Beannacht

A couple of weekends ago I went to  Alicia Merrett‘s 2 day Text on Fabric workshop in which I learned how to print on fabric using Thermofax screens and acrylic paints.  I’ve been hearing about and seeing this technique for awhile now and frankly had thought it would be a lot more technical and complex than it actually is.  A Thermofax screen is basically a stencil and quicker and cheaper to prepare than a silk screen.  It can be used with acrylic & textile paints, discharge media or adhesives to use with foiling.  I was impressed with the level of detail that can be achieved. There are a lot of ready-made screens about and Thermofax Screens based in the UK has a custom screen service.  I have a little shopping list of a few screens to buy – feathers and the Chartre labyrinth AND I am going to have a couple of screens made with an alphabet font so that I can incorporate some of my writing and poetry into my fibre art.

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Alicia had brought several screens to the class for us to practice with, along with some of her beautifully vibrant art quilts. Day 1 was spent printing and on the second day, most of us started working on a project.  Alicia also showed us her fine line magic piecing technique.

The workshop took place at Cowslip Workshops near Launceston, Cornwall.  At lunch on the second day, Alicia’s husband Steve joined us and told us about a very romantic book that they have just published.  Darling Alicia chronicles their written exchange of love letters in 1966 and 1967 (between Argentina, where they met, and India) which culminated in a reunion in India and their now forty-plus years of marrriage.  We talked about really living life and taking risks.  Regrets are for those who never took the chance in the first place and a creative person can always make something new from their mistakes.

The food was excellent by the way – homemade, locally sourced and organic whenever possible.  Lunch was butternut squash or parsnip soup, fresh bread, quiche, cheeses, coleslaw, beetroot salad and a greenleaf salad.  We also had cake and/or scones and jam with afternoon tea, coffee, cappucino or hot chocolate.  You can just go for the food at their cafe and they have a few special food events.

I just finished making a piece called Beannacht from some of the fabric I screenprinted.    I used a brown and plum palette with highlights of gold in the fabric, stitch and printing.

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Beannacht

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Detail

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and more detail

On the back, I attached a blessing written by one of my favourite writers, John O’Donohue, called Beannacht.  I painted handmade paper with a wash of gold Stuart Gill fabric paint and printed the words onto it in brown ink.   

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Beannacht is a Gaelic word for blessing or benediction.  Here are the words –

Beannacht

On the day
when the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble
May the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you.

May a flock of colours
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean blackens
beneath you
May there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

– John O’Donohue

And here is the blessing read by John shortly before his death in 2008.  Such beautiful, healing words and what a voice!

I made Beannacht for my friend and finished stitching the hanging sleeve on at work.  At lunchtime, I took it outside to the copse to photograph it.  I made a circle from some sticks and placed it in the middle.  To let the land and the autumn and the now thin golden threads of light bless the piece.

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One thought on “Beannacht

  1. That is beautiful. I stumbled upon your site while searching for John O’Donohue poems. “Beannacht” is my favorite. That last photo is really gorgeous (and the description, too!). Thanks for sharing.

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