Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Stitching the Legend" exhibition at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey

"Stitching the Legend" an exhibition of work by the Textile Art Forum finishes on Saturday 30th June at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim.

Here are just a few photos of the exhibition taken by Jan Blair.

CraftED exhibition at Mayo Education Centre

Monday 25th was an enjoyable day for the 6 Mayo schools that participated in this year's CraftED project and I was very glad to be invited back to participate in the celebrations.

(The CraftED project is funded by the regional Education Centres in collaboration with the Crafts Council of Ireland with the aim of bringing professional craft-makers into the classroom to share their skills with National School pupils in a collaborative arts project.)

On Monday the Director of the Mayo Education Centre Art Ó Súilleabháin welcomed pupils, teachers craftmakers as well as local press photographers and tv crews to the opening of an exhibition of the work created as part of the CraftED project.

Pupils from each of the schools presented their feedback on the project which highlighted the many benefits of collaboration for the pupils, teachers and craftmakers. The projects showed how interactive learning is so much fun and how all pupils engaged fully with the project. Feedback was extremely positive across all participants.

I was delighted to see the final display of the results of my collaboration with the 5th and 6th class pupils of Brackloon National School. There were photographs of the work in progress, some of the pupils sketchbooks, a colourful scrapbook including poetry, essays, letters, research, photos. The 'Magicalistic Cloak' they created using fabric, stitch, fabric paints, appliqué and foil techniques was modelled by the lovely 'Cynthia'!

Mayo TV filmed interviews with the pupils involved which we look forward to viewing online at www.mayotv.ie.

Each of the schools received a certificate and a 'goody bag' and we were all treated to a wonderful selection of food and drink provided by the Education Centre.

Here are some of the other CraftED items created by the other 5 schools involved.

For more information on the CraftED project and for information on all of the tutors involved see www.learncraftdesign.com.

Scoil Náisiúnta na bhForbacha is inspired to stitch!

The recent International Quilt Festival of Ireland received a lot of attention from quilters and non-quilters alike. Amongst those visiting was Breda King, a national school teacher in Furbo, Co. Galway. Breda was so impressed by the potential of fabric and stitch as a means of self-expression that she made some enquiries and I was delighted to be invited to work with 5th and 6th class on a fabric inspired project before the end of term.

The school is located in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region) and so this gave me an opportunity to practice mo Ghaeilge agus tá súil agam nach raibh mo chuid Gaeilge ró-olc!

Although our time was limited, the children set to work with enthusiasm sketching ideas for a piece of fabric art. I brought along some of my sketchbooks and their related finished textile art pieces to demonstrate the process of developing ideas through sketching and note-taking before tackling a new piece of work.

We then used Berol and Pentel fabric crayons to add colour to 100% cotton fabric. These crayons are a quick way to add vibrant colour, they provide more control for drawing than fabric paints and of course they don't need drying time so they were ideally suited to the time-frame we had available to us. The colours can be fixed to the fabric by heat-setting with an iron (protect your ironing mat and iron by using baking parchment or paper). In theory this makes the finished piece washable (ideal for t-shirts) but we didn't test this as our pieces are meant as wall-art.

We also used fusible webbing (bondaweb/vliesofix) ironed to the back of printed cottons and cut into shapes to iron onto the drawings for extra texture.

The children used cotton embroidery thread to create stitched embellisments (running stitch, cross stitch, etc) and to sew on brightly coloured buttons.

It's great to see all the children enjoying learning how to stitch (which is a skill for life!) but they also saw how these practical skills can be used to create unique artwork.

These supplies and techniques are easy to introduce into the classroom. They encourage the children to learn new coordination skills as they thread a needle, tie a knot, sew small and large stitches. The work requires concentration perserverance and they enjoy the challenge.

Here are just some of the finished pieces stretched over mounting card and ready to frame. I'm hoping this will encourage a new generation of textile artists and perhaps next year's International Quilt Festival of Ireland will see the work of children featuring prominently! For more information of the festival see www.iqfoi.com. For more information on my work with schools read some other posts on this blog or contact me directly. See also www.learncraftdesign.com for more information on the CraftED project with schools, I am one of many craft tutors involved in this project with schools around Ireland.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Craft in the Classroom at Presentation College Galway

2nd Year Art students at Presentation College Galway accompanied their art teacher and myself to the 'Modified Expression' exhibition curated by the Crafts Council of Ireland at the Galway City Museum in April. This mixed media exhibition provided the students with lots of visual stimulation. Back in the classroom we talked about how a sketchbook becomes an important part of the process for the artist to explore ideas, pull ideas together, investigate a theme and try to create a composition for a piece of work. These students chose the theme of 'eyes' and are working to see what they can come up with to explore in fabric and stitch.

The sketchbooks are starting to fill up with images and quotations which they are using as jump-off points to develop their own ideas.
Sketching, collage, painting, embellishment and writing are all included in the sketchbooks as well as daily observations of life around them. Any or none of these ideas might make it into the final piece of work the students choose to create. But this stage of exploration is a vital part of the process to help each student find their own unique visual language.

This project continued through May....more photos to follow.

International Quilt Festival of Ireland

Oh what fun we had!! On Saturday I was part of the team volunteering at the Irish Patchwork Society stand at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland. We met some wonderful quilters from all around Ireland and from all over the world and we had a laugh together modelling our IPS sashes....wolf whistles all around!!

Claudia Pfeil was one of the international tutors at the festival and the long-arm quilting on this piece was just amazing....mind-blowing really!

This quilt by Ricky Tims was also stunning and stopped me in my tracks.

 Trees by Nancy Sachro, Canada was part of the Yin & Yang exhibition.

I don't know the title of this piece but it was exhibited on the floor, with dappled light on it and was made by a group from Krefeld.

This is just a tiny selection of the amazing pieces on show from 8-10th June at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland at the NUI campus in Galway. If you missed it this year....mark your diary and don't make the mistake of missing it next year!! You will not be disappointed!

"Crossroads" an EQA exhibition at the Festival of Quilts

I finished this in time to submit to the IPS executive for possible inclusion in the European Quilters Association exhibition at this year's Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.

The theme is 'Crossroads'.
I had just finished the CraftED project with Brackloon National School and also just completed a body of work for 'Stitching the Legend' an exhibition running until 30th June at the Flax Gallery, Mossley Mills, Newtownabbey. The International Quilt Festival of Ireland was due to start on the 8th June and I had committed to some hours of volunteering. My son will be on school hols soon and I won't want to start any big projects over the summer. So I was feeling like I was at a bit of a crossroads myself. And so this is entitled 'Where Next?'

It includes some commercial batiks, hand-painted fabrics, inkjet printed fabrics, sketchbook entries printed on fabric, foil appliqué and free-motion quilting. It measures 50cm x 20cm.

Another small deadline met....sigh! For me deadlines provide me with motivation to follow through on ideas in my head, otherwise I tend to procrastinate. Whether this piece is selected to be 1 of 10 Irish entries or not I'll still be glad I made it as it's another step along the way to trying out new ideas. Challenges like these help me to knuckle down and do some work!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

CraftEd Project with Brackloon National School, Westport, Co. Mayo

The CraftEd project is joint funded by the Crafts Council of Ireland, the participating National School and their local Education Centre.

I was invited to collaborate with the 5th and 6th class pupils of Brackloon National School who were interested to explore fabric and stitch to create an artwork for their school.

The pupils took their inspiration from the location of their school near Brackloon Woods at the foot of Croagh Patrick and invented a new word to describe it 'Magicalistic'. They decided to make a cloak to express their ideas.

They set to work in their sketchbooks to explore their ideas by painting, drawing, collaging and taking notes.

They learned new skills such as how to thread a needle, tie a knot, create a running stitch, secure it with a double stitch, sew a button, use stitches to construct items and to decorate items.

They tried out fabric paints to add colour to fabric for use in their project.

They learned how to machine-sew on a hand-operated sewing machine that has now been donated to the school to allow them to continue to develop their sewing skills in future classroom projects.

They worked in teams to make decisions about the colour, size, shape, design layout, display options and documentary process for the making of their cloak.

They chose an Irish linen background and printed their names in a spiral which was painted as a sunburst for the central motif on the back of the cloak. A selection of stitched leaves radiate outwards. Each of the 24 pupils embellished their own triangle (to represent the shape of Croagh Patrick) to decorate either side of the front opening of the cloak. A selection of trees, birds, flowers and a rainbow were created to decorate the bottom of the cloak.

With a final lesson in the use of bondaweb and craft-foil some golden highlights were added to the cloak's collar.


I had a wonderful time working with these talented, enthusiastic pupils and their very supportive teacher Mr. Tunney. This project has provided me with huge inspiration for future work and I'm very grateful for the experience!