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.

 

 

 

Australia, Hong Kong and back to Ireland, part 1!

The time I spent abroad in Australia and Hong Kong with my sister Suzanne was truly fantastic, I’ve arrived home to Clasheen refreshed and raring to go. What made it even more special was catching up with family and friends along the way. A huge thank you goes out to my Aussie relatives and their in-laws, Pam and John de Groot, Terriea  and Todd Kwong, Cheung On, Florence, Loretta and Pauline, spending time with you all was the icing on the cake!!! Here are two collages from the Australian leg of the trip to share the memories, next time I’ll post some wonderful pictures from Hong Kong.

This first collage contains a couple of pictures of Jackie, the reason that we made the trip in the first place! Jackie (on the right in the top picture and at the head of the printing table) is our first cousin once removed (our father’s cousin) and was celebrating her 90th birthday with a wonderful evening meal and trip on the lake. Family and friends gathered together the following day and I shared some eco printing tips as we printed silk scarves and watercolour paper.

Our adventure continued on the west coast at Exmouth where we spent many hours snorkelling at the Ningaloo Reef. From there Suzanne and I headed for a couple of nights to beautiful Sydney before finally hiking and exploring part of the Blue Mountains. While there it was fantastic to catch up with Pam de Groot and see some of her amazing artwork in her beautiful home, thanks Pam and John for being so generous with your time!!!

So, that’s it for today. This is the first time that I’ve posted to the blog directly from the website, I hope everything uploads without any trouble! Next time, Hong Kong in pictures.

 

January update

I’m writing this blog post on a flight to Dubai, my final destination is Canberra where I’m looking forward to joining Australian family to help celebrate my great aunt’s 90th birthday. So many events and preparations happened during January that it’s difficult to believe that 2016 has only Just started. I’m going to share a few of the highlights from the past month here in images, next month I’ll be back to reality!


Beautiful photography from Patrick McHugh………….

Felted raw fleece wrap and onion skin printed felt skirt

Onion skin printed silk organza scarf with cotton dots

Showcase Ireland 2016

Custom built wall displays for Showcase made to my spec by Jonathan Dickson

Borris Library

Debriefing in Borris Library with some of the ladies involved in our 2015 year of design project

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

November/December news to date……..

The end of November and all of December to date has been a tightly coreographed dance of preparation, packing, unpacking, stand set up and stand take down, in short a whirlwind of selling events. Currently my work is on display as part of the FORM exhibition at 57 Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. This last show of the season continues until 6pm on Sunday 20th December and has been a wonderful venue for sharing Carlow craft with a wider audience. Thanks Carlow LEO for your assistance with the venue and signage.

I was delighted to have one of my small lambswool cushions selected by the DCCoI (Design & Crafts Council of Ireland) for their curated area at the National Crafts & Design Fair at the RDS. Making a commitment to concentrate on printing luxury fabrics has been a good business decision, nerve wracking (because of the associated higher retail prices) but well worth the initial mental effort. Heavier fabrics such as lambswool and higher momme silk absorb the colour more intensely than lighter ones in my opinion and I'm finding it leaves me freer to concentrate on getting good placement of pattern.

Small lambswool cushion included in this display as background for a short tv recording

One of the most satisfying things (aside from sales of course!) at all these pre Christmas events was how many customers from last year returned to tell me that they were enjoying their previous purchases and how surprised they were that multiple washes hadn't affected the eco printed colour at all. It was really great to get this feedback, I know how well my own pieces wash but it's quite another thing when others have the same experience.

Anita wearing her eco printed wool jacket

I met really lovely people at all the events, the Glucksman Gallery, Marlay Park, the RDS and now Blackrock in addition to spending happy hours chatting and explaining a little about the eco printing process to those who were interested.
 
Finally for today, although I've not yet seen all the images from the recent photo shoot with Patrick McHugh I was thrilled to be able to use this first one for new signage just in time for the RDS! Ivey Sullivan from Morgan the Agency did a fantastic job with hair and make up while model Mya was amazing for this her first professional photo shoot, thanks so much everybody!!!

Felt wrap and eco printed silk dress

 
 

 

 

Invitation to an evening of celebrating at Kilkenny Arts Festival

It's difficult to keep up with everything online right now. So many exciting things are happening all at once and I'm also busy doing my bit to make sure that the 'FORM Designmade in Carlow' pop up shop in Kilkenny is manned and stocked. Please come along on Thursday night to help us celebrate out second year of participation in the Kilkenny Arts Festival, we'll have drinks and nibbles from 5.30pm and its a great chance to meet fellow makers and group members!

Eco printed up-cycled clothing, cushions and felt sculpture in Kilkenny

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting, eco printing and notice of a competition!

I’ve been having a wonderful time at Clasheen these last few days, felting like crazy and then firing up the pot for my first eco printing session here since the beginning of April. It’s like a mini jungle outside at present, lucky then that many plants others consider ‘weeds’ give wonderful colour and interesting prints! Here’s a pictorial review of the dress I felted then printed with wild blackberry leaves (brambles), further down this post is an opportunity to win one of my eco printed wraps!

Using a Palm wash board to full the dress

Still wet but ready to print

I love the unbundling process!

V-neck to the front

Round neck to the back

And now for that competition, can you guess the vegetation I used for these prints???

Merino, silk, tencel and Firestar felted wrap

May be worn many ways

Shimmer from tencel and Firestar

Revealing the prints

Older leaves give more golden prints

To be in with a chance to win this piece please, please follow the instructions as written in this flyer, all comments to enter the draw need to be left on my Facebook business page but you don’t have to be a member to leave a comment. Good luck!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston eco printing workshop in pictures and Portugal calling!

Apologies for the delay in posting pictures from Houston TX, my U.S. trip to date has been a whirlwind of activity and I don't want to miss one second of the fun! Thanks Barbara and Ed for another wonderful visit, I really enjoyed myself and loved spending time with four legged friends Maggie and Lucy too.

Our one day intensive eco printing workshop was really productive, a lovely group of ladies and some super results from the printing pot. Below are a selection of pictures of participant's work, it's only a small representation of what was achieved on the day but it's impossible to post everything and when I'm working it's also difficult to take as many shots as I'd like. All the rest of my U.S. workshops are sold out but if you'd like to join me for a fantastic residential week or two of felting and eco printing in Portugal now is the time to contact Karin and grab one of the last remaining places. Non felting partners are welcome too!

Next post, Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival update.

 

 

Watch out Tucson, eco printing is coming to town!

It's hard to believe looking out the window at Clasheen that in exactly two weeks time I'll be getting ready for the first of three fantastic days eco printing in Tucson AZ. In 2009 I visited this stunning part of the world and totally fell in love with the desert, I'm really hoping that I'll get to see some of the plants in bloom and know that it is going to be spectacular!!!

Felt bundled and ready for the pot

The first two days (17th and 18th April) are devoted to printing on protein fabrics, felt, silk and wool, I've got so much to share and I know that the time will fly! The third day (19th April) is for people who have already taken an eco printing workshop with me (in either 2014 or 2015), this day we'll be printing on cellulose fabrics such as linen or cotton and learning how to get strong, clear prints.

I just got word that unexpectedly a couple of participants have had to pull out of class at almost the last minute, if you'd like to join us please email Karen asap and make sure to put 'Nicola's eco printing class' in the subject line. See you soon!

 

 

Houston calling and felting and eco printing update from Clasheen

I'm delighted to announce that I'll be making a return trip to visit Houston this May! My lovely hostess Barbara and I will be visiting thrift and consignment stores then playing in her studio for a week or so, I'll also be facilitating an intensive one day eco printing workshop on protein fabrics. This will take place on Tuesday 12th May, please email Barbara if you would like to book a place and the workshop description is the same as that for Plainwell MI. You can view it here!

Eucalyptus leaves on felt, tencel embellishment

Those of you following my personal page on Facebook may have seen my recent woes regarding the stolen courier van and problems booking flights to the US, I've tried not to harp on about them too much on the business page for obvious reasons, no one loves a moaner!!! Anyway, as a result of the stolen courier van two of my Showcase trade orders went missing without a trace, the last couple of weeks have been spent trying to print replacement pieces as well as battle it out to try and get insurance compensation.

Oak leaves on lambswool, part of a replacement order

Now that the replacement stock is all finished I've finally time to start felting some vessels for Ross Fine Art Gallery and Craft Boutique in Ramelton, Co. Donegal. These all need to be felted, printed and ready to deliver before I head overseas, I'm hoping to have them completed before my house sitter arrives on 12th April then I can spend a day or so showing her the ropes here.

90% felted and ready for the printing pot

Got to fly, the studio is calling.