Halloween or Samhain, as it is known in Ireland, has become extremely popular and more sophisticated in recent years. While many of the old games may be a thing of the past, new decorative traditions like intricate carved pumpkins, leafy autumnal wreaths and creative costumes are thriving.

Halloween represents the change in the season between the end of the harvest and the beginning of Winter making it a key turning point in the year. Traditionally, this time of year celebrates the connection between this mortal, earthly world and the spirit world when an array of ghosts, goblins and ghouls might make an appearance. Bonfires are lit both for protection from any ill will from such forces as well acting as a kind of cleansing ritual to mark the move into Winter.

For a moody and atmospheric décor, Leona Guidera’s artwork “Escapism” is guaranteed to stir your emotions. With your ghoulish Halloween dinner, you can serve the magic potions in one of the “smoke” glasses; these hand-blown glasses make for a very special treat! Finally, to add a touch of seasonal colour to your own or a loved one’s Halloween costume, you might like the quirky orange Froufrou stud earrings by Dana.

Be prepared to be spooked!


About a year ago, the country had just reopened and we were slowly and carefully coming out of our bubbles. The feeling a year on is one of renewed freedom and of rediscovering what a normal life holds. We can finally reconnecting with one another for real.

With the change in the air everywhere, we are definitely moving forwards after a period of adjustment. Summer is here as we get towards the end of May: A new dawn is on the horizon! Yeah!!!

Stephanie Sloan’s contemporary print First Light encapsulates this feeling of a fresh start.  A true simplicity is evident in her work through her minimalist approach and use of deep indigo blue. Stephanie’s pared back style will leave you inspired and give you a sense of calm and balance.



Handmade Design Studio opened its doors last Thursday evening for the opening of ‘Solastalgia’, an exhibition of new paintings by artist Ursula Meehan. The exhibition was opened by Mullingar native and artist Paul Timoney who with great skill and humour gave insight into the  artist’s work.

The oil paintings, Paul referred to them as “internal landscapes”, reflect on loss, grief and transition through an exploration of dark and light. Ursula focuses on the bare elements of earth, sky, cloud in these artwork. She explores her theme through her strong use of colour to enhance the contemplative feeling within the paintings.

Originally from Dublin Ursula has been living in rural North Westmeath for 25 years and its landscape and natural beauty is a major  influence in her work. Westmeath Arts Office supported the development of the work through its Artists Bursary Grant. © Ursula Meehan


‘Solastalgia’  runs until February 20th, Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.



Autumn Feast

The splash of rich Autumn colours and ‘mellow-fruitfulness’ in Anna-Marie Leavy’s limited edition print “Blackberries” vividly conjures up for me memories of foraging for this beautiful sweet wild fruit as a child. Cycling along hedges in search of the blackest, ripest berries in mid-September, we’d leave our bikes on the side of the lane and by the end of our picking we’d have eaten almost as many berries as we’d collected in our little buckets. We’d walk along the bramble-laden hedgerows, our fingers sticky and stained a deep reddish purple colour while our tongues and lips were matching shades.

Blackberry jam is simple and satisfying to make and here’s an equally simple recipe for how to create a deep aubergine colour using Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan: Mix equal parts of Burgundy and Napoleonic Blue to produce a rich and strong colour purple. Add a bit of Graphite if you prefer it to be a deeper shade.