Meet the Maker: Holly Newnham
Screen Printing in the Handprinted Studio
Hello, I’m Holly – many of you will know me from the Handprinted Shop and Studio! Between teaching workshops, creating Handprinted projects and working
in the shop I also make my own work which I sell under the name ‘Life the Holly Way’.
Carving lino for ‘Venetian Door’ reduction print
Describe your process
I’ll always start with a drawing or photograph, a few sketches and idea of colours. I won’t necessarily know at this point which method I will use for
each design. If I’m working on a linocut I will either draw directly onto lino or transfer my drawing. I love to use Japanese carving tools to make
my blocks as you can get so much detail – either Powergrip or pencil handled tools. If I’m starting a screen print I will scan my drawing and print it onto a film, ready to make a screen. Batiks are the only type of work I make with
usually no planning at all.
‘Venetian Door’ – Five Layer Reduction Linocut
How and where did you learn to print?
Coming from a very arty household, I grew up experimenting with various techniques. I would watch my Mum work for months on silk paintings and batiks.
There were always print making materials around that I would use for school projects and handmade cards. Whilst studying Art at A Level I borrowed
an old silk screen from school and took it home where myself and my Mum figured out how to use it. I screen printed fabric and upholstered two chairs
from what I had made. I built up my skills at university, at home and of course at Handprinted!
‘Hydrangea’ – Three Layer Screen Print on Book Page
I like the wide variety of styles that printmaking has to offer: a precise, flat coloured screen print; a textured, dynamic linocut; a delicate, smudgy
drypoint etching. I can work on a drawing or photograph and envisage it in all these forms to try to figure out which method would suit the style of
the image. Perhaps it would work as a repeat pattern rather than a static framed print? As well as printmaking I love to work on batiks, surrendering
to the gestural, splashy wax markings and bright spreading dyes.
Process of Making Batik with Javanese Tjanting
Where do you work?
Working at Handprinted, I am lucky to be able to steal hours in the studio when we are closed. I carve into lino blocks in bed, leaving slivers of lino
in the covers or go home to my parents’ house where I am still somehow allowed to spread out with a sewing machine and take over a whole room (or two)
in hours of need.
Dip dyeing a batik in its final layer of dye to give crackle
Lampshade made with the above batik
Describe a typical day in your studio
If I have a show or exhibition coming up I will come in to the studio early for a few hours before we open the shop. I can usually print a batch of tea
towels or bags in this time, add a layer to a linocut or expose a new screen. At the weekends I might sew up a few cushions, iron fix fabrics or frame
prints. In the evenings I sit at the kitchen table cutting lino, drawing new designs or adding products to my Etsy shop. I usually head to my parents’ house for product photography because there are always so many beautiful surfaces and
props to use!
Exposed screen with ‘Fern’ design
Tea towel printed with ‘Fern’ design
What inspires you?
I take a lot of inspiration from natural forms. I also tend to go on trips and visits and come home manically inspired. I visited Charleston, the home
of the Bloomsbury Group in East Sussex, ten years ago and have been affected ever since. There is something about the way in which artwork creeps out
of the frame onto every surface in the home that helped me to see art and design as an integral part of our domestic environment.
A recent visit to a local talk by the daughter of designers Lucienne and Robin Day inspired my Polyprop Chair repeat pattern.
Lampshade being made with screen printed ‘Polyprop Chair’ design
What is your favourite printmaking product?
I love to use Caligo Safewash Relief Inks. I used them on a reduction linocut taken from my photograph of a door in Venice but have also started
to use them on fabric. They roll out beautifully, create gorgeously intense colours and stay open for hours or days if covered. I also love using
Akua Intaglio Inks for drypoint etching. They print beautifully but, as they are water based, cut the plate cleaning time in half!
Caligo inks rolled out to print onto fabric with lino block
What have you made that you are most proud of?
Recently, I am proud of my Polyprop Chair design. I have worked on repeat patterns in the past but this was a new subject that I feel works particularly
well as a fabric design. It grew from a drawing of the Robin Day stack of polypropylene chairs in my sketchbook and has made its way onto prints, bags,
cushions, tea towels and lampshades!
Cushion made with screen printed ‘Polyprop Chair’ design
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
Lots of my most current work is in my Etsy Shop ‘Life the Holly Way’. I occasionally
exhibit at shows – most recently at Knepp Castle and in the Chichester Art Trail. I also have a website where I show my work, processes and ideas.
‘Nettles’ – Drypoint Etching
What will we be seeing from you next?
I’ve got lots of sketches and ideas for new batiks on cotton to be framed rather than boiled and stitched in to something new. I’m currently expanding
my range of hand printed cards and note books as I love carving the stamps and it’s nice to work on something small and affordable.
Printing cards with Mastercut stamps
My website will also be up and running soon if I get my act together over the next few weekends!
Finished screen printed and block printed cushions
Do you have any advice for printmakers, designers and creatives?
Set yourself a deadline for making work – sign yourself up to an exhibition, competition or show. After leaving the creative rigour of university it’s
easy to get out of the habit of designing and making all the time. I thought I was too busy to make my own work whilst working full time but with a
few adjustments it’s amazing how much extra time you can squeeze in when you have to. There’s nothing like a deadline to force you to find it.