Borris Lace Felt with Leiko Uchiyama – Feltwest workshop – October 7 & 8 2017
On the weekend of October 7 and 8, international felt artist and tutor Leiko Uchiyama presented her Borris Lace Felt workshop to 11 enthusiastic members of Feltwest. Leiko is well known in the world of felting for her distinctive Pine Needle Felts, a technique she developed after seeing patterns of fine pine needles on pristine snow in her home town of Sapporo Japan.
For the past 5 years, Leiko has lived near the small village of Borris in Ireland and it was there that she first encountered Borris Lace*. Her workshop ingeniously combined her interpretation of Borris Lace in Felt and her Pine Needle technique. It was clear from the start that students were in for a treat.
Leiko began by explaining the history and principles of Borris Lace and how she came to interpret and translate this in felt. She was well organised and prepared, showing everyone multiple samples while explaining the various possibilities of Borris Lace Felt. She had also managed to bring a wonderful collection of her sumptuous hand-dyed fine merino wool (16 & 18 micron) and merino/silk mix fibres; no mean feat for having travelled and taught classes around Australia for 6 weeks before arriving in Perth.
Then the work began! Everyone made specific pre-felts to resemble lace tape and prepared stacks of pine-needle fibres, all the while designing and then laying out larger works. With well over 50% shrinkage from start to finish, rolls of bubble-wrap were involved!
The afternoon of day 1 and part of day 2 was spent on laying out the large works. Meanwhile Leiko imparted lots and lots of tips on her specific techniques and fine felting more broadly. It included handling of fibres, laying out for different effects, laying wool in narrow width areas without getting fluffy edges, making specific cords for textural effects, creating a balanced and intricate design, attention to detail, rolling and finishing, and much much more. Leiko’s dedicated, methodical and gentle approach, and her generosity in sharing her knowledge brought to the fore the value of attending a class in person and working hands-on and face-to-face with a tutor.
Leiko was a delightful and fun tutor who was very clear in her explanations and instructions, and due to her good management, all works were finished by the appointed time! At the end of the class, 11 beautiful wraps and scarves were displayed and Leiko pointed out specific areas of interest in each work as a way of recapping the entire process and the class.
Thank you Leiko for a wonderful class, and thanks to all the students who enrolled!
– Martien van Zuilen
For more info on Leiko’s work, see http://leikofelt.com
Leiko Uchiyama’s work is also featured in the Australia magazine Felt (issue #17), with an artist profile and a pine-needle felt project written by Leiko! http://www.artwearpublications.com.au
* Borris Lace is a lace made with lace tape joined by various filling stitches. The name originates from the village of Borris in Co Carlow, where Leiko Uchiyama currently resides. In 1857 Lady Harriet Kavanagh of Borris House visited Corfu and was so impressed by the specimens of old Greek Lace that she bought some pieces and brought them home along with tape laces from Venice and Milan. She felt that they could be copied in Borris by the local women, thus enabling them to add to the small family earnings and aid local employment. The well-known Borris Lace Collection (housed in Borris House) was painstakingly researched and catalogued by Australians Marie Laurie and Annette Meldrim. Their 2010 book The Borris Lace Collection : a Unique Irish Needlelace is still in print today.