Friday, May 8, 2009

Day 8 Kirkwall, Orkney

Each tour includes a one-day workshop with a Scottish artist. This time we worked with Ingrid Tait. I first visited Tait and Style in 1997. In Ingrid’s studio I saw this amazing needle punching machine. That was my first exposure to machine needle felting. Now I own several home models that look like a sewing machine. Ingrid’s huge industrial machine with hundreds of needles makes things possible you could never do with a 7 needle Babylock. Imagine, her machine as an ocean liner and ones like mine, an inflatable kayak.

Ingrid started out showing us examples of work she has produced. For 17 years Ingrid has run this company that creates knitted and felted scarves, throws, pillows, and accessories for the high fashion market in London and New York. She discovered a needle-punching machine in Yorkshire that was used to make industrial materials. Sensing it could be retooled to work with wool fabric, she acquired the machine and has been felting her designs with fleece, yarn and fabric onto commercially woven wool.<

Student created designs and chose fleece, yarn, and a variety of fabrics to create the design elements. Then learned how to tack them onto a wool and angora scarf blank with needle and thread. By mid afternoon, the scarves were ready to be fed through the industrial needle felting machine. It has a conveyor belt not unlike the airport conveyor belt that carries your hand luggage through the xray machine. The bed of Ingrid’s machine is about 4 feet wide. The scarves are sewn together with cheesecloth type netting between them. The bed moves the scarves through the needle head unit which moves up and down. After the first pass, the tacking stitches are removed from the design elements, then the scarves are fed through the machine a second time.

After rolling the scarves through the pressing machine, the group is ready for a style show! Ingrid is a fabulous designer and a charming person to work with Everyone enjoyed a day to be creative instead of being a tourist.

Tait and Style is located in the Wine and Wool shop in the courtyard behind The Long Ship just across from St. Magnus Church. Ingrid and her husband Duncan run both these shops. The Long Ship sells jewelry designed by Ola Gorie, Ingrid’s mom. Although retired now, her popular jewelry designs are still available. When Duncan isn’t busy discovering the nextgreat wine to provide to the restaurants he supplies, you might hear him singing and playing guitar with the Lonestar Swing Band. This is the only westernswing band in Orkney, perhaps Scotland. I caught part of their rehearsaland wished I’d had a parter to 2 step with to the strainof “Roley Poley”

The post dinner walk in the brisk air and sunshine inspired me to shoot town scenes. Here are a few of my Kirkwall impressions.

No comments: