Ursula Celano Ireland

A blog to show where the inspiration comes from and to promote further inspiration
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A  Trip to Carlow: Altamont Gardens and Duckett’s Grove

Today was my birthday and we went on a great day trip to some gardens in Carlow which were within one hour’s drive.  It is a beautiful time of year to be in the south east and with the dry sunny weather we were treated to lots of bright golden haystacks in the fields and standing wheat under blue skies with the purple mountains of Wicklow framing the landscape.  

Eight years ago I went to Altamont Gardens and was blown away by the beauty of the gardens, the variety of views and the natural setting.  Since then the gardens of Carlow have become even more accessible and easy to tour thanks to initiatives like Carlow Garden Trails.  The last time we were there we were on our own and today there were a good few people around.  Altamont has an excellent cafe within the walled garden which seems to have been recently opened.  Its a newly built and nicely furnished ‘shack’ and the food was delicious and delivered with the same attention to detail.  We also visited the gothic ruin Duckett’s Grove which is about fifteen minutes drive away and also has a nice cafe.  Both attractions are completely free to visitors.  

It is the summer holidays here and often I am trapped in the house minding children and I have to find some creative outlet which works on the kitchen table.

 I have to be able to supervise them and do something that isn’t toxic and easy to clean up.  For me this is block printing.

At the moment I am obsessed with the beautiful Fuchsia flowers growing here and wanted to do something immediate with this flower.  Block printing is a great way of turning an idea into a real usable ‘thing’ in an hour - rather than weeks.

All you need are the bits and pieces in the picture here and some fabric.  You can cut out shapes onto foam, rubber or lino.  I stick them on plastic or a piece of wood - anything flat.  Once it is dry it is ready to print with. Try out your stamps on paper first so that you don’t waste fabric.  When you are ready stick your fabric down on the kitchen table with masking tape - cover your table if it is precious.  Then you are ready to print.  

I use ‘Permaset’ ink because it is really thick so seems to work well with stamps.  The iron is used to set the ink - and then that is about it.  I’ve only got a few ink colours at the moment so these aren’t the most exciting prints - but anything is possible.

Here is a photo of some good books on printing too.  Enjoy! x


In the interest of the planet, kindness and Karma all my work is being produced either here where i can see it or to the highest ethical standards where products have to be made or prepared outside Ireland. My main textile line is made in a certified fair trade workshop in India run by a UK charity; the aim being to give sustainable employment and support to abused women. How great is that?! They are really wonderful to work with too. Here are some photos of my sheep pattern being made into aprons. I was going to start this post off with photos of my original sketches, and then the first samples but I can’t find them anywhere - a tidy up is required!

sounds interesting and the forecast is good.

Aprons and other bits displayed beautifully at new stockist Garden World in Wicklow. It is just off the N11 at Kilcoole.

Lagom are a wonderful Card Company based in the UK. They have great cards and a really interesting blog. Sometimes they feature music and this one is great - also the donkey is lovely

Out today - taking some new photos to freshen up the website. Didn’t realise that really you need two batteries for a proper camera: one to use while the other one charges. Our session didn’t last long. Still… It is a beautiful day here in Dublin

Here I am with a real donkey - on mid-term break. I’ve lots of new work ready to go. It just isn’t photographed yet!

Just back from Showcase Ireland which finished in the RDS yesterday. With help I managed to make a virtue out of the big pole in the middle of my stand. It was a great show and I was delighted to win best new gift. As ever it is a bit of fun - a reunion with other similar designers and the nice shops we supply. Only nice sort of people run gift shops - it isn’t really a profession for hardened ruthless types.

Some records of my manic cushion designing from the run up to Christmas. I’ve been putting my membership of printblock to some use and attended some christmas fairs selling things entirely made by me.  This I hope will feed into a small and changing range of cushions for sale in the new year.  The donkey design mixing blue, biscuit fabric and grey was especially popular.