Meet Jo Storie.
She and I first met a couple of weeks ago, in Latvia, where she and her husband, Ian, own an alpaca farm.
But long before that, we started corresponding on social media. First, it was about some workshops she wanted me to help promote. Then, we started to knock around a few ideas that might involve me running a couple of feltmaking workshops on the farm in the summer.
Many, many conversations later, we had come up with a plan to offer a week of feltmaking and cultural activities in June 2017 to give visitors some insight into this little-known country.
Below is a photographic documentation of how our week went. A week of snow, animals, friendly people, wonderful food and, a little bit of magic.
Like every artist, Heather takes inspiration for her vibrant and colourful felt work from the world around. And from around the world. Heather and her husband Jonathan have journeyed to some extraordinary locations in recent years. Cuba. Marrakech. The Hebrides. Places far and near where culture and colour create wonderful memories for them, and also inspire the patterns and colour combinations of scarves, bags or wallhangings.
Enjoy a small selection of Heather's inspirations - Cuban Culture, Hebridean Landscapes and Marrakech Colours.
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.