Residential Irish retreat in pictures!

Almost a month has passed since I said goodbye to the participants of the first annual Irish felting and eco printing retreat, what a whirlwind those weeks have been. I didn’t want to rush writing about our wonderful time together but now that my house is quiet again (bon voyage to my latest guests Joanie and Jeff!) I’d like to share with you some moments from the ten days we spent at beautiful Kilgraney House and its environs. We have a saying in Ireland that a picture speaks a thousand words. For those of you who couldn’t join me this year I hope that you enjoy these images from the retreat. For those of you wonderful people who travelled from Alaska, Canada, New York, Spain the Netherlands and Denmark to felt, print and visit some of my favourite local spots I hope these memories are as special for you as they are indeed for me! Here goes……..

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Soft organic merino and a selection of embellishing fibres at the start of our time together. These were used to create the felt which we then printed with local vegetation gathered primarily from the extensive garden at Kilgraney.

 

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Looking across some of the medicinal herb beds towards the gallery which we took over as our workshop space for the duration.

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Another view across the courtyard, the building to the right contains some of the beautiful accommodation.

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Dolors and Shirley working on the edges of their nuno felt scarves near the end of day one.

IMG_2035Bryan and Martin treated us like superstars! From the moment everyone arrived, the surroundings, ambiance, comfortable accommodation and superb fresh food put a smile on everyone’s face. All dietary requirements were catered for and delicious salads accompanied the main dishes at lunchtime, many of these ingredients were actually grown at Kilgraney.

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In addition to delicious herbs and salad ingredients Kilgraney provided a huge variety of leaves for us to gather and print with. Here is a group shot from near the beginning of our printing adventures. From left to right – Debbie, Dolors, Willeke, Jette, Naomi and Shirley

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Debbie with one of her bundles fresh from the pot. Each participant had their own skillet or pot to create rust water for soaking their leaves, this helped to modify the colours achieved.

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Unrolling bundles is an exciting time for everyone! Here’s Naomi about to unroll.

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Plenty of smiles from Jette and Willeke, not surprising since Willeke had just unrolled this large beautifully printed piece!

It wasn’t all felting and printing though. One day we visited Ennischorthy (my hometown and where Brooklyn is set and filmed), the Raven Nature Reserve at Curracloe (where parts of Brooklyn was filmed and my favourite beach) and called in for a cup of tea and to gather leaves at Clasheen on our way back to Kilgraney. Our second excursion was to visit the fabulous Cushendale Woollen Mill, spend a little time in Kilkenny city then enjoy a lovely afternoon tea and visit Suzanna Crampton and her wonderful Zwartbles sheep! Thanks Philip (from Cushendale), Suzanna and Bianka (from Carlow Tours) for looking after us all so well and so cheerfully!

After our second excursion it was back to the printing pot. Some participants had brought items of clothing to print while others continued to print on felt and silk.IMG_7474

Jette with her funky trousers!

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Beautiful silk organza from Naomi

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Cottons leaves on nuno felt here for Dolors

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Kilgraney eucalyptus leaves on linen for Shirley.

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We also all made some prints on paper………….

On the second last night of the retreat we ate a delicious evening meal together, Bryan definitely outdid himself with the food. We swooned over a delightful succession of amazing courses including this goat’s cheese mouse in an olive tuile accompanied by beetroot prepared two ways (one hay smoked by Bryan), nasturtium leaves and borage flowers! Each course was an absolute delight.

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On the final evening Martin, Bryan and I invited local friends and artists to join us for a glass of bubbly and view an exhibition of work created during the retreat. The workshop space was turned back into a gallery and this was a lovely opportunity to show off a selection of the amazing felt and printing that the participants had made. It also was when they received their certificates of completion. I was so proud of all that they achieved, the following pictures give just a glimpse of their achievements!!!

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Debbie with her stunning felt shoulder bag, silk scarf and cotton top. Great job!

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This felt wall hanging made by Jette was absolutely gorgeous, wonderful quality and fabulous prints!

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Naomi felted this fabulous organic shaped vessel and beautiful nuno felt scarf!

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I love this picture of Shirley with her amazing printed tunic and fab shoulder bag, although you can’t see it here she’s also wearing another fantastic printed top!

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This stunning large piece was one of my favourites of Willeke’s, another great job well done!

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Dolors with her fantastic vessel and one of her beautiful nuno felt scarves. I really love the way the colour of the scarf graduates with the different vegetation used to print it!

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Shirley, Alan and Debbie looking glam for the camera!

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An unusually open weave wrap printed beautifully by Naomi!

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Martin and Bryan set up an excellent hanging system for us.

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A funky little purse by Dolors followed by a final group photo.

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Thanks a thousand time to all the participants, Bryan and Martin, Bianka, Philip, Suzanna, George, Dorothy, Anita (for lending me your table!) and everyone else who helped in any way at all to make this event run so smoothly. Go raimh math agat!

Retreat update and exhibition news

What can I say about the first ten day residential retreat in Ireland? How can I thank all involved for their incredible hospitality and professional service? Certainly a short update here doesn’t do anything to honour an event that workshop participants, the various hosts and the amazing venue made so special. I’m not going to post anything more today except this shot of us with Philip Cushen at Cushendale Woollen Mill.  I promise faithfully that I’ll write a proper review of the retreat as soon as Kilkenny Arts Festival is over then post it here with copious pictures!!!

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For now though I’m in the final throes of installing my solo exhibition at Grennan Mill Craft School as well as collating what  I need to deliver to Kilkenny as part of the FORM pop up shop. Both these events open on Friday so I’ve not got much time to get everything finished! Thank you so much to Naomi, Merridee and Keith for all your help preparing for Grennan, I’ll post properly about the show at the end of August.IMG_1802

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Exhibition preparations and retreat update, in brief

Only one week to go and the first ten day residential Irish felting and eco printing retreat will have started, I’m so excited!!! All the preparations are well underway and last week the merino and silk arrived, the last of the actual workshop supplies.

From now until the end of August it’s full steam ahead at Clasheen, I need to have all my solo show preparation completed before 8th July (actually that is tonight!) because I’ll not get a minute free from then until I have to hang the exhibition. I’d be delighted if some of you were able to come to the opening reception or indeed visit any day during the course of Kilkenny Arts Festival.

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The title of my show is ‘Perennial: From Plant to Print’ and it’s a new collection of luxurious silk, linen, felt and locally woven lambswool, eco printed with leaves, onion skins and hedgerow vegetation. Please just let me know if you’re planning a visit and I’ll be able to tell you at that stage whether I’ll be free to meet up for a quick coffee and a chat!

 

 

 

France and FORM, a short update

It’s been a very enjoyable, exciting and busy few weeks, so busy at times that I wondered how it was going to be possible to fit everything in all at once! I started this whirlwind of activity by taking my truck on the ferry to France, there I met great buddy Caroline Nixon and we spent a wonderful 10 days together scouring the brocantes for old pots and vintage linen as well as ‘play time’ at our gite messing around with plants and natural dyes!

Thanks Caroline for being such good company, I know our trip is going to become a regular occurrence!!!

While this was going on I was in constant communication with home, FORM was bringing out two new publications to coincide with the launch of our exhibition last Friday and there were loads of details to pin down and sign off on. Thanks to Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Karen Hennessy (CEO of the DCCoI) for speaking at the event and making everyone feel so appreciated, Emma Jane Champley and Martin Lyttle did a fantastic job organising the exhibition on behalf of the group and Kieran Comerford, John Mulcahy and John Shortfall were fabulous ensuring the new publications looked super and everything went smoothly at the library for the opening.

FORM photo shoot and exhibition news

Things are starting to fall into place for the upcoming FORM exhibition in Carlow, it’s going to be the first time that the new look lineup has participated in a public event together. We’ll also be launching our new concertina style brochure for the group and the Local Enterprise Office are profiling Ariane Tobin, Martin Marley and me in a larger promotional publication for the county too, exciting times ahead! As a result, I’ve been busy sampling and felting a large wall hanging to show at the exhibition. I had promised to share some pics of eco printing from the new brass preserving pan but I’m going to reserve those for another post. Instead here are a few images taken by Rory Moore recently, thanks Rory, John and Tomomi for all your hard work organising such a successful FORM photoshoot!

The wall hanging here is not the one I’ll be showing in Carlow, it’s a much smaller forerunner but like the exhibition piece it’s felted from a variety of different eco printed silks with a base of fine quality merino.

Studio update and Dawn’s recent visit to Clasheen and London

The last ten days have been a whirlwind of activity, my great buddy Dawn Edwards was visiting from Michigan and we spent our first few days together here at Clasheen. The first full day of Dawn’s visit I needed to participate in a photo shoot for FORM so Dawn headed into the studio and whipped up two felt hats while I was busy, these were printed in the evening after the shoot had ended. If you’ve not had the chance to view Dawn’s work before do make sure to check out her website, the hats and vessels she felts are wonderful!

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Over the weekend we spent some time with good friend and fellow felt/fibre addict Anita, I’m linking here to her Facebook page because maybe some of you will be able to persuade Anita to donate me her latest gorgeous white hat and cashmere wrap to print!!! We also headed down to the car boot sale in Callan for a quick visit, here’s a picture of a super brass preserving pan that I found complete with eucalyptus leaves picked up on the way home.

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On Monday afternoon Dawn and I headed to Dublin stopping off for some fresh air at Newcastle beach, thanks to my sister Suzanne we spent the night relaxing at her house then headed to the airport at 3.50 am.

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Suffice to say Dawn and I spent three absolutely wonderful days sightseeing, eating, talking, laughing and taking in a couple of west end shows in the centre of London. Our hotel was fabulous and in a super location just two minutes walk from Marble Arch and Oxford Street (thanks Dawn!), we got upgraded to a wonderful room overlooking Portman Square so each day we’d fabulous views of the garden there in all its spring glory. Shortly before Dawn arrived to Clasheen I’d discovered that it was going to be London Craft Week while we were away. We couldn’t believe our luck when we snagged tickets to an afternoon talk with Edwina Ibbotson and Rachel Trevor-Morgan (milliner to the Queen) at the Dorchester, what a fabulous afternoon!!! They’d an amazing display of the most wonderful couture hats, different tools of the trade, hat blocks etc., etc. and for two really well known and highly though of milliners the wealth of information they imparted and their naturally friendly outlook was really refreshing. Once the allocated time was up there was no pressure to leave; everyone got time to ask questions, take pictures and try on any or all of the wonderful array of hats that were there on display!

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I know this isn’t the best picture of me but if I’d had my cheque book handy this is the hat I’d have loved to bring home with me (it’s one of Edwina’s)!!! Thank you Edwina, Rachel and London Craft Week for hosting such a smashing afternoon, the cream tea and impeccable service at the Dorchester didn’t go down badly either!

On the studio side of things I’m continuing with my experimentation using natural plant based mordants/pre treatments prior to bundling. Pomegranate is coming up trumps time and time again, the colour palate is very interesting and I’m liking how it works particularly with eucalyptus. Strangely enough it’s not given any satisfying prints from bundling with rose leaves, I wouldn’t have believed it unless I’d seen it for myself! I did get very strong prints from rose yesterday however, these prints are on wool which I’d soaked in vinegar prior to bundling, the pot is my favourite big aluminium one and I had an old iron in the water.

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So that’s all for this blog post, next time I’ll share pictures of the first experiments using the brass preserving pan.

 

 

 

Felting, eco printing and upgrade at Clasheen (the final one!)

Rather later than planned, here’s the final post about the current upgrades at Clasheen and a little pictorial review of the last few weeks. As mentioned previously, I’ve been working on creating a library area in the room which links the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom making it a comfortable suite for friends to stay and workshop participants to relax and refresh. It’s also a lovely bright area for me to read in when I have a minute, at last I have more than enough shelving (combined with the shelves already downstairs) to store my reference books and thrillers. Here’s a picture of one small area as I started to add the books, the little cupboard Jonathan created is specifically sized to store my printer and paper.

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On the work and friend side of things April has ben a very, very busy month, what’s new!

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I’ve been felting and printing a lot as I work towards creating pieces for my solo show in August and the FORM photo shoot which took place yesterday. Here’s an example of eco printed silk combined with fine black merino, it won’t be one of the pieces I display but it is good to be back in the studio getting my hands soapy! I’d also like to say a big thank you to the new FORM designmade in Carlow lineup for electing me as their new chairperson.

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Wonderful textile artist and great new friend Kim Thittichai  visited Clasheen for a fun few days. Aren’t these beautiful flowers that she brought me so cheerful? I love them.

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I absolutely loved being a helper at the first Lyda Rump workshop organised by Maureen Cromer in Dublin on behalf of Feltmakers Ireland, such fun during the day and a delicious meal and company in the evening!!! Lyda is a wonderful felt maker and textile artist, we’ve spent time together now in Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Denmark again and now Ireland again, it was great to catch up, thanks Maureen and Terry for your hospitality too!

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After spending time with Kim and Lyda I finally managed to get some intensive sampling done in advance of my ten day residential felt and eco printing retreat this summer. One of the things we’ll be covering is the possibility of mordanting fabric using natural materials, as opposed to using more traditional metallic based powders. Here are two samples using the same printing materials but different pre treatments prior to bundling and printing. The piece on the left was mordanted with Symplocos and the one on the right with pomegranate, both bundles were boiled in the same pot at the same time, used the same big leaves, are exactly the same lambswool fabric and the results couldn’t be more different! Join me from 15th to 25th July to learn more!

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Thank you Klara and Irish Country Magazine for selecting one of my blackberry and rose printed silk cushions for your feature ‘Outside In’ this month, I’m delighted!

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Thanks also to Dorota for your impeccable sewing as usual, I love the sample apron you made me and I’m looking forward to printing it and seeing how it comes out. I’m also very happy with the latest batch of cushions, this one is blackberry on Symplocos mordanted lambswool.

Finally for today, here’s a lovely picture of great buddy Dawn Edwards who’s just arrived from Michigan on her third visit to Clasheen, it’s great to have her back!!!

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