Stumbled upon an amazing Tumblr this week, simply called Vintage Stamp Designs. It features tons and tons of beautiful stamps from all over the world, many of which seem to have been collected and compiled by Karen Horton, who also posts her beautiful finds on her vintage stamp collection on Flickr. She does an amazing job sharing information about the stamps, and I admire her dedication to cataloging all these beauties. I spent way too long saving all my favorites, and then compiling them into the collage above.
These incredible prints, made by Bryan Nash Gill, are created using remnants of tree stumps, which the artist inks and hand prints to make these large scale records of trees that have been felled. The printing process for this series is incredibly laborious: after rolling out the ink, the artist gingerly places the thin Japanese paper atop the section of wood, and uses the pressure of his fingertips to impress the ink upon paper.
You can see a more in depth explanation of Brian Nash Gill’s process on the Ashes & Milk blog, or take a look at his portfolio.
Looking for more creative inspiration? Check out the archives, and see all the amazing artists who inspire my work as a printmaker.
Are you on Tumblr? I’m pretty late to the game, but I thought it would be fun to start one for Cotton & Flax. I’ll use it to archive all my photos of patterns, both the ones I create and the ones I encounter out in the world. You’re welcome to follow me at cottonandflax.tumblr.com!
If you follow me on Instagram, you know I post a lot of photos of patterns I encounter out in the world. Here are a few shots from my summer outings, all which feature awesomely bold patterns.
From top left, clockwise: My cat Frida, lounging with my Bookhou purse and an Ikea pillow // My Bookhou purse and Keiko‘s Shelter bag // My friend Nina in an art installation in Hayes Valley // Some Falconwright pouches, spotted at Poketo.
While I was visiting Portland last week, I had an opportunity to visit one of my favorite fabric shops in the Pacific Northwest: Bolt Fabric Boutique. Located in the Alberta Arts District in NE Portland, Bolt is near my old stomping grounds (my old print studio was just blocks away). It’s a great little neighborhood shop, and the employees always make an effort to remember you, and what projects you were last working on.
Their selection of fabrics is fantastic, the staff has a great curatorial eye, and keeps the shop stocked with all the best new designs. It’s not the largest fabric shop (Fabric Depot out in SE Portland has got them beat, square footage wise), but they manage to fill the space with so many awesome fabrics, it’s hard to leave without buying at least a fat quarter of something.
They stock some beautiful Liberty of London prints, of course.
These quilting cottons from Denise Schmidt’s new Chicopee collection caught my eye as well.
Bolt offers a full-range of supplies for sewing, quilting and craft projects, and their fabrics are selected purposefully to be versatile so they can be used in applications ranging from quilts to garments to bags and accessories. They have all the basics (like this rainbow of Gutermann thread above), as well as tools for more advanced projects.
They have a great selection of DIY books, too!
I love that Bolt is committed to sustainable practices. They cut fabric to 1/8th of a yard to help reduce waste, they’ve eliminated packaging when feasible and offer most tapes, elastics, ribbons and embellishments in bulk, so you get exactly what you need without excess packaging or materials. They carry a broad selection of natural fibers, as well as organic and alternative fabrics, such as soy and bamboo.
Cotton & Flax is a line of handmade textiles, all of which are sewn and printed by hand. I take great pride in this fact, because I am all too familiar with the long hours and specialized skills required to complete a project like this without outsourcing any part of the production. But I find that people often ask me, “What does ‘printed by hand’ really mean?” I’d love to share some insights into what hand-printing textiles is all about.
My textiles begin their lives as simple, natural fabrics, like linen or cotton, which are all prewashed. The process of designing a pattern takes a long time, as my patterns often start in my sketch book, then go through several revisions before I land on the final design. Even my pattern designs are made by hand, often using pen and ink, or a hand carved stamp which I will use to create a repeat pattern.
After I finalize a pattern design, I use a transparency of that design to create a silkscreen, which I can use to reproduce larger repeat patterns onto my fabrics. In large textile factories, these screens can be big, sometimes up to 5 feet across (you can see some in the Marimekko factory video I featured a while back). Since I work in a small studio space, I had to get a bit creative on how to print my fabrics. I don’t print the full width of the bolt of fabric, since that would require a much larger workspace. Rather, I print smaller sections cut to the exact size of my pillows and tea towels, so there is very little (often no) waste fabric when I begin the sewing process.
The printing itself is my favorite part of the process. I have so many fond memories of printing over the years, and have come to love the small details that are unique to this process: the smell of the ink; the squeak of the silkscreen squeegee as it pulls across the screen, flooding it with ink; the subtle pop of the screen as it pulls away from the fabric after a successful ink impression has been made. I hope to share more about the details of printmaking processes soon, I hope you’ll find them as charming as I do.
But the best part of hand-printed fabric is the tactile quality it provides, and the bold opaque quality that the ink imparts on the fabric. To date, I have yet to see a piece of digitally printed fabric that can compete with a silkscreen fabric’s boldness and quality of line. Hand-printed fabric requires a level of physical labor that isn’t required of digital printmaking, but I find that the extra effort creates a striking product that is rich in tradition and history.