Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Sophie Bruen

The simple and sleek forms that ceramicist Sophie Bruen uses combined with the detailed and delicate insects and foliage really captured my eye when I came across her artist page on Facebook. When you follow Sophie's work it is lovely to see how she is constantly evolving as an artist, creating new pieces and really having fun with the craft. Each piece is beautiful in a different way- from the simplicity of a white dish with one single green fern curled up inside to the complex kaleidoscope patterns where multicoloured butterflies fly off a white background. The images below are just a small sample of the large body of work that Sophie has created in a surprisingly short space of time.

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I started up my studio in March 2013 after leaving my job and taking the plunge into self employment. I lost my sister unexpectedly a few years previously and in realising first hand that life is truly too short it was imperative for me to make every minute count and do something that filled my soul with the 'good stuff'.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

I make hand-crafted ceramics, mostly functional and always inspired by the natural world. I use the slip casting method with white earthenware clay and plaster moulds, which I make. All my work is then hand glazed. I photograph my subject matter whether it be insects, flora or fauna (I have a huge collection of entomology at home!) and then transfer the images onto ceramic paper to fire onto my pots.

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

The hardest single obstacle, obviously apart from time, is balancing home life with my studio work as I am a single parent working from home. Quite often the house is an utter mess and I find myself throwing food to my daughter from the studio!!

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

I am constantly motivated, the natural world, besides anything to do with shapes and forms of my clay work, is an ever wondrous excitement! I often wake at 3am with new design ideas.

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as an artist/designer?

The icing on the cake for me as an artist has to be the dialogue I hold with all my customers and followers on Facebook. They are a constant source of encouragement. I love them all.xx

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

What I admire most in other people/artists is integrity and simply striving to be the best they can be, whether that be painter, ceramicist, baker, candlestick maker.......constantly striving for fulfillment and the desire to be good at what they do.

My biggest influence would be someone who can look straight into the eyes of adversity and manage to flourish.

7. Describe your creative space creative space...hhhmmmmm, well it is very untidy! I am constantly covered in clay and plaster (much to my daughters dismay at school pickup). My studio is forever lagged with clay etc dead insects, bones and skulls! I also have a dreadful habit of dispersing scraps of paper with ideas on everywhere. I am not very organised!

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

The best piece of advice I have ever been given was from my late father. He told me in no uncertain terms (he was a formidable man and artist) "Sophie, it is imperative that you must live for work and not work to live." I think I have succeeded albeit got through many a tin of baked beans in the process!

You can keep up to date with Sophie's work here...

(all above images are ©  Sophie Bruen Ceramics)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

'Art & Design Cloister' at Kenmare Lace Festival

I was one of the invited designers at the Art & Design Cloister at this years Kenmare Lace Festival.

Here I am busy setting up the stand...

I packaged my coasters into sets with coloured twine and little silver flower charms..

My new 'Daisy-Chain tape was a great seller! I displayed it in these lovely crates which my talented husband made. 

The three new notebooks were a great success but this one was the best seller (it's my favourite too!)

I had 3 new greeting card designs and this 'Blue Butterfly' design was the most popular of all my 6 designs!

The notebooks were available individually and in packs of 3..

The festival was great and I got to meet lots of lovely people.  I was delighted with the feedback on my new products, especially my 'Daisy-Chain tape!

Thank you to everyone who came, saw and purchased and I hope you enjoy your Petal to Petal goods, Lily x

Thursday, 19 March 2015

This Saturday at the Kenmare Lace Festival

The Kenmare Lace Festival starts today and runs until Sunday. There is a full festival programme with lacemaking workshops in nine different disciplines running over two days. For the fashion conscious there will be a fashion show, a fashion-able competition and 'meet the designers' at the Art & Design Cloister. Exhibitions will showcase the very best in lacemaking and Irish design. The majority of the events are free entry and all details can be found on the website

For one day only, Saturday 21st March, the Kenmare Lace Festival will host an ‘Art & Design Cloister’. Browse and enjoy unique art and design pieces created by established and up and coming producers. Many of these items will be available for purchase. 

The ‘Art & Design Cloister’ is open from 10am – 6pm and I will be selling my work alongside five other artists and designers. I have been busy preparing and have lots of new work- original artworks, art prints, greeting cards, notebooks and more. The venue is Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine which is a 3 minute walk from Kenmare town centre. The weather forecast looks great so it should be a sunny Saturday in beautiful Kenmare- one of those towns that is really magical when the sun comes out!

From 12pm the Cloister Café at the Pobalscoil Inbhear Sceine will be open for lunch and sweet treats.
There is a courtyard where you can rest and enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee and something sweet. 

From 10am-1pm there are the following workshops which are 3 hours each. The teachers are experts in their field and tickets for these are available from the website. 

Kenmare Needlepoint Lace with Sinead Hennessy
Carrickmackross Lace Traditional with Mary O’Neill
Carrickmacross Lace Contemporary with Theresa Kelly
Limerick Lace with Grainne Conlon
Bobbin Lace with Ann Keller
Traditional Crochet Lace with Kathie Earle

From 2pm – 5pm all of the workshops repeat, with the exception of Kenmare Needlepoint Lace which is taught by Nora Finnegan in the later class.

From 11am - 6pm 'Threads', An Exhibition of Contemporary handmade lace artwork - by Fiona Harrington and Orla Breslin, is in Cleo's Gallery on Shelbourne Street. 

From 10am – 6pm at the Pobailscoil Inbhear Sceine you can view the Lace Library -wonderful lace books and patterns- and be inspired by lace makers from the past. You can also view 'The Luxury of Irish Lace Exhibition' which is a special viewing of pieces made by the teachers.  

This is just a selection of what is happening this Saturday at the Kenmare Lace Festival. The programme of events is jam packed and is an unmissable experience for any lovers of lace and detail. 

All of the events are aimed at encouraging people to uphold tradition, good design and culture.