Monday, January 4, 2010

first rough draft

so far so good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day may seem like a very long way away for some, but not me. I've already started making lino print cards which I hope to sell on etsy. I've been looking at images from ancient Irish manuscripts for inspiration. Anyone who's seen the Book of Kells will know that inspiration isn't hard come by. It's the most glorious pieces of handmade artwork (for anyone who is planning a visit don't forget to look out for the Book of Dimma and Book of Mulling, not quite as famous but also spectacular).

I've chosen an image from The Book of Armagh. I haven't done a lino print in years, I hope I'm not too rusty. Here are some images that'll blow your socks off. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

it snowed in Dublin!

It's only a thin layer of snow but the garden looks like a christmas wonderland. A perfect clean white slate for the new year. Happy Newyear!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I love to bake and often bake gifts for people. These cupcakes were a birthday gift for someone who loves monsters.

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Irish Winter

Ireland's weather has certainly lived up to its reputation this winter. Fog, ice, wind, rain (of course), and even a light sprinkling of snow.

There's only one cure for bad weather. A wooly jumper, a fire and a good book. Blissfully I have all three at the moment.

This year in The Irish Bear Co family we all decided to give home made gifts and I'm so glad. I enjoyed the making as much as the getting. I made hundreds of red heart salt dough ornaments for my sister and she loved them. They're very simple to make, here's the recipe:

1. Make the Dough
Mix two parts flour and two parts salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and gradually add roughly one part water until it forms a smooth dough (in some recipes they suggest adding wallpaper paste for elasticity, I didn't have any at the time so I didn't but it sounds like a good idea).

2. Cut your Shapes
Roll out the dough and cut out any shapes you like (remember to poke a hole to string ribbon through). If you roll the dough too thick it will take much longer to bake.

3. Bake
Bake in the oven at a low temperature for roughly two hours until they are dry and stiff. Alternatively you can bake in the microwave at the lowest temperature but I found the shapes tended to warp a bit more if I put them in the microwave for too long. Keep an eye on the shapes while baking, either in the microwave or oven, if you see air bubbles bulging up pop them with a pin and smooth back down with your finger.

4. Decorate
I painted mine with acrylic paints. On the more elaborate decorations I photocopied some small photos, cut them out, glued them to the decorations and then varnished over them.
However you decide to decorate them it's a good idea to varnish them to prevent them from soaking up moisture. When they are not on display make sure to store them somewhere dry, or maybe in a tupperware tub, because if the dough becomes damp they will bulge and warp.

Happy Holidays from the Irish Bear Co family.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our first ever blog: A short note on the Bears Irish names.

Liam is short for Uilliam, which is the gaelic form of William. It also happens to be my brothers name which is why we gave the name to our first bear. Uilliam is a rare name now but the shortened version Liam is quite popular in Ireland.

Sinéad is the gaelic form of Jane. It means "God is gracious". Sinéad the bear is lucky in sharing her name with the fabulous Sinéad O'Connor.

And a short note on my own name, Ríona:
I think my Mum has named many bears after me when I was little. At the time the bears were sold in The House of Ireland and I hope they're all gone to good homes. Ríona means queenly derived from the old gaelic word for queen Rioghan. The english equivalent would be Regina. In ancient Ireland the High Queens were extremely powerful. There are many stories about them, any Irish person worth their salt can tell you about the fearsome Queen Maedhbh and her battle over the brown bull of Cooley.

Slán go fóill,