Retreat update and exhibition news

What can I say about the first ten day residential retreat in Ireland? How can I thank all involved for their incredible hospitality and professional service? Certainly a short update here doesn’t do anything to honour an event that workshop participants, the various hosts and the amazing venue made so special. I’m not going to post anything more today except this shot of us with Philip Cushen at Cushendale Woollen Mill.  I promise faithfully that I’ll write a proper review of the retreat as soon as Kilkenny Arts Festival is over then post it here with copious pictures!!!

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For now though I’m in the final throes of installing my solo exhibition at Grennan Mill Craft School as well as collating what  I need to deliver to Kilkenny as part of the FORM pop up shop. Both these events open on Friday so I’ve not got much time to get everything finished! Thank you so much to Naomi, Merridee and Keith for all your help preparing for Grennan, I’ll post properly about the show at the end of August.IMG_1802

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France and FORM, a short update

It’s been a very enjoyable, exciting and busy few weeks, so busy at times that I wondered how it was going to be possible to fit everything in all at once! I started this whirlwind of activity by taking my truck on the ferry to France, there I met great buddy Caroline Nixon and we spent a wonderful 10 days together scouring the brocantes for old pots and vintage linen as well as ‘play time’ at our gite messing around with plants and natural dyes!

Thanks Caroline for being such good company, I know our trip is going to become a regular occurrence!!!

While this was going on I was in constant communication with home, FORM was bringing out two new publications to coincide with the launch of our exhibition last Friday and there were loads of details to pin down and sign off on. Thanks to Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Karen Hennessy (CEO of the DCCoI) for speaking at the event and making everyone feel so appreciated, Emma Jane Champley and Martin Lyttle did a fantastic job organising the exhibition on behalf of the group and Kieran Comerford, John Mulcahy and John Shortfall were fabulous ensuring the new publications looked super and everything went smoothly at the library for the opening.

FORM photo shoot and exhibition news

Things are starting to fall into place for the upcoming FORM exhibition in Carlow, it’s going to be the first time that the new look lineup has participated in a public event together. We’ll also be launching our new concertina style brochure for the group and the Local Enterprise Office are profiling Ariane Tobin, Martin Marley and me in a larger promotional publication for the county too, exciting times ahead! As a result, I’ve been busy sampling and felting a large wall hanging to show at the exhibition. I had promised to share some pics of eco printing from the new brass preserving pan but I’m going to reserve those for another post. Instead here are a few images taken by Rory Moore recently, thanks Rory, John and Tomomi for all your hard work organising such a successful FORM photoshoot!

The wall hanging here is not the one I’ll be showing in Carlow, it’s a much smaller forerunner but like the exhibition piece it’s felted from a variety of different eco printed silks with a base of fine quality merino.

Studio update and Dawn’s recent visit to Clasheen and London

The last ten days have been a whirlwind of activity, my great buddy Dawn Edwards was visiting from Michigan and we spent our first few days together here at Clasheen. The first full day of Dawn’s visit I needed to participate in a photo shoot for FORM so Dawn headed into the studio and whipped up two felt hats while I was busy, these were printed in the evening after the shoot had ended. If you’ve not had the chance to view Dawn’s work before do make sure to check out her website, the hats and vessels she felts are wonderful!

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Over the weekend we spent some time with good friend and fellow felt/fibre addict Anita, I’m linking here to her Facebook page because maybe some of you will be able to persuade Anita to donate me her latest gorgeous white hat and cashmere wrap to print!!! We also headed down to the car boot sale in Callan for a quick visit, here’s a picture of a super brass preserving pan that I found complete with eucalyptus leaves picked up on the way home.

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On Monday afternoon Dawn and I headed to Dublin stopping off for some fresh air at Newcastle beach, thanks to my sister Suzanne we spent the night relaxing at her house then headed to the airport at 3.50 am.

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Suffice to say Dawn and I spent three absolutely wonderful days sightseeing, eating, talking, laughing and taking in a couple of west end shows in the centre of London. Our hotel was fabulous and in a super location just two minutes walk from Marble Arch and Oxford Street (thanks Dawn!), we got upgraded to a wonderful room overlooking Portman Square so each day we’d fabulous views of the garden there in all its spring glory. Shortly before Dawn arrived to Clasheen I’d discovered that it was going to be London Craft Week while we were away. We couldn’t believe our luck when we snagged tickets to an afternoon talk with Edwina Ibbotson and Rachel Trevor-Morgan (milliner to the Queen) at the Dorchester, what a fabulous afternoon!!! They’d an amazing display of the most wonderful couture hats, different tools of the trade, hat blocks etc., etc. and for two really well known and highly though of milliners the wealth of information they imparted and their naturally friendly outlook was really refreshing. Once the allocated time was up there was no pressure to leave; everyone got time to ask questions, take pictures and try on any or all of the wonderful array of hats that were there on display!

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I know this isn’t the best picture of me but if I’d had my cheque book handy this is the hat I’d have loved to bring home with me (it’s one of Edwina’s)!!! Thank you Edwina, Rachel and London Craft Week for hosting such a smashing afternoon, the cream tea and impeccable service at the Dorchester didn’t go down badly either!

On the studio side of things I’m continuing with my experimentation using natural plant based mordants/pre treatments prior to bundling. Pomegranate is coming up trumps time and time again, the colour palate is very interesting and I’m liking how it works particularly with eucalyptus. Strangely enough it’s not given any satisfying prints from bundling with rose leaves, I wouldn’t have believed it unless I’d seen it for myself! I did get very strong prints from rose yesterday however, these prints are on wool which I’d soaked in vinegar prior to bundling, the pot is my favourite big aluminium one and I had an old iron in the water.

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So that’s all for this blog post, next time I’ll share pictures of the first experiments using the brass preserving pan.

 

 

 

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

 
 

 

 

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

 

 

Vessel turned bag!

Some of you may remember I had tried and failed to shape a large felt vessel to compliment three smaller ones made for the inaugural FORM exhibition in June. The depth of the vessel coupled with the thickness of the wool (many fine layers in the layout) and lack of time did not agree with my current tennis elbow, finally I put it aside and decided to revisit it later.

Later arrived the other day, pretty quickly actually as it turned out! Merridee, Keith and I gathered some windfallen eucalyptus leaves from an unidentified tree while out walking, I flattened the vessel as best as I could, soaked it I vinegar then bundled it and boiled for several hours in a eucalyptus and onion skin dye bath.

Interesting prints where an insect has eaten into the. Edge of the eucalyptus leaf! Felting and printing by Nicola Brown - Clasheen

I'm thrilled with the printing result although I still couldn't reshape it quite the way I'd like to, never mind, this one's a keeper and after the Kilkenny Arts Festival is over I'll add a leather shoulder strap!

Felt bag by Nicola Brown

Large felt bag naturally printed with eucalyptus leaves by Nicola Brown