Monday, December 28, 2009

And yet another custom-made cushion

This cushion was made for my Wizard of Oz-loving niece who recently had an interesting meeting with a SWAT team in Mexico (don't ask!). One side says 'There's no place like home. Click your heels like Dorothy or call the SWAT team like Mairead'. The other side has a transfer of a print by street-artist Banksy, where Dorothy's basket is being searched by a SWAT-like policeman. Lots of blue gingham, Wizard of Oz print fabric and red ribbons were used in the making of this one.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another custom-made cushion

This is another cushion for my niece who just graduated from industrial bio-chemistry. This time (with the help of my husband!) I took the periodic table of elements and searched for the chemical notations that would come closest to spelling her name. So one side says 'Brihgid's cushion'. I know she likes the combination of red and black so I used these colours and added satin ribbons and covered buttons.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Custom-made cushions

Here's a cushion I made for my computer programming niece for Christmas. One side has a keyboard with the phrase 'No place like -> home' added to the keypads. The other side says 'Jess chillin' with a little picture of her favourite 'Mario' character added below. Pinks and purples are her favourite colours so I used these and added some girly ribbons to tie it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

GROUNDWORKS Studios is now officially open!

GROUNDWORKS Studios was officially opened tonight by James Harold, Galway Arts Officer. The launch exhibition was well-attended and ran for the entire weekend. All of the hard work in getting the premises to this stage paid off as the exhibition looked great. For more information on the group see

Christmas pudding anyone?

I'm getting a little bit silly now with Christmas just around the corner! December's meeting of the Western Branch of the Irish Patchwork Society ( tomorrow is the Christmas party and the challenge is to make a Christmas gift item. So here's my version of a Christmas pudding teacosy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GROUNDWORKS launch event 11th December

"Jump for Joy" and "The Rocker II" are 2 of my pieces selected for inclusion in the GROUNDWORKS launch exhibition from 11th to 13th December. A wide variety of work from contemporary textile and ceramic artists and GMIT graduates will be on show. The opening is from 4-8pm on Friday 11th at the Lyrr Building, Mervue Business Park, Galway. Come along and join us for a glass of wine!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Craft Fairs

A photo of some of my notebooks and brooches at the Christmas Craft Fair at the Menlo Hotel, Galway yesterday.
I was very impressed with the variety and quality of local craft at the show. I particularly liked:

And there were lots of other goodies like home made cakes, jewellery, painting, pottery, etc. This was the first time this fair was held and it has the potential to grow if more people knew about it! It would be a wonderful place to get unique, handcrafted gifts from local craftspeople so hopefully it will happen again next year and the crowds will come!

In the meantime I prepare for my next fair at the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar on Saturday 19th December.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Groundworks Studios will provide a platform for emerging Ceramic & Textile Artists in a collective environment, creating a contemporary, innovative and vibrant setting in Galway and West of Ireland.

The Studios envisage strong links with GMIT Art & Design Department by providing incubation units/spaces for recent Graduates to assist them in developing their artistic and entrepreneurial ambitions and help establish themselves as professionals locally and internationally. It will be a centre for creative excellence in the applied arts, contributing significantly to the development of social, educationals and economic opportunities in the city and county.

The launch exhibition will open at the Lyrr Building, Mervue Business Park, Galway on Friday 11th December from 4-8pm. The exhibition will run on Sat 12th and Sunday 13th from 11-5pm. Queries to

Click on the image above to read the poster details for the launch....and do come along!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Orchid in oils

This is my second oil painting. I suppose it could do with more work and touching up in some areas, but I think I will leave it as a record of what I learned by the end of my second set of classes. Tonight I started a still-life charcoal drawing of a 'precious object' in front of draped cloth. It's a different process/method of drawing to my previous 2 drawings so let's see how I do with the next project. I have to say I'm really enjoying the classes and thoroughly recommend finding a tutor to help develop skills.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nice buns!

Just finished a 12.5 inch block for the Western Irish Patchwork Society challenge for tomorrow's meeting in Galway ( We were given a piece of the multicoloured fabric to use any way we wanted to create a block. All those who complete a block will help to create a group quilt which will be raffled amongst the participants. Watch this space for the completed quilt next year! I call this block....nice buns!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Domestic bliss

I love Charlie Byrne's bookshop in Galway (! It's one of my all time-favourite treasure troves. I heard it recently opened in Oranmore, so when the opportunity presented itself to pay a visit yesterday I was delighted. And the book I bought was 'The Gentle Art of Domesticity' by Jane Brocket. This was first published in 2007 and I don't understand how I only discovered it now. The photos are gorgeous, it's beautifully written and full of everything that is just my cup of tea (in a china cup, with a home-baked delight to accompany it!). So this is the kind of visual feast that perks me up as winter draws in. Check out Jane's website and her blog under the name Yarnstorm. This has inspired my photo for today showing my Mam's blue china, the teapot set was a wedding gift from an old neighbour, the embroidered cloth is a fleamarket-find, the cake-stand was a present from my sister and the cookies were baked by my son yesterday.....ah.....domestic bliss!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Oct 09 at the RDS

Just back from my trip to Dublin to the RDS Knitting & Stitching Show. I went along on Friday for the whole day with my sister and friends. Although it was uncomfortably hot in the hall, I still had a great day. My favourite part of the day is seeing the UK and Irish graduates' work and the exhibitions by guilds and professional artists. I loved the humour of Cindy Hickok's work ( And was blown away by the work of Kim Thittichai ( I was seduced by the selection of fabrics and prices at Rosenberg's stall and I got some lovely stuff for cushion covers at much better prices than I can get in Galway ( And a day at K&S would not be complete without buying a book or two at Art Van Go ( along with some 'inkaid' to experiment with printing on fabrics. Can't wait to get cracking on some new work watch this space.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Learning to Draw

I brought home my second charcoal drawing from my class with Jim Kavanagh on Thursdays. I am currently working on the violet acrylic underpainting based on this drawing and will move on to adding colour on top in oils next week. Again I learned a huge amount by doing this drawing, proving to me that if I can learn to draw, anyone can!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wallhanging in progress

A friend's mother asked if I would make a wall-hanging using the only ties she kept after her husband died some years ago. Having seen a quilt I made to save the memories associated with my son's baby shirts she thought using her husband's favourite ties to make a wall-hanging would be nicer than keeping those ties in a drawer somewhere. She looked through some quilting books and found a wall-hanging she liked and I used that as inspiration to create a wall-hanging 20 x 30 inches to fit the space she has on her wall for the finished piece. Full credit for the idea and original design goes to UK quilter Mary Mayne. My interpretation is now finished. There are 5 flowers in the piece to represent the 5 children in this family. And the main flower has 11 petals to represent the grandchildren. But there are lots of other there's still room for this family to grow!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Aran Island Hand

This is the oil painting I brought home after my 1st course of 5 classes with Jim Kavanagh. I learned a huge amount from Jim while working on this one painting. It was underpainted in violet acrylic for 2 weeks and then painted with oils on top for a further 2 weeks.

I 'dabbled' with painting in watercolours, acrylics and oils on my own in the past, but probably never understood how to make it all work the way I wanted. Having the help of a teacher made a huge difference!
I enjoyed Jim's classes so much I've signed up for another course. We started a new drawing last night, so I'm hoping to learn some more as I do my second oil painting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Womens Support Project, Leitrim: Day 5

Today was my final class of creative journalling with the Women's Support Project at the Leitrim Design House in Carrick-on-Shannon. We talked about how a journal can help:
  • identify themes that are important to you.
  • work out the design elements before you start to make something.
  • record your journey through the process of making something.
  • 'park' other ideas that come into your head which might distract you. You then have another source of inspiration in the notebook to explore at a later time.

These photos are from my journal which started with a photograph of 'Chinese Lanterns' from 'Country Living' magazine. Using drawings, notes, photographs, stitched samples, the journal records my steps through the process of designing wall-hangings, bowls, and silk evening shawls from this one source of inspiration. I still dip into this journal for design ideas and it has also proved useful as a teaching aid at classes in creative textiles or journalling!

From the ideas I have seen the Leitrim women express in their journals I know they will have plenty to explore in the next phase of the course making 'identity boxes' with Erika Marks and then drawing and painting with Laura Gallagher. I hope the journals provide a gentle introduction to creative expression and take away some of the fear of trying something new. Good luck ladies! I look forward to seeing you all in February when we will explore ideas in textiles!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'Seed Heads' & 'Butterfly'

These 2 pieces are stretched over 8 x 8 deep canvas frames for the Cork Textiles Network's exhibition at the Knitting & Stitching Show at the RDS (29 Oct-1st Nov).

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Rocker

Finished this piece on Friday 9th for 'The Long Note' Exhibition at the Cork School of Music from Monday 23rd November to Friday 18th December. This is an exhibition of textiles from the Cork Textiles Network. The School of Music is open from Mon-Fri 10am - 7pm and Sat 10am - 5pm.

This piece entitled 'The Rocker' includes laser printing, foiling, applique, free-machine embroidery & quilting on Irish linen and cotton. The inspiration came from my days growing up in Cork when my brother played his Thin Lizzy albums non-stop and I was hooked! Once I had the idea for this piece it came together very quickly as I sang my way through a few Lizzy songs. I discovered it's hard to sew and head-bang at the same time!

My trip to Cork at the weekend involved a drink with family and friends where a local band 'Amadans and Bodhrans' played some Lizzy and Rory Gallagher especially for us, ending the night on a perfect note!

The Rocker (detail)

More detail of the Philip Lynott portrait.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Studio Photos

My buttons and beads are now in little red suitcases. These suitcases remind me of a little case full of paper dress-up dolls from 'Bunty' and 'Twinkle' that some friends of mine had when I was a little girl. I always wanted a little red suitcase like that! So here they are, keeping buttons and beads handy for when I make notebook covers.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Womens Support Project, Leitrim: Day 4

Today was the 4th of 5 classes with the women of Leitrim. We had a day of sharing stories, sketching, journalling and collaboration. Every day brings more stories of connections between past and present experiences, serendipity and personal growth. We had a 'field trip' to the Leitrim Design House downstairs, stopping at whatever pieces we connected with to take notes, sketch, develop our powers of observation and record our own emotional responses to what we saw. Here are some journal pages, collaborations and sketches from these women.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Learning to draw

Thinking of doing a stitched piece for the Cork Textiles Network exhibition at the Cork School of Music on the wonderful Philip Lynott, whose music provided the soundtrack to my younger days in Cork city. So a sketch or two of me oul' hero Philo seemed in order....

Learning to draw

A sketch of Charlie Chaplin....kinda!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Learning to fraw

Quick 10min sketches of Wb Yeats and another guy from a newspaper photo.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Womens Support Project, Leitrim: Day 3

Learning to draw can be scary! Especially if it's your first time in front of a group of people. Some people remember previous attempts where the emphasis was on the outcome and not the process. Lots of us just simply say 'I can't draw'. Today we used charcoal and learned a few little tricks to put aside the fear and tackle a drawing. Like most things in life, taking the first step is the hardest part. But once we stop worrying about the outcome, we can just enjoy learning something new. With a little practice we might improve. These are some first drawings for these women, and it turns out they weren't so scary to do at all!

Womens Support Project, Leitrim: Day 3

Today the women made some 'Crazy Dream Collages' and explored ideas of 'what if?'

Learning to draw

Trying to sketch every chance I get. I'm working from black and white photos I find in magazines and newspapers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some finished projects

Just put the finishing touches to some cushions, embroidered journals, brooches and a wall piece. Busy, busy! Some of these can now be seen at the 'Willow' a new craft gallery in Claremorris. The shop is a treasure trove of craft and design from the region. 'Willow' also stocks some ribbon, beads, felt and other craft supplies for you to make some beautiful designs of your own!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Women's Support Project, Leitrim: Day 1

Today was the first day of 'Creative Journalling' with the Women's Support Project, at the Leitrim Design House in Carrick on Shannon. The thing I love most about 'creative journalling' is that anyone can do it, regardless of age, background or experience at 'art'. Even those who feel a bit anxious about where to start, become absorbed and then don't want to go home! So often people tell me it's the first time they felt 'allowed' to create something without any rules. If it doesn't work out as they like, they can just paint or collage over it until they are happy. Today's session was full of paint, glue, bits of paper and magazines. We created a happy mess, shared stories and had fun. Here are samples of the work from these very creative women.