Everyone’s welcome to Duckett’s Grove tomorrow night!

I’ve been busy today, the market in the morning, buying refreshments, tidying up the studio and preparing for tomorrow’s celebratory open evening at Duckett’s Grove! Do please come along between 5 and 7pm on 25th to browse, chat and have a drink in the various studios with me, Emma Jane, Jackie and Michael then enjoy some complimentary tasty treats from Madeline in the tea rooms! Who knows, you might even get to meet Fionn, a really gorgeous Irish Wolfhound!!!

Fionn and his master

Action packed day and my new studio is almost official!!!

It’s been action packed and fun here today! Annette is leaving in the morning to catch 4 ferries and 5 trains home to her little Danish island and as a result we were out and about until just about 5 minutes ago. In addition to this I managed to organise public liability insurance (thanks to MAST) for my new studio at Duckett’s Grove, sign the contracts, pick up the key and actually bring Annette to see the studio and the beautiful gardens there which are open to the public every day. We then headed in to Carlow town and had a snack with Alan before visiting Philip and Mary Cushen at Cushendale Woollen Mill in Graiguenamanagh. Annette stocked up on kilos of my beloved mohair waste and woven off cuts, I’m looking forward to seeing how she incorporates them into her felting! On our way home we called in to friend and neighbour James so that Annette could see some Irish cows being milked, all in all a busy and successful day so far.

I  did promise to post more pictures from Scotland yesterday and will do so tomorrow, I just wanted to share the exciting news with you of getting the new studio keys today!!!

Weekend fun and felting news, I’m off on my travels!!!

Although I still have a mountain of things to get finished before I head off on my US travels later this evening I have been having a wonderful action packed art and felting weekend! On Saturday night Alan and I joined Eileen MacDonagh and close friends old and new at a really great wrap up party to celebrate the success of her fabulous exhibition LITHOSPHERE at the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow. It was a wonderful evening spent among the towering trees of ‘Cathedral’, yummy food and wine (which I couldn’t drink as I was the designated driver!), great craic and the best music I’ve heard in a very long time!!!

Music amongst the trees!

Local musician Joe Cleere has just been signed to a record deal in the US and although he had never played with them before he came along to join a trio of Eileen’s friends and their playing just seemed to compliment each other perfectly, we had an eclectic mix of traditional and alternative rock tracks, brilliant, thanks Eileen!!!!!

Yesterday I had a very busy day at Duckett’s Grove, I had intended taking loads of pictures of the new studio but to be honest I was so busy demonstrating and talking to visitors that there was almost no time to snap anything. Thanks to everyone who came in especially to see me, I really appreciated it and hope you enjoyed the day! My plan now is to bring my big studio tables from Clasheen to Duckett’s Grove, move the shelving and plints around in the space and set up one half as a display area and the other as a zone for felting and teaching from. The response to the demos was fabulous.

Visitors to the new studio

I now have a long list of contact details from people interested in trying felting for themselves, I’ve actually put Sunday 4th June in my diary for a beginners and improvers felting day and have only space for one more participant if anyone is interested, E75 including materials working from 10am until approx 4.30pm! Please email me asap if you would like the last slot!

Plenty of people came for the music, food and craft!

This evening I’ll be handing over everything at Claseheen to good friend George and hope everything goes well in my absence. It’s lovely here at the moment, foals in the fields, birds singing and wild flowers everywhere in the hedges and down the lane so I think that George will manage to have a restful and fun time with Rex! Don’t expect a lot of blogging over the next few days but I will be posting up to date pictures and notes to facebook as I progress along my way to Kentucky, take care and I’ll be back blogging about the Lexington workshops which take place on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May from 10am – 5pm at the Beaumont Presbyterian Church, 1070 Lane Allen Road!!!

 

 

Very quick studio and US update this morning!

I really have run out of time to prepare and pack for my trip to the US first thing on Tuesday morning, I’ll be leaving Clasheen to travel to Dublin on Monday night so thanks George for coming a day early to stay in the house and mind Rex! Today is the official opening to the public of the new retail space at Duckett’s Grove, I’ll be in the studio giving felting demonstrations and have decided to felt some new flowers to use as samples for my flower workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in two weekends time. I’ll also be having a good think about exactly what way I want to lay out the space, the contracts are now ready to be signed so as soon as I’m back home from my travels I’ll be getting everything sorted urgently. Tomorrow I hope to write a short post about what we will be covering at the workshops in Lexington next weekend and Plainwell at the end of the month, watch this space!

Duckett’s Grove official opening a big success!

Dawn and I have had a busy time of it since Chrissie Day and Nigel headed home on Tuesday morning. We’ve taken loads of pictures, I finished a lot of stitching while Dawn caught up with emails and facebook, we delivered my felt to Duckett’s Grove yesterday afternoon, collected mum’s car (because with Danish friend Kirsten arriving we couldn’t all fit in my pick up truck!), got up early again this morning for the official opening of the new craft and gallery shop, felted in the studio for the first time, was interviewed for the paper, filmed and interviewed for today’s RTE News, collected Kirsten from the bus and then headed home to Clasheen in time for an early supper and to watch the slot on the 6 o’clock news!!!

Dawn in front of my vessels at the opening of Duckett's Grove

It really was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Edel Galvin from Carlow County Development Partnership had asked me if I would do a little felting demo in my new studio after the speeches and before I knew what was happening the footage was shot and I had my short moment of fame. The invited guests at the opening really seemed to appreciate the quality of the work displayed and it’s wonderful to finally have a local Co. Carlow venue to sell high-end craft from.

The fact that I have just secured a studio in the complex is really, really exciting. There may well be more workshops available in the future but currently there are 4 local artist makers who will be working from Duckett’s Grove and I feel privileged to say that I am one of them!!! I did think that I would be getting the keys today but there is still a bit of paperwork to complete so although I did get to felt inside the space for the first time today it will be another week or so before it is officially handed over to me! If you’d like to call in and say hello before I head to teach in the US I’ll be there all day on Sunday 6th May and hope to have a workshop schedule prepared for the rest of the summer, there will also be a big craft market in the grounds of Duckett’s Grove and all the studios should be open to the public!

Having fun felting for the first time in my new studio at Duckett's Grove!

Check out Dawn’s facebook page for loads of images of the buildings and the opening, she was snapping away and has some lovely shots.

Studio restructure almost underway and interview with Carmen re. Istvan Vidak’s upcoming visit to Ireland!

For those of you who have been following my back kitchen and garage restructuring project on Facebook I am sure you’re not surprised I haven’t posted here to the blog for a few days, for those of you who are not following the progress I hope to be back to blogging normality some time over the next week!!!  Basically I have taken out ALL the old presses from what was the utility room, refitted them in the garage (I’m loosely using the word refitted here!), painted the walls in what I call ‘Virgin Mary Blue’, assembled gorgeous stainless steel topped freestanding units to go in the old space, put together cupboards and drawers to fit underneath them, added a wall mounted cupboard with funky plastic sliding doors and without further ado I now have a beautiful working back kitchen for storage, washing up and laundry duties, woo hoo!!!!!

Back kitchen underway

On Tuesday Patsy and James return to finish the plumbing and then it’s time to change around and remove some of the furniture and storage solutions from the studio, now that I have the space in the garage to fit them that is.  When that is done I will have a spacious, easy to move around studio to work in, that’s the end goal anyway and I can’t wait to get stuck in to some serious felting them!

On the felting side of things I will be driving Carmen up to the airport on Wednesday to collect master Hungarian felter Istvan Vidak, he will be staying with Carmen for a master class, an exhibition and an artist’s talk.  Carmen came over for dinner the other evening and I interviewed her about the trip, this article has been the first I have had published online at Technorati, have any of you ever written for them yourselves???  For those of you who are interested in what we discussed below is a copy of the interview and if you do like the text please visit the article on Technorati and hit the FB like button, share it on FB and maybe retweet it too if you don’t mind, thanks!

INTERVIEW WITH CARMEN SANCHEZ PARDON

Between 13th and 16th October 2011 Carmen Sanchez Padron will welcome Hungarian master felter Istvan Vidak to Guatastudio in south east Ireland for an exhibition, evening talk and a 4 day hands on felting workshop. I invited Carmen to join me for dinner at Clasheen in order to find out more about this exciting series of events.

One of Istvan's beautiful and decorative bagsCarmen explains that by working with dyed and undyed natural wool, Istvan will share the techniques used to create traditional Mongolian bags; wet felting, embroidery and finishing with braided horsehair or wool cords and tassels. Designed to be hung on the wall and hold household items, these beautifully decorative bags add a colourful and dramatic twist to any traditional or contemporary interior.

Participating in workshops with visiting international artists provides a fascinating insight into how felt is currently made in other countries with a longer felting history than Ireland. I asked Carmen where one might view some of Istvan’s work and to this end she has organised an exhibition in The Norman Gallery, Rathnure, Co. Wexford opening at 6pm on Thursday October 13th and continuing until 5pm on Sunday 16th.  This is an excellent opportunity to see top quality pieces felted by an aknowledged master and Carmen adds that an artist’s talk titled ‘Following the Felt Route’ will take place in the same venue at 7pm on Saturday 15th, all are welcome.
During the 4 day felting workshop participants may choose to embellish their bags with Mongolian designs as taught by Istvan and I think that it will also be interesting to see if anyone is inspired to work with traditional Celtic motifs. This is what I did myself at a workskhop Carmen hosted last year with Vanda Roberts, another expert felter from Hungary. Vanda’s workshop focused on the creation of strong functional felt which was then stitched carefully leading to either raised or depressed areas in the felt. I used a wonderful piece of bronze age rock art sited locally at Rathgeeran near Clasheen, Ballybrack, Co. Carlow as the spring point for my design, the bag was felted in charcoal and grey to echo the colour of the granite and simple black leather handles were attached to compliment the felt.

I asked Carmen why she had chosen to invite these particular felt artists to Guatastudio and she explained that she was initially attracted to this style of felting after participating at a symposium titled ‘Gift of the Lambs’ in Hungary during July 2010 and again during July 2011. Attending classes with both Vanda and Istvan led her to invite them back to Ireland where we are lucky to have the opportunity to view their work have the opportunity to participate in the workshops.

I wrapped up the interview by thanking Carmen for her time and wishing her a successful experience hosting this fascinating felting master.

 

 

Stunning printed silk for nuno felting, new online store about to go live!

At the moment it just seems to be a roller coaster ride, organising my American workshops (sorry about the lack of details yet, trying to pin everything down in reverse order time wise!), sorting out my new online store, ploughing through the ever mounting paperwork and housework (on the back boiler yet again!!), attending to my golf club duties (unpaid I might add) and trying to get some time to actually felt and be creative.  Spending time felting is the one thing that keeps me sane and although Alan can’t understand why I feel compelled to get into the studio when so many other things need to be done I just would go totally mad if I didn’t get a little time to play around with fibres!

English Garden wrap/scarf

On Saturday morning I drove into Carlow town with Alan as we had a washing machine of his in the back of my truck which needed some repairs, my truck is very handy for hauling stuff around!  Anyway, while I was on this mission of mercy I managed to call into a nearby shop for a couple of minutes to check out their t-shirts and have a look at some of the latest summer accessories.  I was lucky enough to have the very good fortune of snapping up three stunning printed silk scarves, absolutely perfect for the pictured nuno felt wrap!  I laid out short fibred merino and silk fibres on one side of the silk scarf roughly following the colours in the print though not being totally confined by colour at the same time!!  It did take me longer than usual to lay out the fibres but I definitely think that the results have been worth the effort, I love the finished colours and texture! 

Detail showing both the silk side and the fibre side out

During the course of this week I promise to launch my new online store and this wrap/scarf will be one of the special items I am offering to launch my summer collection!!!  Here is a close up shot to show how I followed the colours and shapes printed on the silk when laying out my fibre.