Meet the Maker: Karen Lewis
Meet screen printer, textile designer and quilter, Karen Lewis:
Can you describe your process?
My designing usually comes from doodling…my favourite pastime when traveling or watching TV. 3 or 4 times a year I get out all my doodles and see which ones I would like to trial a full design out of. All my designs are hand drawn so this takes a while to get them drawn out in full A3 size. They don’t all make it to the screen and even if a design makes it to a screen it doesn’t always make it to full status.
An experimental printing takes place and I get a feel for a design then when I have tested it in several colours. I love this process as you never really know which designs will make it and it’s often the ones I least likely think.
How and where did you learn to print?
I took a short part time course at my local college and was addicted literally from the word go. The course was 3 hours a week for 6 weeks and it was tortur waiting for the next session!
Where do you work?
I work from home, which on some level I love. I love having the flexibility of time and if I feel like printing at 10 o’clock at night I can, but I do love the creative vibe that goes on when you are around other artists. The only process I do out of the house is prepare my screens at the studio where I did my screen printing course. It’s great to interact with others when I head down there.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
I am not sure there is such a thing as a typical day. My work is so varied and there are so many facets to my business that no 2 days are the same. I think that is one thing I love about what I do. One day I may be printing up for my own fabric club, another day I may be printing up panels for clients with their artwork. Other days I will be quilting, either for magazines or devising patterns for my new company, The Thread House that I have just started with 2 good friends, Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily’s Quilts and Jo Avery of My Bearpaw. In and amongst that I could be running printing workshops or a whole host of other things.
How long have you been printmaking?
I first started printing just over 5 years ago now. I can’t believe it has been so long but I also can’t remember life before printing. It feels such a huge part of who I am.
What inspires you?
Everything! Ever since I started designing and printing I see pattern everywhere. I see it everywhere from shadows on the walls to tiles in the street to the patterns I see flicking through magazines. Once you are receptive to it, you see pattern everywhere.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
My favourite printmaking product has got to be my tiny 125mm squeegee. It is so cute! Whilst I love see a big print emerge from a single screen, I really do love printing up something small with a tiny screen and producing it with the ease of the smallest squeegee.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I think I would have to say my fabric collection with Robert Kaufman. All the designs that are in my first collection are designs that I first designed and printed up myself. I love the fact that RK found a printer to be able to print them up in a scale. I am very proud to see the little doodles I started out with turned into full length yardage. I am equally proud of my book Screen printing at Home. I think I am just generally proud that all the hard work that has gone into my work has been paid off with having it taken seriously.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
My RK line is available in most quilting fabric stores both here in the UK and around the world (that makes me very proud!). My hand printed fabrics can be bought on my website karenlewistexiles.com. I love printing to order so am always happy when a customer contacts me directly to do something personal for them.
What will we be seeing from you and your work next?
You will be seeing lots more doodles turned into designs of which will be available for crafters to use in their own work, as well as in my quilts for magazines. There are several other things going on behind the scenes that I can’t talk about just yet, but rest assured there’s always plenty going on!
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
My main piece of advice would be to not be afraid of getting it wrong. We learn from our mistakes so give anything a go and don’t give up. Also practice, practice, practice! There are no short cuts to building up skills.