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.

Her own work is currently focused on two streams; intensive hand stitching of naturally dyed linen and mixed media (earth pigments, acrylic and thread) on heavy cotton. Her work is abstract, reductive and meditative.

• For more information about Claire and her work, visit her
website
• For more information about Committed to Cloth, visit their
website

Claire’s classes

  • • October 7-12, 2018 | Seeking Change, Taking Risks, Move On!

    Open or Close
    Seeking Change, Taking Risks, Move On!
    • Note: Class begins on Sunday, October 7 at 4 pm
    • Only 14 students accepted (each participant will have their own work table for wet work)
    • Level: Intermediate to advanced - Participants must be familiar with a reasonable number of surface design techniques and comfortable with using Mx dyes & wet processes. They also need to be willing to take genuine risks, cope with failures and push through to finding their way forward. As such, a level of maturity, commitment and persistence will be needed.
    • Zig zag sewing machine: No
    • Materials fee:
    $25
    • Dye facility usage fee: $30

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

    Tuition & Meal plan for this special 5-day class with Claire (limited to 14 students):
    • Early: $1145 | paid in full by April 1, 2018 | Tuition ($895) & Meal plan ($250)
    • Regular: $1175 | paid in full by June 1, 2018 | Tuition ($925) & Meal plan ($250)
    Claire Benn surface design
    DESCRIPTION
    No successful artist – regardless of their discipline – finds new ways forward without a level of risk-taking. This involves letting go of the ‘finished product’ and learning from failure(s). This retreat is for those who are ready and willing to seek change, take risks and push themselves in order to move their work on. It is NOT for those who wish to ‘stay put’ or work within their comfort zones.

    As such, the workshop is not for the faint-hearted and a level of commitment, open-mindedness, resilience and even stubbornness will be needed to extract the learning. Another way of putting it is to say that participants will learn to accept and cope with their ‘shadow side’ or ‘predator’ in order to find the gold.

    Claire’s role will be one of facilitator rather than tutor, drawing on her training in coaching and mentoring in order to:
    • Create a safe container in which to work, where the group has trust in each other and the process.
    • Drive question-led one-to-ones on what change means to each individual, the direction being sought in terms of moving on to a new style of work, how that might manifest in terms of what needs to be done and the risks involved. All of it aimed towards finding a new way forward.
    • Provide suggestions as to risky ways forward for starting new work or moving existing pieces forward. Students will also be introduced to a system where taking chances is unavoidable.
    • Undertake one-to-one and group discussions to help participants respond to the results of risk-taking, and plan next steps and further opportunities to take risks and be subject to chance. This will involve feedback and critique.
    • Encourage and if necessary, bully - but in a supportive and positive way!

    Finally, participants must understand that they will need to let go of any desire to leave the workshop with a ‘finished’ piece of work – it might happen but there are no guarantees.


    ON-SITE SUPPLIES & SUPPLIES FEE
    In addition to supplying the media, the workshop provides access to a selection of tools but students will need to bring a selection of personal tools to work with. The supplies fee of $25 will include use of the following media and materials:

    • Procion Mx dyes: 11 key colors 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.
    • Fabric Paints: a range of key colors plus extender base.
    • Acrylic mediums: fluid matte & gel mediums for making laminated stencils and mark-making directly on to the cloth.
    • India/China ink: for use on paper and cloth.
    • Resists: Soy wax, freezer paper and masking tape (for resist work on cloth or on-screen).
    • Paper: lining paper and/or newsprint
    • Chemicals: everything needed for dye and discharge work.
    • 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
    • dice; yes, some of your ways forward will be down to the roll of the dice!

    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.


    STUDENT REQUIREMENTS - WHAT TO BRING
    Change, Risk & Direction
    This is perhaps the most important things to think about, so please spend time responding to the following questions (some of which ask the same thing, but asked in a different way):

    1. What change do you want to see in my work.., and why?
    2. How do you want to move your work forward; describe what you’re aiming for, describe the style you’re seeking.
    3. What direction might you move towards? This might include colour schemes, size of work, marks, textures, use of specific media or tools and so forth.
    4. What references or source material are available to you? What do you need to collect or research in order to help you see or clarify where you’re heading? (Note to self; remember to bring visual references with you if I think that’ll help).
    5. What represents a risk for you, and why?
    6. Why do you want to take this risk? For example, are you stuck in a rut in terms of style, size, process or imagery? Maybe you feel dictated to in terms of the ‘quilt or textile police’ or similar and want to break free - somehow.
    7. How prepared are you to try, try and try again, and how committed are you to pushing through.
    8. Any level of change drives a level of fear as we all fear uncertainty, the unknowable. Your ‘shadow side’ or internal predator will almost certainly rear its head in uncomfortable ways; “why can’t I make this work? Why am I wasting my time on this? I’m fed up/angry/frustrated. I’m a failure, a wimp, useless and will never be any good”. Are you ready to deal with this? What strategies can you put in place to help you deal with this?
    9. How prepared are you to handle the reaction of others to your desire to change, take risks and move on (often, other people won’t understand and even try to talk you out of change).
    10. If you take risks on this workshop and find new ways forward or a new direction, will you be able to continue working in this way? For example, if your new way forward can’t be done at home, then how will you access suitable studio space and time?
    11. Whilst the workshop itself will provide a safe container, this may not be true at other times if working in a shared/public studio environment. How can you create a safe container for yourself by communicating your goals with others and setting specific boundaries?
    12. In attending this workshop.. where might I start?

    Take the time to answer as many of these questions as you can. You may not be able to answer all of them and Claire will help you to find your way with those you might struggle with. The list isn’t exhaustive, so if you think of anything else, then write down your thoughts. If possible, please email Clare with relevant information 2 weeks before the workshop as this will give me time to consider each individual and do some pre-planning.

    The Cloth
    Choose the fabric(s) you (think you) wish to work with and prepare it accordingly. Whilst you may normally use Mx dyes, it’s possible that risk may involve using other media such as discharge or pigment (acrylic) media. Think about where you might be heading and prepare the cloth accordingly. If you’re pretty certain you want to stick with Mx dyes, then pre-prepare as much as you can – although a soda-soak vat will be available throughout the workshop. If staring with new cloth and Mx dyes, scouring - even with cloth that is sold as PFD - is recommended. Bring 10 to 15 metres of cloth in total but don’t cut it until you’re ready to work – you might be working small samples, you might be hurling paint at large pieces – you’ll know when the time comes.

    For dye paints, Claire prefers to work on soda-soaked cloth rather than putting soda ash into the dyes (the benefits of this approach will be explained). As such, if you’re reasonably confident you’ll be working with dyes as paints,
    please ensure you sufficient scoured, soda-soaked and dried cloth ready for use on the first day: don’t iron it or fold it once soda-soaked – just stuff it into a bag once dry. A soda vat will be available for on-going soda soaking throughout the workshop. To soda soak scoured cloth:
    • Pre-scour it, then dry it or spin-dry it.
    • Create a soda vat large enough for your needs; the basic recipe is 4 tablespoons of soda ash to 1 liter of water. Dissolve sufficient soda ash for your needs in warm (not cold or hot) water and top up with the appropriate amount of cold water.
    • Place the scoured, dry (or spun-dried) cloth in to the soda vat and leave for 15 minutes.
    • Dry by drip-drying or spin the soda-soaked cloth before line drying (if you have a spin dryer, recycle the run off back into the soda vat). DO NOT TUMBLE DRY.
    • Once dry, stuff it into a bag (don’t fold or iron).

    Additional Media
    If you wish to use media outside of that specified, please bring it with you.

    Tools (please label everything you bring)
    Whilst a range of tools is available at the Barn, do think about specific tools or processes that may enable you to take risks and find new ways of working. You might even think about making some tools.

    General Supplies

    • Two drop cloths: please bring drop cloths that are sturdy, such as drill cotton or denim. Old sheets are too thin and avoid heavy-weight muslin or canvas as it tends to hold wrinkles. Please do not bring plastic-backed decorating sheets.Your drop cloths will need to measure 9’ x 4’6”, once scoured and shrunk (benches measure between 3’6” x 9’ and 4’ x 8’).
    • Thermofax screens: whilst I personally feel Thermofax screens don’t represent risk for many, if you have favored designs, then bring some but consider thinking about using them in a different way! The barn has a Thermofax machine (kindly donated by a student) and Claire will organize mesh and frames at cost. Please note that your imagery will need to be in laser print or photocopy format (not inkjet). You can photocopy in Pickerington or Lancaster and Staples in Pickerington has proved to give the best copies for a good burn (now the screen mesh has changed).
    • Silkscreen: if you think you’re going to use a silkscreen, then bring one as there are no general-use screens at the studio.
    • Rubber gloves (suggest 2 pairs).
    • 1 x box of ball-headed or T pins.
    • 1 x black Sharpie.
    • Sketch book or white paper for on-going design work or notes to self.
    • Pen and pencil.
    • Cloth apron (or wear the equivalent of gardening/decorating clothes).
    • Comfortable, rubber-soled shoes (you may be standing a great deal and the floor is concrete).
    • Notebook.
    • Camera.
    • An ipod and headphones if you like to work to music, or simply signal to others that you don’t want to chat.


    Please contact Claire if you have any queries about the class content or supplies. In the meantime, I look forward to a week of commitment, risk and courage.
  • • October 14-19, 2018 | Intent on Composition

    Open or Close
    Seeking Change, Taking Risks, Move On!
    • Note: Class begins on Sunday, October 14 at 4 pm
    • Only 14 students accepted (each participant will have their own work table for wet work)
    • Level: Intermediate to advanced - Participants must be familiar and comfortable with working with thickened Mx dyes or their media of choice, and using a range of techniques/processes. NOT suitable for beginners.
    • Zig zag sewing machine: No
    • Materials fee:
    $30
    • Dye facility usage fee: $30

    Tuition & Meal plan for this special 5-day class with Claire (limited to 14 students):
    • Early: $1145 | paid in full by April 1, 2018 | Tuition ($895) & Meal plan ($250)
    • Regular: $1175 | paid in full by June 1, 2018 | Tuition ($925) & Meal plan ($250)
    Stacks Image 29924
    DESCRIPTION
    It’s challenging to get to grips with wet processes in the world of surface design, and getting to grips with composition can be even harder. This workshop is for students who wish to really focus on building their ability with composition in relation to art textiles, and will encompass:

    • Working with key design principles in terms of exploiting elements such as balance, contrast and relationship, and the use of..
    • Color, value, scale and imagery to drive visual interest.
    • How to use devices such as focal points, pathways and other ‘doorways into the picture world’.

    We will also examine and explore how the process of design can start with building a background, or start with a strong compositional element. I will bring in examples of artwork to use as a focus for group discussions to identify compositional elements and we will also undertake group critiques of student work. In addition, I will work individually with students to review their own completed work and the work-in-progress they develop throughout the week.

    As such, whilst this is a hands-on class, the focus is not on technique or processes.

    Claire’s main focus will be to:

    • Understand individual goals in terms of what each student wishes to achieve. To help with this, each student will be asked to share their intent with Claire and the rest of 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.
    • Provide advice and guidance on the best choice of tools to generate the imagery sought (e.g. use of the silk screen, rollers, scrapers, bottles and so forth)
    • Provide advice and guidance on the order of process; pre-dyeing, working with dye paints, discharge, fabric paints etc. and where appropriate, refining technique.
    • 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.

    As such, whilst this is a hands-on class, the goal is not to teach specific technique. Instead, students will be working to the beat of their own drum to generate the work they 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. The workshop fee will cover use of the media, although exactly what any student will use will be dependent on individual goals. .


    ON-SITE SUPPLIES & SUPPLIES FEE
    In addition to supplying the media, the workshop provides access to a selection of tools but students will need to bring a selection of personal tools to work with. The supplies fee of $30 will include use of the following media and materials:

    • Procion Mx dyes: 11 key colors 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.
    • Fabric Paints: a range of key colors plus extender base.
    • Acrylic mediums: fluid matte & gel mediums for making laminated stencils and mark-making directly on to the cloth.
    • India/China ink: for use on paper and cloth.
    • Resists: Soy wax, freezer paper and masking tape (for resist work on cloth or on-screen).
    • Chemicals: everything needed for dye and discharge work.
    • 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

    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.


    STUDENT REQUIREMENTS - WHAT TO BRING
    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.

    An ipad can be a good transportation tool and paper is fine too!


    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 two yards ready soaked and dried.


    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.
    • Thermofax screens: the Barn has a Thermofax machine (kindly donated by a student) and Claire will organize mesh and frames at cost. Please note that your imagery will need to be in laser print or photocopy format (not inkjet). You can photocopy in Pickerington or Lancaster and Staples in Pickerington has proved to give the best copies for a good burn (now the screen mesh has changed).
    • Two drop cloths: please bring drop cloths that are sturdy: drill cotton, denim or something similar in a neutral color 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!


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

  • • 2018 Fall class tuition and Meal plan
    • Tuition & Meal plan per 5-day class with Claire Benn & Jan Myers-Newbury (Gridded Logic: Itajime Shibori, Surface & Stitch) and Deborah Griffing (Imagery & Abstraction):
    • Early: $925 | paid in full by April 1, 2018 | Tuition ($675) & Meal plan ($250)
    • Regular: $945 | paid in full by June 1, 2018 | Tuition ($695) & Meal plan ($250)

    • Tuition & Meal plan per limited enrollment 5-day class with Claire Benn (Seeking Change, Taking Risks, Move On! & Intent on Composition) - limited to 14 participants:
    • Early: $1145 | paid in full by April 1, 2018 | Tuition ($895) & Meal plan ($250)
    • Regular: $1175 | paid in full by June 1, 2018 | Tuition ($925) & Meal plan ($250)

    • Tuition & Meal plan per 2-week classes with Nancy Crow:
    • Both weeks (10-day class) of these special workshops are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • Early: $925 x 2 weeks | paid in full by April 1, 2018 | Tuition ($675) & Meal plan ($250) per week
    • Regular: $945 x 2 weeks | paid in full by June 1, 2018 | Tuition ($695) & Meal plan ($250) per week

    • Note: Some of the workshops have an additional fee for materials & facility usage. Each class description indicates whether there is an additional fee. Material/facility fees are due with the final payment.

    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:

    Hampton Inn, Pickerington, Ohio (15-20 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    This clean, comfortable hotel is offering reduced rates. Please ask for "Nancy Crow Workshop" special rate (includes breakfast) using the local phone number 614-864-8383 or book online

    Best Western, Pickerington, Ohio (15-20 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    All suites hotel with separate living area and bedroom. Offers complimentary full hot breakfast, free wifi, heated indoor pool, exercise room, & business center. Call 614-860-9804 to book and ask for “Nancy Crow Workshop” special rate.

    Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Reynoldsburg (15-20 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    Please ask for "Crow Barn Workshop" special rate (includes breakfast) using the local phone number 614-861-8888 or Email the manager

    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

    Rosabella B & B, Millersport, Ohio (10 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn; mention Crow Barn)
    Beautifully restored 1850s Italianate farmhouse is surrounded by farm fields. Breakfast included. The grounds include a wrap-around porch, hammock, patio, pool, hot tub, and fire pit. Phone: 740-467-3580

    Other accommodations, please negotiate your own weekly rates:

    AirBnB options in the area near the Crow Timber Frame Barn

    City of Lancaster, Ohio (15-20 minute drive to the Crow Timber Frame Barn)
    • Hampton Inn, 740-654-2999, clean and quiet
    City of Reynoldsburg, Ohio (15-20 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
    Roommate
    • 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.
    • Port Columbus (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 $75 per 5-day class.
    • Cutting mats are available for $15 per 5-day class.
    • Lamps are available for $15 per 5-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