Tuesday, 21 October 2014


In a nutshell, I'm trimming and refining my catalogue:

1. I'm no longer printing ribbon.

2. I'm expanding my single-colour print-to-order range, focusing on botanical prints, and incorporating some of my Spoonflower and Society6 designs, reinterpreting them as lino cuts.

3. I'm introducing new limited editions of my multicolour tiled Tastes cushion covers, in small editions of nine.

4. And you can sign up for my brand new New Prints newsletter to be informed of new prints as they're released.

5. I've closed my online shops for the moment, as both my supplier and I have run out of fabric. It's terrible timing, but should be resolved within a week or so.

The longer version:

1. Ribbon.

I'm down to my last roll of blank ribbon. As this width is specially woven for me, I have to order 1000 metres at a time, which is a significant investment. The cost of the blank ribbon has inevitably risen since I last bought stock, which means that the price of the printed ribbon will have to go up too. I feel that there's a limit to the price that I can sell printed ribbon at; it is, after all, a supply, rather than a finished thing.

2. Botanical prints.

Plants are my favourite source of inspiration. I always return to them, whatever else I try. I also love working within limitations, rather than in a giddy sort of anything-goes; I'm much more productive with rules, and set questions to answer. So the strictness of single-colour prints and the focus provided by a theme suit my way of working. Stamens has been my favourite and most successful print to date, and I want to explore that kind of world more thoroughly.

3. Limited edition cushion covers.

When I switched to print-to-order I was selling mostly retail, online, and it was wonderfully flexible: receive an order, dash off to the studio, print it up and post it off within two days. Now I'm selling mostly wholesale, and the orders are larger: twenty cushion covers at a time. Now printing an order takes weeks. New designs are shelved till there's time, and themes lose their momentum. It's taken me more than a year to get the first few designs of my tiled patterns out.

This project started as an exercise in design, using a limited number of geometric motifs and colours to produce as many patterns as possible. I wanted to highlight the pattern-making potential of block printing - to explore the limitations inherent in the technique, and celebrate them as strengths. It's taken me a while to consolidate this project and give it a clear direction. 

There are hundreds of unique pattern combinations to be made from the individual blocks. I won't print them all; it's part of the work to deliberately choose the best ones, rather than relying on accident. The aim of the experiment, however, is to document these combinations, and keeping them all in production restricts the pace at which I can move through this process. It also makes for a very unwieldy wholesale catalogue. 

Doing limited editions also means that I can explore the possibilities of different base cloths, without having to keep an infinite supply of those fabrics. Some patterns work well on smooth, bright, white cloths, while others benefit from a darker, more textured background. 

Block printing isn't a process that can be rushed. Some designs are quick and simple, others not at all, requiring layers of carefully placed prints. Some of the prints pictured above require far more time than is strictly profitable; to be true to the aims of the experiment, they deserve (beg? plead? demand?) to be printed, but it doesn't make financial sense to produce them beyond a limited run.

Working at a pace best suited to the technique, I can spend the time required to make sure each piece is of the highest quality and is made with the attention to detail that a time-consuming process like block printing requires.

And why such a small edition, only nine? Because I can get nine cushion covers out of three metres of fabric, neatly, and because there are so many wonderful patterns to get to.

4. Newsletter

I suppose that's self-explanatory! Sign up and I'll let you know when I release a new print. That's it; no waffling on about drawing or knitting or cooking. Just prints. It'll be a day or so before I announce a new print on the blog, too.

5. Running out of fabric

I can only get this fabric from one supplier in South Africa, and some far-sighted person unexpectedly bought up all their current stock. I had a big order to fill as well, and used up every last bit that I had. I could switch fabric, but for my wholesale clients that would mean a whole new round of samples, and on their side, photography and relisting on their websites. I think the fabric that I'm currently using is of superior quality, and perfectly suited to block printing. I'd prefer to stick with it, and wait for supplies.

I'll make an announcement here on the blog, and in the newsletter, when I'm ready to open up shop again.

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