Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Muriel Gahan Museum and Exhibition Center

Muriel Gahan was one of the ICA’s most prolific members and played a vital role in the purchase and set up of An Grianán.
The Muriel Gahan Museum  and Exhibition Center was officially opened by Muriel herself on the 2nd September 1985 in An Grianán, displaying her collection of crafts and historical items. Her collection was said to be so vast is was stored under friend’s beds and in garages before being brought to An Grianán

The Museum and its displays have moved around An Grainán a number of times but it is now housed in the horticultural college. The new layout of the museum is set up like a house, so not only do you get to see the items displayed, you also feel as if you are taking a step back in time.
The museum is still the home of Muriel’s vast collection of historical crafts and items as well as other crafts and items donated to An Grianán by members and friends, along with  other items owned by An Grianán itself.

My favourite item is the Freezolux Refrigerator, one of the first refrigerator’s available in Ireland. The original instructions are also in the museum, which is pretty impressive for such an old piece of equipment. I was also captivated by the lace clothing, the pieces are very intricate and beautiful.

It is definitely worth the visit as it not only houses the history of the ICA and An Grianán but other historical items that display how people carried about their daily lives in Ireland's past.

For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119

 Also check out Muriel Gahans book "Deeds Not Words" 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stained Glass

Originally stained glass appeared only on very important buildings and church windows. Its popularity exploded in the 1900 when Louis Comfort Tiffany, an artist and designer, began using the techniques in his works, the most famous of these being the Tiffany stained glass lamps. Considering the history and beauty behind stained glass work, I was excited to give it a go.
Because of the type of work stain glass requires there wasn’t really a take home kit, more so a selection of tools, chemicals, and glass. This cost of this started at €45 depending on what you make, which included some practice pieces of glass, the choice of two items to make, the choice of coloured glass and use of the tools and chemicals.

Here's how I got on…

This was something I had never tried before or never even thought of attempting because I assumed it would be far too complicated and would require a lot of experience. It really wasn’t the case, the teacher Bianca demonstrated step-by-step what was involved and there was plenty of glass made available to practice on. 
There were many different designs and coloured glass to choose from, even some jewellery. Above is some of the work from my classmates and Bianca herself.

If you are vegetarian or vegan, you should be made aware that one of the items used in the welding contains sheep fat. This is in line with the traditional method of making stain glass. However you do not have to use this and can use the solution instead.

For more information contact An Grianán at An Grianán at or 041 9822119

To see more work form Bianca, have a peek here

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beaded Bracelet

I always admire handmade beaded jewellery for it’s beauty and delicacy, and hold admiration for the patience and skill needed to make some of the pieces. I had tried myself to make my own before but only had somewhat of a success on a loom and even then the seed beads drove insane me continuously getting stuck on the needle. I decided to attempt beading once more in An Grianán before abandoning it completely.

I was able to choose the bracelet I was going to make, within my skill level,  then was given a choice of coloured beads. The kit cost five euro and included all the beads, even the dreaded seed beads, thread, needles and clasps.
Here’s how I got on… 

My almost final attempt was a success! And that was all down to the incredible teachings from Eleanor, even the thread and beads she selected for the kit were incredible quality, including the dreaded seed beads all equal in size and shape. I had no problems getting them through the needles, these were ordered in form Japan.

Some of Eleanor’s work was displayed around the room showing the incredible pieces that can be created with practice, patience and creativity. I have been inspired back to beading.
For more information contact An Grianán at or 041 9822119