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 2-week class

  • • May 10-15 & May 17-22, 2020 | Marking Time | Parts I & II

    Open or Close
    Marking Time | Parts I & II
    • Note: Class begins on Sunday, May 10 at 4 pm
    • Only 16 students accepted since these workshops focus on smaller-size pieces as hand stitching takes time. Students will share two workbenches each; one for wet work and one for stitch/dry work, and share a table in the ‘communal zone’ of the class room.
    • Level: Beginning to advanced
    • Zig zag 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 ($500). If space does not become available, a full refund will be issued.

    Tuition & Meal plan for this special 2-week class with Claire (limited to 16 students):
    • Early | paid in full before December 1, 2019 | 10-day Tuition ($1975) & Meal plan ($530) = $2505
    • Regular | paid in full before February 1, 2020 | 10-day Tuition ($2025) & Meal plan ($530) = $2555
    Claire Benn surface design

    Marking Time: Part I | Cloth & Stitch, Old & Slow


    DESCRIPTION
    Although Claire is known for surface design, she has another side to her personal practice: that of slow, quiet, contemplative work and a love of old cloth.

    The appeal of hand work is the slowness, quietness and the rhythm and peace to be found in repetition. The appeal of old cloth lies in its (usually) humble roots, be that a bed sheet, tea towel, napkin, handkerchief, quilt, pillow slip or shirt. Old cloth is already marked by the passage of time and seems to have a resonance, it speaks to us. Colors may be faded by weather or laundering. There may be areas of wear and tear, some mended, darned or patched. These are things that offer a particular tactile experience, which can be respected and offer inspiration.

    Many of us also respond to what can be found in the landscape (rural and urban) and as with old cloth, it’s often the decayed and time-battered items that seem to appeal the most; smooth pebbles, bent sticks and twigs, desiccated leaves, rusted, holed, bent and worn objects, weathered tiles, timber, brick and stone. All have been marked by time and often have qualities of purity, restraint, simplicity and humility. Time is also a crucial element for ‘active’ looking, the kind of looking that enables us to notice the small details and establish a sense of place and a feel for things.

    This workshop is designed to enable students to:
    • take the time to actively look, notice, observe, contemplate and extract what personally matters
    • engage and respond through the processes of collecting, mark-making, over-painting, writing drawing, assembling, wrapping, binding and stitching
    • discuss (one-to-one or as a group)
    • hold and experience silence and stillness

    A finished piece may or may not be the end result. Each student will ‘mark’ their time in their own individual way and the tangible results may only be revealed in the fullness of time.


    ON-SITE SUPPLIES provided by supplies fee
    A selection of media and tools will be supplied appropriate to the workshop, including:
    • India/China ink: for use on paper and cloth
    • Colored acrylic inks
    • Chunky charcoal and graphite
    • Candles/tea-lights
    • Soy wax and oil pastels for resist work and rubbings
    • Paper: some hand-made and Chinese papers, 200-300gsm paper, acid-free tissue paper, tracing paper, old newspaper and plain newsprint or lining paper
    • Cotton plasterers, scrim tape and ordinary scrim
    • Awls and screw-punches
    • A good selection of calligraphy/lettering/mark-making tools



    STUDENT REQUIREMENTS - WHAT TO BRING
    A key requirement for each student is to ‘travel light’. For this to happen, each student MUST be selective in choosing only items they truly respond to and truly believe they’ll use. Key things to bring include:

    CLOTH
    • Old cloth in whatever form or weight that may take. This might include old shirts, tea towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, jeans, aprons or plain cloth. No more than the equivalent of 1 yard.
    • No more than 1 yard of medium-weight white or unbleached linen such as sold in Joann’s. Please scour it before coming.
    • No more than 1 yard of cloth suitable as a backing cloth - this could include a medium-weight linen, a 7.5 to 9.5oz cotton canvas or heavy weight muslin. Please pre-scour.
    • A half-yard each of cotton organdy and silk organza.

    THREAD & SEWING SUPPLIES
    • Hand-stitching thread: of a fine to medium weight, nothing thick or ‘chunky’ please. Choose colors carefully by thinking about the old cloth or weathered items you’ll be using it on. Please ensure you have some white, black, grey and a neutral.
    • Machine-weight thread that would work with the hand-stitch thread (you might need to couch!).
    • A good variety of needles: again, think of the hand stitch thread you’ve chosen and select needles accordingly. Make sure at east one needle is a ‘blunt’ tapestry-style needle, and one is a curved needle.
    • A general sewing kit: including a thimble if you like to use one, small, sharp scissors and a stitch ripper.
    • Pins: pins for pinning up ideas and pins suitable for pinning threads or similar on to cloth. As pins are small, lightweight items, you may wish to get creative and consider entomology or lace-makers pins. You might stitch them down as marks on your old cloth.

    GENERAL SUPPLIES
    • No more than three small, old, weathered objects/items of choice. This might include weathered plastic, an old rusted can, nails, hooks or a piece of metal ‘junk’. Go looking and scavenge. Alternatively you could bring pebbles, small pieces of wood or go scavenging at the barn for some nice twigs.
    • One empty soft drink aluminum can.
    • Favorite mark-making tools. Within this, consider at most:
    - 2 ‘off-the-shelf’ pens (permanent black ink only please)
    - 2 calligraphy-type pens (purchased or home-made)
    - 2 pencils of different hardness/softness
    - 3 brushes, perhaps fine, medium and large.

    • A small cutting mat or similar that you don’t mind getting paint or glue on
    • A sketchbook or notebook (if bound, be willing to tear out the pages)
    • Cloth apron and comfy shoes
    • A camera, or use a phone (which will be on ‘silent’) or an iPad
    • Journaling, notes, references; key written work or references that may be important for your marking of time
    • IPod and headphones if you like to work to music

    Marking Time: Part II | Cloth, Paper, Pigment, Stitch


    DESCRIPTION
    In the first part of this workshop, students undertook a slow exploration of hand stitching on ‘old cloth’, or cloth with character such as medium weight linen. In this second part of the 2-week workshop students will be offered the opportunity to:

    • Learn how to use earth pigments on cloth, bound in either acrylic medium or soya milk
    • Combine cloth, paper, stitch and pigment media, working in layers and developing the surface
    • Explore aging and wearing through abrasion and erosion
    • Progress ideas from ‘Marking Time: Part I’ and develop the work further

    The initial focus of the workshop will be to sample different approaches. Once some knowledge and experience are gained, students will have time to develop some intentional pieces. The teaching methods will include demonstrations and explanations to build knowledge, combined with hands-on practical work for personal explorations. Students will be encouraged to consider composition at all stages, even when ‘sampling’ … because ... with thought, these might turn into finished works suitable for framing. Group reviews and one-to-one feedback on works-in-progress will be an integral part of this 2 week workshop.

    NOTE:
    Stiffening: the use of acrylic media will stiffen the hand of the cloth to a greater or lesser degree.
    Whilst it is still stitch-able (by hand or by machine), it will not be suitable for classic piecing/quilting techniques, although the cloth can still be cut or torn and stitched together by over-lapping as opposed to classic seaming. Collage/appliqué is also possible.
    Color: please understand that earth pigments tend to come in ‘earthy tones’ ranging from black, grey, brown, yellow, orange, red-orange, cream and buff. I will be supplementing this range with a red, a blue and a green.


    ON-SITE SUPPLIES provided by supplies fee
    A selection of media and tools will be supplied appropriate to the workshop, including:
    • Earth pigments: a small selection of natural earth pigments to use in conjunction with acrylic mediums
    • Soya Milk (which we will make from pre-soaked soya beans)
    • Hi-Flow/Airbrush Medium, Matte & Gel medium (Golden brand)
    • Acrylic paints in a red, blue and a green, plus supplementary white and black
    • India/China ink: for use on paper and cloth
    • Colored acrylic inks
    • Chunky charcoal and graphite
    • Candles/tea-lights
    • Soy wax and oil pastels for resist work and rubbings
    • Paper: some hand-made papers and Chinese papers, 200-300gsm paper, acid-free tissue paper, tracing paper, old newspaper and plain newsprint or lining paper
    • Scrim: cotton plasterers’ tape and cotton scrim/butter muslin
    • Awls and screw-punches
    • A good selection of calligraphy/lettering/mark-making tools
    • Rollers, scrapers and paintbrushes
    • Small mono printing plates
    • Two electric sanders and various sanding blocks


    STUDENT REQUIREMENTS - WHAT TO BRING
    A Key things to bring include:

    ‘DIRT’
    100g of ‘dirt’ - please ensure this is NOT the kind of earth suitable for a good vegetable garden as this type of earth has too much organic matter in it! Instead, consider:
    • Sand (if you live near a beach). Please pre-wash to remove the salt, and dry it.
    • Sandstone - please pre-grind it in a pestle and mortar or similar and then sieve it to get rid of any large gritty bits.
    • Ordinary ‘dirt’ which has not been supplemented with manure or compost. Again, wash and dry it, then grind and sieve.
    • Fine ash: if you have a woodstove or firepit, consider bringing the ash. Please only bring ash from hardwood, not resinous woods such as pine or evergreen trees. Please sieve it to get rid of lumpy bits in advance.

    CLOTH
    • (More) old cloth in whatever form or weight that may take if you are planning to continue on from Marking Time: Part I.
    • 3 yards of medium-weight linen such as sold in Joann’s - PLEASE SCOUR IT IN ADVANCE.
    • 3 yards of cloth suitable as a backing cloth - this could include a medium-weight linen, a 7.5 to 9.5oz cotton canvas or heavy weight muslin - please pre-scour.
    • A half yard of cotton organdy and a half yard of silk organza.

    OTHER SUPPLIES
    • A small selection of neutral-colored embroidery threads in white, black, grey, cream and a neutral or ‘un-bleached’ color, plus a red, a yellow a blue/turquoise, an orange and a green. Please make sure these threads are a light-to-mid weight and of natural fibre such as cotton, linen, hemp or silk. DO NOT bring thick, lumpy threads.
    • Machine-weight thread that would work with the hand-stitch thread (you might need to couch!)
    • A sewing kit including a variety of needles, a thimble if you like to use one, small sharp scissors and a stitch-ripper
    • Pins: pins for pinning up ideas and pins suitable for pinning threads or similar on to cloth
    • One empty cola/beer can, washed to make cola pens
    • Natural sponge and small make-up sponges; these offer an alternative approach to brushes
    • Rollers: one small soft foam and one hard rubber (‘brayer’) variety
    • Thermofax screens: thermofax use will not be the focus of the class, but it can be worth bringing one or two thermofaxes of a linear or textural nature.
    • Favorite mark-making tools. Within this, consider at most:
    - 2 ‘off-the-shelf’ pens (permanent black ink only please)
    - 2 calligraphy-type pens (purchased or home-made)
    - 1 soft and 1 hard pencil
    - 3 artists brushes of your choice (synthetic is fine), perhaps fine, medium and large.

    • A cutting mat or similar that you don’t mind getting paint or glue on
    • A drop cloth: please bring a drop cloth measuring 4’ x 5’ that is fairly heavy such as drill cotton, denim or 8oz cotton canvas in a neutral color. Old sheets are too thin. Whilst these drop cloths will get acrylic media on them and get stiffer, please pre-scour and pre-shrink them in advance, in case you want to over-dye them at some stage in the future.
    • Rubber gloves or disposable gloves.
    • A sketchbook or notebook (if bound, be willing to tear out the pages)
    • Cloth apron and comfy shoes
    • A camera, or use a phone (which will be on ‘silent’) or an iPad
    • Journaling, notes, references; key written work or references that may be important for your marking of time
    • iPod and headphones if you like to work to music

    PRE-WORK
    Please do not undertake this pre-work the night before the class! Do it well in advance.
    • 1. Hand stitch for over-painting:
    - Tear two pieces of medium-weight linen to a size of 20cm/8” square and iron it flat.
    - Tack them together.
    - Using a natural fibre, not-too-fine embroidery thread in white, black, grey, cream or a brown/taupe neutral, hand stitch the piece in any way you want to; you don’t have to smother the entire surface or obliterate it entirely with stitch but don’t be lazy about the amount of stitch either. Hand stitching takes time, so treat this as an evening meditative activity and start well in advance of the class.
    Remove the tacking stitches once finished.
    The piece will be over-painted with a white or pale neutral colour during the workshop.
    If you wish, prepare
    up to and no more than three hand-stitch samples in advance, but one will be enough if you’re not fond of hand stitching!

    • 2. Machine stitch for mono-printing & over-working:
    - Tear two pieces of linen or medium-weight calico to a size of 20cm/8” square.
    - Choose a cotton machine thread colour that tones nicely with the colour of the cloth; it does not need to match exactly!
    - Cut a piece of batting/wadding slightly smaller then the two pieces of cloth to make a quilt sandwich. If you don’t have batting/wadding, use an old face flannel, or a piece of towel; something that will give you some loft.
    - Put the three layers together like a small quilt and make sure the inner layer isn’t visible around the outer edges of the sandwich.
    - Machine stitch/quilt them together in any ‘design’ you like; pebble stitch, wiggles, curves, lines, grids – whatever. Just make sure there’s a reasonable amount of quilting, go for a bit of density.
    - You will be mono-printing this quilted sample.
    Please prepare quilt sandwiches.

    Please contact
    Claire if you have any queries about the class content or supplies.
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  • • 2020 Spring Art Retreats | Tuition and Meal Plan
    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week classes with Nancy Crow & David Hornung:
    Both weeks (10-day class) of these special workshops are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • Early | paid in full before December 1, 2019 | 10-day Tuition ($1600) & Meal plan ($530) = $2130
    • Regular | paid in full before February 1, 2020 | 10-day Tuition ($1650) & Meal plan ($530) = $2180

    Tuition & Meal plan for 2-week class with Claire Benn: (Note: Only 16 students accepted so that each participant will have their own work table for wet work)
    Both weeks (10-day class) of this special workshop are to be taken back-to-back. No registrations accepted for only one week.
    • Early | paid in full before December 1, 2019 | 10-day Tuition ($1975) & Meal plan ($530) = $2505
    • Regular | paid in full before February 1, 2020 | 10-day Tuition ($2025) & Meal plan ($530) = $2555

    • 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
    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