Monday, 31 July 2017

Colours from the season - Ginkgo Biloba green

It's been a while!

When I was teaching a short course in textile design at West Dean College last week, one of the students very kindly brought me in a small branch from her Ginkgo Biloba tree because I'd mentioned that I had always wanted to draw it. So there was nothing to be done but make time this weekend to draw a few leaves and document their beautiful colours for a bit of brain therapy...

Colours from the top: Leaf green; leaf stalk yellow; fruit green; young fruit blue/green; branch brown.

Many thanks to Sally

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Back to the woods - Ivy

I've been waiting for an opportunity (with fair weather and free time coinciding) to photograph some of my work returned to the environment that inspired it and last week I had the chance to do just that.

Rather than going mad and trying to photograph absolutely everything, (and probably failing to get a decent shot of anything) I decided only to photograph two colour-ways of my Ivy Block fabric lengths. Therefore on a sunny afternoon last week we headed down to the woods with camera, tri-pod, fabric lengths, step-ladder and of course Luna to take a few photos.

Here are a few of the best.

They looked really at home...
I wasn't convinced that such a slender branch would hold them, but it did!

Green Ivy...

Luna mooched about doing her thing...

They look good indoors too.

Badgeworthy green...

Exford blue...

My favourite - Rockham red

These hand-printed linens are for sale on my website. Screen-printed to order, the lead times are approximately 4 weeks priced from £65.00 per metre.

The original Ivy colours from January 2013, proving that "mighty things from small beginnings grow" - John Dryden.

Original block repeat design of the Ivy block, with the first Chrysanthemum and Bamboo wall panels for 'Land, Sea, Sky' exhibition at the Devon Guild, June 2014

...from my seasonal colour sample notebook

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Mount Haven Hotel, Marazion, Cornwall

Those who have followed my blog for a while have seen my large wall panel screen-prints develop, starting with the Chrysanthemum panel grown from a little plug plant in May 2012 (here), and the pen and ink sketch that inspired the panel and colours noted in November 2013 (here).

Earlier this year I had a wonderful commission to screen-print three of these panels for the Mount Haven Hotel, Marazion in Cornwall. The hotel has been recently taken over by the St. Aubyn Estates who wanted to introduce a new evolutionary design and colour scheme that would fit with the hotels long established reputation for comfort and relaxation. I met Lord and Lady St. Levan when they saw my stand at Cornwall Design Fair last year and they later visited my North Devon studio to see more of my work and select the designs, colours and fabric. The hotel is due to re-open on June 1st with the three panels framed and sited in the bar area of the hotel in front of a vast window overlooking St. Michaels Mount and the Cornish coast. Here I am in front of the finished Fern, Chrysanthemum and Beech panels before they headed off earlier this month.

It's lovely to think that my work will be on show in such an amazing hotel and seen by so many people! Some of the panel print developments are documented on my Instagram photos (here) and of course if you would like one of your own, the panels are available to commission either via my new web-site (here) or by contacting me directly through the contact link.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Marketing my way through 2017

Like many craftspeople I've had what's sometimes called a 'Portfolio career,' i.e. I've taken on part-time teaching, run workshops, licensed and sold my designs and illustrations to supplement my earnings as a craftsperson/maker. This year I decided to give my business a bit of an overhaul and improve the things I'm not very good at e.g. marketing, sales, branding, number crunching! and joined the Design Trust's 111 club in order to Dream, Plan, Do and the emphasis is very much on the do!

As a 21st business birthday present, I decided to have some 1-2-1 sessions with Patricia Van den Akker who runs the Design Trust in the UK. As a result, I've worked hard and made some progress, I have a new website and shop (, I have a clearer understanding of what my brand is (or will be), I know what motivates me and what I'm most passionate about, but I'm finding it difficult to fit it all in, and create new work and do all the fairs and cope with all the other things life has a habit of throwing at you!

This is why my blog and drawing have taken a back seat as behind this silent exterior I'm working harder than ever. (I've also realised that I find marketing my work really difficult as my work is very much a part of who I am, and my creative self esteem is, even after 21 years in business, still easily dented).

Of the many things I've achieved this year so far, the creative highlight was printing my own lengths of fabric. The Ivy Block I designed in 2014, as a block and screen repeat, but then sent it off to a manufacturer who printed it on a digital printer. You might wonder what the difference is between a commercially/digitally printed length of fabric and a studio-printed length of fabric? In the end the difference is far beyond the look of the print, or it's commercial viability, it's the level of satisfaction of doing something you were trained for which in my case was thirty five years ago at Camberwell Art College, and although the big fabric manufacturers dominate the textile industry, I believe there is still a place however small, for fabric that's printed on an Arts and Crafts scale.

Here are the first images of the Ivy Block design being sampled and printed in my studio. I'll be exhibiting these fabrics at West Dean Arts and Crafts Festival from 2nd-4th June and at The Contemporary Crafts Festival, Bovey Tracey 9th - 11th June. Well worth a visit if you can make either of them, and I'd love to talk you through the print process if you do.

First colour sampling...

Blue Ivy detail...

Imagine such a colourful woodland!...

Printing the first length, for my living room - Arts & Crafts inspired colours...

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"
William Morris

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Colour Stories 2017

My year so far has been mainly in the print studio developing colour stories selected from a few of the many hundreds of colours I've documented over the past 5 years (hurray!!!). I feel so excited about the latest development in this journey that's gone from flora/fauna, to colour, to sketch, and now lastly to print. A body of work informed by the colours I've collected and noted from the North Devon landscape, my garden, other peoples gardens! Every colour reminding me of times past, people I've loved and days out and about with our lovely dogs.

Here are the first two colour stories...

The first colour story is from my daily walk with Luna. Brambles, ferns and perturbed pheasants as I scramble through the banks looking for her!

Once I had decided on the colours, they were then developed and recorded as Reactive Dye recipes so that I will be able to re-produce the colours over and over. This takes time, carefully adjusting the dyes and colour balance, allowing for the underlying grey tone of the natural linen, until I'm completely happy with the colour and feel its the best that can be achieved.

The second colour story is from the sand dunes. Club Rush, Marram Grass and Magpie feathers, all from the extensive dune systems in North Devon. Subtle, sandy, coastal. Working from the principle that the colours from the landscape will be as harmonious and uplifting to look at and live with inside as they are out. 

I may mix and match these colours i.e. not only work with them in their individual colour stories, but the really important thing is - that the colours above are now translated into dye recipes and therefore onto my textiles!!

I'm recently using Instagram to show more of my print and product developments, find me  @sampickard_textiles