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.

 

 

 

 

Australia, Hong Kong and back to Ireland, part 2!

At the end of three and a half magical weeks in Australia Suzanne and I spent one last memorable day in the Blue Mountains. We golfed, ate, cleaned our very comfortable ‘off the grid’ Airbnb accommodation and popped in briefly to say goodbye to Pam and John. The following morning we headed for Sydney Airport and headed onwards for the last leg of our trip.

What can I say about Hong Kong and the warmth of Terriea’s welcome? From the lovely and thoughtful gift of traditional sweets and maps waiting at our hotel to spending our days with Terriea friends and family, each day was filled with special sights, food, fun and laughter!!! We had a wonderful time. This first collage shares pictures from our first full day together, everywhere I looked there were spectacular views and inspiration for new work. We started the day with a walk at The Peak to view the iconic Hong Kong skyline, travelled down on the Victoria Tram then met up with Florence and Pauline to catch the ferry to scenic Lamma Island (Pok Liu Chau). This island is where Terriea spent some time as a child, it’s a very special place and I can quite see why she loves it!!! Before heading for a trek around the island we started out with a delicious feast at one of the fish restaurants overlooking the floating village. The food was so fresh and delicious, needless to say I was in culinary heaven!!!!! In the evening Terriea, Florence and I headed to visit the flower market in Kowloon and sample street food in the Ladies Market, the sweet bean filled dumplings were to die for!!!!!!! Here are a few images that capture our time together at The Peak and Lamma.

On the second day, Suzanne and I met up with Terriea and Todd again and Terriea’s son very kindly brought us for a drive up the mountains looking down on Kowloon. We then met up with her brother Cheung On and headed off to explore the New Territories. It was absolutely fascinating, beautiful scenery, great company and food (yet again!) plus the opportunity to take pictures right up at the Chinese border. One little surreal episode was meeting a saxophonist practicing his music right on the edge of the shore in the middle of nowhere, magical!!! I also particularly loved all the red kites caught up in trees and was delighted that the traditional Irish flat cap we brought Cheung On from Cushendale Woollen Mill fitted perfectly! In the late afternoon we headed with Terriea to the fabric district in Kowloon then finished the day having a delicious meal with Loretta back near our hotel in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong island. Thanks Loretta and Terriea for organising our hotel, wonderful comfort and luxury right in the middle of the action! Here’s a collage from day two.

On our final day Terriea and I headed to Stanley while Suzanne initially explored more of Causeway Bay. We checked out the beautiful beach, bustling market and old fishermen’s houses, I gathered some shells and wave washed ceramic pieces on the sand then was lucky enough to visit Terriea’s studio and see her wonderful working space filled with art and textiles. Although I’d already seen pictures of a little up-cycled chair covered with eco printed fabric online, in reality it was just so much more beautiful. Such a cool idea and absolutely perfect!!! If you’re not already following Terriea’s textile adventures online here’s a link to her Facebook page. Thank you for sharing your private space with me Terriea, I really appreciated it and now I can close my eyes and see you there!

The last afternoon holds one of my most precious memories, eating dim sum in a restaurant with hundreds of locals, if it hadn’t been for Terriea I’d never have managed to navigate the Chinese menu and coped with the system of ordering! The food was superb. In case you haven’t already guessed I was absolutely in my element with the freshness of ingredients, the contrast of texture and taste, the whole experience of eating local food in local settings!!! Hong Kong more than exceeded my expectations. The contrast of old versus new, east versus west and towering high rises versus prestige unspoilt landscape, catching up with old friends and making new ones. I’m totally captivated with the beauty and culture, I will return!

The final part of this post is my arrival home to Clasheen, to say the weather was a shock is definitely a bit of an understatement. Having spent approx 4 weeks in temperatures ranging from the low 20s to the early 40s snow at the airport and damp, freezing conditions made our first day back rather cold to say the least! The light over the Backstairs was absolutely gorgeous as I drove through Scullogue Gap and approached Clasheen, here’s one of the pics I stopped to snap.IMG_9718

Thank you so much to kind neighbours Joanne, Brian and James for thinking of lighting my boiler and leaving delicious fish, bread and milk in my larder. Thoughtful friends and a wonderful welcome home!!!

Next time I’ll post about felting and eco printing, Ireland and Portugal, workshop dates and some surprise pictures! Until then….. adieu.

 

 

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

 
 

 

 

Canadian and Australian adventure in pictures

Many apologies, I'm so late posting pictures from my recent Canadian and Australian workshops that I almost don't know where to begin, I had a fantastic time! Three wonderful eco print or felt classes in Canada then a week long residential felting workshop at Geelong Fibre Forum followed by ten days holiday with my sister. Each and every aspect of the trip was a delight and pleasure, internet connectivity was very sketchy though during these adventures hence the lack of blog posts. I met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends along the way, thanks 1000 times to each and every one of you and a massive shout out to all my wonderful hosts, workshop organisers and students!!!

Here's a tiny flavour of the trip in pictures, now I just need to beat the jet lag and resume felting and printing before the week is out. Fernie, Lethbridge, Calgary and Geelong……… I love you and will be back!

 

 

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.