Did you know this week was national packaging design day? I know it’s a small detail, but I’ve always been really proud of my product packaging and the design thought I’ve put into it. Simple, minimal and practical (and eco-friendly)! My pattern design style is always pretty elaborate, which means the packaging needs to stay understated - I think it's a nice balance. And nice packaging makes it easier to give them as a gift - wrapping and presentation is always part of the joy of giving and receiving!
News / behind the scenes
#madelocalmonth day 8: what’s my favorite color? ALL OF THEM! 🌈 but especially purple. 💜 I can’t resist the urge to make everything purple. Or violet, lilac, periwinkle, raspberry, mauve, maroon, lavender, heliotrope, grape, orchid, fuchsia, magenta, eggplant, amethyst, indigo, thistle, plum, every possible hue and shade of purple. Even my kids are dressed in purple, haha!
Morris & Essex is growing up and moving out of mom's house! With a growing business and a new baby on the way, I'm moving my silkscreen studio out of the house and into a new space. It's a great big space in the beautiful town of Cornish, Maine, just a few minutes away from home. Rumor has it that this building used to be the exhibit hall for the nearby fairgrounds. It's a gorgeous, antique building with tons of history, updated with solar panels and now with a beautiful big silkscreen studio coming together on the bottom floor.
This weekend we finished building a printing table 20 FEET LONG(!) at the new studio. We have sinks, we have tables, we have shelves. Next, to build a bolt holder for all my fabric, and then a darkroom... So excited for this new chapter and for sharing a space with fellow screenprinter Ms. Sabrina of Think Greene. Onwards and upwards!
I'm kind of proud and maybe a little bit embarrassed to admit that I've been working on this design for at least two years!! And it's finally done!
I've always loved intricate, lacy designs and always find myself doodling these kind of starburst patterns, so it's hard to say exactly when this idea started.
There was one very slow craft fair a few years ago, where I had lots of time for sketching and dreaming (that's the last time I sign up for a craft fair in May! I think it's just not the right season) and I started sketching up this idea for a scarf or bag pattern.
Then it took months (or years?) before I had the time to start making the design for real - it's been always on my mind, and often in my sketchbook doodles, but it can be hard to find the time to sit down at the computer and translate sketches into reality. Finally I had a beautiful week of quiet in October, in between the hustle of late-summer craft shows and the start of holiday production rush, a moment of peace with no looming deadlines, when I could sit and start drawing.
I use a pen tablet for drawing my designs on the computer. I have to wait for those quiet afternoons when the toddler is at her Nana's house for a few hours and I can sit down and plug in my laptop and tablet - otherwise the toddler can't resist grabbing cords and pounding on the keyboard. It was really meditative work, peaceful and satisfying, to sit and and draw out intricate patterns, one piece at a time, then link them together as if joining them by fine threads. It took weeks of work to do them all, sneaking in a few minutes here and there, or waiting til the toddler was asleep in bed to pour a glass of wine and sit down to work quietly. Sometimes it's hard to know when I'm done with a design, I just want to keep tweaking and adjusting it forever... I decided to try and finish it before this season's holiday craft fairs, so I had to rush to finish it up in the last few weeks of November. Once I've finished my designs, I print them out on transparent film which is used to create the stencil on the screen.
I was so excited to finally get it printed onto fabric, I had to take a picture before the ink was even dry! I had worried a bit that the details were too small and it would be difficult to print neatly, but the scale turned out just right - it looks beautifully intricate, but the lines are bold enough to print neatly. I'd gotten the blue fabric a few months earlier and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, just loved the color and wanted to work with it. Once I saw this design, it seemed like a perfect fit to print it in silver on the blue fabric. I tested out a few other combinations but the blue and silver was totally my favorite, no contest.
Super excited to have this finally complete! Out of my head and onto the fabric... and now it's up in the shop and out into the world!
You know what's one of my FAVORITE parts of this job? Mixing ink colors!! Most all of my colors are mixed by hand, by eye... I always start with big buckets of primary colors... Pour out some colors in a jar and add a few dollops of this and that... Magenta, Blue, Yellow, Black, White, Transparent, maybe a few drops of water... Usually it's a lot of this and a bit of that and at least three or four different ingredients that make the magic combination of hue and shade and saturation. Every drop of color added is a bit of a guess, as I have to mix it in to find out just how it will change my color. Mix, mix, mix... dab a smudge on a test swatch of fabric... adjust with a few more drops of this and that. Often the ink color changes a bit as the ink dries, so it can be a time-consuming project to get the colors adjusted just right. But it's always a labor of love! I might be a color mixing fanatic. Every jar of ink is a bright cup of potential, waiting to do something beautiful!
image: mixing ink colors for Hand printed Blue Flowers organic cotton canvas tote bag, $54.
image: matching colors for Grey bamboo scarf with Blue Waves pattern, $36.
image: mixing purple ink for Soft grey bamboo scarf with hand-printed purple Mayflowers pattern, $36.