"Education is a critical part of the IFA and is fundamental to its ethos and principles. It has far-reaching implications for the Association’s well-being, development and growth for the future." Androulla Jefferies
Androulla Jefferies | Education Officer
I cannot remember a time without textiles playing a prominent part in my life. I was surrounded by a family all enthusiastic and caring about material and the crafts associated with it. Whether they worked with the fashion designers of the time or ran their own companies, they all had this link which bound them together. They shared what they knew and encouraged the younger members of the family to learn more. None of them, though, had discovered the wonder of Feltmaking until I, quite by accident, enrolled onto a course led by Sheila Smith who inspired me to pursue this art and investigate further….
On invitation I took up the Post as Education Officer in May 2018. My working background in Education soon made me realise that to ‘ignite’ IFA Education and move it forward, help in the guise of a collaborative team, was needed. Hence, the proactive and conscientious Education Team we are now fortunate to have.
Louise Curnin | Discovering Feltmaking Coordinator
I have always enjoyed textiles and made most of my own clothes in my teens. After a long career in the steel industry working with cold, hard steel and often being the only female in the works, I decided to revisit textiles but I was hungry for learning something new so I treated myself and my mum to a feltmaking workshop being held locally with Sheila Smith. Within the first few minutes I was hooked. I booked another and another, and found myself absorbed by the craft and the friendly community that went with it. I went on to do a City and Guilds Course in Feltmaking and am now starting a degree! That first course was over 10 years ago and I am happy to say both making and teaching feltmaking, are now my business, my hobby and my social life. I now teach at the same venue where I originally learned my feltmaking skills from Sheila.
With its range of use and diversity, feltmaking continues to thrill and I cannot see it diminishing anytime soon! I joined the IFA probably about eight years ago and am now a part of this exciting journey the Education committee is on.
My adventure into felting began in 2013. While largely self-taught, I have attended many Master Classes delivered by international felt tutors at home in Dublin, abroad and on-line. I enjoy working on flat and structured pieces, love experimentation and pushing textile boundaries and have exhibited locally and internationally. I am a member of an international collective of textile artists.
Looking back, I was always in my happiest place when tutoring, training or facilitating adults, whether in the financial services industry, as a researcher and development consultant or tutoring in literacy and technology. Drawing on these early experiences, I now enjoy working on feltmaking with both adults and young people, in person and online. I identify these moments as creative collaborations; each one is a multi-way learning process.
I am thrilled to be able to contribute my skills to the Education Team. I am currently one of the mentors on our Discovering Feltmaking courses, whilst also shadowing Louise in her role as DF coordinator.
My background in teaching has helped me throughout my life. I taught computer skills for 8 years and, more recently, have transferred my skills to teaching feltmaking. I believe in collaborative teaching with an emphasis on group and pair work, and the value of students teaching each other. This method has helped reinforce learning in groups of feltmakers, too.
Whilst on the Committee as Communications Officer, I was able to work with others in the IFA to create an informative and attractive website for the Association. I believe that Education is at the heart of what we do and am delighted to be part of the team that promotes an appreciation of felt along with best practice and innovation.
Before moving to England, I worked in the fashion industry as a store designer completing all the technical drawings from display cabinets to floor layouts. Once in England I worked with architects designing interiors before becoming a stay-at-home mum.
My Granny was a seamstress and taught me to sew from a very young age and I have always had a keen interest in textiles. When I discovered felting, I was hooked immediately. Living on a farm, as I do, it wasn’t long before I started experimenting with our sheep’s fleeces. Soon I was washing and dyeing fleeces, which led to me starting up my own little business. The business was such a great success that it left me little time to create and teach.
I used lockdown to quieten things down as I wanted the opportunity to promote and encourage felting. I am joint Regional Coordinator of the IFA’s region 6, gave a presentation on Washing Wool for our 2023 AGM and am now delighted to be joining the Education Team.