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.

 

 

 

Workshop dates and upgrade at Clasheen (part 2)

As promised, I’m starting to add dates for upcoming workshops at Clasheen to my diary, it’s taking more time that I thought but at least I’ve finally started to get the ball rolling. To kick things off ‘Naturally Nuno‘ is happening on the weekend of 7th and 8th May, this intimate workshop experience will be restricted to just two participants! Day one of this workshop will concentrate on felting a beautifully soft nuno wrap using the tumble dryer method of felting and day two to the eco printing. No physical rubbing and rolling will be involved during the nuno felting so this is the perfect technique for those of you who find traditional nuno too strenuous on your bodies or possibly just too time consuming! The second workshop that I’ve blocked out in my diary is ‘Successful Eco Printing Basics‘. These May workshops are also the first time that I’ll be able to offer optional simple shared accommodation on site in the newly updated guest suite. 12990952_1085907604788984_9222543952602369241_n

This lodging option consists of one double bed and one single bed in a nice light filled bedroom, by all accounts both beds are very comfortable if the friends who’ve already stayed here are to be believed!

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Next door there’s an adjoining guest sitting room; tomorrow I finish painting the custom built shelving there so by the time of the workshop it should be filled with CDs, fiction and interesting reference books for visitors to browse through. Finally for guests there’s a connecting bathroom with a zacuzzi bath but no shower, those who know me well know my obsession with baths.

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Here’s one last picture taken in the guest bedroom, the sliding door that you can see here was one of the original doors from when I bought the house. I always wanted to reuse it during my upgrading endeavours as I’d removed the old door frames to open up the space during initial renovations. So when the built in wardrobe (closet) was created to store my completed felt and eco printed textiles Jonathan fitted it to a custom made track, I’m delighted!

From the personal work point of view I’ve been felting away where possible and printing when the time arises. As soon as the last bit of paint dries on the shelving and the books are brought up from downstairs I’ll be locking myself away in my studio and working on pieces for my exhibition in August! I’ll leave you today with this picture of a piece I felted last week incorporating a base of black merino and a collage of eco printed silk samples. I love how it looks totally at home against the background of the dry stone wall on the lane.

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Next post……… final images of the ongoing upgrades at Clasheen, new felt in progress and more dates for your diary.

 

 

 

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

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing retreat in Ireland plus brief update

Woo Hoo, the ten day residential felting and eco printing retreat that I’m hosting in July is finally open for bookings! Please check out all the details and various price options here and email me if you’d like to grab a place or If you have any questions. I can’t wait to share this beautiful part of Ireland with you, it’s going to be fantastic fun and July is such a perfect time of year to visit Ireland!!! Non workshop participating partners are welcome too, Kilgraney Country House is a gorgeous spot to relax and unwind in and there are a host of activities to enjoy all right on the doorstep.

I’ve already hosted the first two eco printing workshops of 2016 and preparations are in the final stages for Creative Island at Showcase. I’ll be on stand C10 for those of you attending, more about this in the next post. For now I’ll leave you with a small selection of images taken over the last few days.

Eucalyptus leaf prints on lambswool

Bundles of yardage heading to the pot

Looking out the front door at Clasheen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco printed nuno felt top

It's full steam ahead at Clasheen, felting and eco printing will be on the agenda from now until I head to the U.S. and I'm really trying to restrict answering emails and the bulk my internet time until after well after lunch each day if at all possible. I'm always freshest brain wise in the mornings, if I postpone starting a new project until too late in the day my head is so full of ideas I often find that I just can't actually get started, especially if it's felting.

rose and bramble printed nuno felt top

Yesterday morning I made a nuno felt top, it was actually the first time that I'd used Crepe de Chine 14 as the fabric (combined with merino, silk, bamboo and Firestar) and I like the finished texture very much. This is not a cheap fabric but I'd several ginormous silk scarves 138cm square and actually felt that they were so large it made them difficult to wear.

Large rose leaves give a very definite print

I printed it in the afternoon using rose and bramble leaves, now all it needs is a little stitching up the sides and it's finished.

 

 

Showcase debrief and Tuscon Arizona, workshop details!

Gosh, apologies for the delay in giving feedback from Showcase, it was a wonderful event but I’ve been in bed with a toxic flu ever since returning home to Clasheen. I’m still not over the worst so please forgive me if I don’t write a very long post today.

IMG_8851   George and I had a busy and successful week, the pared down simplicity of the stand worked very well and I’m delighted to have secured new orders in both Ireland and the UK with companies who I think it will be very easy to work with going forwards. Thanks a million to Patrick McHugh and Peter Martin, both worked really hard to have the website , printed materials and the video ready right at the start of the event, I know it was touch and go but it all came together brilliantly! Here’s a picture of the stand, as you can see it’s simple and natural looking, having information boards about the process on the walls and the video on a loop helped really drive the eco printing message across to the public.

Stand C13 at Showcase

Speaking of eco printing, I very excited that I’ll be making my first trip to teach this fascinating technique in Tuscon, Arizona this April!!! Thanks Karen and Dawn for inviting me, please email Karen Herhold (putting “Nicola Brown class” in subject line or it will be deleted) if you would like to book a place or need some more information. Now for all the details………..

Intensive two day natural printing workshop with Nicola Brown 17th and 18th April

During this intensive two day workshop participants will explore the fascinating and exciting art of printing on protein based fabric and paper using natural materials from the hedgerow, kitchen and garden!

Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials bundles will be created by tying the organic matter up tightly in various weights of felt, silk, wool and silk/wool blends. Nicola will bring a good selection of samples with her for participants to study and she’ll explain how she achieves different effects and strong leaf outlines depending on fabric pre-treatment, materials used, pot selection and various other determining factors. Different ways of folding, bundling and tying the fabric also help to create different designs in the finished pieces. Once wrapped, the bundles will be heated for hours to aid the release of colors from the organic matter, when onion skins or other items are included in the dye pot wonderful lines will be achieved where the string ties act as a resist. NB Where local hedgerow materials are not available we will substitute easily located vegetation from the florist.

Over the course of the two days we will have a selection of pots on the go so participants will have plenty of options and decisions to make. We will also be able to print on paper or card, naturally printed heavy duty manila luggage tags make particularly beautiful gift tags. Participants are encouraged to bring along plenty of silk and wool yardage, scarves, previously completed felt bags, vessels and wall hangings (not just wearables) as well as plain thrift store clothes in wool or silk. These may all be included in the dye pot, the more the merrier, space providing!

Attention will be paid to the after treatment and care of these naturally printed textiles and participants will learn how Nicola prepares her work for sale or gifting.

NB Nicola likes to restrict printing to cream or white items during a workshop as this avoids commercial dyes running and ruining someone else’s work. If participants are keen to try printing coloured items it’s possible we can put one of the pots aside for this on day two, this will depend on the requirements and best interest of the group as a whole.

OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop 19th April

NEW for 2015 – Advanced one day workshop, natural printing on cellulose fabrics

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a much more time consuming process than printing on felt, silk and wool, results can be varied and are often disappointing. During this one day class participants who have previously completed a natural printing workshop with Nicola will be able to learn the different ways that cellulose fabric may be encouraged to hold a print. Nicola’s been having great success with linen and cotton this year achieving many really clear and beautiful leaf imprints. Some of the pre-treatments are very time consuming and possibly may not be to everyone’s taste or even smell, others are quicker and seem to result in good prints and colourfast results. This advanced class will share the tips and tricks that Nicola is finding helpful in her own artistic practice to achieve good prints on linen and cotton.

Brief studio update and rose eco prints on silk and felt

You might be forgiven for thinking that I'm not working on anything in the studio currently, nothing could be further from the truth though. I've a felt sculpture underway, I just won't be publishing pictures of it as I'm felting some sample pieces for Showcase and want to get things worked out in my head before actually sharing any of the photos. There're a lot of website, video and branding details getting sorted out too at the moment and I've made final decisions about the carpet and wall colours for my stand at Creative Island. Peter Martin and his assistant Eamon were here to shoot the video for the new website earlier this week and Patrick McHugh visited the same day also. We're planning a fashion shoot for early in 2015 and he's also designing the website in advance of Showcase, busy times!

I've a few favourite plants at Clasheen that I love to print with, a small climbing rose, blackberries from the lane, oak from the plantation and eucalyptus from the young grove at the back to the house. Here're a few rose related pictures………..

Rose leaves soaking in rusty water

 

Rose leaves eco printed on silk satin

 

Rose leaves eco printed on felt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.