Tag Archives: screenprinting

neck cushions!

Oh glory you know how it goes – there’s urgent stuff that needs doing (like cleaning and packing up your house!) with a deadline built-in (gak vomit shudder) but you’re too excited by a new idea to focus on the horrible task – or is that just a euphemism for work avoidance? Well, when it comes to procrastination, I am a world expert.

second sample

This idea has been fermenting in the back of my mind for a while and, now that the approval days for the Christmas markets are imminent, I had to pull finger act fast.

The neck cushions have involved much experimenting re size, sewing, fabric, colour, design, filling, dried herbs, seeds, lavender, dried fynbos, barley, labels, velcro vs zips, etc., but I am delighted with the result. Megan, Anne’s daughter, managed to translate my terrible scribbles and rough layout into the beautiful leaf fabric and logo design, and it’s all been very exciting. Megan’s other work can be seen here.

So, I print the fabric for the cushion cover myself, and all sewing is done by moi as well. What makes my neck cushions different (and special) is the two separate inners – one with grains and herbs/flower extracts, and the other with unicurl filling. It makes the cushions really versatile and extra comfortable. Here’s my lovely screen and some fuchsia printed on dark cream,

and all the info on the back of the wrap-around label:

beleaf copy

The cushions are on facebook (I’d love you to like my page!) and there’s a website under construction.

For Cape Town readers, I’ll be at the Kirstenbosch Craft Market on Sunday. Before I start selling the neck cushions, I’m going to give away three to nice people who will be asked to send me an honest review afterwards. One has already been booked by one of my lovely customers, Simone, so there are two up for grabs. Find me at the market and, if still available, you will get your pressie!

and cats

I’m still stuck on animal cushions. Here’s Cat Cushion #1, finished late on Friday night in time for Saturday’s market. It sold within the first hour.

kitten

I can be clever on occasion, so I knew what to do — make more! Here’s another one:

kitten 2

Another four cats are waiting in the wings, they’ll be finished and stuffed by this evening in time for the Made in the Cape market at Cavendish tomorrow. I’ve made 28 new cushions altogether in the last few days so, as it happens, it’ll also be me who’ll be finished and stuffed by this evening. Cushion collage

PS. The woman who bought the cat on Saturday phoned me yesterday to ask if I could make her another one (in a different colourway) so that she’s not without a cat cushion when the first one is in the wash. Purrrrrrr…..  

cushions and houses

On the working side of life, I’ve been making cushions using the designs I usually print on pillow cases. I was keen to maintain the patchworky random look, so no two will ever be the same.

Still experimenting with sizes and layout – but it’s a brilliant way to use up small pieces of fabric left over from the bedspreads. The Kalk Bay shop has expressed an interest, but they would want the cushions to be a standard size. “Standard” – hmmm, a strange concept for me, I’ll have to give it some thought….

On the domestic front, we received three offers on the house within 24 hours of it being on show. We happily accepted the best one, and transfer is scheduled for the end of May. Aaaaaaannnnd, best news of all, Philip and I are now the proud new owners of a beautiful house in Claremont (a suburb of Cape Town about 10 minutes drive from where we currently live). It’s green and leafy and quiet, and the house is perfect for two people who both work from home and who like to entertain (on a relatively modest basis). It’s been wonderfully and attractively modernised, in pristine condition, and we don’t have to make a single change. So, 1 June will see quite a few removal trucks rumbling along in various directions between Mowbray, Rosebank and Claremont – housewarming to follow soon after :) Deep sigh of relief, gratitude and contentment!

working and gardening

Taking five days off to spend in Sedgefield may seem like a really stupid thing for both Rob and me to do at this time of year when there’s so much work to get through, but that’s what we did last week! We packed the boot full of blank pillow cases, fabrics, screens, inks and my iron, so that I could get stock ready for the Christmas markets running up to the 25th, and if Rob’s got his lappie he can work anywhere in the world.

sedgefield

It was very productive to work with none of the usual distractions, and we both got lots done. He was under strict instructions to exclude my ‘holiday’ face from all pics.

Back in Cape Town, we battle on with very high temperatures, too much sun and not enough water. Some of the new plants have managed to survive, however, and I am so grateful to have inherited a grey water system with the new house. I just need to remember to clean the filter more often, to avoid the mild reek of recycled water, but that is a very small price to pay for some colourful blooms.

I know, I know, a sad show by many people’s standards, but this evidence of survival is deeply satisfying to me. [Two asides: yes, there was once a swimming pool in the back garden, you can see a bit of the remains near the daisies that Eleanor gave me; the blue morning glories are ‘not my own work’, but they delight me nevertheless. My ex-husband was filled with contempt for them and said they were the worst kind of weed, but (a) I don’t care, and (b) he’s not here to see them anyway!]

Wishing you all a good week, however hot or cold it is where you are :-)

the crease

I love people. You never know what they’re going to say next. One woman came along to my stand at the Kirstenbosch Market on Sunday and said, “Has that woman gone yet?” When I asked who she meant, she said “The stupid one from earlier who said there was a crease in one of the pillow cases on display – what does she think happens to them when she sleeps on them for eight hours?”

The stupid one bought two pillow cases for a gift for a friend, and the sarky one bought four pillow cases as a gift for herself.  Lots of other people bought some as well, and some ordered specific designs or specific colours. Two people have also ordered duvet covers, which is something I hadn’t anticipated – but I have no problem with it at all!

bonnievale.jpg

All set up at the Bonnievale Christmas Market

This is very encouraging, and I think for the first time since I started this creative/marketing/self-employment lark I’m on the right track. Don’t get me wrong, I love crocheting and sewing and selling beanies and bags, but I think handprinted bed linen is going to take me further down the road to sustainable income in the long run. And let’s face it, in just six years time I could justifiably be thinking about retirement, anyway… (Pun unintended).

 

 

 

festive markets and pillow cases

Cape Town loves its markets. Apart from the weekly or monthly farmers markets and craft markets and vintage markets and trendy-food markets, approximately 40 ‘special’ Christmas/gift markets also happen every year, between October and December. These can run from three to twelve days, depending on the venue and the organisers. Everyone’s products are bar-coded, and there’s a central purchase point. The traders go in at various times and restock, and also help out with the supervision.

To get accepted for one of these special markets, you have to apply online and then attend an “approval day”, usually during May or early June. You and three million other hopefuls set up a mini-display so that the organisers can see the quality of your products and your prices. They’re interested in the prices because, apart from paying a trading fee, you also pay a commission on your sales, usually between 15% and 20%.  The more popular the product, the more money made by the market people. (Note: many of these markets are run by churches or large charity organisations – a large percentage of the money raised goes towards community upliftment.)

I have had my hats at a couple of festive markets now and, frankly, they haven’t sold as well as I anticipated. I’ve decided this is because people are mainly looking for gifts for other people at this time of year – if you aren’t sure that the intended recipient likes that particular colour or that the size is right, a different item would be a safer bet.

So, in my wisdom, three days before the recent Approval Day for six different markets, I took it upon myself to design and create an entirely new product: handprinted cotton pillow cases. In a frenzy of experimentation, I tried out different linens, colours, inks, designs and labels. I sewed, printed, ironed, washed, packed, and did it all again many times before getting it as right as it was ever going to be in that short space of time.

I could only get the rabbits and the paisley design ready initially:

Rabbit 2 MISCELLANEOUS 2221 paisley red Packaging Rabbit 1

but since then I’ve found Gareth at I Love Screenprinting in Obs, and he made me a beautiful screen with my text designs:

i heart my pillow 2

There are more coming: Sleep Tight, Dream On, Sleepyhead and – a suggestion from an ex-colleague which is too good to resist – Give Me Some Head.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten about the hats for Grahamstown. I did a stock-take today, please see the updated counter on the right !

introduction to silkscreen printing

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at this, and when I heard through the Cape Craft & Design Institute that Yda Walt ((her website here)) was going to be taking a couple of workshops in Cape Town I signed up immediately. Today was the day.

sp 3 sp 1 sp 2

Here are my first efforts. We started off learning how to make a design with ordinary paper and a blank screen, using standard fabric inks, and then using a photographic image on a prepared screen, and getting used to the difference between normal and opaque inks. I was far too busy to take any photos, but I will next week at the second workshop. Everyone came up with completely different interpretations of a single brief, which always fascinates me. People are generally more creative than they realise!

Yda also showed us how to combine different colours, either in a single layer or in mixed layers – so if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clear my dining table right this second so I can continue experimenting….