulously laid-back hospitality of Jan and his wife at Gerbrandy State B&B.
The pictures tell their own story but suffice to say that the workshop was not for the faint-hearted. It was challenging and, as a result, immensely rewarding. Judit pushed us to think about feltmaking with a greater precision that I ever had before. Templates for bags were created actual size and then scaled up proportionately according to how many layers of wool we intended to use, and whether we were going to incorporate silk or not (I was). We also learned how to do flaps, handles, fastenings, pockets inside and out....it actually took me 3 days to complete my bag (we spent a day at the B&B, finishing off). But how much I learned. All in all, an excellent workshop. More than that, it is a great place to visit. I will definitely return to beautiful Freisland.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. The only one that is missing (for the moment) is that of the finished bag. I'll keep that for the next blog post.