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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Workshop dates and upgrade at Clasheen (part 2)

As promised, I’m starting to add dates for upcoming workshops at Clasheen to my diary, it’s taking more time that I thought but at least I’ve finally started to get the ball rolling. To kick things off ‘Naturally Nuno‘ is happening on the weekend of 7th and 8th May, this intimate workshop experience will be restricted to just two participants! Day one of this workshop will concentrate on felting a beautifully soft nuno wrap using the tumble dryer method of felting and day two to the eco printing. No physical rubbing and rolling will be involved during the nuno felting so this is the perfect technique for those of you who find traditional nuno too strenuous on your bodies or possibly just too time consuming! The second workshop that I’ve blocked out in my diary is ‘Successful Eco Printing Basics‘. These May workshops are also the first time that I’ll be able to offer optional simple shared accommodation on site in the newly updated guest suite. 12990952_1085907604788984_9222543952602369241_n

This lodging option consists of one double bed and one single bed in a nice light filled bedroom, by all accounts both beds are very comfortable if the friends who’ve already stayed here are to be believed!

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Next door there’s an adjoining guest sitting room; tomorrow I finish painting the custom built shelving there so by the time of the workshop it should be filled with CDs, fiction and interesting reference books for visitors to browse through. Finally for guests there’s a connecting bathroom with a zacuzzi bath but no shower, those who know me well know my obsession with baths.

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Here’s one last picture taken in the guest bedroom, the sliding door that you can see here was one of the original doors from when I bought the house. I always wanted to reuse it during my upgrading endeavours as I’d removed the old door frames to open up the space during initial renovations. So when the built in wardrobe (closet) was created to store my completed felt and eco printed textiles Jonathan fitted it to a custom made track, I’m delighted!

From the personal work point of view I’ve been felting away where possible and printing when the time arises. As soon as the last bit of paint dries on the shelving and the books are brought up from downstairs I’ll be locking myself away in my studio and working on pieces for my exhibition in August! I’ll leave you today with this picture of a piece I felted last week incorporating a base of black merino and a collage of eco printed silk samples. I love how it looks totally at home against the background of the dry stone wall on the lane.

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Next post……… final images of the ongoing upgrades at Clasheen, new felt in progress and more dates for your diary.

 

 

 

Exciting upgrades at Clasheen (part 1) and updated workshop news

Where to start! Last summer when I made the decision to stick closer to home for 2016 and not teach in the USA or Canada the die was cast. I absolutely love travelling, teaching abroad and visiting good friends but knew that if I didn’t spend time at Clasheen in the immediate future my home environment was going to deteriorate and the surrounding vegetation grow totally out of control. Many of my workshop participants over the years expressed a wish to come to Ireland and out of these joint musings the germ of an idea took place. Why not host a luxury residential felting and eco printing workshop at a beautiful country house near here? Why not upgrade my own storage and accommodation facilities at Clasheen so that I could host small bespoke textile workshops from home? Why not choose to stay in Ireland during the main growing season and start to wrest the garden back under some sort of organised control? Why not make one super human effort to build up trade, exhibition and workshop business here and follow up all the leads I’ve not had time to work on before? Why not whip my house and garden into shape and really make an effort to keep it that way? Why not enjoy living life to the full in this beautiful part of Ireland? Why not indeed!!!

Roll on April 2016. Thanks to friend Jonathan I’ve now got a totally restructured storage system, a gorgeous built in wardrobe for completed felt and eco printing, a perfectly cleaned vintage gas cooker plus some small structural repairs done to the roof and the register plate under the archway in the kitchen.

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While the scaffolding for the roof was here I decided to ask Jonathan to help me with the much needed whitewashing of the walls and ceiling in the upstairs dining room (the ceiling goes up to the eaves) and he also tackled the wooden floor there and the stairs leading down into the kitchen. I whitewashed the kitchen, treated all the furniture and the newel post with woodworm stuff (just in case!) and finished under the stairs. With the help of buddy Annabel we then tackled the guest bedroom floor and walls. I also did a massive tidy out to the garden shed and Annabel and Carmen helped me find new homes for some of my hoarded furniture and supplies, it felt great to declutter! Here’s a picture of the finished kitchen the night before my family arrived and before I’d washed all the plates to replace on the dresser.

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The final part of this initial revamp was that I painted the guest sitting room walls and floor then the bathroom floor, all of this was finished just in time for my family to arrive for Easter Sunday lunch. The only downside has been that I now have totally strained muscles and my wrists are so sore that I can’t play golf or stretch and shape felt until the pain subsides. All the work has been worth it a thousand times though, it’s just fantastic to wake up in the morning and know that I’m ready for guests now!

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The other news for today is that sadly Karin, Eelco and I have decided not to go ahead with the planned residential workshop in Portugal this summer. Although I was really looking forward to another stay at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego Karin doesn’t have the confirmed bookings at this date to make booking my flights sensible. Instead, I’m now planning a series of residential and non-residential classes to host from Clasheen, another reason that I’m very glad to have upgraded the guest facilities!

In part 2 of this update at Clasheen I’ll have some dates for your diary, pictures of the guest bedroom and images of some current textile endeavours.