Retreat update and exhibition news

What can I say about the first ten day residential retreat in Ireland? How can I thank all involved for their incredible hospitality and professional service? Certainly a short update here doesn’t do anything to honour an event that workshop participants, the various hosts and the amazing venue made so special. I’m not going to post anything more today except this shot of us with Philip Cushen at Cushendale Woollen Mill.  I promise faithfully that I’ll write a proper review of the retreat as soon as Kilkenny Arts Festival is over then post it here with copious pictures!!!

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For now though I’m in the final throes of installing my solo exhibition at Grennan Mill Craft School as well as collating what  I need to deliver to Kilkenny as part of the FORM pop up shop. Both these events open on Friday so I’ve not got much time to get everything finished! Thank you so much to Naomi, Merridee and Keith for all your help preparing for Grennan, I’ll post properly about the show at the end of August.IMG_1802

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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.

Naturally printed/dyed nuno felt wrap, advance notice of another Vancouver workshop and a special gift of eucalyptus leaves!

Yesterday my mother, sister Suzanne and I had a lovely time attending the opening of 'Origins: Felt in the Natural World' at the Botanic Gardens in Dublin followed by a delicious late birthday dinner at new restaurant the Hot Stove, Parnell Square. It was lovely to catch up with friends from both Feltmakers Ireland and the Northern Feltmakers, I hope to have more time to chat with them and exhibition visitors when I invigilate on Tursday 22nd. The exhibition was brilliantly organised and curated, congratulations to Gabi McGrath, Sheila Ahern and all the committee for the brilliant job that they did! Thanks too, Christine Maxwell for the wonderful gift of a full truckload of eucalyptus leaves, collected on the way home and soon to be put to good use!!!

Because of the light during the opening and the fact that I was talking so much, photographs did not feature highly on my agenda even though it had been my I intention to take pictures of everything! As a result I'll post two pictures from my original submission (although this piece may be worn in many other ways) plus the written blurb that I had to include. The tumble dryer nuno felting technique followed by natural printing/dyeing that I used to create this wrap is the technique that I'll be teaching at all my Canadian workshops at the beginning of October. I've also added one last day to the Vancouver schedule, Thursday 10th (thanks a million Sara!) and promise more details of all my upcoming workshops over the weekend, I just need to catch breath today and tomorrow then it's back to business as usual on Saturday!

One note, I titled the piece 'Second Skin', after days of thought and chatting through my title choices with a friend. I was horrified to discover only last week that this is also the title of one of India Flint's beautiful books, apologies to India, there must have been some kind of unconscious thought process going on here. Anyway, here's the first photo of the wrap, silk side out…..

fibre side out……
and the submission details…..

TITLE: Second Skin

DESCRIPTION & INSPIRATION: Soft, fluid, sophisticated, envelope yourself in this shimmering naturally dyed reversible nuno felt wrap and dream your way to far away places. My inspiration for this iridescent piece came from the raw materials themselves, merino, bamboo, Firestar and silk to create the felt and eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and tea leaves to impart the bush like colours and subtle eucalyptus scent. I love the way ultra fine merino feels like suede when felted and I wanted to create a luxurious piece which smells wonderful and feels like a second skin when wrapped around the body.

MATERIALS: Felt – Super fine merino, bamboo fibre, Firestar, silk fabric

Mordant and dye bath – Vinegar, rust, eucalyptus leaves, onion skins, tea leaves, copper pipe

TECHNIQUE: Nuno felting and natural printing/dyeing utilising plant materials that give a substantive colour (don’t fade even when used without a chemical mordant)

YEAR MADE 2013 DIMENSIONS: 1940 mm X 440 mm

METHOD OF HANGING: Displayed on a mannequin or draped on a plinth

 

I'll leave you today with two pictures from my meal last night, I know that I don't usually post anything here that's not felt related but they made such petty picture on the plate that I think they could be used for inspiration!

Rabbit in a wonderful light pastry
Chocolate marquise, meringue and fabulous boozy cherry with cherry cream!
 
 

 

 

Reflections on our open evening at Duckett’s Grove and workshops next weekend

The sun finally shone yesterday evening so after a long day preparing and tidying up it was very pleasant for us artist makers to relax, have a chat to visitors and explain what we’re up to in the courtyard at Duckett’s Grove. Thanks to all my friends old and new who travelled to help us celebrate our new venture and thanks Marion Byrne for the wonderful gift of some Jacob’s fleece, much appreciated!!! The evening was actually quieter than I expected but the bonus was that as makers we were able to have a proper conversation with our visitors and not be dashing around like headless chickens all the time. I’d also set up a few laid out but unfelted flowers on one of my tables. This proved a good idea because no matter how many times I explain to people what wet felting entails it’s only when they can see and touch the raw materials beside the finished piece that the process becomes a little easier to understand and visualise.

Next Saturday I’ve a beginners and improvers full day workshop taking place between 10am and 4pm and on Sunday there are 2 places left in the afternoon for a fun felt flower workshop. Please email me if you are interest in attending and having some fun creative time!

Duckett’s Grove official opening a big success!

Dawn and I have had a busy time of it since Chrissie Day and Nigel headed home on Tuesday morning. We’ve taken loads of pictures, I finished a lot of stitching while Dawn caught up with emails and facebook, we delivered my felt to Duckett’s Grove yesterday afternoon, collected mum’s car (because with Danish friend Kirsten arriving we couldn’t all fit in my pick up truck!), got up early again this morning for the official opening of the new craft and gallery shop, felted in the studio for the first time, was interviewed for the paper, filmed and interviewed for today’s RTE News, collected Kirsten from the bus and then headed home to Clasheen in time for an early supper and to watch the slot on the 6 o’clock news!!!

Dawn in front of my vessels at the opening of Duckett's Grove

It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Edel Galvin from Carlow County Development Partnership had asked me if I would do a little felting demo in my new studio after the speeches and before I knew what was happening the footage was shot and I had my short moment of fame. The invited guests at the opening really seemed to appreciate the quality of the work displayed and it’s wonderful to finally have a local Co. Carlow venue to sell high-end craft from.

The fact that I have just secured a studio in the complex is really, really exciting. There may well be more workshops available in the future but currently there are 4 local artist makers who will be working from Duckett’s Grove and I feel privileged to say that I am one of them!!! I did think that I would be getting the keys today but there is still a bit of paperwork to complete so although I did get to felt inside the space for the first time today it will be another week or so before it is officially handed over to me! If you’d like to call in and say hello before I head to teach in the US I’ll be there all day on Sunday 6th May and hope to have a workshop schedule prepared for the rest of the summer, there will also be a big craft market in the grounds of Duckett’s Grove and all the studios should be open to the public!

Having fun felting for the first time in my new studio at Duckett's Grove!

Check out Dawn’s facebook page for loads of images of the buildings and the opening, she was snapping away and has some lovely shots.