My new funkaaay! map of Ireland design, Céad Míle Maps, launched this month with a new range of kitchen textiles. Introduced at Showcase Ireland in January, it actually took a lot more time than I expected to realise the final product with 'shop ready' packaging, colour accuracy and dye fastness etc etc. A total learning curve for me.
The name Céad Míle Maps (which most of us know means 100,000 maps as gaeilge), was chosen because I reckon it was the only possible name that a repeat pattern of the map of Ireland could be called for so many wonderful reasons.
The colour scheme of the design is based on the traditional colours of the tricolour i.e. green, white and orange, with an added touch of contemporary hues and some brown, which symbolises Ireland's turf and boglands. Each map incorporates a floral design 'hairy fruit style' to add prettiness and interest to the overall pattern.
The design was created especially for those who want to bring a little Ireland home, in this case lots of little Irelands. For those who love, miss or wish to remember Ireland every day Hairy Fruit Art now provides tea towels, tea cosies, oven gloves, aprons and napkin sets for those special Irish gifts that we all search for to send to our Irish loved ones abroad at Christmas and other occasions.
An Irish Brainstorm..the Inspiration
Well over a year ago I took a large look at my Hairy Fruit Art product range and saw a big gap. For an Irish design brand I realised I had few products or designs specifically for the Irish gift market. This realisation got my creative juices flowing. A cute Irish themed pattern on kitchen textiles or other products would work, but where to start?
Since it was my first time investing in a kitchen textile collection I had to be careful not to overstretch myself. I was only in a position to use just one design so it had to be well thought out. I worked on various ideas, some obvious like shamrocks etc., and some not so obvious, and then there was the idea of a map pattern? Mmmmm.
There are lots of great map of Ireland products out there and all very popular but there didn't appear to be a map of Ireland repeat pattern on textiles. Was there a good reason that no-one had done it yet and therefore should I avoid? Was it something that I could effectively do while keeping loyal to my Hairy Fruit style and brand? A lot of procrastination went on I can assure you, it was difficult to judge what would finally work. And this leads nicely to my next bit..
The final judgement
Enter my wonderful Dad to whom the collection is dedicated to. Sadly this summer he passed away at 93 years of age and he is more than greatly missed.
Dad was such an interesting man to have as a father. A man of wit, wisdom and a lover of learning and books. But the most relevant thing to mention in this case was his great love of maps of which he had many.
A year or so ago I showed him my designs including Céad Míle Maps and he immediately loved it and encouraged me to go with it. Being a retired Judge who didn't make decisions lightly, also a man with a wide appreciation for the arts (and maps!), that little chat we had was the 'clincher' decision-making moment.
So here's to Dad, 100,000 maps, and a Céad Míle failte to a new set of (hopefully iconic) kitchen textiles for many happy homes and kitchens in the future.
Yippee and yippee again!!
My dreams of seeing Hairy Fruit Art designs on notebooks were catapulted into reality this month with a little bit of luck sent my way with the help of a wonderful U.K. notebook company Bookblock Original.
I entered Bookblock's Twitter promotion competition to win my own custom notebook and guess what? You got it, I won. Even better, the lovely team in Bookblock Original had a peep at my website and decided they liked my work so much they offered me not just one, but three custom notebooks with a promise from me of a little blog post for you guys to read all about it!
Bookblock Original products caught my eye in the past year because I know quality when I see it and I have been following them on Instagram and Twitter. They offer designers, photographers, illustrators, or anyone who likes to make their mark, the opportunity to design a custom notebook in their own individual style. These are quality products too, and by simply uploading a bespoke design or favourite photograph online, your digitally printed notebook will be ready to be filled with musings, doodles or ideas within days.
Crafted in partnership with one of the U.K.'s oldest bookbinders, each notebook is created using traditional bookbinding and printing techniques. With Bookblock Original, you can then customise your notebook or journal down to the paper, elastics and even the ribbon. Their sister company Monsieur Notebook is also worth a look-see.
Choosing a Design
All these lovely notebooks were coming my way soon which put my procrastinating self into a spin, what designs will I choose?
My first choice was to use my Hairy Fruit tree which features on my logo and in my opinion is a classic. I also wanted to use one of my Revealing Collection designs and in this case the Pig won out in the end because they are pink and generally I just love pigs, also the background colour is gorgeous. Tying all three notebook designs together, the final design chosen was a favourite floral from a recent gouache illustration which I call Irish Summer Cottage. I love all things pretty and floral and you will see more floral prints coming on stream on my website soon. Below is a short video of me painting this floral design while listening to the sounds of David Bowie.
I love all my new notebooks they are such fabulous quality, but my personal favourite has to be the Irish Summer Cottage notebook. I look forward to writing and doodling on all of them over the coming months.
Which of the three notebooks do you like best? I'd love to hear your feedback.
Thank you so much Bookblock Original!
Follow Bookblock by clicking here on these links Bookblock Instagram, Bookblock Twitter, Bookblock Facebook
"Sweet April showers do spring May flowers"
That fellow Thomas Tusser was right. This April the Irish weather decided to bestow upon us a full dose of rain, hail, and snow showers with a little sunshine thrown in. But it is true that during this month, nature has been busy preparing our gardens and countryside for a lovely summer ahead (we hope). The animals around here have been busy too.
I live on a rural lane in Delgany, Co. Wicklow and have recently spotted a lot of 100% Irish wildlife on my doorstep. Apart from the occasional wild looking hill walker, I've also seen foxes, rabbits, pheasant, badger, robin, vole and of course the many buzzards that hover over the garden.
Inspired by all this wild loveliness, I had an an artistic 'calling' to research into the real story of 'the' most common Irish woodland animals and illustrate them. Out came the gouache paints and here we have it! A new print now available for parents to buy for their kids to remind them of all the lovely little crathurs they must learn the names of, and keep their eyes open for, on their travels around the Irish countryside (not to mention a lovely piece of wall art for their bedrooms). /store/p347/IRISH_WOODLAND_ANIMALS_PRINT.html
RESEARCH IS FUN
While I was having fun researching Irish woodland animals, I also spent a lot of interesting time researching the village of Malahide, Co. Dublin for an illustrated map project I've been working on.
I love a challenge and this was just what the doctor ordered. I've learnt loads about Malahide which, may I add, is a gem of a place chockablock full of heritage, things to do and places to go.
The more I found out about Malahide the more difficult it was to leave anything out of the map (which I'm sure I did). But for the record Malahiddians, I did my best to include as much important info as I could while at the same time keeping it as hairy fruity as it deserved.
The illustrated map of Malahide was painted in gouache and has become a new print on offer which is now up on my website to purchase. http://www.hairyfruitart.com/maps.html
Grandfather's Office 1916
This Easter weekend marks the Centenary of The 1916 Rising in Dublin, a hugely significant historical time for Ireland which changed the course of Irish history.
It's also true that the events which took place in Dublin during the 1916 rebellion affected of my own family and almost it's very existence.
My father (who is now the great age of 93) was born November 1922, six years after the Rising. In 1916 his father (my grandfather), owned a solicitor's practice on Sackville Street in Dublin opposite the GPO. We don't know much, but we do know this.
A Devastating Monday
On Easter Monday morning 1916 my Grandfather headed off to work and arrived at the location of his office only to find the entire building destroyed and reduced to rubble after the bombing. His whole business and livelihood was destroyed overnight, not a single thing survived. We know that afterwards he set up a temporary office in Dublin and eventually relocated his practice to Bray in Co. Wicklow.
Thankfully my grandfather wasn't in his office when it was destroyed, otherwise I wouldn't be here today to tell the story.
Easter 2016 - GPO Witness History Visitor Centre Opens
This week the GPO Witness History Exhibition Centre opens in O'Connell Street (aka Sackville Street) in Dublin marking the Centenary of the 1916 Rising. It's the first visitor centre of it's type in Dublin and promises to be a wonderful addition and a 'must-see' destination for Irish people and foreign visitors alike.
I am truly delighted to add that my Dublin prints are going to be for sale in the lovely new GPO Witness History shop within yards of my late grandfather's office that was.
The Grace of Fortune
Thankfully by the grace of fortune the events of 1916 spared my grandfather's life and allowed my family to exist! So when I visit the new GPO Witness History Centre next week and see some of my Hairy Fruit Art prints of Dublin on the shelves it will be quite an emotional moment. I know I will be feeling so grateful to have my work inside the most historical building in Dublin, but also relieved that my grandfather survived to tell the tale.
I wonder what Grandfather would have to say to me about it all 100 years later on?
"Dress suitably in short skirts and sitting boots, leave your jewels and gold wands in the bank and buy a revolver."