Eco printing highs and lows, a very mixed week!

It’s been a very mixed week at Clasheen; fantastic strong prints achieved from gifted eucalyptus leaves (thanks Anita!), the Michigan workshop sold out almost as soon as it was advertised but two boxes of eco printed silk and lambswool Showcase orders worth a combined €890 at trade prices gone when the courier’s van was stolen on Wednesday.

Strong and colourful prints from fresh eucalyptus leaves

Strong and colourful prints from fresh eucalyptus leaves

I’m not going to go in to all the ins and outs of the saga here but suffice to say if, and it’s a big if, the insurance does pay out the maximum I’m entitled to is €550. The cash is one thing but the bigger issue is not fulfilling orders when they should have been plus the fact that some of the items were actual Showcase display items as requested by one new customer. Obviously since each of my pieces is unique I will never be able to repeat the exact pattern, I will however be able to use the same materials so expect a lot of printing to happen this week.

IMG_6144

The wonderful moment when I know I’m going to get clear and strong prints!

Eucalyptus prints on lambswool

Eucalyptus prints on lambswool

If you’d been planning on travelling to MI you might like to consider participating in an alternative US workshop here.

Brief update then US felt and eco print workshop details at last!

Phew, it’s been a very paperwork heavy week or so, yesterday I finally had to admit defeat and give up on the big submission I was trying to get together because there are currently just too many exciting things happening at once at Clasheen. I don’t want to drop the ball on the website side of things or postpone preparing for upcoming workshops, I also need to make some work for an imminent fashion photo shoot and finally, my new wood burning central heating system is being installed this week.

Over the next week or so Patrick will be finalising the change over of this blog to the website and the online shop will be going live there too. There will be quite a bit of formatting and editing for me to do re the blog I think, I don’t however want to lose all that I’ve written here since I started in 2008! Please bear with us while the transfer is ongoing.

So, without further ado, here are the details for my April and May workshops in North America, they will also be published on the website some day this week. Apologies if this post is a little word heavy, it’s difficult though not to be wordy when trying to write up workshop descriptions accurately. To say I’m excited is an understatement, I’m so looking forward to this visit!!!

North American workshops with Nicola during April and May 2015

Tuscon AZ – Intensive two day natural printing workshop on 17th and 18th April  email Karen to book your place making sure to put Nicola Brown workshop in the subject box

During this intensive two day workshop participants will explore the fascinating and exciting art of printing on protein based fabric and paper using natural materials from the hedgerow, kitchen and garden!

Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials bundles will be created by tying the organic matter up tightly in various weights of felt, silk, wool and silk/wool blends. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist. NB Where local hedgerow materials are not available we will substitute easily located vegetation from the florist.

Over the course of the two days we will have a selection of pots on the go so participants will have plenty of options and decisions to make. We will also be able to print on paper or card, naturally printed heavy duty manila luggage tags make particularly beautiful gift tags. Participants are encouraged to bring along plenty of silk and wool yardage, scarves, previously completed felt bags, vessels and wall hangings (not just wearables) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk. These may all be included in the dye pot, the more the merrier, space providing! Attention will be paid to the after treatment and care of these naturally printed textiles and participants will learn how Nicola prepares her work for sale or gifting.

NB Nicola likes to restrict printing to cream or white items during a workshop as this avoids commercial dyes running and ruining someone else’s work. If participants are keen to try printing coloured items it’s possible we can put one of the pots aside for this on day two, this will depend on the requirements and best interest of the group as a whole.

NEW for 2015, OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP on 19th April – only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop

– Advanced one day workshop, natural printing on cellulose fabrics

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a much more time consuming process than printing on felt, silk and wool, results can be varied and are often disappointing. During this one day class participants who have previously completed a natural printing workshop with Nicola will be able to learn the different ways that cellulose fabric may be encouraged to hold a print. Nicola’s been having great success with linen and cotton this year achieving many really clear and beautiful leaf imprints. Some of the pre-treatments are very time consuming and possibly may not be to everyone’s taste or even smell, others are quicker and seem to result in good prints and colourfast results. This advanced class will share the tips and tricks that Nicola is finding helpful in her own artistic practice to achieve good prints on linen and cotton.

Austin TX Sponsored by Austin Fiber Arts Association on 24th and 25th April – email Barbara for more information

During the nuno wrap workshop on Saturday 24th Nicola will share with participants the tumble dryer method of wet felting, a stress free way of coercing wool and embellishing fibers into silk to create a rich and colorful piece of wearable art. Because there is almost no rolling or rubbing involved participants are free to enjoy the creative process, it is also ideal for those find regular felting methods too tiring!

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

In the vessel workshop on Sunday 25th, Nicola will share with participants the skills needed to design and felt a simple vessel or coin purse using the resist method of three dimensional felting. Old pieces of silk and lace as well as treasured bits and bobs are often suitable to be incorporated into the felt. Should they wish to,, participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favorite stash items and Nicola will help them design one off pieces using these as a starting point.

Lexington KY – Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival – wet felted vessel or coin purse on 16th May and a half day fun felt flower workshop on the morning of 17th May, all materials generously sponsored by Moonwood Farm, bookings open online shortly

16th – During this one day workshop beginners and more experienced felters will have fun learning and experimenting with the fascinating technique of three dimensional wet felting around a resist. The emphasis during the day will be to have fun in a creative and supportive environment, participants may expect to leave with the knowledge and confidence to replicate the techniques learnt successfully at home.

Beginners may expect to lay out and finish a vessel or coin purse during this workshop (with plenty of surface decoration!) while more experienced felters and improvers can discover how to add inclusions such as stones, glass nuggets or other found objects into their felt. Everyone will have the opportunity to experiment with surface design, a gorgeous selection of raw alpaca locks, silk, bamboo, Firestar and other embellishing fibers are included in the cost of this workshop!

17th – Wet felted flowers make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes!

During this three hour workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers using merino and alpaca plus a selection of embellishing fibres including silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Lexington KY – Felting and eco printing in the round, simple vessels, purses or iPad covers on 22nd and 23rd May, email Jan to book your place

Day one – using either the open or closed resist method of wet felting participants will learn how to design templates to create different shaped pieces then scale these up in order to cut out their own plastic resists. Nicola will demonstrate how to lay the wool tightly around the resist and by the end of the day everyone will have a beautifully finished simple vessel or purse ready to print on day two, no obvious ridges or seams in sight! Working in white, participants will learn which embellishing fibres work best in the eco printing process, Nicola will bring a selection of these with her for people to share and include in their work.

NB If anyone would prefer to felt a nuno scarf this will also be possible providing Nicola and Jan know in advance!

Day two – Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials our three dimensional felt from day one will be transformed into beautiful and colourful art using the exciting eco printing technique! We will also work with silk scarves and yardage, participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed wool or silk yardage to get the most from this full day of printing.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Plainwell MI – Intensive one day eco printing workshop on felt, silk and wool on 30th May – FULL

Using simple, natural plant materials learn how to transform felt, silk and wool yardage or clothing into beautiful wearable art using the eco printing technique.

Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist.

Participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed yardage or scarf blanks to get the most from this full day of printing.

Showcase debrief and Tuscon Arizona, workshop details!

Gosh, apologies for the delay in giving feedback from Showcase, it was a wonderful event but I’ve been in bed with a toxic flu ever since returning home to Clasheen. I’m still not over the worst so please forgive me if I don’t write a very long post today.

IMG_8851   George and I had a busy and successful week, the pared down simplicity of the stand worked very well and I’m delighted to have secured new orders in both Ireland and the UK with companies who I think it will be very easy to work with going forwards. Thanks a million to Patrick McHugh and Peter Martin, both worked really hard to have the website , printed materials and the video ready right at the start of the event, I know it was touch and go but it all came together brilliantly! Here’s a picture of the stand, as you can see it’s simple and natural looking, having information boards about the process on the walls and the video on a loop helped really drive the eco printing message across to the public.

Stand C13 at Showcase

Speaking of eco printing, I very excited that I’ll be making my first trip to teach this fascinating technique in Tuscon, Arizona this April!!! Thanks Karen and Dawn for inviting me, please email Karen Herhold (putting “Nicola Brown class” in subject line or it will be deleted) if you would like to book a place or need some more information. Now for all the details………..

Intensive two day natural printing workshop with Nicola Brown 17th and 18th April

During this intensive two day workshop participants will explore the fascinating and exciting art of printing on protein based fabric and paper using natural materials from the hedgerow, kitchen and garden!

Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials bundles will be created by tying the organic matter up tightly in various weights of felt, silk, wool and silk/wool blends. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist. NB Where local hedgerow materials are not available we will substitute easily located vegetation from the florist.

Over the course of the two days we will have a selection of pots on the go so participants will have plenty of options and decisions to make. We will also be able to print on paper or card, naturally printed heavy duty manila luggage tags make particularly beautiful gift tags. Participants are encouraged to bring along plenty of silk and wool yardage, scarves, previously completed felt bags, vessels and wall hangings (not just wearables) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk. These may all be included in the dye pot, the more the merrier, space providing!

Attention will be paid to the after treatment and care of these naturally printed textiles and participants will learn how Nicola prepares her work for sale or gifting.

NB Nicola likes to restrict printing to cream or white items during a workshop as this avoids commercial dyes running and ruining someone else’s work. If participants are keen to try printing coloured items it’s possible we can put one of the pots aside for this on day two, this will depend on the requirements and best interest of the group as a whole.

OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop 19th April

NEW for 2015 – Advanced one day workshop, natural printing on cellulose fabrics

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a much more time consuming process than printing on felt, silk and wool, results can be varied and are often disappointing. During this one day class participants who have previously completed a natural printing workshop with Nicola will be able to learn the different ways that cellulose fabric may be encouraged to hold a print. Nicola’s been having great success with linen and cotton this year achieving many really clear and beautiful leaf imprints. Some of the pre-treatments are very time consuming and possibly may not be to everyone’s taste or even smell, others are quicker and seem to result in good prints and colourfast results. This advanced class will share the tips and tricks that Nicola is finding helpful in her own artistic practice to achieve good prints on linen and cotton.

RIP Rex and an update of recent activities

Apologies for the lack of posting these last few weeks, my beloved Rex started suffering from bad heart problems unexpectedly and unfortunately I had to put him to sleep last Monday. He was a real character, inherited from my neighbour Tom Doran (who died aged 90 when Rex was 6) he'd lived at Clasheen all 14 years of his life, those of you who'd met him will know how quirky he was!


Meeting Tom and Rex at Clasheen
Jumping to catch a ball, one of Rex's favourite pastimes!
Although I didn't usually let Rex up at the table Dawn DID manage to capture this picture during her visit last April, wonder how that happened???
Merridee and I relaxing mid August, although Rex was not well by then he did want to participate in everything we were doing! Alan dug a grave in a nice spot between the oak plantation up above my house and the ever expanding grove of eucalyptus trees, RIP Rex Doran 2000 – 2014.
In addition to the trauma with Rex I've had a really busy time since Merridee and Keith's departure home to California. In brief I've been working on an order of naturally printed silk scarves for the Old House Gallery in the UK, had an individual piece and a collaborative piece accepted for an upcoming Feltmakers Ireland exhibition, attended a full day Creative Island training session, been juried in to the Glucksman Gallery's Christmas design and craft fair plus been working on some new ideas for felt and silk naturally printed accessories. The collaborative piece is interesting if a little time consuming in the conception and construction, it's a felt neck piece incorporating moisture reactive smart technology. Thanks Niki Collier and Cheryl for the opportunity to work together! I'm also working on dates and venues for my trip to the US and Canada next spring, do please shout out loud at the end of this week if you haven't heard back from me, it's been manic here and I'm really trying to get everything under control as soon as I can. Kentucky friends Dianne and Mike are also arriving tomorrow to visit for a few days, fun ahead but not too much time at the computer yet again!
I'll leave you today with two images of a Tshirt I printed over the weekend, it may be worn with either side to the front.
I'm currently experimenting with using cotton, linen and other fibres as a background for my natural printing, it's a different preparation process (that's where I'm doing a lot of experiments) and I'd like to offer it as a more advanced technique next year to students who've already taken an introductory natural printing workshop with me. More anon………….