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!

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!

 

 

 

Felting and eco printing, announcing residential retreats in Ireland and Portugal

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of email queries and facebook messages asking about 2015 and 2016 felting and/or eco printing workshops. I had hoped to get dates and workshop descriptions sorted, written then uploaded to the website prior to heading off on my Canadian and Australian adventures, no such luck though as here I am writing from Lethbridge having already spent a wonderful few days in Fernie! Anyway, my big news is that I’ve decided to stick closer to home during the early part of 2016, I really need to get to grips with my garden before it gets totally out of hand and I’d also like to get a few more jobs sorted around the house and studio. I’m planning another extended trip to the U.S. in 2017 but for next year I intend to concentrate primarily on Irish workshops, our annual retreat at beautiful Vale do Mondego in Portugal plus investigate the possibility of another foray or two into mainland Europe if possible. I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be organising a really special residential eco printing retreat just down the road from Clasheen during July 2016!

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I’m fine tuning details at the moment but suffice to say extremely comfortable accommodation at a beautiful rural Irish location, optional collection from the airport, delicious food, all tuition, on site access to amazing natural plant material, at least one group excursion including a trip to Cushendale Woollen Mill (more excursions depending on participant’s requirements) plus a celebration evening meal at Clasheen one night. These are the bare bones of the retreat, as soon as I can I’ll be confirming the dates and the cost but it’s definitely going to take place sometime during July, please let me know if you thInk you might be interested in attending! In addition to a group retreat I’ll also be available to accommodate individual or small group residential workshops at Clasheen from approx March onwards, the course material for these will be geared towards felting larger projects and/or intensive eco printing on protein and/or cellulose fabrics. I’m also happy to offer visits withIn the surrounding region to participants if they’d like a day or two off from the studio and non participating partners can avail of super hiking locally, the nearby coast, wood turning workshops, guided eco trails, kayaking, golf outings, visits to medieval Kilkenny etc., etc., all right on the doorstep of Clasheen!

 

Now for some early information about our next retreat at beautiful Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal!!!

Delicious food and wine at Dominio Vale do Mondego!

For 2016 we’re running it a little later than usual, it’ll be taking place from18th to 25th June and it’s also our first workshop exclusively devoted to eco printing. Eelco’s knowledge of the local vegetation coupled with an ever increasing quest for more eco printing has led to this decision, I’m really excited about the move because I really want to explore the use of local plants more thoroughly!

Olga and Marta happy with their fabulous eco printed leggings

If any participants do want to felt though of course they’ll be free to do so in their own time and print what they make during the group classes every day! Please contact Karin directly if you’d like to reserve a place for this retreat, non participating workshop partners are welcome to join for a slightly reduced fee so don’t feel like yu have to leave anyone behind.

So, it’s been a manic couple of months. FORM had a fantastic ten days at the Kilkenny Arts Festival and I also participated in two separate events for Heritage Week, the Carlow Made collective exhibition in Carlow Library and a local craft fair at the John F. Kennedy Arboretum in Co. Wexford. I don’t usually do craft fairs anymore where the participants are not juried in, the arboretum is such a fantastic resource however and I was really delighted that I made the effort to attend as many people were really interested in seeing what I was doing.

Next post Fernie and Lethbridge workshop pictures!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting retreat pictures and beyond!

Wow, I enjoyed an amazing few days at Clasheen during the felting retreat last week, it was even better fun than I had imagined and we had such an inspirational sharing of ideas and techniques.

Merridee with her amazing raw fleece bag

Everything came together in an organic kind of way, US friends Merridee and Keith arrived on Monday, Michelle drove down from Donegal on Tuesday, unfortunately Maya wasn’t able to make it at the last minute (check out her amazing first nuno project which she felted at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday instead!) but Japanese friend Leiko arrived back in Ireland just in time to join us and Carmen called over a couple of times just to say hi and check out what we were making! I don’t have enough hours in the day to go over everything that we were doing but at the start of the retreat I checked which techniques both Merridee and Michelle especially wanted to experiment with and made sure that they were happy with what they had achieved at the end of our time together.

Michelle’s wonderful first nuno felt scarf!

Keith proved a wonderful chef as always, gorgeous cuisine and wine plus HOME MADE yeast bread in the evenings, bliss!!! On Friday morning Leiko helped me set up at Borris Food and Craft Market then everyone else arrived and we headed off to Cushendale Woollen Mill. Our arrival coincided with Suzanna Crampton plus sister and friends delivering Zwartbles fleece so again everything worked out beautifully as Merridee, Keith and Michelle were able to join them as Philip gave everyone a proper tour of the mill in action. It’s obviously not going to be possible to upload all the pictures we took over the course of the retreat to the blog, I will be adding more though to both my personal facebook page and Nicola Brown – Clasheen, do check there over the course of the next few days and hopefully there’ll be loads to whet your appetite! Thanks Merridee, Keith, Michelle and Leiko for being such good fun and relaxing company to have around, you were all wonderful!!! I’ll leave you with a picture I love, all of us together at Borris on Friday morning.

Leiko, Keith, Merridee, me and Michelle at Borris Food and Craft Market