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Soya Milk and Pigment to colour cloth.

Recently we were treated to a taster workshop on using soya milk and natural pigments to colour cloth. Colleen had attended a full workshop during the summer with textile artist, Claire Benn in the UK and was willing to share her knowledge with us. The sharing of skills and techniques within our group is an important part of being a collective. It takes the mystery out of something that can seem daunting and allows further exploration within a structured course if the process appeals to one. Dying of cloth can involve many chemicals and solvents that are not good for the environment so it was great to sample a method that is more environmentally friendly.

Using soya milk as a binder for the pigment is a cheap and ecological alternative to using acrylic binders. Soya bean is rich in protein which has adhesive like qualities and, when made into a milk, it bonds with the fibres of the cloth. To make the milk you soak the soya beans overnight and then blend into a milk.

This method is suitable for use on natural fibres, both cellulose (linen, cotton, viscose/rayon) and protein fibres such as silk and wool. The fabric must be scoured before use to remove the size or dressing used in the manufacturing process.

As you can see from the images we were really just playing with the process and the pigments. I don’t have any final images to show as the cloth has to be left to cure for four weeks before it can be ironed and used.

I have just outlined the basics of the process here but there is a lot more detail you will need if you are to try it yourself. Fiber Arts Take Two are releasing an online workshop in March 2023 called ‘Out of This Earth’ with Claire Benn, if anyone is interested in learning more. You can sign up to get notified of their courses and they have wonderful interviews with textile artists around the world and are a great source of information on textile art. www.fibreartstaketwo.com. Claire Benn is a textile artist, author and teacher who is passionate about landscape and the environment and you can see her work or sign up to her blog on her website. https://www.clairebenn.com.

Reduced Existence

Apologies that we haven’t posted anything on our blog since last November.  This pandemic has reduced our existence into little boxes, separate individual worlds where we are slowly losing our ability, and our willingness, to communicate and keep in touch with one another.   As an artist collective we get an enormous amount of support from meeting as a group and seeing each other’s work in progress.  But that has been denied to us for many months now and we are each trying to work away on our own with the odd Zoom meeting thrown in to keep us going.    

But all is not lost.  The additional time we now have at our disposal is being put to good use.  We are creating, experimenting, exploring new techniques, attending online courses and planning for the future.  We are working on an exhibition which will take place later this year (we hope) and we will share some more detail about it shortly.

In the meantime, here is some of Elaine’s work in progress.  Elaine is repurposing existing art pieces and also clothing and floor rugs to form something new – deconstructing, cutting, dying and stitching.   The results are very beautiful.


Broken Heart, Elaine Peden, element15       Broken Heart, Elaine Peden, element15

‘Broken Heart’, Elaine Peden


Hidden Garden, Elaine Peden, element15

‘Hidden Garden’, Elaine Peden





Life Long Learning

It is wonderful to be able to embrace life long learning – to have the courage, time, interest and money to wade back into education.  This week, and in the following weeks, we highlight the work of members who have just graduated from the college courses they have pursued for the last few years in the National College of Art and Design.   It has been a bit of an anti-climax as, this very week, they should be showcasing their final pieces at the NCAD CEAD Annual Exhibition but instead the works of art are packed in boxes under the bed or stuffed in drawers or garden sheds.  So we asked them to release their work to the light of day, and let us see the products of their last few months of research and making.
First up is Caroline Fitzgerald who studied two modules in the final year of a Certificate in Visual Art Practice.   The modules, Creative Embroidery and Drawing and Sculpture, couldn’t be more different in every way : content, practice and even location within the college.
Creative Embroidery takes place in a calm, well light and airy part of the original building with views down Thomas Street through lovely tall windows.   Sculpture on the other hand, takes place in an appropriately rough and ready studio with lumps of plaster adorning the tables and chairs and plenty of scope for physical engagement with creativity and mess!
In her final project for the Creative Embroidery module, Caroline took her inspiration from an old spoon she found at her holiday home by the sea.  “It reminded me of a sea shell and, as I find it hard not to come home from a walk on the beach without collecting shells, this seemed to be a theme needing exploration”.  
Caroline developed notebook studies and samples looking at the shapes and textures of sea shells and then mimiced these patterns and shapes with stitch on fabric.  The background of this final piece is a digital image of a shibori and indigo dyed piece of organic linen.  “I used a combination of slow hand stitches using silk thread, and free machine embroidery in metallic threads, to create shapes and texture which are further embellished using gold and copper foil”.  The finished piece is 20 x 57 cm
Shell, Caroline Fitzgerald
Caroline’s final project for the Drawing and Sculpture module is titled “Walk The Walk, Talk The Talk”.
“The development of the concept of ‘walking’ to heal yourself, using it as a form of self-medication.  Going for a walk, one step in front of the other can be both mindful and meditative.  The very act of being in nature and the observations we make about our surroundings, the footprints we leave on the ground and the images we take with us to sustain us later when the need arises”
Caroline worked through the ideas for her piece on large scrolls of brown paper and created a virtical ‘rugged path’ as an integral part of the finished installation.

Detail of 2.5 m scroll
Brown paper scroll , ink, acrylic paint, handmade papers and fabric
For the 3D element of the installation Caroline used three bundles of wood (representing life), with fabric dipped in plaster, plaster mould, wax mould (with light detail), distressed and painted handmade paper and found objects from nature all tied up together with copper wire.
Congratulations Caroline on completing the Certificate and well done on the pushing the boundaries of your creativity.  We hope some day to see the final pieces assembled in one place.

Invitation to exhibition at the Blue Egg Gallery

 Blue Egg logo


Blue Egg Gallery,  John’s Gate Street,  Wexford

Saturday 15th August until Saturday 12th September

Textiles and ceramics are part of our daily landscape; we live with and touch them every day.  STRATA presents work in both mediums; textiles by the members of element15 and ceramics by Freda Rupp.

element15 is a collective of textile artists who work in various media.  The members of the group, which is based in the Kildare area, have collaborated together for a number of years, constantly learning and refining their techniques.  Their diverse backgrounds encompass dressmaking, architecture, ceramics, teaching and design.  This is the first time the members of the group have exhibited at the Blue Egg.  The participating exhibitors are: Rose Cronin, Catherine Domican, Catherine Dowling, Marie Dunne, Asta Gauronskyte, Kathrina Hughes, Dee Kelly, Kay McKenna, Helen McLoughlin, Eimear Molony, Colleen Prendiville, Elaine Peden, Gaye Scott Hayward, Vanessa Scott Hayward and Barbara Seery.

Freda Rupp makes work that is unglazed and intentionally non-functional. She is primarily concerned with form.  The marks on her forms are suggested by the cracks and fissures in rocks and surfaces and the debris that becomes lodged in these cracks.  She sees the marks as a record of the history of the surfaces and is interested in the patterns made by these marks, the images they suggest and the feelings and memories they evoke.

STRATA will be opened on Saturday 15 August by guest speaker Rina Whyte, independent public art co-ordinator.

The gallery opening hours are:      Tuesday to Saturday from 11.00 to 5.30pm or by appointment.

We are changing our name

Hi friends and supporters,
Since our group started nearly five years ago we have grown and developed our skills, techniques and interest in textile art.   We have gone on courses, attended workshops, given workshops, gone on more courses and, of course, exhibited our work to public scrutiny!
We think it is time that our group name also changed and developed into something that is more appropriate to an exhibiting group.
We are a very democratic bunch of women so it took much discussion, emails and ruthless cutting out of names that just didn’t come up to scratch, to reach a consensus.  Now we have it and we are really happy with our efforts.


It is a name that reflects the fifteen elements that make up our group and the year in which we have grown up!   Watch out for our new website and email address – we will keep you informed.


Decision making at Las Rada Tapas Bar