Exhibition preparations and retreat update, in brief

Only one week to go and the first ten day residential Irish felting and eco printing retreat will have started, I’m so excited!!! All the preparations are well underway and last week the merino and silk arrived, the last of the actual workshop supplies.

From now until the end of August it’s full steam ahead at Clasheen, I need to have all my solo show preparation completed before 8th July (actually that is tonight!) because I’ll not get a minute free from then until I have to hang the exhibition. I’d be delighted if some of you were able to come to the opening reception or indeed visit any day during the course of Kilkenny Arts Festival.

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The title of my show is ‘Perennial: From Plant to Print’ and it’s a new collection of luxurious silk, linen, felt and locally woven lambswool, eco printed with leaves, onion skins and hedgerow vegetation. Please just let me know if you’re planning a visit and I’ll be able to tell you at that stage whether I’ll be free to meet up for a quick coffee and a chat!

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Tahoe felting, eco printing and dyeing retreat in pictures!

Merride, Keith and I had a busy but wonderful time preparing for and co-hosting our second felting, eco printing and dyeing retreat at Lake Tahoe. Keith was on top form preparing delicious lunches for us yet again and was instrumental in getting everything brought to the cabin and installed before our guests arrived! It was great to spend creative time with returning participants Julie and Tina as well as meet Shelly and Virgina for the first time. Here are some of the highlights in picture form………..

Virginia, Julie and Shelly. having fun and showing off some of their beautiful eco printing!

Virginia, Julie and Shelly. having fun and showing off some of their beautiful eco printing!

Wonderful detail on Virginia's Eco printed wool, we've no idea what this big leaf is but thanks Virginia for bringing it with you!!!

Wonderful detail on Virginia’s Eco printed wool, we’ve no idea what this big leaf is but thanks Virginia for bringing it with you!!!

Tina, Keith and Merridee working the acid dye pot

Meridee relaxing before the off.......

Meridee relaxing before the off…….

I love beautiful Lake Tahoe

Shelly  with her stunning first nuno felt wrap

Shelly with her stunning first nuno felt wrap