Studio update and Carlow Made pop up shop

The exciting time I've been waiting for has finally arrived, fitting everything that's necessary back into the studio again! Thanks to a lot of hard work by me and my buddy George the walls and ceiling are painted, the floor has had a rudimentary wash (I'm debating sealing the slate at a later date), the new shelving units are fitted and installed, I've sorted the majority of my supplies into new lidded clear plastic boxes (you'd be proud of me Vinitha!) and tonight I'm putting everything necessary back into the space, note that phrase, everything necessary!!! I'm determined not to fill it with items I really don't use on a regular basis, the garage is undergoing a revamp too so that'll be the area where essentials for less frequent use hang out from this time forwards. Two transformers also need to be replaced in the spot lights so this picture from earlier looking from the utility room into the studio does look dark, it'll give you a little idea of how clear the floor is now though, more pics when everything is installed again and I can say that the revamp has finally finished!

Tomorrow I'm collecting plinths and getting my space organised/installed for the Carlow Made Christmas pop up shop. I think that this is going to be an excellent retail opportunity for all of us, we've secured a marvellous space in the Carlow (Superquinn) Shopping Centre thanks to the efforts of Liga and Maria and the collection of artists and crafts people is both varied and of a consistent high quality. Do consider us when you're planning your Christmas presents, supporting local, working artisans really does keep money moving around in the local economy, it also means high quality, affordable, one off gifts!

 

Exciting news and the studio upgrade continues

My exciting news today is that I've booked a stand at Showcase 2014, the premier creative Irish expo of the year. Preparation time is going to be tight as the event takes place from 19th to 22nd January, never let it be said that I don't like working under pressure, countdown starts tonight!

Today I made a final trip to Ikea and collected the shelving units I've been waiting for plus another 88 clear plastic boxes, whew, at last I think that I might have got the studio revamp sussed. Rex is not so impressed however, here he is supervising the unloading of the truck tonight, totally switched off might be a better description!

Early in the morning I'm going to start boxing the last of my felting and natural printing supplies then at 10am my friend George is arriving. We're going to paint the studio then in the evening I'll have the fun of assembling the Besta units before I attach them securely to the walls. I'm also planning on loading the truck with rubbish and recycling tomorrow, on Thursday then we'll have a clear run replacing all the filled plastic boxes and adding the final touches to my new space. I can't wait!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Craft fair and studio scarf display DIY

For a long while I've been mulling over how to display my new printed silk scarves to their best advantage without getting them all wrinkled, up to now I've draped them over props at fairs or arranged them as artistically as possible on the plinths and tables in the studio. In bed the other night I suddenly had a brainwave, why not find a simple but unobtrusive looking shower curtain ring that I could hang on the top bar of my Ikea clothes rails? Result!

I love the fact that I can hang at least 12 scarves on the one rail without the display looking cluttered. Potential customers can easily compare one scarf pattern against the next therefore making decision time easier, I can then cover the scarves and leave them hanging on the rail during the week or if I need to transport them to a show remove the hooks and pack everything up simply and quickly. Here's a trial run of scarves that I assembled together at Duckett's Grove yesterday, now all I need to do is pick up a few more rails when I'm in Ikea then I'm ready in advance for any Christmas retail opportunity that presents itself out of the blue!
 

 

Major studio upgrade, thanks to Carlow Enterprise Board!

I've been having a bad time of it technically since arriving home from California and Canada, the Rayburn is not staying lit so I've no main cooker or ambient heat (we've been having lashing rain) and my new MacBook has unexpected problems so I had to drop it off in Dublin today to sort out a hard drive issue. On the positive side of things I had some excellent news from Carlow Enterprise Board whilst I was away! I spent many hard days work prior to my trip assessing what I actually needed to be put in place to take my felting/natural printing business to the next level, filling out the appropriate paperwork and applying for both a business expansion grant and a capital grant. The board met during September and assessed all the relevant grant applications, I'm really grateful to write that my proposal met with a positive outcome!


Sooooooooo, here's what I got up to today after I dropped my MacBook off at Mactivate in Blanchardstown, I headed to Ikea!!!

This picture shows the first batch of Besta storage units plus see through lidded storage boxes that I'll be installing, there'll be another trip in a week or so to collect what was out of stock today plus four new stainless steel work benches for the garage aka printing area. I also applied to purchase a new washing machine (for all those wet towels, bubble wrap etc. and to spin larger items such as jackets, rugs and wall hangings) plus a tumble dryer (for stress free nuno felting!), those I'll get locally as soon as I have the new storage assembled and the boxes full of all my supplies. Happy days!

 

 

 

Studio de-clutter and de-stash underway, some bargains to be had for the taking!

Business plan done for a grant application, cash flow to finish (before tomorrow night unfortunately!), simple new kraft boxes in various sizes have arrived (no more struggling to make packages in brown paper bags look pretty when under pressure!), abandoned the exhibition application I was working on as I just wasn't happy with my blurb, bit the bullet and ordered a new printer, it's arrived and up and running, I'm now tackling the studio reorganisation once and for all! As a result I'm really making an effort to keep everything that I know I'll actually use in the immediate future, everything else I'm going to declutter and sell off at a really good price. Hopefully I'll then be able to buy more storage boxes or raw materials……… and so the cycle starts all over again!

So, is anybody interested in buying a large woven plastic rug to use instead of bubble wrap when felting larger projects such as rugs? I've 5 or 6 of these to sell at €20 each, they measure 1.4 x 2.3 metres and I imported them from Turkey years ago when I thought that I'd be felting more rugs. Obviously I'm keeping a few for myself but it's unlikely I'll ever be using 8 at the one time! They actually are used outside in warm climates as a sort of patio rug, just saying in case someone might like them for that purpose either, colour ways blue as pictured and wine.

The next items that I'm de-stashing are some fabulous knitting yarns, many of them were picked up several years ago in San Francisco and cost up to $25 per skein or ball. When I started felting I found it really difficult to get interesting yarns locally to add to the surface of my felt. As a result I went a bit mad whenever I discovered something particularly yummy, justification was easy because I took up freestyle knitting for a short while, reality bites now however and I doubt that I'll ever knit up anything with the 7,000 yards of fabulous hand dyed silk yarn I invested in (I won't tell you what that cost), that's not for sale unless I get a really good offer, but the rest of everything is. Here's a picture of a few balls, I've plenty of different colours and different fibres although they do mainly tend towards the golds, greens, reds and purples.

Finally I'm putting together goody bags filled with oddments of fibre and embellishing stuff. At present they're earmarked for a friend @ €3 per 100g but at the rate I'm going I may have extra bags to sell, these are perfect to use for embellishing pictures, flowers etc. and when teaching, loads of small amounts of various fibres (yak, silk, wool, bamboo etc.) in totally random colour ways, basically whatever I lay my hands on that I know I don't need for my current projects.

Please email or ring me if you're interested in anything, I need to get the lot shifted before I head to teach in Lake Tahoe and Mendocino, the rush is on while I'm in the mood for re-organisation!

 

 

Duckett’s Grove is the place to be today!

It's a fabulous day here in Duckett's Grove, clear blue sunny skies definitely put everyone in a good humour! I spent the earlier part of the morning finishing the reorganisation of my studio and writing up some blackboards with updated workshop information, now I've just finished emailing off details to the manager for the new Duckett's Grove website, this should go live sometime early next week.

As a result I was horrified to realise that my 'About' page here on the blog was totally out of date, whoops. I've now rewritten it, it's far from perfect (I want to add in exhibitions etc.) but at least it's more current that what was previously there. Feel free to have a look and please let me know if you see any glaringly obvious mistakes.

At lunchtime Emma and I headed outside to have look at a wonderful miniature remote controlled helicopter camera. The owner was very nice and gave us a few demos of how it worked, he's been taking arial shots over the ruins this afternoon, fascinating stuff! Stupidly I didn't ask his name but did give him my business card and ask him to post some of the video footage to our courtyard Facebook page, I'm really looking forward to seeing a different view of the buildings and surrounds.

 

 

Reflections on our open evening at Duckett’s Grove and workshops next weekend

The sun finally shone yesterday evening so after a long day preparing and tidying up it was very pleasant for us artist makers to relax, have a chat to visitors and explain what we’re up to in the courtyard at Duckett’s Grove. Thanks to all my friends old and new who travelled to help us celebrate our new venture and thanks Marion Byrne for the wonderful gift of some Jacob’s fleece, much appreciated!!! The evening was actually quieter than I expected but the bonus was that as makers we were able to have a proper conversation with our visitors and not be dashing around like headless chickens all the time. I’d also set up a few laid out but unfelted flowers on one of my tables. This proved a good idea because no matter how many times I explain to people what wet felting entails it’s only when they can see and touch the raw materials beside the finished piece that the process becomes a little easier to understand and visualise.

Next Saturday I’ve a beginners and improvers full day workshop taking place between 10am and 4pm and on Sunday there are 2 places left in the afternoon for a fun felt flower workshop. Please email me if you are interest in attending and having some fun creative time!