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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Creating my own eco prints to use for nuno felt

I had intended to blog today and share pictures of todays nuno felt scarves but the internet connection has been poor, the weather deteriorated and I didn’t get them photographed so instead I’ll share a couple of pics of my latest eco bundling experiment.

Starting to unroll the silk encased eucalyptus

Thanks to Emma Jane Champley I had a small collection of dried eucalyptus windfalls, I also had some onion skins, tea leaves and cotinus leaves which I had discovered starting to turn colour out in my garden this morning. Yesterday I’d left some silk fabric steeping in a vinegar and water solution so proceeded to create four bundles using  a variety of my raw materials. I steamed these for 30 minutes and then a further 20 minutes in the microwave (it’s 700 watts for anyone who is interested!). Probably I should have let them all sit nicely wrapped up until tomorrow morning but I couldn’t wait so opened two of the pieces late this afternoon. The eucalyptus leaves left a really beautiful print, I just LOVE the effect and now need to get my hand on tonnes of these leaves. If you’re coming to our open evening at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday night for a browse, chat and glass of wine please bring some with you if you have any spare!!! I also liked the soft but subtler effect of the onion skin, cotinus, tea package that I opened up, tomorrow will tell another tale as I’ll open the second batch and see if the prints are stronger.

My intention is to do some more experimentation with this method and incorporate some of these current samples into a larger nuno felt project. To date I’ve also being doing some over printing/dyeing with some of the samples, I also need to try more printing on my hand rolled prefelt and I’d also like to design a larger piece as a stand alone silk hanging! Anyway, if you’d like to see a few more pictures of this latest effort just head on over to Nicola Brown – Clasheen on Facebook.

Marie’s wonderful bag is finished and our relaxing creative retreat is underway!

Briefly…..

Marie’s wonderful felt bag with integrated handle and flap is finished, here’s a photo prior to beading! I love the shape of it and the fact that she made the handle extra long so that it would sit comfortably across her body as opposed to hanging with all the weight (pretty light anyway) resting on one shoulder.

Marie’s beautiful bag

We’re now about to start the second full day of our felting retreat at Clasheen. These last couple of days have been filled with fun, friends, felt and food not to mention a glass or two of wine to accompany Keith’s wonderful cooking in the evenings!!! We may not have truly Portugese style weather here in misty Ireland however the sun finally decided to show a brief appearance yesterday and I believe the forecast is great for today. To date we’ve mordanted a variety of silk and cotton with either vinegar or washing soda and created eco bundles some of which we opened yesterday. Today we’ll be opening more to check how an extra day immersed in the now rusty coloured liquid that they were simmered in will have affected the results.

Dock leaf and tea leaves bundled around a rusty pin

Aside from the eco bundling everyone has been working on a variety of individual projects, I’m trying to post a few pics each night to facebook so do head over to Nicola Brown – Clasheen and my personal page to check them out. Today I hope to finish laying out and felt a nuno shift/jumper that uses some of the cotton gauze I dyed under the watchful eye of Jan Durham in KY earlier this year. It took forever yesterday to calculate the template and get my fabric cut to shape (thanks Dagmar for all your tuition in the template department at Big Cat Studios!) but now I’m underway I don’t think that the actual felting will take too long. I’m going to sign off now as I have a big more computer work to get out of the way then back downstairs before everyone else arrives to start another day of action!

Felting in Portugal, part four

Well the ‘tomorrow’ of  Wednesday’s post has been and gone so appologies if it’s taken me a couple of days longer than anticipated to write about our nuno felting and eco bundling experiences in Portugal! My Danish friend Annette arrived in Ireland at 12.45am on Wednesday morning and as well as enjoying her company, attending the market in Borris on Friday and sorting the hundreds of other daily things that go on here at Clasheen I’m trying to get my supplies together (not sucessfully yet unfortunately) and prepare for Dagmar Binder’s masterclass in Scotland which starts on Tuesday.  Annette and her husband will be staying here while I’m away and taking care of Rex then we’ll have another couple of days together when I return, I’m planning a visit to Cushendale Woollen Mill and we’ll be felting together too so that should be fun! Now as promised, back to our time in Portugal…..

Sandy and Stella both working on laying out large nuno felt wraps

The latter part of the week was taken up with nuno felting, flat felting with a view to eco bundling and basically a little (or a lot!) of whatever took each participants fancy based on the techniques that had been already been shared. Not everyone had previous nuno felting experience and strangely enough it proved impossible to get either cheesecloth or muslin in Portugal for everyone to share, why is this I wonder??? Between us all however we had quite a variety of suitable fabrics including the most amazing stretchy cotton gauze from The Netherlands that apparantly is something you use when making a mattress for yourself!!! Depending on the supplies that everyone had brought some participants worked with undyed Bordeleira while others worked with hand dyed silks and coloured merino. For everyone who had not nuno felted before I recommended felting their first pieces by hand to learn the different stages of the process, for those with plenty of nuno experience I shared the way I’m currently using the tumble dryer to slash the time for larger projects. Over the course of the rest of our week a selection of amazing large wraps were felted (pictures of finished work from the week will be in my next and final post about Portugal!) and some smaller nuno felt and flat felt pieces in white were made in preparation for some natural dyeing experiments.

Participants disappearing into the distance to forage for leaves, flowers and old pieces of rusty iron!

From the beginning it had always been obvious how Karin and Eelco would like everyone to use natural materials or found objects from the domain as inspiration for or inclusion in the felt that we would be making during the week. This came together very naturally with a desire to try out simple eco bundling, the olive and sweet chestnut leaves just cried out for inclusion as did various rusty bits of old metal which we picked up while out foraging for goodies! Terriea was marvellous in sharing her experience dyeing with leaves and rust, thanks Terriea for your wonderful manner and fun way of sharing a new experience!!! Our objective was to imprint leaf shapes and colours onto felt as well as trying out some experiments with the heavier cotton fabric Karin had bought originally thinking it would be OK for nuno felting with. Terriea explained that protein fibres such as silk and wool absorb natural colour from the leaves best but since we also had the cotton we decided to give it a go too, we soaked our felt and the cotton pieces overnight in a vinegar solution prior to bundling. This was all a fun and relaxing experiment so please don’t ask me for any exact measurements as shock horror, we didn’t take any!

Terriea and Annemarie with a large pot of bundles ready for the stove

On Thursday morning Sandy choose to continue working on the final shaping of her large felt vessel but everyone else wrapped a selection of different nuno felt, flat felt and cotton pieces with a selection of the leaves and rusty pieces of old metal we’d scavanged. Heather also decided to eco print a felt bag; the original intention had been to felt this together with some silk velvet but as the velvet experiment hadn’t worked out as planned this proved to be an inspired choice to print with! Carla made great use of some left over cherry soup from the previous lunch with one of her pieces of felt and I added some tea leaves to a couple of my cotton bundles. Once all the pieces were tied up with their various inclusions we placed them in two different saucepans, one for pieces including rusty objects and the other for pieces only containing vegetable matter. The bundles were covered with water and put on a cooker to bring to the boil, once boining point was reached the heat was turned down and the pots were simmered for aprox 45 minutes to an hour. They were then left to cool down naturally and the bundles stayed in the water overnight until we unwrapped them on Friday morning. This was fun, seeing how our expectations were either met, exceeded or in some cases failed, all part of the learning process and information to be stored and used in future projects! Sweet chestnut leaves (plus the long flowers), olive leaves and rose leaves proved to impart the strongest and clearest shapes on felt, Carla’s scarf using the cherry soup worked brilliantly as did Annemarie’s pieces using a mizture of flowers, grasses and fruit slices while Heather had a very successful experiment wrapping one of her large nuno felt wraps without inclusions and simmering it in the pot with the rest of the iron filled pieces!!!

I’ve got to sign out now because my bags are calling and I need to get those raw materials assembled for Dagmar’s class as well as some final clothes dried and the house tidied a little. My final post about Portugal will be memories of our last group day together at Dominio Vale do Mondego and pictures of the participants with some of the amazing felt completed during the course of this fantastic week. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get this written before I fly to Scotland at 6.05am tomorrow morning but I will try and keep you all up to date with progress at the masterclass during the week and finish Portugal as soon as I can. For now one last picture and ‘adeus’ until next time!

Having fun – Heather and Sandy watching Nienke unwrapping one of her bundles