Eco printing highlights from an intensive week of study and experimentation!

Last week was super fun and super intensive, a whole week facilitating eco orinting through discussion, plotting and planning as well as actually spending hands on time in the outdoor printing studio, aka the garage! It all kicked off on Saturday when I picked up friend and fellow fabric enthusiast Caroline from Dublin Airport. We’d met in Portugal while participating in a Joan Morris residential workshop and almost immediately started planning for Caroline to come over here to study one to one, we also wanted to spend some time together experimenting. The main focus of our time together was to achieve clarity of prints and play with different ways in which to achieve good results on cellulose fabrics, the whole week was an absolute blast, many bottles of wine were consumed too!!!

Here are just a few of Caroline’s highlights in pictures………..

Caroline's eucalyptus prints on linen

Caroline's geranium and cranesbill on linen

A big smile from Caroline and a beautiful linen dress!

The shadowing around the neckline of this linen too printed through two layers of paper resist, another wonderful linen top from Caroline!!!

…… and a couple of my own results I’m particularly happy with!

Satin mordanted with Symplocos printed with eucalyptus

Symplocos mordant has helped achieve amazingly copper like tones on satin

Alder leaves and female catkins on satin

Contrasting colours from the same dye pot, don’t they just sing together?

Caroline's eucalyptus printed linen and my cotinus and rosebay willow herb seed pod printed cotton blend

On Tuesday while Caroline worked away bundling in the indoor studio I spent a lovely time with mother and daughter duo Cristina and Morgan, it was their first time eco printing. After a little discussion about what we would be doing we all headed off to gather our vegetation. Unfortunately the weather was not great early. In the day, the fields were really wet so we stuck to the lane and garden instead. Before lunch Cristina and Morgan got 4 satin scarves in the pot and in the afternoon we all made a stack of paper to print. Their results were super and isn’t Morgan a fab model?

Congratulations Cristina and Morgan, great job!

Morgan in front of the rose she used to print this scarf!

Finally for today, congratulations go to Margaret Hennessey who guessed correctly that dock leaves were used to print this experimental felt wrap.
I’m afraid that I forgot to bring it with me to town today Margaret but promise it’ll be in the post on Wednesday so it should be with you by the end of this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exciting website news, thanks, ticket giveaway and a brief event update.

It’s controlled mania here preparing for next weekend’s Marlay Fair, the National Crafts & Design Fair which is set up just two days after Marlay ends plus Creative Island at Showcase in January. Everything is coming along nicely thanks to a structured plan, plenty of long but fun working days and lots of help when needed from good buddy George.

Eco printing at Clasheen

She’s great at keeping me on track finishing printed pieces and happy to be a sounding board when I ramble on about all the detritus involved in preparing for a major show.

Eco printed wrap by Nicola Brown

Eucalyptus leaves and bark on a large felt wrap, one of my pieces that is heading to the RDS fair

I’ve several pairs of tickets to giveaway for Thursday 4th and Friday 5th at the RDS, please email me your full name and address ASAP if you would like me to pop some in the post for you, first come, first served!

Eco print on felt by Nicola Brown

Oak leaves on nuno felt, another scarf heading to Dublin

I’m also very busy at the moment collating information for my new selling website, this will be launched in January in advance of Showcase and I’d like to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved who has helped me get to this stage in my business and is currently helping make this vision a reality.

  • Frances McDonald – excellent craft mentor who has acted as a sounding board all year. Thanks too Frances for your generous mention recently on Craft Words, much appreciated!
  • Emer Ferran, Mary Whelan, Emma McGrath and team, ongoing support and feedback from the DCCoI, especially in relation to Showcase preparation and providing one to one mentoring with Eddie Shannahan
  • Carlow Local Enterprise Office – 1000 thanks for approving my grant application for the web voucher scheme, none of this would have been possible if it hadn’t been approved
  • Eddie Shanahan – retail, branding and marketing guru, clearly saw within minutes of meeting how I could pull the three separate strands of my artistic practice together, a fabulous help and the person who introduced me to Patrick
  • Patrick McHugh – wonderful fashion photographer and super duper website designer, a pleasure to work with
  • Peter Martin – quirky film maker and videographer, can’t wait to have a short video for the website to help communicate my making process
  • Greg Dorney – excellent product photographer

Ok, one final picture before I head back to the printing studio, professional photographers avert your eyes!

Oak leaves eco printed on silk satin by Nicola Brown

My own oak leaves printed on silk satin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful participants and work from week 2 in Portugal!

I had a wonderful time during the second week at Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal. Different participants plus other non felting visitors on retreat (with the exception of Naomi who took part both weeks!) gave a different dynamic and it was really interesting to watch a totally different body of felt and natural prints emerge. Here are some images to give you a flavour of what we got up to, I hope that you enjoy them! Bye, bye Portugal, see you at the same time, same place next year, details of our next extravaganza will be posted online within the next week or so!!!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

A serendipitous gift from the dye pot!

The weekend before last I picked up several apron style dresses in gorgeous linen at a blowout sale in Dublin. They were all layered with a lace edged viscose under shift kind of thing, way too frilly and girly for my plain taste! Anyway, most of the dresses had this piece actually attached to them so I had to cut it off, one of them was in a slightly different style and the under shift with this one was more like a cross between a long Tshirt and a petticoat in the brightest white you could possibly imagine. Anyway, yesterday I decided to bundle it up with eucalyptus and tea leaves then popped it in the pot while I was eco printing a couple of organza scarves.

Imagine my surprise to discover it didn't give even the faintest prints from the eucalyptus leaves or tea at all except on the lace edging (I think that this must be polyester although it didn't say on the label), instead it transformed itself into the softest and most attractive soft shades of gold and apricot, the perfect shift to dress my mannequin! This serendipitous gift will be worth it's weight in gold, I hate a naked mannequin but have always found it really difficult to find a nice neutral outfit for mine against which the naturally printed wraps and scarves stand out, my search is over!!!

Please excuse the quality and composition of these images, the wind was wild and the sun made it difficult to take good pictures but at least you'll get an idea of what why I'm happy.

 

Thanks Wollknoll!

Over the past two weeks I've been living in daily anticipation of a large delivery of fibre from Wollknoll in Germany, one of my all time favourite suppliers. This order should have contained the wool and silk to finish my Gaelscoil project, the materials for a new group that I'm just about to start working with, a big amount of wool for Carmen, a good few large blocks of olive oil soap and some more fibre for me to use at upcoming workshops in my studio at Duckett's Grove. I still can't quite work out what happened but finally my suspicions were confirmed yesterday morning that the order had never been received or processed. I've had a couple of sleepless nights but at last everything is sorted, there's light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Sonja Fritz of Wollknoll. I had to reorder the items yesterday afternoon (why oh why did I not keep a written record of them in the first place???), the goods are getting packed today (Saturday) and the order will be dispatched first thing on Monday morning, what a service. Thank you so much Sonja, your help and calmness were very much appreciated! On the positive side of things, it did give me the opportunity to add a bundle of silk fabric and more Kap merino to the order, these will be some of the supplies I'm bringing to my upcoming workshops in Lexington, KY!!!

The Nuno felt wrap and scarf in the first photo were felted using a selection of ponge silk from Wollknoll, the wrap on the left also incorporates some upcycled printed silk collected on a fun Goodwill expidition with Dawn! The bundled and naturally printed/dyed silk chiffon scarves with rolled edges in the second picture also came from Wollknoll. I like the contrast of the silk chiffon with the hardness of my new polymer clay brooches, soft ochre, gold and chocolate brown makes such a good bedfellow with turquoise!

 

 

 

 

How much felt is enough, stock that is!

How much felt is enough for a display table or booth, enough that is to create a good display, have a selection of different items in different colours yet not have so much out that things look messy and don’t create a good impression???

Katie dyed her hair to match the gorgeous flower she felted yesterday, FUN!

Because of the various different events I’ll be participating in over the next 5 weeks I’m very conscious that I need to have stock to replace sold items too. I’m not however going to do as someone suggested and hold items back for the bigger fairs, the last thing that I want to do is presume people will buy at these and not offer everyone at my regular gigs an equal opportunity to buy my items. After all, they’re the customers who support me throughout the year so if anything they deserve the pick of the crop in my opinion! A sale is a sale is a sale, all money gratefully recieved and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned!!!

Katie’s finished her week with me as part of her transition year (4th year in the school she attends) work experience. It was interesting having her with me as I usually work totally on my own and a second opinion was definitely a help at times. In addition to being out and about facilitating two sessions with Borris Active Retirement, a birthday party for a 9 year old and Borris Food & Craft Market this morning we managed to naturally print/dye over 24 scarves on Tuesday and have a big pot of cochineal on the go yesterday, a busy and satisfying week I think! Thanks Katie for all your help, it was a pleasure having you at Clasheen.

Cochineal dyed nuno felt

My pine needle scarf and some more natural printing/dyeing

I had a lovely day yesterday learning Leiko Uchi’s pine needle technique. My biggest worry was that I would find laying out the ‘needles’ difficult and time consuming, instead, while they did take a lot of time in preparation the task was neither boring nor frustrating at all!

My finished pine needle scarf!

Seeing all Leiko’s beautiful samples spurred me on and I was thrilled by the end of the day with my beautiful, soft and ultra flexible scarf. It was also fascinating working with materials I don’t often carry in stock, gorgeous gold coloured 50/50 silk/ultrafine merino tops, a rich green 40/60 blend and a dark green plain merino for the body of the scarf. Leiko dyed all these fibres herself and I loved the sympathetic way the colours all blended together. The piece was laid out measuring 2.70m (a tad under 9 feet) and ended up after felting at 1.6m (just over 5 feet), a lot of shrinkage!!! Because I laid a very fine gold line around the edge of one side and two different ends for interest, this scarf may be worn in loads of ways! Check out my new facebook album for more pictures and the details.

It was a little breezy this morning taking pictures but a few people were asking for pictures of the silk I printed and dyed last week. Here are just two pictures, a rolled edge chiffon scarf that will be left as is and a length of ponge silk which I’m going to nuno felt later in the week, both were dyed using a selection of eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal.

Rolled edge silk chiffon scarf printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal

Ponge silk printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal

Felting retreat update and pictures from 2 great workshops!

I’ve been out of my mind trying to get my paperwork sorted for the accountant, many, many apologies for the lack of blogging this week but I should be back to speed again once I get the next couple of days out of the way!

Beautiful pine-needle felt from Leiko

On a happier note, why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present and join Leiko and I at Clasheen for our first joint felting retreat from 13th to 15th November??? We’re offering a 3 days intensive felting/dyeing/printing workshop, comfortable accomodation and good home cooking with a glass or three of wine for an all in price of E280. If you’d like to participate for two days of tuition and one nights accommodation that will be E200 or alternatively if you’d like to join us for one day of tuition and lunch the price for that will be E90. Participants need to bring their own materials although both of us will have optional supplies for sale at the workshop. Leiko uses a very fine  merino/silk blend which she dyes herself to create her beautiful pine-needle clothing, these pieces have to be seen to be believed!

Aside from my paperwork nightmares this week, on Monday Leiko and I participated in a wonderful natural/vegetable dyeing workshop and this morning I facilitated a beginners/improvers flat felting workshop at Clasheen. The dyeing workshop was organised by Carmen and delivered by the fabulous Terry, Terry the Weaver as he is known to many!

From the top clockwise – onion skins, cochineal and walnut dyed wool, fabric and fabric

Working with three different mordants (copper sulphate, alum and tin) and three different dye pots (cochineal, onion skins and walnut hulls) we managed to achieve a wonderful variety of toning and contrasting colours on a range of wool, mohair, various other fibres and silk fabric. Carmen also dyed a natural grey wool vessel left behind a long time ago by a student and although I couldn’t get the exact image I wanted from the phone camera here’s a picture of it beside an undyed pot surrounded by all the other glorious colours we achieved!

Finally for today’s post, I had great fun this morning teaching the basics of flat felting to Suzanne and her very creative family. She and her two children had felted flowers with me before at a home schoolers session (but missed the introductory, important, explanatory stuff!) while Geraldine had never felted herself before but loved the flowers that everyone else had made! Anyway, we had a really great session with everyone making really beautiful pieces of high quality felt, check out this picture taken just as it started to rain yet again.

Suzanne, Geraldine, Sophie and Jack with their fantastic first pieces of flat felt!

Exciting news – Leiko and I are organising a joint felting retreat at Clasheen!

Now that wonderful Japanese felter Leiko Uchiyama has moved next door we’ve started planning a series of workshops to deliver together designed to compliment our individual strengths. Our first three day felting retreat will take place at Clasheen from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th November inclusive and this will be the first time in Ireland that Leiko is offering a full workshop to learn her ‘pine needle’ technique! She’ll be teaching this on Tuesday (and Wednesday morning/afternoon for larger projects), I’ll be concentrating on naturally printing/dyeing on Wednesday then felting large nuno wearables and household textiles using the tumble dryer on Thursday, fine felt without fabric or cobweb felt is also an option with this method. The emphasis on all three days will be learning new skills, creating beautifully felted and finished pieces inspired by nature and having fun in a relaxed, peaceful, rural setting. Simple, tasty home cooking will be the order of the day and shared rooms are on site in comfortable farmhouse accommodation! A maximum of 5 residential places are available for the retreat but we will also be able to accommodate a few additional participants for the printing/dyeing day on Wednesday. I’ll post the prices etc. over the next day or two, stupidly I left them at home and I’m now in Duckett’s Grove and felting here for the rest of the day.

I’ll leave you with an image of a simple necklace I made this morning. I liked this tiger wire fitting which I bought last year in CA so now need to research the best place to buy these at a competitive price in Ireland.

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