Be Lucky!

I love the feeling of a New Year. It’s a bit like the sensations you experience (hopefully minus the dread) at the start of a new school term, where you have your new pencils, unsharpened, your new books, uncreased, and your new school shirt, a bit cardboardy. It is that sense of possibility that I love – a time when you can make all sorts of resolutions (that you probably won’t keep) and imagine all that is going to come. It’s odd how a day can make a difference. A rubbish year the day before can be transformed into a new one, time for a fresh new beginning.

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What a perfect time to find this new fabric from The Colourhouse! The fabric, a linen and organic cotton mix, is named “Be Lucky” – exactly the bright and playful spirit that we need in this wet grey January.  There is a lovely feeling of elegance and nostalgia in this print, whilst remaining relaxed and contemporary, with colours that remind me of peppery mustard fields, bone china teacups and beautiful old pieces of rusted iron.

The Colourhouse, launched at Tent London in 2011, is a small, independent, handprint wallpaper and textile company. Marian’s professional background in interior design and painting and Jo’s in costume for TV and film, gives the collection a really eclectic feel. They are also concerned with environmental sustainability, and aim to minimise the impact of their design and making processes. Keen to celebrate traditional skills in dye, print and making, their base cloths and papers are produced and printed by hand in the UK.

As their name might suggest, these people certainly know colour – almost powdery hues of cardamom yellow, tobacco, duck egg blue, sap green and stone; beautiful, earthy and bright.  I also love their collection of antique, hand woven Italian hemp.  You can also buy feather filled cushions using the Be Lucky print, and more, from their website.

I asked Jo a little more about her work, in particular the “Be Lucky” print.

“My work is based on the English landscape and the creatures that inhabit it, be they urban or rural. One of the best places for me to begin thinking about my designs is on my early morning walk with my dog Jack in Paddington Cemetery, North West London. It’s very peaceful and a real refuge from the mayhem of Kilburn High Road!

“Be Lucky” evolved from my interest in the folklore, myths and sayings that filter through into our modern world today. I love symbols and motifs and I’m fascinated by craft and folk art and the decorative impact they have had on our domestic environment, as well as their history and influence today.”

Can you describe how a design evolves from first inspiration to completed piece?

“My work processes start with research, from a variety of sources. Sometimes visiting galleries and museums (one of my favourites is Kettles Yard, Cambridge), or wandering down Goldbourne Road (the junky end of Portobello Market ) on a Friday, looking for bits of other peoples junk – from lovely old books to a bunch of old embroidery patterns, and bits of linen and china from house clearances. It’s surprising how just gathering a few things can get me going!

Drawing is my starting point and then I cut into the lino – that seems to transform my images into something else….I love the texture and the lines that you get from it. I then print the images off from the lino onto paper and lay them out together to see what works together. I scan them into the computer and start playing around with the imagery in photoshop, and it eventually evolves into a design that I like. The hard bit for me is having to put it into repeat and work to a screen size. But, although is is time consuming, I love the whole process!”

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