Claire Benn surface design classes
Claire Benn surface design classes
Claire Benn surface design classes
Claire Benn surface design classes
Claire Benn surface design classes

Claire Benn

Claire stitched a bit at college, dropped out, stopped stitching and started working … finally re-engaging with textiles after seeing a Mennonite quilt in 1994. What can be done to a piece of cloth still amazes her.

In 2001 she teamed up with Leslie Morgan to form ‘Committed to Cloth’ which became one of the foremost textile teaching practices in the U.K., with seven great books published during the partnership. In 2014 Claire retired from the partnership (but not completely from teaching) in order to focus more on her own work. Working with students in a community of like-minded people is a continued joy as teaching provides such a positive feedback loop; everyone learns. Her focus as a tutor is to enable; she presents clear demonstrations and instruction, believes in straight-talking, offers guidance, pulling and encouragement.

Artist statement
Solitude. Stillness. Silence. Experienced in nature and made visual through cloth and earth pigments, thread and hand stitch. I appreciate the tactile qualities of all my materials; being hands on and engaging with process is important to me – as is the craft that underpins the making of my art. Nature – and particularly landscape – provides inspiration as there’s so much to see, feel and experience: the long view, the wide-open spaces, the terrain, the soil, the plants and the creatures.

My family encouraged painting and drawing but school did not. Even then, the arts were less important than other subjects. Not being academically-minded, I left Sixth Form at seventeen and started work, eventually becoming a freelance training and development consultant specialising in one-to-one coaching. In 1998 I re-focused my career on art, engaging in self-directed studio work and study with practising artists. My previous career gave me a skill set to establish a teaching practice which ran from 2001 to 2015. Although I still teach at other studios, I’m now able to spend much more time on my own work.

• For more information about Claire and her work, visit her
• Instagram: @HerQuietMaterials

Claire’s 2-week class

  • • September 29-October 4 & October 6-11, 2024 | Working with Intent / Guided Independent Study

    Open or Close
    Working with Intent / Guided Independent Study
    • Only 14 students accepted since each person will have their own worktable for wet work.
    • Level: Intermediate to advanced - participants must be familiar and comfortable with working with their media of choice, and using a range of techniques/processes. NOT suitable for beginners.
    • Sewing machine:
    • Materials fee: $40 payable in cash to Claire
    • Facility usage fee: $60

    • SORRY, class is full To be placed on waiting list, please send in registration & deposit. If space does not become available, a full refund of the deposit will be issued.

    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week class with Claire (limited to 14 students):
    • $3500 | paid in full before April 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2860) & Meal plan ($640)
    • $3550 | paid in full before June 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2910) & Meal plan ($640)
    Claire Benn surface design
    “The denial of discipline, struggle and sometimes flat-out boredom is why some modern art is so unconvincing; it lacks life resonance. The artist plucks the flower but has never planted the bulb, and somehow we sense that.” (Dr. Martin Shaw)

    This workshop is for participants who wish to plant their bulbs, focus on making the work they want to make and build their ability with composition in relation to art textiles.

    You must be practised with your chosen media and application techniques. I am happy to help problem solve, trouble-shoot and provide refreshers but please be advised this is NOT a technique workshop.

    You may choose to work with any kind of media and any kind of application process, but please see the on-site supplies list as the workshop cannot pre-arrange for every kind of media to be available, so be prepared to bring or ship specific supplies.

    My role will be one of mentoring rather than tutoring and my focus will be to:

    • Understand individual goals in terms of what each participant wishes to achieve. To help with this, you’ll be asked to share your intent with the group. This activity will happen before supper on Sunday afternoon. As such, please arrive at the Barn and set up between 4 and 5pm, and we’ll get together between 5 and 6pm. Supper is at 6pm.
    • Help you to work with key design principles in terms of exploiting elements such as balance, contrast, relationship, unity/cohesion and content. Within this, we can utilise the tools of colour, value, scale and imagery to drive visual interest.
    • Explore how to use devices such as focal points, pathways and other ‘doorways into the picture world’.
    • Engage in one-to-one and group discussions to help students respond to the cloth as it evolves, review and consider progress of the palette and/or the composition and plan next steps.
    • Provide advice and guidance on media, the order of process and refining technique. As such, whilst this is a hands-on class, the goal is not to teach specific technique. Instead, you’ll be working to the beat of your own drum to generate the work you wish to create.

    As such, whilst this is a hands-on class, the goal is not to teach specific technique. Instead, you’ll be working to the beat of your own drum to generate the work you wish to create. The class will encourage the evaluation of work-in-progress and the discussion of ideas, concepts, design and composition on an on-going basis.
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    The materials fee of $30 will include use of the following media. The workshop fee will cover use of the media supplied and please bring cash to pay for this. If you bring your own, the fee will be waived.
    • Mx dyes: 11 key colours for thickened and liquid dyes, or immersion.
    • Discharge: Thiox will be used as the discharging medium. It can be used in paste or liquid format on soda-soaked cloth.
    • Fabric Paints: a limited range of key colours plus extender base.
    • Acrylic mediums: fluid matte & gel mediums for making laminated stencils and mark-making directly on to the cloth. White & black acrylic paint.
    • Heavy-body acrylic paints in a limited colour range - if acrylics are your primary media, please bring the colours you need.
    • Chemicals: everything needed for dye and discharge work.

    There will also be some media/materials for general workshop use, for which no fee will be charged, e.g.:
    • India/China ink: for use on paper and cloth.
    • Resists: soy wax, string, freezer paper and masking tape (for resist work on cloth or on-screen).
    • Tools: a selection of key tools will be provided, including:
    • bristle decorators’ brushes and foam brushes in various widths
    • a selection of bristle & synthetic artists’ brushes
    • various rollers
    • mono printing plates (large & small)
    • scrapers (e.g. old credit cards and small squeegees)
    • needle-nose bottles and some ‘Montana’ markers
    • tjantings & other soy wax tools
    • sheet plastic (clean!) for batching clot and other use.

    An ample supply of thickened and liquid dye paints, discharge media, chemical water & print paste will be ready for use on the first day. A rota will then be established so the group takes responsibility for keeping stocks topped up. Recipes will be posted to ensure consistency throughout the week. Other media such as fabric paints, matte medium, soy wax, etc. will be available for use at any time.

    The Intention
    Perhaps the most important element to bring with you. Please undertake planning work in advance of the class, including:
    • Specific purpose: what are you trying to achieve in terms of specific works?
    • Personal imagery: giving thought to the marks, lines, shapes and texture you wish to see come alive in your cloth, assembling any reference materials.
    • Specific tools: give thought to preparing or assembling specific tools in advance.
    • Journaling, notes, references: any written work or references that may be important to the overall plan.

    The Cloth
    Choose the fabric(s) you wish to work with and prepare it accordingly. How much you bring is up to you; you know your own work rate and racing is to be avoided, whereas thoughtful consideration will be encouraged. Please feel free to bring work-in-progress, particularly if you’re struggling with it.

    For dye paints and Thiox paste/liquid, I prefer to work on soda-soaked cloth rather than putting soda ash into the media. A soda vat will be available for on-going soda soaking throughout the workshop but please bring at least four yards ready soaked and dried.

    The Media
    Please pay attention to what will be supplied on-site. If you wish to work with other media such as earth pigments, soya milk, acrylics etc., please being or sip your own supplies. If you advise me in advance, I am happy to pre-order supplies such as soya beans to avoid the extra weight in your luggage!

    General Supplies
    • Silkscreen: if you think you’re going to use a silkscreen, then bring one as there are no general-use screens at the studio.
    • Squeegee/spreader/scrapers: if bringing a screen or thermofaxes, bring suitable squeegees. Grouting tools/spreaders or pastry scrapers are also useful in a range of sizes, as are a couple of old credit cards.
    • Tools: you’ll see that some tools are provided but if you have specific tools you wish to use, then bring them.
    • Two drop cloths: please bring drop cloths that are sturdy: drill cotton, denim or something similar in a neutral colour are best as they are sturdy enough to flip over and use both sides before washing is needed. Old sheets are too thin and avoid heavy-weight muslin or canvas as it tends to hold wrinkles. Please also avoid the plastic-backed decorators’ cloths. Your drop cloths need to measure 4’6” x 9’, once scoured and shrunk (the worktables measure 4’ x 8’).
    • Rubber gloves (suggest 2 pairs).
    • 1 x box of ball-headed or T pins (please don’t bring the very heavy/thick T pins).
    • 1 x black Sharpie.
    • Notebook or sketchbook; handouts on recipes and some process will be provided, but it can be useful to record your order of process on individual pieces, or make notes during general discussions.
    • Pen and pencil.
    • Cloth apron (or wear the equivalent of gardening/decorating clothes).
    • Comfortable, rubber-soled shoes (you’ll be standing a great deal and the floor is concrete).
    • A camera as it’s useful to record work-in-progress.
    • an iPod and headphones if you like to work to music.
    • Anything else you can think of that you’re likely to need!

    If you wish to share your work or your working process, please prepare a short, 10 minute presentation and bring it on an iPad, laptop or memory stick. We will organise a rota of slide shows in the evenings (apart from bonfire night!). Please note this is completely optional; speaking or attending!!

    Please contact
    Claire if you have any queries about the class content or supplies.

  • • 2024 Fall Art Retreats | Tuition and Meal Plan
    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week class with Claire Benn: (Note: Only 14 students accepted)
    Both weeks (10-day class) of this workshop are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • $3500 | paid in full before April 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2860) & Meal plan ($640)
    • $3550 | paid in full before June 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2910) & Meal plan ($640)
    + $60 facility usage fee
    + $40 materials fee payable in cash to Claire

    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week classes with Nancy Crow:
    Both weeks (10-day class) of these workshops are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • $2640 | paid in full before April 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2000) & Meal plan ($640)
    • $2690 | paid in full before June 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2050) & Meal plan ($640)

    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week class with David Hornung:
    Both weeks (10-day class) of this workshop are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • $2640 | paid in full before April 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2000) & Meal plan ($640)
    • $2690 | paid in full before June 1, 2024 | 10-day Tuition ($2050) & Meal plan ($640)
    + $60 facility usage fee

    Meal plan
    During the art retreats, Margaret Wolf, will prepare fabulous gourmet lunches and dinners plus a coffee/snack break daily during each week of class. The meal plan is provided so participants may concentrate fully on their work without being bothered by the interruption and inconvenience of cooking for themselves. The break times present a great opportunity to get to know your fellow students, share ideas, and just relax together in this wonderful environment.

    The meal plan includes an opening night welcome dinner, five lunches, five afternoon coffee/pastry breaks, and four more dinners during the duration of the workshop. Coffee, tea and water will be served during these break times. Participants are responsible for any other beverage choices, such as soda pop, beer, wine, milk or bottled water.

    Please keep in mind that if anyone chooses not to participate in the meal plan, they are solely responsible for all of their meals, snacks, coffee, tea, and other beverages. The kitchen facilities are reserved for the resident chef. There is a microwave and a refrigerator in the wet studio for student use. Most restaurants are at least a 20 minute drive away from the barn.

    Please note: Due to facility limitations, meal plans are available only for workshop participants.
  • • Accommodations
    Recommended accommodations & offering special rates:

    New hotel Hampton Inn, Canal Winchester, Ohio (20-25 minute drive to Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    This new, highly rated, clean, comfortable hotel is offering reduced rates. Phone: 614-953-2204
    • For special rate, please book online

    Special rate Hampton Inn, Lancaster, Ohio (20-25 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    Please mention the Nancy Crow Workshops when booking. Phone: 740-654-2999
    • For special rate, please book online

    The Morgan Theater Home, Baltimore, Ohio (5 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn, mention Crow Barn)
    Former silent movie theater converted into a private residence. Three rooms for rent include free cable TV & free high speed internet access. Kitchen/refrigerator/stove & all "kitchen stuff" available. Phone: 740-862-4765 or Email

    Other accommodations, please negotiate your own weekly rates:

    AirBnB options in the area near the Crow Timber Frame Barn

    City of Lancaster, Ohio (20-25 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    • Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 740-654-4445
    City of Reynoldsburg, Ohio (20-25 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    • Fairfield Inn, 614-864-4555

    Campgrounds near the Crow Timber Frame Barn
    Rippling Stream Campground, Baltimore, OH, 740-862-6065, (5 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    KOA Campground, Buckeye Lake, OH, 740-928-0706, (15-20 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
  • • Miscellaneous information
    • Please let us know if you would like a roommate. We will try to match you with another participant to share accommodations.

    Travel to and from the Crow Timber Frame Barn
    • The Barn is located near Baltimore, Ohio (southeast of Columbus, Ohio)
    • Please keep in mind that there is not a shuttle service to and from the motels to the farm, therefore please arrange a rental car or carpool with another participant.
    John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) in Columbus, Ohio, is the major airport serving the area (30 minute drive to the Barn)

    Rental sewing machines, cutting mats & lamps
    • Bernina sewing machines are available for $150 per 10-day class.
    • Cutting mats are available for $30 per 10-day class.
    • Lamps are available for $30 per 10-day class.

    Formal class hours
    • Monday-Friday: 9-12 and 2-5 daily
    (Classrooms are open 7 am-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 7 am-5 pm Friday)

    Professional facilities
    Each student is provided with a large work table, an 8’ x 8’ work wall, and a comfortable chair. Classrooms are well illuminated and are open from early morning until late in the evening, plus the classrooms have air conditioning & heating. The surface design/dye studio at the Crow Timber Frame Barn includes large padded tables, lots of light (natural and color-corrected bulbs), 3 commercial stainless steel sinks, & washer/dryer. All facilities are non-smoking.

    Mailing list
    If you would like to be placed on a mailing list for information about upcoming art retreats, please send your contact info.

    Questions? Email
Images of Claire Benn, student work and classes at the Crow Timber Frame Barn