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!

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.

 

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing in Portugal, week 3 in pictures!

Bye, bye Portugal, tomorrow morning I fly home to enjoy the rest of the summer at Clasheen. If the weather’s been anything similar to last year while I’ve been away I’m guessing I’ll be weeding most evenings for the foreseeable future, a big change from dry and arid Faia!

Clasheen, June 2014

The second 2015 residential felting and eco printing workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego was a delight, wonderful students, superb hosts as always and amazing fun, food, friends and weather for the whole of the week. Below are a selection of images from the wrap up exhibition for you to enjoy.
I’ve also posted a short video clip online of friend Carla playing traditional accordion music at the opening, thank you so much Carla! Tchau to all in Faia and obrigada until 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Portugal, a pictorial tale of two weeks……..

Two wonderful weeks have passed since I've been able to take time and update the blog from Portugal, it's now changeover day between the two felting and eco printing workshops so I'm grabbing the opportunity for a little internet activity. I've set myself up with a simple outdoor office, the Internet connection from the studio appears to work well on the roof so I can write in peace whilst enjoying the sun and views!

Week 1: The Joan Morris workshop 'stitched resist dyeing with ecology in mind' was definitely an eye opener, her work is both fascinating and incredibly beautiful. I learnt so much about natural dyeing and mordanting during the week that I hope to bring forward in some small way into my own textile practice. The following pictures share a fraction of the progress and some samples that I made.

Week 2: Some felting and eco printing images. Many congratulations to all the participants from the first workshop I facilitated, you were wonderful students as our exhibition last night clearly demonstrated!!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Australian workshop announcement, Marlay Fair ends and the National Crafts & Design Fair is about to begin!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to facilitate a week long felting workshop at the Geelong Fibre Forum in Australia next year, I’m very excited about the whole thing!!! It’ll be fantastic to catch up with friend Pam de Groot who will also be teaching there in 2015, we’ll be the felting instructors and if you check out the event website you’ll be able to see what I’m teaching plus all the other textile related workshops that will be on offer.

Marlay Craft Fair was very pleasant, super organisers and a nice group of visitors each day. I didn’t manage to take any good photos over the weekend because each room had loads of windows and it was really difficult to deal with the light. I will take plenty of pictures though at the RDS this week. Tomorrow I set up all day and we open to the public at 10am on Wednesday, do call up to me at stand B8 and say hi if you’re re in the area!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonderful participants and fun in the sun, Portugal week 1!

Our first week at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego is starting to come to a head, tomorrow we'll have an exhibition for ourselves and the Portuguese, a great opportunity for the locals to see what we've been up to! Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite, I'll take loads tomorrow and try to post them as soon as I get a minute!!!

 

Wonderful felt and natural printing in Lexington, short Portugal update!

Thanks Jan for once again organising a brilliant two day felt and natural printing workshop in Lexington, it was fun catching up with old friends and lovely to make some new ones too! I'm going to post a bunch of pictures below sharing some of the amazing work created, before I sign off though I'd like to remind you that if you'd like to join me in Portugal for a fab residential felting holiday one person has had to cancel the first week (due to health reasons unfortunately) and there is still some availability for the second week that we added recently. Please contact Karin ASAP at Dominio vale do Mondego to book a place of ask any questions, it will be a magical time!!!

Now on to those pictures………

Unwrapping those bundles is serious stuff………
….. but the results for everyone were absolutely worth it!!!
 
Congratulations ladies, you did an awesome job!