Category Archives: Craft

Craftwork, glass craft, work, handicrafts

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.

A Secret World

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Unbeknownst to most people, there’s a whole secret world full of busy, busy people at this time of year.  All around the planet, toy makers, card makers, designers and craft workers are beavering away in a land of tinsel, holly, Santa, snowflakes and sparkles.

For the last few weeks, I’ve joined the ranks and turned my creative attention to the forthcoming holiday season… Is it too soon to use the ‘C’ word?!

Admittedly, in Ireland, we don’t get great weather, and the summer season was a write-off, but nevertheless, there’s no sign of winter outside.  Yet, inside, I’m dreaming of a Christmas tree, heavy with decorations, glistening near a log fire… of mittens, woolly hats and scarves keeping little children warm while they play outside in the snow… of frosty nights, starry skies, and counting the number of sleeps ’til the Big Man himself pays his visit!

My studio has become a hive of festive activity, even though it’s only September!  And, I’m getting into the spirit of it all… here’s a sneak peek at the results so far!

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Little fused glass holly decorations, just coming out of the kiln!

If you’d like to get your hands on my little decorations, you can order them on Etsy … Happy Holidays!!

Heartache to LURVE!!

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I’m so delighted that Niamh’s happy with the recycled Waterford Crystal sculpture…!

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For several years now living in the corner of my kitchen I have had a heartache vase – I called it this because every single time I looked at it – it broke my heart, a stunning Waterford crystal vase given to me on the occasion of our wedding 11 years ago (next Thursday ) by my very best girlfriends! My beloved cracked it and it has sat forlorn for the last few years facing the wall…but no longer!!

You see I am a very lucky girl, with wonderful talented people all about me…..Grace Brennan of Kings Forge Glass in Mullyash here in Co. Monaghan ( my buddy my pal and fellow blogger) took pity on me and my heartache ( Oh ok yes I beged begggggggged her, like really!!) And by the powers, magic and talent that is her immeasurable skill in glass fusing and with a sprinkle of…

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Fabulous & Friends pop-up in Clones!

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For this weekend only, Clones is transformed from Irish rural town, to festival HQ, as they celebrate their annual Clones Canal Capers Festival.

As part of the madness, the Fabulous creative crew, along with invited friends, are opening their popular pop-up shop once again.

Encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor, together with silk painter Louise Loughman, with help from well-known painter Roisin Duffy, transformed the vacant premises at Diamond DIY from this ….

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… to this …

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The shop looks amazing!  Open daily this weekend only Friday – Sunday 7-9 September 2012 from 10am-6pm. All the work is handmade in Co. Monaghan.  Participating artists include those named above, along with Liz Christy‘s handwoven shawls and scarves; natural soaps and more from Irish Scentsations, Dorinda McCormack‘s handwoven handbags and purses, and some of my own Kings Forge Glass.  There’s lots more local crafts besides, and a visit is without doubt most worthwhile.

Might be an ideal opportunity to pick up some early Christmas gifts… all handmade with pride, in Monaghan.

Hope to you you there!

Lunch in Galway

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McCambridges of Shop St., Galway

Lucky lunchtime feasters!

Just the quickest note. Delighted to share my new foodie find…the wonderful McCambridge’s on Shop St in Galway.  Thoughtful food served in a great atmosphere by efficient and helpful staff! I had a delish salad with tuna, pine nuts, leaves including basil, and asparagus – more for a feeling of luxury than anything else – with a tahini dressing.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a very tempting island laden down with lovely-looking bakes, but I resisted!
That’s the good news. But the reason for my pitstop trip to Galway is to collect some glass pieces from the amazing ‘TANK Granny Likes It‘ pop-up shop on Upper Abbeygate St. The shop is the brainchild of businesswoman Rona O’Reilly, and no doubt her TANK emporium of Irish craft will be popping up again soon!
Watch this space!

Aside
Up close and personal with fused glass

Keep your glass glimmering!

People often ask me how to look after their lovely new fused glass piece.  It’s really very simple, and not scary at all!!

Just use water!  That’s right: your fused glass candle holder, bowl or suncatcher, can be washed in warm water and washing up liquid, rinsed off and dried, just like a tumbler.

Why not try using your candle holder as a little sweet dish, or put peanuts in it to serve with drinks?  Your King’s Forge Glass ‘web’ bowl will hold bread rolls, or fruit, and there’s no end to the uses for a solid glass platter.  Don’t be afraid to get your glass dirty, as now you know, you can wash it clean again!

Some items may have added ribbons, if it is a hanging piece, or perhaps little rubber ‘feet’ to protect the base of a bowl. You might prefer to remove these before washing.

Okay, I wouldn’t put it in the dishwasher, but that’s not a good enough reason to leave your glass out of your daily life.  I’d like to think the more you use your glass, the more you’ll love it!

If you’ve any queries about your King’s Forge glass piece, don’t hesitate to contact me, either through the website www.kingsforgeglass.com or through my Facebook page.

How to keep your glass sparkling

The True Story of King’s Forge

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Once upon a time, almost a hundred years ago, a south Armagh man by the name of Frank King made his way to a rural hillside in Co. Monaghan, where he set up a makeshift blacksmith’s forge in a roadside shed. He met and married a local girl, Kathleen, and moved further up Mullyash mountain, close to her family home.

King’s Forge was a thriving blacksmith’s business, and became a local landmark. Set in a somewhat remote area outside the town of Castleblayney, King’s Forge was nonetheless the scene of many a debacle, located, as it was, at the junction of a popular smuggling route across the border with Northern Ireland. Smuggling was not the only underhand activity. Castleblayney Garda Station houses a photo from the 1920s, which shows a line-up of proud policemen, standing outside the old forge, with the stash of poitín equipment they had uncovered.

Over the years, improvements were made to their humble home. In the 1930s, the Kings extended the original cottage. To one side was a henhouse, while to the other, the turf house connected their home to the forge.

As years passed and progress brought tractors and machinery to local farms, the need for a blacksmith lessened, and business slacked.
On their deaths, the old forge was left empty, and it wasn’t long before the house became uninhabitable.

In the 1970s, the forge changed hands, coincidentally to another, although unrelated, Frank King. He never made use of the buildings, and eventually put the property back on the market.

Before renovation!

One foggy night late in 2003, I came upon the derelict building. After more than two years of house-hunting, the ‘For Sale’ sign seemed to shine like a beacon in the fog. I came back to see the forge again the following day, and six months later it was mine.

That’s not the end of the story. After two years of work on a budget tighter than the Irish economy, the day came when once again, smoke could be seen billowing from the chimney of King’s Forge.

In the meantime, numerous passers-by have stopped to tell me their tales of growing up while the forge was smoking away. As children on their way home from Mullyash National School, many were called to stop and hold a horse for a few minutes. Hours would pass, and Frank would keep them working. Others told of Mrs King, who always had the kettle on the boil, and loved callers to stop awhile.

Now the forge is once again a busy workshop, where the kiln is kept going, fusing glass into shapes large and small, in every colour in the rainbow. My mountaintop view from the studio window reveals miles and miles of perfect rural landscape, covering all the drumlins of Co. Monaghan, and much of Co. Cavan beyond. Nothing could be more inspiring.

Home Sweet Home

The kitchen is now where the turf house once stood, and the kettle is still kept boiling. King’s Forge studio is open by appointment, and callers are welcome to a hot cup of tea, and maybe even a little baked treat, if they’re lucky.
Thank you for taking the time to read the true story of King’s Forge, Mullyash, Castleblayney, County Monaghan, Ireland.