Author Archives: KingsForgeGlass

About KingsForgeGlass

The occasional, meandering thoughts of an Irish fused glass artist, high in the hills of Co Monaghan, Ireland.

Winter Wonderland

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Winter Wonderland

Meteorologists tell us that last night was the coldest night of our winter so far, with temperatures plummeting to -7.  There is no increase in temperatures in sight.

Most of the country has recovered from recent snowfalls, but up here in Mullyash, we seem to enjoy a micro-climate all our own.  Rarely is the weather the same at home, as it is just ten minutes’ drive away in my nearest town of Castleblayney.  While the snow down in town is long gone, with daytime temperatures not rising much above zero, ours is still stretched out in a virgin sea of white.

I am always saying how lucky I feel to have found my old derelict forge some ten years ago, and how inspiring it is, to have views from the highest point in Co Monaghan over the whole county, as well as over Co Cavan and beyond.

This morning, when I went out to feed my hens, and bring them fresh water as their dish had frozen solid, I smiled to see the evidence of some other residents!

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Here you’ll see where a nice fat bird crossed the path of a passing hare. I wonder if they met and shared an early-morning chat?

The sun was shining so brightly that I could have used a pair of sunglasses.  The colours and the long shadows were fabulous. I can’t help but share the views I was treated to.  This is the beauty of my Ireland on a cold, winter’s day.

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Time Out!

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I stepped off the treadmill for a few days, and had a ball.  Ireland has so much to offer, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy it.

Every year I try to make it to the biggest event in rural Ireland’s calendar – the National Ploughing Championships.  Urbanites and sceptics listen up: this is an event for everyone!  Where else are you likely to see grown men and women, complete with coats, bags and boots, grab a partner and dance to live music at 11 in the morning?  There’s fashion shows, cookery exhibitions, crafts and artisan food, alongside every possible agricultural necessity, all expertly laid out on 800 acres of walkways.  And that’s all in addition to the ploughing itself.  Is it going too far to say it’s the highlight of my year?  I don’t think so – I just love it!

Not a great picture, but you can get some idea of the 80,000+ people who visit the show daily.

Not a great picture, but you can get some idea of the 80,000+ people who visit the show daily.

By the time you’ve walked all 800 acres, maybe more than once, and reached your car, you’re more than ready for that traditional Irish ‘tea and sandwiches’ before setting off on the road.

This year, we stayed over in Tullamore, and I’m delighted we did.  Next day, we went exploring one of Ireland’s hidden treasures: the somewhat eccentric Charleville Castle, just outside Tullamore.

This year will see it celebrate its 200th birthday - still young, in terms of castles!

This year Charleville Castle celebrates its 200th birthday – still young, in terms of castles!

After the guided tour, complete with details of the castle’s colourful past, and current ghosts, we headed for home.

Next day was busy, with Castleblayney’s 2nd Annual Fair Day underway.  A fantastic event, the town steps back in time, with shopkeepers and visitors alike arriving in traditional dress, and memories from yesteryear taking centre stage. Horses, goats, sheep, cattle and donkeys share the street with traditional crafts, vintage vehicles, old shop records, and street traders.  It’s a sight for sore eyes.

Bygone days in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan

Bygone days in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan

And finally, have a look at what I picked up at the Car Boot Sale in the wonderful Iontas Centre, in Castleblayney, on Saturday morning…

One of a pair of stained glass window panels.  Irresistible to me, naturally enough!

One of a pair of stained glass window panels. Irresistible to me, naturally enough!

The day ended with an 18th birthday party, which went on well into Sunday morning!  Any wonder it took me a while to get back onto that treadmill on Monday morning?!

 

 

Ireland’s Hidden Treasures

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I took a rare day off last week and headed off to the midlands.  We were off on one of our ‘wild goose chases’.  I love those days.  You leave home with a simple agenda, and you never know where the day will take you.

On this occasion, my man and I went off to collect something he’d spotted on Done Deal.  We’re easily entertained, and don’t need much of an excuse to gallivant.  We never stray too far from home, but are only looking for an excuse to break up a journey.

So into the centre of the country we headed, with only an idea of where we were supposed to end up.  For those of you who don’t know, the N52 is a road that traverses the midlands of Ireland from the Dundalk area in the north-east, right down through the centre to beyond Nenagh, in Co Tipperary.  It pre-dates the country’s many motorways, and if you’re not in a hurry, it’s not a bad way to travel through Ireland.

We were only going down as far as the town of Cloghan, Co Offaly.  But along the way, we stopped for lunch in Tyrrellspass Castle, in Co Westmeath.  What a fascinating discovery.  This is an ancient castle, dating back to the 1400s, that has been converted into a fabulous eatery.  It is privately owned, and was full to the brim of happy diners.  What a pleasure to see such a place thrive.

The other hidden treasure we discovered was Kilbeggan Distillery.  I’m not a great fan of whiskey, but you couldn’t fail to be impressed there.  For a small fee, you can take yourself on a tour of the distillery, armed with an information leaflet.  It takes you through every step of the distilling process, and takes you back generations at the same time.  You truly get a feeling for the many other feet that have climbed the steps before you as you walk through this living piece of history.

If this is what’s out there, on a simple day trip, it’s just a hint of all the places in our own back yard, just waiting to be explored.

Explore Ireland. It’s on my bucket list.

Something old, something new…

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Something old, something new…

No links to weddings at all, but very true for a new phase in my fused glass work!

My beloved little kiln has been joined in my studio, by a big brother kiln, and that has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.

As I was finding my way around the workings of the new machine, I began experimenting with old glass, something I had only very simply dabbled in before now, with the odd wine bottle fused into a spoon rest.  When working on a large scale, mistakes can be very costly, so I thought I’d rather take risks with a less valuable commodity than the specialist glass I use for my signature range.

So I got my hands on some very old windows, and began to play.

The results surprised and delighted me!  So I’m thrilled to unveil my new recycled range of fused glass homeware.  Here’s a little taster…

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My moment in the spotlight

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They say that everyone can enjoy a few minutes of fame in their lifetime.  Mine came when the film-makers arrived at King’s Forge, to have a look at what I do.

Irish TV is a new channel with the brief to show the world the real Ireland. County Matters is a half hour programme, and every county has its own team County Matters film-makers, on the lookout for items of interest in the locality.

I was honoured to be asked to be featured, and attached is the very first episode of County Matters – Monaghan.  First, viewers have a look at Monaghan’s own Rally School; there’s an interview with the owner of the famous Castle Leslie, along with an insight into entrepreneurs Combi Lift.

King’s Forge is featured right after the Rally School, and viewers get to have a pretty good look around my forge workshop hidden away at the top of the fabulous Monaghan countryside, and a little insight into what goes into making fused glass.  Enjoy!

http://www.irishtv.ie/monaghan-matters-episode-1-part-1/

Don’t forget to keep an eye on Sky channel 191 for all the latest episodes of County Matters, from every corner of Ireland.

Renaissance?

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Apologies for a delay in writing too long to make excuses for. I’ve been focusing on the development of my glass work…happily turning out kiln-loads of fused beauties!
But I’m now the bearer of exciting news.          After a lot of persuasion, complaining, and yes, the promise of cold hard cash, I’ve cajoled my own personal web developer to give my tired, stagnant and boring website a major makeover!!
I’ve handed over the reins for now and soon http://www.kingsforgeglass.com will be relaunched as a vibrant, living site which should combine my blog, my online shop and my Facebook page in one big friendly venue!!
I can hardly wait…!

Dublin Showcase a Host of Irish Talent

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Just back from a trip to Dublin’s RDS, which annually invites Irish artists, craftspeople and fashion designers to showcase their work to buyers from all over the world.  This is a trade fair, not open to the general public, but it is instead an opportunity for wholesale buyers to see what is new and exciting in the creative arena here in Ireland, and to place their orders for the year ahead.

What a wonderful venue, and full to the brim of humbling talent.  As my friend, encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor, and I strolled round the stalls, we spoke to many of the exhibitors.  For some reason, my impression was that the majority of the stallholders were women, and it is, of course, wonderful to see women forge ahead in such exciting and creative fields.

There are several halls exhibiting the more established businesspeople, as well as up and coming artists.  Monaghan, where I’m from, was well represented, with batik artist Louise Loughman, weaver Liz Christy, Brenda McGinn of Busy Bee Ceramics, and fashion designer Helen Steele, all busy with buyers.

Silk painter and batik artist Louise Loughman, at Showcase 2013.

Silk painter and batik artist Louise Loughman, at Showcase 2013.

There really is something for every taste at Showcase.  Fashion is stunning, with a catwalk parade twice daily; there’s woodwork, stonework, sculpture, ceramics (check out Sarah McKenna and Ian Carty), visual art (Breda Marron and Patricia Murphy come to mind), textile art (my own favourites were Breda McNelis and Bernadette Fox), jewellery design, furniture design, home decor, giftware, soap and candle makers, and so much more.

My own special interest is, of course, in glass, and I wasn’t disappointed!  There was stained glass work, blown glass (check out the work of Kerry Crafted Glass – blown 100% recycled glass), and plenty of my medium, fused glass, on offer, with gorgeous work on display from artists Jonathan Ball, Louise Rice, and my own favourite Maura Whelan, amongst others!

If you can beg, borrow, or steal a pass, make it your business to check out Showcase in Dublin’s RDS … at the very least, you can look online at www.showcaseireland.com.  And don’t forget, it’s up to all of us to support these businesses, by buying local and buying handmade.