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!

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief felt, eco print, website and Showcase Ireland update

I’ve not had much time to blog recently, please bear with me and don’t think that I’m not working quietly away at Clasheen! Here are the most recent updates in brief………..

Felting – finally, after a lot of hard work and frustrated sampling the large felt sculpture I’m currently working on is starting to take shape. It’ll be felted from merino and bamboo fibre, the bamboo adds wonderful sheen and texture to the surface of the felt.

Banana fibre gives an interesting sheen and texture to felt

Eco printing – I’ve had a lot of pots on the boil over the holiday season and since the new year. The contents have been mixed, a couple of small felt sculptural pieces, plenty of lovely super fine merino scarves and several batches of paper which I’m printing to incorporate into Showcase invitations.

Onion skins and black tea eco printed on paper

Patrick is working hard on the new website, I worked hard to write and collate a lot of the new information. The website should be live sometime next week, obviously I’ll post here as soon as it is but the blog will link to the new domain name anyway.
 
Showcase Ireland – A lot of my work is ready for Showcase but there’s also a lot more to do! I hadn’t fully appreciated how a lot of European companies closed down from before Christmas right through until after the new year. As a result I won’t have any of my new promotional material (with the new website details and new email address) for another few days, cushion liners are somewhere with the courier, silk is on its way, many things are in transit. I’m really excited that Philip Cushen of Cushendale Woollen Mill is weaving a run of lambswool for me this week too, I’ll print it at the weekend and Dorothy will stitch it into cushions at the beginning of next week.

One of the five varieties of eucalyptus planted at Clasheen

To round things off today I’ll leave you with a picture of eucalyptus leaves against a blue winter sky. This eucalyptus is one of five different varieties I have planted in a grove to the back of the house and I’m interested in the way the leaves have started to change colour, you can clearly see ribs and veins. The three trees of this variety have slso started to get tall so I’m thinking now I’ll have to curtail their growth sooner rather than later, if I don’t I’ll never be able to reach the leaves when I need them for printing!
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

So much felting news to share, so little time …..

I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha)  to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!!  Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow.  Here goes ……..

      • THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant!  Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards.  If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
      • Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
      • Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog.  Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience.  In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!!  There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.

        Horst's latest line of felt purses!

Earth Day pics and Deirdre’s beautiful first felt bag

Carmen and I had a wonderful afternoon on Friday for Earth Day!  I had been intending on teaching a simple way of making and assembling a mobile out of felt and recycled items, instead I ended up making a mobile purely from laminated bubble wrap and seed beads as I loved the shine of the light on the plastic, it swirls beautifully in the wind!

Earth Day mobile swirling in the breeze

I actually have a new idea now for a similar shaped one made entirely from felt, I think I might need to stiffen the felt to make sure it is light enough but holds its shape, watch this space.  For the one I made on Friday I placed bubble wrap between a sheet of laminating plastic and then ironed it between two sheets of baking paper, if I hadn’t used the baking paper the iron would have stuck to the plastic.  Once the bubbles started to heat up and melt I was able to run the whole thing through the laminating machine but if I hadn’t had the laminator I could just have continued ironing until everything was bonded together well.  I cut one large disc from the plastic and then cut into it in a circular shape working towards the centre.  I’m not explaining this very well but probably you know what I mean, once the disc was cut into a swirly shape I could hold up the centre and the rest would fall down as in the picture of the completed mobile!  Next I cut out quite a few circles and strung them together using fishing line and little seed beads as spacers.  I had the biggest gap between the smaller discs at the top of the mobile (19 seed beads) and graduated the discs so that the larger ones were at the bottom with the shortest string of beads (9 beads at the bottom).

Amazing skies on our walk down from the summit of Mount Leinster!

In the evening I participated in a wonderful walk up Mount Leinster followed by a great party at friends Cathy and Martin’s house, check out this picture of the amazing skies we encountered, this is EXACTLY what it looked like!!!

Yesterday I felted an iPad cover (it was a commission) while working with Deirdre as she designed and felted her first bag.  Working from charcoal Icelandic wool sandwiched between two layers of black merino Deirdre embellished the flap and inclusion of her bag with sky blue fabric, yarn and fibre.  There is still about an hour or two of fulling and shaping to go but I am sure you can see how wonderful this bag is from the photo, isn’t it GORGEOUS???

Deirdre with her beautiful first bag