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 wilderness landscapes and made visual through cloth, thread and pigments.

A piece of cloth is always Claire’s starting point, which Anni Albers describes as “the pliable plane”. Uncomplaining of a sharp needle and welcoming lines of thread. Porous enough to absorb pigments, strong enough to support them and tough enough to withstand an electric sander. Using earth pigments connects Claire back to the wilderness. Binding it in acrylic medium or soya milk allows her to make washes that soak through the cloth - cotton canvas, linen or hemp are strong enough to take the weight of the pigment and build up layers to communicate the texture of soil, sand, grit and rock. But the cloth is also open enough to yield to stitch; rows, lines or scatterings of thread offer a visual trace of time and a literal surface texture that fingertips can feel.

These are Claire’s quiet materials, used to make art that evokes solitude, stillness and silence.


• For more information about Claire and her work, visit her
website

Claire’s 2-week class

  • • October 2-7 & October 9-14, 2022 | Going into Freefall and/or Working with Intent

    Open or Close
    Going into Freefall and/or Working with Intent
    • Note: Class begins on Sunday, October 2 at 4 pm
    • 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: No
    • Materials fee:
    $60
    • Dye 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 will be issued.

    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week class with Claire (limited to 14 students):
    • $3130 | paid in full before June 1, 2022 | 10-day Tuition ($2550) & Meal plan ($580)
    Claire Benn surface design
    DESCRIPTION
    I have designed this period at the Crow Barn as a two-week period of studio work comprising two very different kinds of activity: Freefall and Working with Intent. Please understand that you have a choice: you can engage with Freefall and Intent, engage just with Intent and should you wish to spend the entire two weeks in Freefall, that’s also possible! I will be asking you to make a decision before you come as I will need to make sure I have enough supplies for Freefall.

    To begin with, let’s take a look at Going into Freefall.

    FREEFALL
    No successful artist - regardless of their discipline - finds new ways forward without making an effort to free themselves up and explore new methods and approaches. Going into freefall involves a willingness to jump off a cliff without a parachute and let go of preconceived ideas of the ‘finished’ product. In a way, it’s the opposite of working with intent. The artist Chris Ofilli says it well:
    “The studio is a laboratory, not a factory. An exhibition is the result of your experiments but the process is never-ending … so an exhibition is not a conclusion”.

    I prefer not to go into too much detail in terms of the methodology as to be in the spirit of Freefall is to come into the studio blind, with an open mind and trusting of the process. However, I can provide some general guidelines:

    For the first three days of Freefall, you’ll be working with a source from which to draw inspiration on colour, texture, line and shape.
    This source can be:
    • 3 objects of choice that resonate with you
    • 3 images of choice based on landscape (rural, city, industrial), or close-ups (of nature, buildings, etc.)
    • A passage of writing or piece of poetry (your own or someone else’s) that contain descriptive visual elements (in terms of colour, line, texture, shape) or emotional elements (anger, sorrow, shame, joy, peace, etc.)

    • Everything you do (at least to begin with) will be based on your source.
    • You’ll follow a series of tasks in a certain order and you won’t be told what they are in advance; one thing will lead to another and you’ll go on a journey, sometimes working new ground, sometimes doubling back and (re)covering old ground in order to layer process.
    • Everything is designed to help you to be in the moment - what comes out of your hand/body is what comes out.
    • At a certain point, it’s possible you’ll start to take a more considered approach, or maybe you won’t. I think of Freefall as a ‘call and response’ engagement with the cloth, the media, the tools and the set tasks.
    • At certain points we’ll come together for reviews.

    My role will be one of facilitator rather than tutor and as usual I will:
    • Create a safe container in which to work, where the group has trust in each other and the process.
    • Undertake one-to-one and group discussions to help you respond to results, learn from each other and make decisions as to what next - at a certain point you’ll be able to choose from a range of options/activities.

    Everyone needs to let go of any desire to leave the Freefall element of the workshop with a ‘finished’ piece of work - it might happen but there are no guarantees. You’ll have your chance to do intentional work later on, in the second week. Or, you may choose to go into Freefall again.

    Freefall activities will use acrylic media and be undertaken on cheap cloth, which I will supply. Using acrylics mean faster drying times, no curing, wash-out or soda-soaking. We’ll adjust the media to minimize the impact on the hand of the fabric to ensure you can stitch it and/or cut and re-assemble.

    Once again, let me stress that if Freefall doesn’t appeal, you can choose to work with intent for both weeks.


    WORKING WITH INTENT
    By now, you all know what Working with Intent involves. You’ll march to the beat of your own drum and work towards making the work you want to make. You’ll know what cloth to bring, how much of it bring AND you’ll remember to scour that cloth and have some soda-soaked and ready to go.

    My job? Work with you as a group and on an individual level to help you realize your intention, provide technical advice, feedback and critique. This may involve some tough love from time to time!

    But … if you want to, you can carry on working in the style of Freefall, continuing with acrylics or switching the fibre-reactive dyes.
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    ON-SITE SUPPLIES (provided by materials fee)
    Will cover use of the media listed below:
    • Acrylic paints, fluid matte & gel mediums: a good range of colours and mediums.
    • Fibre Reactive Dyes and associated chemicals: the usual range of colours, etc. for use with Intent work.
    • Tools: the usual selection of studio tools along with some unusual ones.
    • Cloth: if you’re engaging in Freefall, I’ll supply you with the cloth you’ll be working on, prepared accordingly and ready to go.
    • Paper: some specific paper will be supplied, as will a selection of threads.
    • Scrim, butter muslin and some sheers.
    • Miscellaneous: some other materials such as wax crayons, soya wax, charcoal, graphite, candles and two electric sanders.


    STUDENT REQUIREMENTS - WHAT TO BRING
    Freefall – Your Source
    If you wish to do Freefall, please think about your source material from which you’ll draw inspiration on colour, texture, line and shape.
    You have a choice of choosing:
    • 3 objects of choice that resonate with you
    • 3 images of choice based on landscape (rural, city, industrial), or close-ups (of nature, buildings, objects, etc.)
    • a passage of writing or piece of poetry (your own or someone else’s) that contain descriptive visual elements (in terms of colour, line, texture, shape) or emotional elements (anger, sorrow, shame, joy, peace, etc.)

    The Cloth
    I’ll be supplying the cloth for Freefall. For Working with Intent, by now you should know what cloth you want to use and how much of it. You decide what to bring and prepare it accordingly.

    General Supplies
    • Two drop cloths, one of which you don’t mind getting acrylic paint on.
    • Disposable gloves if you don’t like getting acrylic on your hands.
    • Rubber gloves for dye work.
    • Specific tools you know you like to work with and may need.
    • 1 x box of ball-headed or T pins.
    • 1 x black Sharpie.
    • A sewing kit to include scissors, a range of needles, a stitch ripper and hand-stitch thread in neutral, white and black (nothing too fine and nothing too chunky).
    • Sketch book or white paper for notes to self; you’ll be asked to take notes in terms of your order of process, and observations you have about the outcomes.
    • 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.
    • Water container and I suggest a hot drink thermos mug.
    • 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.

  • • 2022 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.
    $3130 | paid in full as soon as possible | 10-day Tuition ($2550) & Meal plan ($580)
    + $120 materials & dye facility usage fee

    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.
    $2530 | paid in full as soon as possible | 10-day Tuition ($1950) & Meal plan ($580)

    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.
    $2530 | paid in full as soon as possible | 10-day Tuition ($1950) & Meal plan ($580)
    + $105 materials & room 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:

    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. Please ask for “Nancy Crow Workshop” special rate (includes breakfast) using the local phone number 614-953-2204 or book online

    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
    If booking online, please use the corporate ID code: 786931270

    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.
    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