Residential Irish retreat in pictures!

Almost a month has passed since I said goodbye to the participants of the first annual Irish felting and eco printing retreat, what a whirlwind those weeks have been. I didn’t want to rush writing about our wonderful time together but now that my house is quiet again (bon voyage to my latest guests Joanie and Jeff!) I’d like to share with you some moments from the ten days we spent at beautiful Kilgraney House and its environs. We have a saying in Ireland that a picture speaks a thousand words. For those of you who couldn’t join me this year I hope that you enjoy these images from the retreat. For those of you wonderful people who travelled from Alaska, Canada, New York, Spain the Netherlands and Denmark to felt, print and visit some of my favourite local spots I hope these memories are as special for you as they are indeed for me! Here goes……..

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Soft organic merino and a selection of embellishing fibres at the start of our time together. These were used to create the felt which we then printed with local vegetation gathered primarily from the extensive garden at Kilgraney.

 

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Looking across some of the medicinal herb beds towards the gallery which we took over as our workshop space for the duration.

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Another view across the courtyard, the building to the right contains some of the beautiful accommodation.

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Dolors and Shirley working on the edges of their nuno felt scarves near the end of day one.

IMG_2035Bryan and Martin treated us like superstars! From the moment everyone arrived, the surroundings, ambiance, comfortable accommodation and superb fresh food put a smile on everyone’s face. All dietary requirements were catered for and delicious salads accompanied the main dishes at lunchtime, many of these ingredients were actually grown at Kilgraney.

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In addition to delicious herbs and salad ingredients Kilgraney provided a huge variety of leaves for us to gather and print with. Here is a group shot from near the beginning of our printing adventures. From left to right – Debbie, Dolors, Willeke, Jette, Naomi and Shirley

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Debbie with one of her bundles fresh from the pot. Each participant had their own skillet or pot to create rust water for soaking their leaves, this helped to modify the colours achieved.

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Unrolling bundles is an exciting time for everyone! Here’s Naomi about to unroll.

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Plenty of smiles from Jette and Willeke, not surprising since Willeke had just unrolled this large beautifully printed piece!

It wasn’t all felting and printing though. One day we visited Ennischorthy (my hometown and where Brooklyn is set and filmed), the Raven Nature Reserve at Curracloe (where parts of Brooklyn was filmed and my favourite beach) and called in for a cup of tea and to gather leaves at Clasheen on our way back to Kilgraney. Our second excursion was to visit the fabulous Cushendale Woollen Mill, spend a little time in Kilkenny city then enjoy a lovely afternoon tea and visit Suzanna Crampton and her wonderful Zwartbles sheep! Thanks Philip (from Cushendale), Suzanna and Bianka (from Carlow Tours) for looking after us all so well and so cheerfully!

After our second excursion it was back to the printing pot. Some participants had brought items of clothing to print while others continued to print on felt and silk.IMG_7474

Jette with her funky trousers!

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Beautiful silk organza from Naomi

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Cottons leaves on nuno felt here for Dolors

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Kilgraney eucalyptus leaves on linen for Shirley.

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We also all made some prints on paper………….

On the second last night of the retreat we ate a delicious evening meal together, Bryan definitely outdid himself with the food. We swooned over a delightful succession of amazing courses including this goat’s cheese mouse in an olive tuile accompanied by beetroot prepared two ways (one hay smoked by Bryan), nasturtium leaves and borage flowers! Each course was an absolute delight.

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On the final evening Martin, Bryan and I invited local friends and artists to join us for a glass of bubbly and view an exhibition of work created during the retreat. The workshop space was turned back into a gallery and this was a lovely opportunity to show off a selection of the amazing felt and printing that the participants had made. It also was when they received their certificates of completion. I was so proud of all that they achieved, the following pictures give just a glimpse of their achievements!!!

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Debbie with her stunning felt shoulder bag, silk scarf and cotton top. Great job!

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This felt wall hanging made by Jette was absolutely gorgeous, wonderful quality and fabulous prints!

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Naomi felted this fabulous organic shaped vessel and beautiful nuno felt scarf!

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I love this picture of Shirley with her amazing printed tunic and fab shoulder bag, although you can’t see it here she’s also wearing another fantastic printed top!

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This stunning large piece was one of my favourites of Willeke’s, another great job well done!

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Dolors with her fantastic vessel and one of her beautiful nuno felt scarves. I really love the way the colour of the scarf graduates with the different vegetation used to print it!

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Shirley, Alan and Debbie looking glam for the camera!

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An unusually open weave wrap printed beautifully by Naomi!

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Martin and Bryan set up an excellent hanging system for us.

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A funky little purse by Dolors followed by a final group photo.

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Thanks a thousand time to all the participants, Bryan and Martin, Bianka, Philip, Suzanna, George, Dorothy, Anita (for lending me your table!) and everyone else who helped in any way at all to make this event run so smoothly. Go raimh math agat!

Felting, eco printing and upgrade at Clasheen (the final one!)

Rather later than planned, here’s the final post about the current upgrades at Clasheen and a little pictorial review of the last few weeks. As mentioned previously, I’ve been working on creating a library area in the room which links the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom making it a comfortable suite for friends to stay and workshop participants to relax and refresh. It’s also a lovely bright area for me to read in when I have a minute, at last I have more than enough shelving (combined with the shelves already downstairs) to store my reference books and thrillers. Here’s a picture of one small area as I started to add the books, the little cupboard Jonathan created is specifically sized to store my printer and paper.

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On the work and friend side of things April has ben a very, very busy month, what’s new!

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I’ve been felting and printing a lot as I work towards creating pieces for my solo show in August and the FORM photo shoot which took place yesterday. Here’s an example of eco printed silk combined with fine black merino, it won’t be one of the pieces I display but it is good to be back in the studio getting my hands soapy! I’d also like to say a big thank you to the new FORM designmade in Carlow lineup for electing me as their new chairperson.

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Wonderful textile artist and great new friend Kim Thittichai  visited Clasheen for a fun few days. Aren’t these beautiful flowers that she brought me so cheerful? I love them.

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I absolutely loved being a helper at the first Lyda Rump workshop organised by Maureen Cromer in Dublin on behalf of Feltmakers Ireland, such fun during the day and a delicious meal and company in the evening!!! Lyda is a wonderful felt maker and textile artist, we’ve spent time together now in Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Denmark again and now Ireland again, it was great to catch up, thanks Maureen and Terry for your hospitality too!

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After spending time with Kim and Lyda I finally managed to get some intensive sampling done in advance of my ten day residential felt and eco printing retreat this summer. One of the things we’ll be covering is the possibility of mordanting fabric using natural materials, as opposed to using more traditional metallic based powders. Here are two samples using the same printing materials but different pre treatments prior to bundling and printing. The piece on the left was mordanted with Symplocos and the one on the right with pomegranate, both bundles were boiled in the same pot at the same time, used the same big leaves, are exactly the same lambswool fabric and the results couldn’t be more different! Join me from 15th to 25th July to learn more!

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Thank you Klara and Irish Country Magazine for selecting one of my blackberry and rose printed silk cushions for your feature ‘Outside In’ this month, I’m delighted!

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Thanks also to Dorota for your impeccable sewing as usual, I love the sample apron you made me and I’m looking forward to printing it and seeing how it comes out. I’m also very happy with the latest batch of cushions, this one is blackberry on Symplocos mordanted lambswool.

Finally for today, here’s a lovely picture of great buddy Dawn Edwards who’s just arrived from Michigan on her third visit to Clasheen, it’s great to have her back!!!

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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.

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing, announcing residential retreats in Ireland and Portugal

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of email queries and facebook messages asking about 2015 and 2016 felting and/or eco printing workshops. I had hoped to get dates and workshop descriptions sorted, written then uploaded to the website prior to heading off on my Canadian and Australian adventures, no such luck though as here I am writing from Lethbridge having already spent a wonderful few days in Fernie! Anyway, my big news is that I’ve decided to stick closer to home during the early part of 2016, I really need to get to grips with my garden before it gets totally out of hand and I’d also like to get a few more jobs sorted around the house and studio. I’m planning another extended trip to the U.S. in 2017 but for next year I intend to concentrate primarily on Irish workshops, our annual retreat at beautiful Vale do Mondego in Portugal plus investigate the possibility of another foray or two into mainland Europe if possible. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be organising a really special residential eco printing retreat just down the road from Clasheen during July 2016!

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I’m fine tuning details at the moment but suffice to say extremely comfortable accommodation at a beautiful rural Irish location, optional collection from the airport, delicious food, all tuition, on site access to amazing natural plant material, at least one group excursion including a trip to Cushendale Woollen Mill (more excursions depending on participant’s requirements) plus a celebration evening meal at Clasheen one night. These are the bare bones of the retreat, as soon as I can I’ll be confirming the dates and the cost but it’s definitely going to take place sometime during July, please let me know if you thInk you might be interested in attending! In addition to a group retreat I’ll also be available to accommodate individual or small group residential workshops at Clasheen from approx March onwards, the course material for these will be geared towards felting larger projects and/or intensive eco printing on protein and/or cellulose fabrics. I’m also happy to offer visits withIn the surrounding region to participants if they’d like a day or two off from the studio and non participating partners can avail of super hiking locally, the nearby coast, wood turning workshops, guided eco trails, kayaking, golf outings, visits to medieval Kilkenny etc., etc., all right on the doorstep of Clasheen!

 

Now for some early information about our next retreat at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal!!!

Delicious food and wine at Dominio Vale do Mondego!

For 2016 we’re running it a little later than usual, it’ll be taking place from18th to 25th June and it’s also our first workshop exclusively devoted to eco printing. Eelco’s knowledge of the local vegetation coupled with an ever increasing quest for more eco printing has led to this decision, I’m really excited about the move because I really want to explore the use of local plants more thoroughly!

Olga and Marta happy with their fabulous eco printed leggings

If any participants do want to felt though of course they’ll be free to do so in their own time and print what they make during the group classes every day! Please contact Karin directly if you’d like to reserve a place for this retreat, non participating workshop partners are welcome to join for a slightly reduced fee so don’t feel like yu have to leave anyone behind.

So, it’s been a manic couple of months. FORM had a fantastic ten days at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and I also participated in two separate events for Heritage Week, the Carlow Made collective exhibition in Carlow Library and a local craft fair at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford. I don’t usually do craft fairs anymore where the participants are not juried in, the arboretum is such a fantastic resource however and I was really delighted that I made the effort to attend as many people were really interested in seeing what I was doing.

Next post Fernie and Lethbridge workshop pictures!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing in Portugal, week 3 in pictures!

Bye, bye Portugal, tomorrow morning I fly home to enjoy the rest of the summer at Clasheen. If the weather’s been anything similar to last year while I’ve been away I’m guessing I’ll be weeding most evenings for the foreseeable future, a big change from dry and arid Faia!

Clasheen, June 2014

The second 2015 residential felting and eco printing workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego was a delight, wonderful students, superb hosts as always and amazing fun, food, friends and weather for the whole of the week. Below are a selection of images from the wrap up exhibition for you to enjoy.
I’ve also posted a short video clip online of friend Carla playing traditional accordion music at the opening, thank you so much Carla! Tchau to all in Faia and obrigada until 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.