Liz had gone through the ‘spiel’ with me a few times and had left me plenty of notes. In hindsight, I need not have worried as Veronica is a dab hand at the trade shows. She is a natural and as the man would say, ‘she could sell sand to the Arabs’. The two of us packed up Liz’s van on the Friday evening and set off on Saturday morning. Myself and Veronica negotiated our way well around the M50, having Google maps and a good co- pilot always helps.
We landed to the City West hotel and checked out the Convention Centre. Our stand was located at Y64, and got set up in about 2 hours. Happy with our stand, we headed to the hotel and got checked in. Once we got settled in the room we headed down to the bar for a well deserved pint. There was a good buzz around the hotel as Limerick and Galway were playing in the All Ireland Hurling Final the following day.
The Trade Show
Sunday was slow to start I have to admit, we talked to a few current customers and it was nice to put a face to the names of people we have been dealing with for years. As soon as 3pm hit, the crowd really emptied out as the hurling match was on. We finished up at 6pm and got word that Limerick had won the All Ireland hurling final and the team were coming back to the City West for their winner’s gala dinner. Fierce excitement in the hotel and we joined the craic in the bar and had a lovely dinner in the restaurant in the hotel.
Monday was definitely a busier day for us. We wrote a big order for scarves from an existing customer based in Belfast. The lady had spotted our new Lunalae scarves and had fallen in love! Veronica and I left in good form that evening and delighted about the huge order of scarves that had been placed.
In full flight
Tuesday was a good day for us too. We wrote a nice sheep order with a new customer based in Temple Bar in Dublin. A really interesting shop in the heart of the tourist area in Dublin and we are very excited about that. We had a good chat with a lady from a prominent university who was interested in the LizzyC Sheep as a corporate gift. This is an area that we are keen to grow in the business.
Wednesday we were finishing up at 3pm so there were less people around. Veronica and I waved goodbye to the City West Hotel. Both wrecked tired but contented that the fair had gone well for both the Liz Christy and the LizzyC brands. Soon we found ourselves back on the M1 heading north and homeward bound. We were looking forward to a day off and then, to getting stuck into order planning and show follow up…… And I think that Liz was delighted with how we got on!
We were killing two birds with one stone on our trip to Sligo- Liz had been asked to demonstrate her weaving in a shop she supplies with scarves and sheep products to called The Cat and the Moon & she was asked to participate at the Lilly Lolly Yeats Festival 2018, Conversation with Designers in The Factory Performance Space hosted by Eddie Shanahan of the Council of Fashion Designers. Liz was joined on stage by artists Blaithin Ennis, John O’ Riain, Tish Carroll and Ann Hamilton.
So we packed up the van with the small table loom, a few bobbins of yarn, Liz’s business cards and a few Yeats inspired scarves and hit the road to Sligo. Google maps is an interesting phenomenon- it may have brought us the ‘quickest’ way to Sligo but I’m not sure you can say that when it brings you through small villages you’ve never heard of and up by roads only fit for one car at a time.
The wee cafe we stopped at in Manorhamilton for a spot of lunch is worth mentioning, not just for the very tasty ham ciabatta but for the gentleman serving behind the counter looking surprisingly like a local Blayney man- personality and all!
Anyway, we made it to Sligo with plenty of time to spare. Liz got the loom set up and was demonstrating between 3pm and 4pm. We were made very welcome by Martina Hamilton the lovely lady who owns the Cat and the Moon and is also an accomplished jewellery designer. We had plenty of interest from customers to the shop who were eager to see how the scarves were made and kept Liz on her toes with plenty of questions. The Cat and the Moon is a beautiful shop, full of colour and really interesting products and also upstairs is the Hamilton Gallery which showcases local artists’ work.
I managed to get some great photos of Liz at her craft and engaging with visitors to the shop. I almost forgot to mention the shop window. The Cat and the Moon have a great window display which features some of the LizzyC sheep and a few of Liz’s scarves. I got some brilliant shots of the window display which showcases our scarves wonderfully. Afterwards we were treated to lovely tea and coffee by Martina. With our energy replenished we headed off to the Factory Performance Space which was just a short walk through the town.
We arrived to the Factory, a wonderful creative space which seems to be, as the name would suggest, a redecorated old factory used, very effectively, as a creative space. I later found out it was actually an abattoir in its previous life. As we walked through the foyer we were treated to Ann Hamilton’s gorgeous exhibition of ‘Heirloom’ dresses she had designed and made herself. Beautiful old styles of dresses and even one with a nod towards W.B Yeats himself.
The theatre part of The Factory is an intimate venue which made it perfect for the Conversations with Designers event. I was introduced to Eddie Shanahan who would be leading proceedings; a man I knew would have no trouble keeping the conversation flowing! I filmed bits and pieces of the conversation- forgive me for being biased but I mostly filmed Liz speaking with Eddie. They spoke about the first thing they ever made and Liz spoke enthusiastically about colour which is something that Liz is very passionate about.
Liz spoke about her scarves inspired by Ireland’s favourite painting ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’ which is a collection of scarves she designed for the National Gallery in Dublin. She mentions this collection later on but I will come back to that.
Eddie then talked about how each of them had become interested in art and design and how they ‘got into it’ as such. They each spoke about their college experience in art and design and about the business end of things, mostly they learned on their toes when it came to the business end of things and there was never much emphasis put on the business side of art and design.
Eddie then asked them each about what they do exactly and asked them to convince him to buy their product. At the end of the day as Eddie says they need to make money and make a living. He said to them they need to understand their ways and how they impact on others.
When asked what does your products do for people and why should they buy it, Liz said ‘It helps you feel good and makes you smile’. This pretty much sums up Liz’s products.
Liz spoke fondly about Cleo’s in Dublin who was her very first customer, who gave her the self confidence to sell her product and at a price to sustain her living. For Liz, her design and craft skills have always been a means by which she would make her living and as a result she embraced the world of business.
Back to the painting ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’, Eddie finished up the conversation with the artists by asking them did they have any funny stories to finish on. Liz told the story about a batch of scarves she was making for the National Gallery of Ireland, beautiful scarves inspired by ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’. The scarves had been woven on the loom, cut off, the fringes knotted and they just needed to be washed and dried before being packed up and sent off. So Liz hand washed them… and put them into the washing machine to spin them… unfortunately she put them on a 15 minute wash cycle instead of a 13 minute spin cycle and bam! A matted shrunken tangle of scarves!! So it was back to the dye pots, the warping mill and the loom with those particular scarves and the whole process had to begin again. There was a big round of applause from the audience, who had been very attentive throughout, and that brought us to the end of Conversations with Designers.
We chatted for awhile in the foyer but people were soon making a move towards the pub. We had a good two hour drive ahead of us and remained apprehensive as to where Google maps would bring us to so we headed back in the direction of the van. We stopped off at a gorgeous Indian restaurant and had dinner. Then we made tracks for the stony grey soil of Monaghan. We made it back in one piece to Annayalla and two exhausted heads ready to hit the hay. We had a really interesting trip to Sligo; it was great to get chatting to other artists and people in the business. It was also great to see so many people at an event celebrating the Yeats sisters, Lily & Lolly in their home town of Sligo. Lily and Lilly were great pioneers for local artists in the Sligo area and done a lot of work promoting women’s rights and art and heritage. I also found it great to chat to one of the shop owners we supply and to see our product stocked in their shop is fabulous.
A quick shout out to the wee fox who nearly gave us a heart attack on the way home, somewhere in County Fermanagh, hope you are still knocking around foxy.
Visit our website to check out our range of scarves available for men and women www.lizchristy.com
Some time back I entered a competition to win the opportunity to have a ‘moving billboard’ on one of Matthews Coaches for 6 months. This was part of their newly launched Arts Showcase Initiative. Well I can say I was just thrilled when I received a phonecall from Karen at Matthews saying that I was the latest winner of this brilliant prize. It took me a while to get my head around what this meant…. Liz Christy. Hand-Woven in Ireland and LizzyC Sheep would be featured on a bus which travelled up and down the M1 and into the centre of Dublin four times a day!
We set to work on the art work for the design. And while I knew exactly what it would look like, it was truly amazing to see it ‘in the flesh’ when my husband and I went to the launch recently. To see a 71 seater bus, parked outside The Marshes Shopping Centre in Dundalk with my images and branding on the back was unreal and very exciting.
A big big thank you to Matthews Coaches from Inniskeen in Co. Monaghan for this wonderful prize.
Check out our newly launched ‘Explore Artisan Monaghan’ booklet which features our own Swallow Studios artisans Louise Loughman & Liz Christy. The Trail also features 14 other artisan locations around County Monaghan and you will find it in public buildings and hotels. Our aim is to work together to cross promote our small craft and food businesses, and make them sustainable in this precious drumlin landscape.
Many thanks to Eilín Connolly and Local Enterprise Office Monaghan for taking the lead on this project. Thanks also to Monaghan County Council, Monaghan Tourism and CEDRA for your support, it is much appreciated.
As artisans we look forward to welcoming visitors from near and far to come and see the creativity at first hand, and help us spread the word that we are open for business.
These are just photos from the trail but when available we will be sharing a link to the full booklet but in the meantime look out for it around and about, and make sure to come and explore 😉
People always wonder what to give as Christmas gifts so we have put together a few Irish gift ideas as unique gifts. As we head into the cold of the winter with snow forecasted, uplifting gifts for wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and aunts are soft, Liz Christy colourful and cosy scarves which are designed and hand woven for that extra special someone. And of course not forgetting the men in your life…..an Irish Hand-woven scarf from the Kavanagh range is a perfect accessory to compliment the stylish man. Give gifts of meaning and quality this Christmas.
We have a range of perfect little stocking fillers from LizzyC including sheep brooches, key rings, fridge magnets, and Christmas ornaments These Christmas gifts are light and easy to post to family and friends overseas.
Or why not visit us at Swallow Studios where we have a range of other Irish handcrafted gifts including Batik art by Louise Loughman and beautiful silk scarves…knitted hats by HataiPheig, ceramics, candles, jewellery and more.
We will be open in Swallow Studios up to Christmas Eve until 3pm. If you place an order on our website www.lizchristy.com the order will be processed immediately to Ireland, United Kingdom and USA.
Giftboxed with Free Shipping.
See our short video below for an overview of the gifting possibilities this Christmas.
I was delighted to welcome Minister Humphreys to Swallow Studios where she saw first hand a living craft. The Minister saw how inspiration is gleaned from a painting and interpreted into a scarf, wrap or snood. I have been working as an artist, textile designer and hand-weaver for over twenty years and I feel as passionate about my work as ever. My goal…..to make a living from my creativity and retain the heritage of an age old craft from the past by generating export sales and creating sustainable jobs for the future.
The light filled studio was full of colour, from the beautiful vibrant wool to the multi-coloured handwoven scarves and wraps. My team were present and each met the Minister whose friendly manner put everyone at ease. Minister Humpheys’ genuine interest in my work was very apparent and added to the jovial mood of her visit which was a great boost to morale. The Minister was completely captivated by the intricacies of the processes and the wonderful array of colour. ‘Liz Christy’ branding features purple which has the shortest light wave; it evokes spiritual thinking and mediation and is the colour of royalty, luxury, authenticity, truth and fine qualities. Purple will usually feature in my work and if not in the body of the work itself, it is always there in the final touch of the label and gift packaging.
The Minister also loved the sheep brooches and key-rings from the LizzyC Gift Collection which she immediately recognised from seeing them in shops at Dublin Airport. These sheep are well travelled…. and are regularly spotted at locations all over Ireland, from the Giants Causeway to Sheep’s Head in West Cork not to mention their global travels.
Minister Humphreys was very supportive of the fact that we are keeping alive the culture of making a living from craft, retaining a heritage and age old skill of hand-weaving as well as producing wearable works of art inspired by art. I remain true to the Heritage of hand-weaving and work on a wooden looms powered only by human strength, to make scarves, wraps and snoods. The Minister explained that there are plans afoot to develop a heritage trail throughout the region and that Swallow Studios was exactly the type of living, vibrant, heritage venture that they wanted on the trail, a place where people could come and see at first hand an age old craft yielding quality products.
As a person who always wears scarves herself, Minister Humphreys, believes that colourful scarves can lift any outfit. So it was very appropriate to present her with a beautiful pink and grey scarf from the ‘Renaissance’ Collection. Woven from merino wool and silk, the scarf was inspired by the tradition of lace-making in Co. Monaghan both in Clones and in Carrickmacross.
Minster Humphreys said that it was great to see a product that reflected the heritage and culture of the local area and that this is what people abroad were really interested in.
“ When you see Fifth Avenue in New York closed off for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, on an ordinary shopping day, you begin to understand how Americans really appreciate and respect the culture of Ireland”, said Minister Humphreys.
The Minister also met Batik Artist, Louise Loughman, who also works in Swallow Studios. This ancient art form of batik uses hot wax to create images on fabric. Louise studied Art and Textile design in Galway with me, where she specialised in surface and printed textile design. She now has her own artisan business creating original wall hangings and pictures in silk using the technique of batik and silk painting. Minister Humphreys was stunned by the beauty of Louise’s work and how it can bring to life the great mythologies of our heritage. And she was also very impressed by her long list of public art commissions and presentations.
The Minister stayed for tea and more lively conversation which everyone enjoyed. On departing Swallow Studios, Minister Humphreys stated that our work would make ideal gifts for her visits abroad, as ultimately they reflect the heritage, art and culture of Ireland.” I thanked the Minister for taking the time out from her busy schedule to visit Swallow Studios and it was a pleasure to meet her.
New Liz Christy product-ranges launch at Showcase 2015 ~
‘Renaissance Collection’ & ‘Inspired By…..’
Liz continues to pay homage to her home county’s heritage with her luxury ‘Renaissance Collection’. Beautifully handwoven with silk and merino-wool, these new designs look to the lace-making traditions of County Monaghan for inspiration. ‘Carrickmacross Lace’ from the south and ‘Clones Lace’ from the north of the county, fuse with Liz’s long time interest in traditional lace weave drafts. The result is a rebirth for this wonderful story of local craft heritage as Liz brings these contemporary designs to the modern marketplace. The Renaissance Collection combines masculine strength with a feminine lightness of touch – warm, stylish and versatile.
Chrissie & Carmel wearing Renaissance Wraps
The ‘Inspired By…..’’ is the second of Liz’s new product ranges to launch in January 2015. Liz’s love of art and colour is evident as she dyes and weaves her magic. She is well known for her Monet inspired scarves, always a welcome and precious gift.
This new range stems from Liz’s on-going love of the paintings of Claude Monet who was greatly influenced by the English painter Joseph Turner. Both of the artists loved light and colour. Born in 1775, Turner was an English Romantic landscape painter, water-colourist and printmaker. His work is regarded as the Romantic fore-runner to Impressionism. He was called the Painter of Light. Turner died in 1851 when Monet was just eleven years old but the influence of Tuner can be clearly seen in much of Monet’s work.
They both have similar play on light and fog. Currently the subject of a Mike Leigh film, Mr Turner, Joseph Turner was way ahead of his time. His impressionistic use of colour was often frowned on in his day but his brilliance finally won through. Liz Christy’s interpretation of Monet and Turner plays on their colours and hues. The end result is yet more beautiful works of wearable textile art in this new ‘Inspired By….’ Collection.