I could count on one hand all the things I’ve ever created that have no purpose other than to just be. Because of this, I’ve felt less like an artist and more like a crafter, my thinking being that functional things were mostly created by crafters, and ‘things of beauty’ by artists. That thought probably says more about my urbanity than my ability as a maker, a direct reflection of my rural roots.
While admiring my star wreath and thinking how it was one of the few things I’ve made that has no practical function, the thought occurred to me that maybe functional objects that also communicate individual ideas are the very definition of arts & crafts/artist & crafter. As a well-paired couple, maybe it’s a case of them working hand in hand, not one or the other.
It’s not called ‘arts or crafts.’ Continue reading
No more children sitting on their feet and no more cold bottoms because I finally made padded covers for the metal stools that surround the island in our kitchen. It seems noteworthy to tell you that we’ve nicknamed this seating area Inis Meáin, which translates to ‘the middle island’, and is the same name as our island neighbor here in the Aran Islands.
Most meals are eaten here in the kitchen. The dining room table is a hub for crafting, game playing, Lego and sorting clean laundry. As the chalkboard sign in the upper left corner so well documents, it was our 163rd monthiversary, ♥ 163 months married ♥, it was the 24th of November. Continue reading
Hanging on the front of our house, about four foot by four foot in size.
Have you ever entered an Irish home and wondered what the handmade cross hanging above the door represents? Or perhaps you’ve seen a charm or pendant bearing the symbol that shares pride of place right aside shamrocks, harps, and claddagh rings.
St. Brigid’s Blessing
May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside, every wall and floor;
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof;
And every tongue and mind for evermore;
Bless every hand that toils to bring joy
And every foot that walks its portals through.
This is my wish today, my constant prayer
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.
I made a small cross for the inside of our house and using the above willow, I made a giant St. Brigid’s cross for the outside–my welcome to spring offering, traditionally placed near doorways to ward off evil, fire, and hunger from homes.
Here is a photo step-by-step tutorial of how I made the giant cross. Scroll over any picture to read the details of each step or click on any picture to start a slideshow.
A close-up of the finished center.
1) Rub midpoint of willow gently back and forth on an edge to create a bend.
2) Ease the willow branch in half, folded onto itself.
3) A bit of inventive storage-the bent willows resting in the holes of laundry basket.
4) After a couple hours, I removed the willow and dropped into basket for easy access.
5) Four extra ‘hands’ were needed at this point.
6) The beginning–three branches per side completed; probably the hardest part.
Photographed on a fine and frosty morning.
Below is a tutorial of how the cross is woven. It’s the normal size and uses the rushes that are typically used. My friend Bernie shared how to make them with me and a group of friends this past Feb 1st when we gathered to celebrate St. Brigid’s Eve together.
Wreaths are stand-alone decorations that are quite versatile. They can be large or small, indoors or outside, ornate or modestly adorned, hung vertically or placed flat on a table top, and definitely not exclusive to holiday time.
They need not even be a circle– heart, oval, square, or diamond all work beautifully to create a unique visual display that looks custom made for a space.
This year I decided to make wreaths for our children’s bus driver and teachers to show appreciation for the care they provide throughout the school year.
This tutorial was picked up by HomeFarmer Magazine by way of twitter and printed in their online publication.
The wind and rain doesn’t seem to stop the many visitors who gear up and brace themselves for the 4+ mile journey from Kilronan to the islands main attraction, Dun Aenghus Fort. However, I did wonder this day how many of them would’ve boarded the ferry in Galway had it already been lashing. But the rain started late morning and they had already arrived. So while cyclists buzzed by our garden during yesterday’s wonderfully wicked weather, I was welcoming a day off from the hotel and garden to stay inside the house.
In trying to think of an island connection for this bag design, I was reminded of the old adage “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”. Both Shakespeare (Venus and Adonis, 75th stanza) and Jesus (Matthew 16:1–4) expressed similar meaning proverbial wisdom, and despite my growing up aside the ocean and in a fishing family, I never heard it before moving to Ireland. Here, where much of the population fish for a living, and where travel by boat is the main mode for leaving the island, if a red sky occurs, it’s a matter seriously taken into account when formulating an opinion or plan about travelling. And it’s not without scientific merit.
Another crocheted bag–this time an open tote. I didn’t use a pattern but this is what I did: After making an oval base (same as a rug) I crocheted in the round for the bag’s body using US single crochet/UK double crochet continuously until I reached the desired height.
The straps are crocheted flat with rounded ends then wrapped around extra thick cording before being stitched closed. With my sewing machine, I stitched the straps onto the bag. It’s lined with a matching tan corduroy fabric that has a set in zipper pocket. The variegated yarn is Red Heart acrylic that I brought over from the States with me.
The picture is an island sunset taken by Johnny a couple years ago. The resemblance works and so I have named the bag ‘Sailor’s Delight Open Tote’.
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I have attached my notes. They have not been tested other than the original creation but I feel confidant enough to pass them on. Sorry they are not typed out. Though I am happy to share them, it was not my intention when I published this post. I am honoured to have had them requested. This was the quickest way and I’m tired. Let me know if you have any questions. Continue reading
If you’re lucky, the Easter Bunny might deliver some delicious fermented eggs to you this Sunday. But no worries if you don’t discover any in your daffodil patch–they’re pretty darn easy to make yourself. Fermented eggs are similar to pickled eggs, but much healthier because, well, they’re fermented. Instead of relying on vinegar to impart the wickedly wonderful flavor they’re known for, lactic acid works it’s magic–check out this link to read my very unscientific explanation of how it casts its spell on food. Continue reading
A side view shows the base that helps it to sit upright and a view of the inside gives a peak at the coordinating lining.
Welcome to lesson four of my five beginner sewing project tutorials. This project repeats most of the skills acquired in the first three lessons and introduces inserting a zipper and a lining. Neither are too difficult, and both are invaluable basic skills that open up many future project possibilities. This project looks time intensive, but like the others before, it’s easily taught within the four-hour class time, allowing for warm-up exercises and a twenty-minute break. I should add here that I have the fabrics pre-cut for students and they choose the combination of elements–zip, ribbon, lining and main fabric. I’ve put in lots more pictures because they can sometimes speak clearer to you than the written instructions. Don’t ever hesitate to ask me for help with anything. Continue reading