Category Archives: Glass

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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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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Things have been very busy for the last few weeks, with lots of glass to get ready for all the Christmas shops popping up around the country.

I’m delighted to have my handmade fused glass on sale in Galway’s ‘Granny Likes It’ on Abbeygate Street…now open!

You can always find it in the gorgeous Glasson Craft Gallery in Co. Westmeath, just outside Athlone.

And now, I’m thrilled to be included in Dublin’s newest retail outlet for quality Irish art and craft… the tasty Irish Design Selection in the Westbury Mall, off Grafton Street.

With so much making, baking and boxing going on, the studio became a very busy spot. Here’s a picture of my constant companion, and would-be helper, Pip the poodle!

Pip the Poodle

It’s a dog’s life!

Gur Cake comes to Monaghan

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I’m looking forward to displaying my hand made glass at this weekend’s Taste of Monaghan festival.  It’s a chance to combine my two great passions… my glass work, and of course, food!

I don’t know about you, but I know my own childhood memories are peppered with food associations.  Any other Dubs out there (that is, people from Dublin, Ireland), at least those of a certain vintage, will remember Gur Cake.  The name supposedly comes from the slang word ‘gurrier’ – a young Dublin rascal!  In fact, Gur Cake is the same as Chester Cake or Fruit Slice.

It was created long ago, and is cheap and easy to make.  I suspect it was developed to make something sweet and satisfying out of leftovers… with our current economic status, maybe this is the perfect time to bring it back, although it may never have gone away!

It’s hard to be specific with a recipe, as every bakery, and family, had their own take on Gur Cake.  At its simplest, it is a mixture of bread and fruit, baked in a roasting dish, between two layers of pastry.  When cool, it is cut into generous slabs, and is filling and satisfying!  Here’s how to go about it… experiment and find a recipe to suit yourselves!

Break up a small white loaf (or cake or brioche), stale is fine, in a bowl.  Add enough liquid to bind.  I used about a quarter pint of milk… but think of tea, espresso, perhaps a dollop of brandy, or Irish whisky! Add a beaten egg, 500g dried fruit, a cup of caster sugar, the grated rind and juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of mixed spice, a spoonful of treacle to give it its traditional dark colour, and mix it all up.

Roll out enough shortcrust pastry to cover the base of a deep, square baking dish, or roasting tray.  Spoon the gur filling on top, and cover with another layer of shortcrust pastry.  Prick the top with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a moderate oven (about 180C) for about 40 minutes.

When cool, dust with icing sugar if you’d like, cut into squares… and enjoy!  Serve it up to a Dub near you, and listen to them reminisce!

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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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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