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.

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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.

 

 

Brief update then US felt and eco print workshop details at last!

Phew, it’s been a very paperwork heavy week or so, yesterday I finally had to admit defeat and give up on the big submission I was trying to get together because there are currently just too many exciting things happening at once at Clasheen. I don’t want to drop the ball on the website side of things or postpone preparing for upcoming workshops, I also need to make some work for an imminent fashion photo shoot and finally, my new wood burning central heating system is being installed this week.

Over the next week or so Patrick will be finalising the change over of this blog to the website and the online shop will be going live there too. There will be quite a bit of formatting and editing for me to do re the blog I think, I don’t however want to lose all that I’ve written here since I started in 2008! Please bear with us while the transfer is ongoing.

So, without further ado, here are the details for my April and May workshops in North America, they will also be published on the website some day this week. Apologies if this post is a little word heavy, it’s difficult though not to be wordy when trying to write up workshop descriptions accurately. To say I’m excited is an understatement, I’m so looking forward to this visit!!!

North American workshops with Nicola during April and May 2015

Tuscon AZ – Intensive two day natural printing workshop on 17th and 18th April  email Karen to book your place making sure to put Nicola Brown workshop in the subject box

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.

NEW for 2015, OPTIONAL ADD ON WORKSHOP on 19th April – only for participants who have already participated in the regular natural printing workshop

– 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.

Austin TX Sponsored by Austin Fiber Arts Association on 24th and 25th April – email Barbara for more information

During the nuno wrap workshop on Saturday 24th Nicola will share with participants the tumble dryer method of wet felting, a stress free way of coercing wool and embellishing fibers into silk to create a rich and colorful piece of wearable art. Because there is almost no rolling or rubbing involved participants are free to enjoy the creative process, it is also ideal for those find regular felting methods too tiring!

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

Felt vessel printed with eucalyptus leaves

In the vessel workshop on Sunday 25th, Nicola will share with participants the skills needed to design and felt a simple vessel or coin purse using the resist method of three dimensional felting. Old pieces of silk and lace as well as treasured bits and bobs are often suitable to be incorporated into the felt. Should they wish to,, participants are encouraged to bring along a selection of their favorite stash items and Nicola will help them design one off pieces using these as a starting point.

Lexington KY – Kentucky Sheep & Fiber Festival – wet felted vessel or coin purse on 16th May and a half day fun felt flower workshop on the morning of 17th May, all materials generously sponsored by Moonwood Farm, bookings open online shortly

16th – During this one day workshop beginners and more experienced felters will have fun learning and experimenting with the fascinating technique of three dimensional wet felting around a resist. The emphasis during the day will be to have fun in a creative and supportive environment, participants may expect to leave with the knowledge and confidence to replicate the techniques learnt successfully at home.

Beginners may expect to lay out and finish a vessel or coin purse during this workshop (with plenty of surface decoration!) while more experienced felters and improvers can discover how to add inclusions such as stones, glass nuggets or other found objects into their felt. Everyone will have the opportunity to experiment with surface design, a gorgeous selection of raw alpaca locks, silk, bamboo, Firestar and other embellishing fibers are included in the cost of this workshop!

17th – Wet felted flowers make wonderful jewellery, scarf closures, hair accessories and colourful accents to brighten any outfit; alternatively they are perfect for adding a decorative element to interior and exterior design schemes!

During this three hour workshop Nicola will share with participants how to create stylish flowers using merino and alpaca plus a selection of embellishing fibres including silk, bamboo and Firestar. Intermediate and more experienced felters will learn the techniques necessary to add multiple stamens, felt ring backs or several layers of petals all at once; each flower will be created totally from wet felting, no need to sew a stitch!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Gorgeous and colourful felt flowers felted during a previous workshop at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival!

Lexington KY – Felting and eco printing in the round, simple vessels, purses or iPad covers on 22nd and 23rd May, email Jan to book your place

Day one – using either the open or closed resist method of wet felting participants will learn how to design templates to create different shaped pieces then scale these up in order to cut out their own plastic resists. Nicola will demonstrate how to lay the wool tightly around the resist and by the end of the day everyone will have a beautifully finished simple vessel or purse ready to print on day two, no obvious ridges or seams in sight! Working in white, participants will learn which embellishing fibres work best in the eco printing process, Nicola will bring a selection of these with her for people to share and include in their work.

NB If anyone would prefer to felt a nuno scarf this will also be possible providing Nicola and Jan know in advance!

Day two – Using simple, easy to find natural plant materials our three dimensional felt from day one will be transformed into beautiful and colourful art using the exciting eco printing technique! We will also work with silk scarves and yardage, participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed wool or silk yardage to get the most from this full day of printing.

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.

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Felt bag eco printed with a selection of eucalyptus leaves, still damp from the pot

Plainwell MI – Intensive one day eco printing workshop on felt, silk and wool on 30th May – FULL

Using simple, natural plant materials learn how to transform felt, silk and wool yardage or clothing into beautiful wearable art using the eco printing technique.

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.

Participants are encouraged to being along a selection of previously felted work, upcycled clothing and undyed yardage or scarf blanks to get the most from this full day of printing.

Felting and eco printing retreat at Clasheen in pics!

There was a lot of preparation beforehand but I really had great fun spending time with Ruth and Elena during the first 2015 tailor made felting and eco printing retreat at Clasheen. They both concentrated really hard to learn new techniques and at the end of three and a half days had created an amazing body of samples and finished piece to take home with them. This is a image rich post, as the old saying goes a picture speaks louder than words!

In addition to felting and printing we also had time for brief visits to Borris Food & Craft Market, Ullard Church and High Cross, Cushendale Woollen Mill and enjoyed a delicious obligatory evening meal (thanks Ruth!!!) in the Step House Hotel!

Detail from Ruth's stunning nuno felt wrap

Gorgeous shine from viscose, Elena brought this felt top with her to print

Detail from a large wall hanging Ruth printed

Oak on wool, another print from Ruth's wall hanging

My mind is still buzzing with all they achieved, I'm thrilled that the experiments I've been doing privately at home paid off and their eco printed linen and cotton results were consistent and spectacular.

Elena looking fab in a stunning cotton top

The purple hues of the rose leaves look wonderful against the denim

Printing on cellulose fabrics is a new skill that I'm offering for 2015 to students who attend printing workshops or retreats with me that last for a minimum of three days duration. It's is a lot more difficult and labour intensive than working with protein fabrics (felt, wool and silk) but very rewarding when the results are as good as Ruth and Elena achieved!

I almost hid this linen top so Ruth wouldn't be able to take it home with her and I'd get to keep it, I'd have happily washed it out and ironed it!

Another lovely top of Ruth's, still to be washed and ironed

Wool scarf and linen underskirt of Elena's, eco printed clothing looks fab layered with plain colours

Thanks ladies for being such great students, it was really difficult to select which images to add to this post so I'll sort through them all and upload the best to Facebook during the week!
 
 
 
 

 

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Busy times at Clasheen

Apologies for the lack of posting here and to Facebook recently, since arriving home from Showcase I've had a lot of paperwork and eco printing to do, bringing home the dreaded flu bug definitely didn't help. Tomorrow I've a product photo shoot so I'm sure many of you can imagine the tidying and prepping I needed to get through today, tidiness is not one of my strengths!!! Anyway, here're a couple of pictures of a little silk twin set that I included in the printing pot the other day, I've happy memories of finding it on a thrifting expedition in Sacramento with Sharon from The Tin Thimble last spring!

Silk twinset eco printed with onion skins

I included some dried rose hips in the bundle there's absolutely no sign of them in the printed cardigan, the stronger pinkish blush comes from overlapping brown onion skins predominately although there were a few red skins in the mix too.

Close up of the lace, it took. The colour differently because it is not made from pure silk

This week I hope to have my wood gasifier delivered. I can't wait to have a brand new central heating system installed that will actually run the underfloor heating, the cost of oil is soooooo huge here in Ireland that it's totally impossible for me to run the old boiler efficiently and heat the house. Next week I've two guests staying for a tailor made intensive felting and eco printing workshop, let's hope that the heating is working before they arrive and we can have a fun time felting and printing in comfort!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little felt shopping bag, a successful over dyeing/natural printing project

I'm getting tonnes of use and plenty of compliments for this little shopping bag that I felted and printed in Portugal. If my arms were currently a bit stronger (tennis elbow in both unfortunately!) I would have stretched the top edge more during the fulling stage and again after it came out of the dye pot but all in all I'm pleased with the shape and size. Initially I didn't like the results when I printed it, the vegetation that I used was eucalyptus and St. John's Wort but the biggest problem was that some of the black silk ran with the heat. Here's a picture of the front of the bag after the first printing session, see the pale grey lines………
…………… and below is a picture of the same side overprinted during week two in a stronger dye bath containing plenty of rusty metal. This time I was very happy with the result!