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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

October and November update

It's been a manic (but exciting) period of production, stock taking and home improvement construction (shelving and large walk in wardrobe for product storage) since arriving home from Australia, now the seasonal retail fairs have started and I'm shocked to realise that I haven't managed to update here more frequently. I'm going to share a small selection of images today in place of text, if you'd like to follow what's happening on a more regular basis please follow my Facebook business page and I'll be back to normal here after Christmas!

Dramatic autumn colour from the cotinus

Cotinus prints on silk

New product shelving underway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onion skin printed silk dress and necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing retreat at Clasheen in pics!

There was a lot of preparation beforehand but I really had great fun spending time with Ruth and Elena during the first 2015 tailor made felting and eco printing retreat at Clasheen. They both concentrated really hard to learn new techniques and at the end of three and a half days had created an amazing body of samples and finished piece to take home with them. This is a image rich post, as the old saying goes a picture speaks louder than words!

In addition to felting and printing we also had time for brief visits to Borris Food & Craft Market, Ullard Church and High Cross, Cushendale Woollen Mill and enjoyed a delicious obligatory evening meal (thanks Ruth!!!) in the Step House Hotel!

Detail from Ruth's stunning nuno felt wrap

Gorgeous shine from viscose, Elena brought this felt top with her to print

Detail from a large wall hanging Ruth printed

Oak on wool, another print from Ruth's wall hanging

My mind is still buzzing with all they achieved, I'm thrilled that the experiments I've been doing privately at home paid off and their eco printed linen and cotton results were consistent and spectacular.

Elena looking fab in a stunning cotton top

The purple hues of the rose leaves look wonderful against the denim

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a new skill that I'm offering for 2015 to students who attend printing workshops or retreats with me that last for a minimum of three days duration. It's is a lot more difficult and labour intensive than working with protein fabrics (felt, wool and silk) but very rewarding when the results are as good as Ruth and Elena achieved!

I almost hid this linen top so Ruth wouldn't be able to take it home with her and I'd get to keep it, I'd have happily washed it out and ironed it!

Another lovely top of Ruth's, still to be washed and ironed

Wool scarf and linen underskirt of Elena's, eco printed clothing looks fab layered with plain colours

Thanks ladies for being such great students, it was really difficult to select which images to add to this post so I'll sort through them all and upload the best to Facebook during the week!
 
 
 
 

 

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Reflections from Clasheen on a wild and windy night!

It's after eight o'clock in the evening now and I'm writing this blog post by candlelight in front of the stove, heavens knows when I'm going be able to upload it! In general Irish weather is notoriously 'soft', no major extremes of temperature, never very hot and not often very cold, plenty of light rain throughout the year and the grass grows pretty much all year round.

Why would Rex need a pillow when he has a block of wood?

Well, these last few weeks we've been having loads of storms with plenty of high winds and lashings of rain, since early this morning I've had no central/underfloor heating (not that it's on very much anyway!), no Internet since mid morning and no power since just after lunchtime. Carmen called over before the winds had got too bad and brought delicious tapas for our lunch, as she was driving home two trees fell across the road behind her and a beautiful large tree had fallen at the top of her lane so she wasn't able to drive right to her house. I was meant to be facilitating a workshop tonight for 17 women in Carlow, luckily the organiser agreed we would reschedule because I discovered mid afternoon that Borris town (en route to Carlow) was practically cut off, fallen trees all over the place! Earlier in the afternoon I felted a small experimental piece, since the light has gone I've been planning some of the submissions I'm planning to make this year, sketching a couple of rough ideas for exhibitions pieces, doing a little organising on the iPad and looking back through some of the photos I've taken recently.

I use the camera on my phone a lot, probably I take at least 20 photos on any given day and more often 40 or more, last Sunday I actually had to back up and delete over 6,700!!! Alan can never understand why I frequently take many pictures of the same thing, for me though it's a way of visually recording what inspires me! This post includes a selection of recent images that excepting the beautiful stone walls would never usually make it here to the blog. Some of them are taken in the fields and the 'garden' at Clasheen and a few are from last Sunday when we did a bit of adjusting to the ropes on our boat at Graiguenamanagh. You'll probably never see a literal translation of these into felt but these are the everyday things that I love to observe, find inspiring and watch changing as the seasons progress. No captions, I'm sure you can work them out for yourselves!

Well I'm finally back online, it's Saturday afternoon at quarter to three so I'm going to post this right away as I'm not sure how long I'll be active for, more stormy weather is forecast so fingers crossed all will be well!!! Speaking of fingers, this morning as I was preparing to do some natural printing I cut the top of one finger in the mechanism of my tongs, stupid or what? There was plenty of blood but not so much pain, SO not what I wanted to do before laying out white wraps to print. Anyway, it's now bandaged, I can work wearing a sterile glove and am able to type with my index finger, all in all not the worst thing to happen!

 

Natural printing and dyeing, day one…..

Tamara, George and I have just finished our intensive natural printing and dyeing day at Clasheen, we had loads of fun and by the end of the day had a wonderful and varied selection of beautifully printed silk, cotton and card! I need to recharge now and have some down time before repeating the workshop with two more participants tomorrow, here're some pictures from today to whet your appetite.

Tamara laying out her natural materials on a silk scarf
Ready for the dye pot
George's layout looks good enough to eat!
Tying the bundle with thick rubber bands
Interesting prints from small ferns on one of Tamara's scarves
Some wonderful details being revealed on a cotton piece of George's
George and Tamara with two of their beautiful scarves!