Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Inspirations from Ireland

Happy Saint Patrick's Day dear friends. Today, in celebration of all things Irish I wanted to feature a fellow artisan from Ireland and during my search I had the luck of the Irish by meeting Iris whose shop Iris O' Connor is a sight to behold. Below, please enjoy some of Iris' works and our interview:

1. Tell me a little about yourself:

I was born in Germany but came to live in Ireland in 1987. After living in Dublin inner city for about a year I decided it was just too noisy and crowded for my liking so I moved to Dun Laoghaire which is a beautiful little seaside town just a few miles outside Dublin.
I am married to Mr. O’Connor and we – including Mouse the Cat – live about 3 minutes away from the harbour and we love it here!
It is only natural that I go for daily walks and more often than not I will collect sea glass and seashells which then end up in my shop.
I do work part-time in a second hand bookshop, which is absolutely wonderful as I am an avid reader and I can borrow books from the shop which means I look at the bookshop as my own personal library.

If you want to see a few pics about me and the bookshop:

2. How long have you been crafting?

I think forever.
There isn’t really a point in time I could pick out and say: ‘this is when I started crafting’
And of course it was part of school life as well.
But I was about 10 years old when my love affair with pebbles began. It started at a riverbed in Austria where I picked up a big granite stone, beautifully shaped, with black, gray and green specks of colours which was lovingly varnished to give it that ‘wet’ look that makes the colours look stronger.
I still do a lot of work with pebbles as you can see in my flickr but unfortunately the pieces are too heavy to sell on Etsy.

3. What are your inspirations and for your Irish Street Sign Collage, what draws you to a particular sign?

It’s usually colour that gets my creative juices flowing and a vague idea what I would like to create.
I usually start by cutting out a shape and applying the base coat to it. After that it is trying not to force my idea onto the MDF or paint but to let the creative process take over and usually what comes out at the end of the process is very different from the initial idea.

I love photography and I love the fact that Irish street signs are in both English and Irish. As I do a lot of collages I tend to use some of my own photographs and it just struck me one day that maybe someone out there might like a digital download of the street signs. That’s all. I have no plans to go into digital downloads, the street signs are the only digital file I have for sale in my shop.
Having said that, I do have a lot of digital images sitting on my computer …..

4. What goals/plans do you have for your shop in the near future?

Right now I am working really hard on building up some serious Ballinasnoot real estate. My aim is to have at least 5 pages of houses in the shop to give customers a good choice.
Have a few different designs and maybe use a bit more paper instead of paint. Different house sizes, that sort of thing.
I really need to experiment a bit. Apart from that I am working on some bigger pieces which I want to have in a gallery. Selling in a B&M store or even in a market is a great experience and quite different from on-line selling, so I’m looking forward to some feedback from that...
And of course have the houses and some of my other collages for sale on my blog.
I really need to spread myself out a bit more.

And then there is my photography. I really got back into it last year and I’m thinking about offering prints some time in the future. But that won’t be in the near future….I think…

5. What is your favorite item in your shop and why?

I honestly don’t have a favourite item in my shop because everything you see in there started out as something I made for myself and only after I run out of wall space do I list the items in my Etsy shop.
But I have to say that at the moment I am really taken with my Ballinasnoot Houses.

I have always loved painting houses and those particular ones have evolved from houses painted on MDF to being Real Estate in a fictional Irish village.

Even how the story of Ballinasnoot came about is somehow typical irish: in my local
Of course I had the idea of a village before that but I wanted some input from my friends and over a few pints of Guinness one night we made great progress into the write-up of it all. Even the owner of the pub got involved and between the lads there was lots of ‘no, you can’t put that in ‘cause we don’t have that here in Ireland’ and ‘ well now, if you want to mention a traditional roof you better have a thatched one on your houses’ to ‘how about some historical background’
It was great fun and although the story is in itself fixed I still add a few bits or change something with every new house I list. I suppose Ballinasnoot will evolve naturally, just like any other (real) town here in Ireland.

As you can see, Iris is a wonderfully talented artist who has a lot to share and a genuine warmth about her. Hopefully you will take the time to visit her shop, blog, or look through her works on Flicker, it will be time enjoyably spent. Have a wonderful Saint Patrick's Day until next time!


  1. Great write up. What Iris failed to tell you is that she has fully taken on the Irish tradition of craic aka fun. She has a great sense of humor in addition to being a lovely person as well as extremely talented artist.

  2. Lovely article guys :) Iris, your stuff is absolutely beauty-ful! Too bad about the weight of the stones on the pieces, because I adore those. I'd say we can arrange for me to pick one up when I'm over but sure that'd add $50 onto my suitcase when I go home! your little villages are magical ♥♥♥

  3. Nina,
    I am really tickled pink that you picked me for this blog feature :)
    thank you so much!
    I must tell you that at first I didn't find it easy writing about myself but after a few trial and error attempts and quite a bit of colourful language I produced something which is readable ;)

    and thank you Ruby and Maura for your kind comments :D


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