KATIE CHARLESON

Screen Printed Homewares & Bespoke Textile Design

Creative Fulfilment

An Upholstery Project: How to use Fabric to Transform your Furniture

Bespoke, Inspiration, Interiors & Homewares, Colour, Creative Fulfilment, Homewares, How toKatie CharlesonComment

Upholstering a well- loved armchair, adding your own cushions to a muted couch, or changing the seat of a kitchen chair is a great way to add your own taste and define a style within your home. Here's a closer look at a recent upholstery fabric commission I have been working on.

 The midcentury modern armchair, before (featuring a  Sunny Todd  cushion and a visualisation of the upholstery fabric after.

The midcentury modern armchair, before (featuring a Sunny Todd cushion and a visualisation of the upholstery fabric after.

Those of us who rent and might not be able to paint or wallpaper walls might feel restricted as to the style statements we can make in our homes. But fear not; fabric and textiles are a wonderful way of expressing your style "handwriting". A chair upholstered in your own fabric, whether you design the pattern yourself or you work with a designer to translate your ideas onto fabric for you, can be taken wherever your home is as 

an instant expression of your personality and style in a space.

I've recently been working on designing some upholstery fabric for a client, and I wanted to share how we have used colour, shape and print to come up with a design that will enhance the original chair frame and the space it occupies.


 Midcentury modern chair, before being re-upholstered

Midcentury modern chair, before being re-upholstered

The armchair itself is a midcentury modern occasional chair with a wooden frame, which used to belong to the clients grandmother. The client enjoys considered, graphic patterns and was keen to use expressionistic colours and shapes, and complimentary tones from all over the colour wheel.

The room in which the chair will live  has high ceilings and large bay windows so a large scale design will sit very happily in this space. A small, ditzy pattern might get lost and wouldn't make as much impact. The light and situation of a room is always important to remember when decorating, but bear in mind this also applies to the fabrics and textiles you choose. Bold, expressive shapes can really make a dynamic statement in a room, but if you are looking for a more soothing, cosy vibe in a room you might choose small, repetitive patterns or "ditzies". I will write more on how to choose textiles for different interior designs in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more!

 Close ups of some of the original bespoke print designs for upholstery

Close ups of some of the original bespoke print designs for upholstery

 Bright, cheery colour samples in progress

Bright, cheery colour samples in progress

My first steps when working on a new commission is always to start with painting or drawing based on the clients ideas. I tried some different fluid, expressive brush marks and shapes collaged and juxtaposed into compositions that sat well together. We originally thought to use a navy base with some spicier pink/ red/ orange tones to provide a complimentary colour clash to the living room's current scheme of creams, chalky yellows and accents of green and blue. We also tried a cheery, zingy turquoise so the overall feeling would be sunny mediterranean rather than Northern European. More on how to choose colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel and still make them work and enhance your home in the coming weeks!

Taking these ideas to the print table for sampling means that you can really test out and visualise what your final design will look like- so important for understanding how the colours, textures and shapes will work together and how they might sit overall.

 Sample prints and colours in progress

Sample prints and colours in progress

And as if to prove to prove the above statement- the samples made us see that actually what the client wanted was cooler tones of duck egg blue, creams and whites with khaki to really ground all the brighter colours and bring an earthy quality.

I think while the really bright colours could have been fun and zingy, the pattern still sits well in this new colour palette, making the large, expressive marks and shapes look more natural and will sit very happily in the clients existing living room, while still being a real statement piece. 

Stay tuned for more pictures of the final design being printed, and the chair finally restored to its original beauty with a bold expressive print on it in the coming weeks!

 A visualisation of the new colours, which will sit well with the clients existing colour scheme while still being a real statement piece.

A visualisation of the new colours, which will sit well with the clients existing colour scheme while still being a real statement piece.

What do you think? Would you try designing your own print or choose clashing colours to make a statement in your living room? Would you go XL with your homewares or strip back and keep it simple? Anything I've missed out about or that you would like to ask me? Let me know in the comments below!

Learning to Screen Print: Why you need Textiles in your Life

Creative Fulfilment, Design Life & Career, Print, InspiringKatie CharlesonComment

With the start of spring I am soon starting up screen printing classes again! Here are my top reasons why you should give fabric printing a try.

 A repeat pattern designed and printed in one Saturday day class, December 2016

A repeat pattern designed and printed in one Saturday day class, December 2016

The last few weeks have been busy with printing and developing the new products (hello wallpaper and giant cushions) and setting up the shoots and generally running around. I wallpapered my first ever wall a few days ago- but that's a blog post all of its own!

Amongst all of this I still wanted to write a little about learning to screen print textiles.

You know I live for all things textile design, and if you are reading this then you probably do too. But screen printing is my first love and I've been teaching fabric screen printing at Bainbridge Studios at Elephant & Castle since summer last year. I love introducing new people to my world of screens, squeegees and messy inks, so these are my top reasons to get into screen printing fabric in 2017.

 Katie screen printing a repeat fabric

Katie screen printing a repeat fabric

Learn a skill with your hands

One of the main reasons I love to work with textiles is the very tactile nature of the screen printing process. The methodical way of setting up a print run, preparing your screens, mixing your colours and sampling your fabrics is so satisfying.

Recently more and more of my friends have been taking up evening courses in ceramics or life drawing or other practical creative pursuits.

Modern life for many of us can be so far removed from the satisfaction of working with your hands and in these uncertain times it is so grounding to switch off and just make something!

If at the end of the day in front of computer work I can get a few hours to myself to screen print some new ideas or orders for a client I am a happy woman.

 A satisfying messy splodge of ink

A satisfying messy splodge of ink

 Tote bags printed in textile screen printing class at Bainbridge Studio

Tote bags printed in textile screen printing class at Bainbridge Studio

Be challenged (in a good way)

Textile printing differs to paper printing in a few practical ways, and there are infinitely more variables of what you can achieve with different techniques, dyes, inks, chemicals and fabrics.

 

This also means that textile printing can be a process of trial and error, so if you are looking for a skill that you will get the knack of immediately look away now! 

BUT if you persevere and give just a little patience you will find a huge selection of creatively satisfying options. The first time a fellow designer says to you "how did you do THAT??" is a proud moment!

 Repeat patterns designed and printed in beginners textile screen printing class at Bainbridge Studio

Repeat patterns designed and printed in beginners textile screen printing class at Bainbridge Studio

Find expression & direction

If you are no stranger to screen printing and textiles but are struggling to find creative direction, let me tell you we have all been there! But I find that those people who have come along to classes have gained insight and fresh ideas from going back to basics

and getting feedback from the small, friendly groups we run at the studio.

Others who have benefitted have been people looking to build up their skills in mixed media or students looking to expand their portfolios for applications to art school or other courses.

 Gin Dunscombe working on a new print on the beginners textile screen printing course at Bainbridge Studios, Summer 2016

Gin Dunscombe working on a new print on the beginners textile screen printing course at Bainbridge Studios, Summer 2016

Plus

we do all this in a really laid back, fun environment. Classes are kept to no more than six students per session so one on one guidance and advice can be given in either our full day weekend classes or weekly evening course of classes.

We cover a range of skills from the basics of pigment printing, designing a 2+ colour print, exposing & stripping a screen all the way to creating a multilayer repeat pattern.

You will leave the classes with a good grasp of the skills essential to printmaking, plus your own printed tote bag, a good length of repeat pattern fabric and a new insight into where you can take your work next.

All of this will set you up so you can work in the print studio unsupervised if you decide to become a member.

Want to join me for some textile printing? My Bainbridge Studios weekly course starts up again on Tuesday 4th April. Or come along to a full intensive Saturday class on the 8th April. You can view all the details and book online here. Anything I've missed out or that you would like to ask me? Let me know in the comments below!