Cork women share their passion for their craftsmanship

CORK Craft Month, coordinated by Cork Craft & Design, takes place throughout August.

Featuring the best of contemporary Irish craftsmanship, over 50 workshops, artist talks, markets and demonstrations, it will take place across the city and county of Cork.

You can see everything from a crochet flower demonstration in the People’s Parklet on Douglas Street, to an evening of vinyl, crafts and spoken word at the Roundy Bar on Castle Street.

Orla McCarthy, from Loombeam, one of the artisans showcasing her products, graduated with a degree in Textile and Surface Design from the National College of Art and Design in 2014. She won the Society of Dyers and Colourists International Design Competition in 2014.

Orla makes wall hangings using embroidery and perforated needle weaving techniques. She set up Loombeam during the pandemic when she was made redundant from her job as manager of the Oxfam store in Cooke Street in Cork.

It’s really a side job because her day job is full time. Orla admits she is in a dilemma, trying to decide whether to devote more time to her craft or keep it as a part-time activity. She likes to make the wall hangings.

“Awl needling is like embroidery, but it’s a little rougher,” she says.

“It’s done with wool, sometimes called needle crochet. You are punching a burlap type fabric. You can draw on the fabric and punch the color into the design.

“I can create the designs myself. The woven draperies I make require more work. I use a small loom. Row after row, I weave and create a wall hanging.

Orla’s designs often use typography. “I use a lot of Irish and Cork sayings such as ‘notions’, ‘I’ll yeah’ and ‘out, out’ which sold well when lockdown restrictions ended.”

Over the years, Orla has completed several internships including one at Dunnes head office where she worked with the Paul Costello brand. She did an internship at a company in London that does commercial printing.

Orla also completed an internship at Emblem Weave in Wexford, one of Ireland’s last remaining weaving mills. “I helped them design a collection that we presented at Premier Vision in Paris, which is a trade show.”

However, Orla failed to secure a full-time job using her skills.

“Then I fell in love, I got pregnant and that was the end of it all.”

Now, having renewed her passion for her craft, she says being in Cork is limiting. With a five-year-old son, she is unable to move to London to pursue her interests.

“Opportunities to work in textiles in Ireland are limited,” said Orla.

During Craft Month, she will be showing off both her wall hangings and the punch needle pieces. She will lead needle-punching and weaving workshops at ‘Vinyl and Crafting’ on August 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Roundy.

Hannah McGrenera of Saw Framed Jewelery is originally from Taiwan and first moved to Derry with her Taiwanese stepfather and mother. But because of the unrest, they moved south. Hannah was 15 when she moved to Cork.

A graduate of Crawford College of Art and Design, she specialized in large welded pieces as well as ink drawings.

“I have a very steady hand, which I got from my grandfather who taught me calligraphy,” Hannah said.

“It’s a show of hands. You need to keep your arm up and keep your hand steady. I loved it but haven’t done it in ten years.

Interested in fashion, Hannah has worked in fashion retail for 15 years. She got into visual merchandising, which involves window displays and store layouts.

During the recession she moved to Dublin and became a product developer in women’s accessories and moved to Dunnes Buying Office. Five years ago she and her Cork-born husband moved back to Cork. Hannah is now a caregiver.

“I have a child, Mila, who has a disability. She is 20 months old. We also have a son, Nicholas, who is six years old.

Hannah admits it’s very difficult to combine her jewelry business (inspired by a desire to create one-of-a-kind pieces that aren’t mass-produced) with being a caregiver.

“Mila was hospitalized for a year. I did not work during this period. We are now receiving help from a nurse from the Jack & Jill Foundation. It gives me time away from care. It’s like my own therapy time that I do in my studio at home.

Hannah lives in Béal na Bláth where she creates her contemporary unisex jewelry.

“I do very funky designs, things like a miniature cheese grater. It is an object that can be worn around the neck. The objects I make are like mini sculptures. I also have a world globe which can also be worn around the neck on a necklace and I have a small gift box made with a bow on it.

Other unique pieces of jewelry Hannah has made include a miniature crochet hook and miniature knitting needles.

The business is going well.

“If only I had more time and energy to devote to it. I set it up just before Covid. The first three months were great. It’s still not bad. »

Hannah’s designs are stocked at Forest & Flock in Bantry, Cork Craft & Design at Douglas Woolen Mills and Cork Flower Studio on Douglas Street. She is one of the faces on the Cork Craft Month notice boards. She will be at the Made in Cork market in St Peter’s on August 20 and 21, displaying her jewellery.

Iarla Ryder, exhibitor at Cork Craft Month

Another exhibitor at Cork Craft Month is Iarla Ryder of Riona natural skincare products, handmade in Carrigaline. Iarla has taken a leap forward in her career. She worked in insurance. But what led her to return to college to study complementary therapies was a year spent traveling in Asia. During this time, she learned a lot about Thai massage and took a course.

“When I got pregnant, I started using oils on my stomach, using non-toxic, natural skincare products,” Iarla said.

“So it grew from there. I learned a bit about oils and natural skincare.

The creation of his company “happened naturally. I started making products for family and friends. They ordered again. A friend made me stickers. My partner did the design and it went from there. I started working in the markets. It has grown over the years. »

At the same time, Iarla (mother of teenage girls, Doireann and Rion) worked as a complementary therapist. She continues to give massages and do facials and reflexology, using her products.

“There are not too many products in my range. It’s a natural, hassle-free approach. I also work on the mind with essential oils. I do a range of chakra mists that are for balancing (energy). I have a range of body oils and there is a face range with oil cleansers, night cream and face oil.

When asked if her products promise anti-aging properties, Iarla says, “As I got older, I incorporated hyaluronic acid which plumps up the skin. It’s in night creams. I recently added the new retinols to face oils.

Iarla uses “pure vegetable oils, butters and vegan bioactive ingredients”.

She also uses cock 10 which is said to be good for treating fine lines. Iarla tests her products on her daughters and her friends. For Craft Month, she will be exhibiting her work at St Peter’s on North Main Street on August 20 and 21 for the Made in Cork programme. Its products will be exhibited at Cork Craft & Design.

About Tracy G. Larimore

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