Turning to hand-craft as Cork Craft Month kicks off

Cork Craft Month, starting this week, is a showcase of wood turning, ceramics, and textiles in locations across the county. Carol O’Callaghan reports on the list of exhibitions and demonstrations on offer.

John McCarthy, who has a workshop in Nohoval, Co, Cork, participates in a woodturning show at the James O’Neill Building in Kinsale.
John McCarthy, who has a workshop in Nohoval, Co, Cork, participates in a woodturning show at the James O’Neill Building in Kinsale.

CORK Craft Month, now in its ninth year, started on a paltry budget, but thanks to the support of local Enterprise office, the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Cork City Council, and Fáilte Ireland — it’s offering a comprehensive list of events between now and September 2.

The demonstrations and exhibitions are free to visit and not all of the items for sale are expensive, either. Certainly, you’ll see high-end furniture and art pieces with prices to match, but you can also purchase items for as little as €10, which leaves plenty of change in the handbag for a few, refreshing 99s in the sunshine after a footslog round the events.

The Home event in Kinsale’s James O’Neill Building showcases and sells handcrafted products across woodturning, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewellery.
The Home event in Kinsale’s James O’Neill Building showcases and sells handcrafted products across woodturning, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewellery.

Fancy a day out in Kinsale? Today sees the launch of the ‘Home’ event, in the James O’Neill Building. An old mill that fell into disrepair, the stone construction alone is worth a look, with the bonus that it may offer a cooling respite from clammy weather. Expect to browse an eclectic mix of products from wood turning to ceramics to textiles, which are all for sale, so it might be a chance to pick up a wedding or housewarming gift between now and the end of the month. Or even, to put stuff away for December?

Right in the heart of Cork City, the annual Craft Month, showcase exhibition is called ‘A Turn to the Ordinary’. This year it shows work by members of the Cork Craft & Design collective and takes place on Grand Parade, at Gallery No 46 — a newly established offshoot of CIT’s Crawford College of Art & Design.

Chef turned designer Martin Horgan’s ‘Ordning’ utensils use offcuts of wood.
Chef turned designer Martin Horgan’s ‘Ordning’ utensils use offcuts of wood.

The building will be remembered by Corkonian ladies of a certain vintage as Dún Mhuire, home to the Legion of Mary. Prior to that, it was a gentlemen’s club and is now repurposed as something altogether more inclusive.

Designers and makers have to start out somewhere, so an exhibition dedicated to the next cohort of talent is appropriately called ‘Emerge’. It includes work from graduates of Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, St John’s Central College and CIT Crawford College of Art & Design, and takes place in the atrium of City Hall, a suitably contemporary space for a new generation of designers.

Towns around the county host a number of special events for a more in-depth understanding of craft-making.

‘Meet the Makers’ is a schedule of demonstrations, which initially takes us back to the ‘Home’ show in Kinsale, from Wednesday, August 8th, when Don O’Sullivan demonstrates the craft of making a traditional Irish three-legged stool, at 1pm.

Two days later, Olive Murphy shows how to hand paint lampshades like a pro, at the same location from noon to 2pm and on August 29, award-winning quilter, Mary Palmer, shows machine techniques and will answer questions and offer tips on quilting and patchwork from 1-3pm.

Travelling eastward, jewellery-maker, Shmuel Yolzari, shows the skill of silver smithing at The Courtyard, in Midleton, on August 18, while award-winning restaurant, Sage, next door offers an inviting pit stop in its outdoor café.

Mairi Stone’s porcelain dishes are inspired by the ocean and the microscopic world. Unlike many other makers in this discipline, she fuses glass into the pieces rather than using glazing methods.
Mairi Stone’s porcelain dishes are inspired by the ocean and the microscopic world. Unlike many other makers in this discipline, she fuses glass into the pieces rather than using glazing methods.

If something hands-on appeals, then there are workshops in porcelain-making with Sara Roberts in Nohoval; working with clay with Siobháin Steele, in Rathcormac, and printing and papercraft with Barbara Hubert, at her city centre studio and shop on Tobin Street, these allow you to get stuck in.

Textiles are covered by Stephanie Tenier at the West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, who will give an introduction to felt-making. Right on the edge of Cork City, the Benchspace studio in Commercial Park, which was set up about a year ago to offer affordable facilities to wood-crafters, invites us to a ‘Build Your Own Workbench’ class, on August 18 and 19 — idea for anyone toying with the idea of turning that home garage into a workspace.

On the same day, another workshop, called ‘Green Woodworking’, is being hosted and it’s definitely one for aficionados, as they’ll be taking freshly fallen wood, as yet unseasoned, and crafting it into beautiful objects. Bear in mind, too, that although exhibitions and demonstrations for the month are free, the workshops are not.

- For details, log onto http://www.corkcraftanddesign.irish/index.php/en/cork-craft-month for details of pricing and how to book.

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