Things got busy around here in winter, but some new fabric panels have just been listed in the shop. I've been wanting to work with bigger and bolder shapes lately, and do some more two-colour screen printing, and these are the first batch of prints. Hope you love them as much as I do. Plus happy spring if you live in the Southern Hemisphere...finally!
Claire Ritchie is a Melbourne-based designer/maker of bright, colourful prints, patterns and textiles. If you follow her on Instagram you'll instantly recognise her work - there are lots of florals, rainbows and great colour palettes. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Claire, her youngest daughter Freya and their very affectionate dog Fox for an afternoon, drinking tea and chatting. Oh yeah, and taking some photos.
Claire is originally from Fremantle, WA and then moved to Geelong, but in the last couple of years she's been in Melbourne's inner north. She works from her home studio, which sits in the middle of the sweet old rambling house she shares with her partner, their two daughters and Fox, the hound.
Claire's work often starts out as drawings in her sketch book and some of her hand drawn patterns are made using Posca pens - what a blast from the past for me! Her designs are then digitally printed onto ecofriendly, sustainable fabric which Claire sews into purses, clutches, hats and aprons. She soon plans launching a small line of clothing - you can see some samples in the photos below. Claire's mum had a big influence on her - she hand printed textiles and worked as a seamstress and sewer. She also had what Claire remembers as being a dream workspace, which I'm sure will be Claire's children's memory of this workspace.
Here are some snaps of Claire's space, which looks pretty dreamy to me. Oh, and I'm trialling putting photos in a slideshow, and you can hover for captions. I'd love to know if you think this works or not - feel free to send through any feedback here :)
CLAIRE RITCHIE: Q&A
How long have you been in your current workspace and where did you work from previously? I’ve been here for about a year. I was working from the tiny, freezing sunroom at the back of our house before this. Then I realised I could take over the formal dinning room! I’ve always worked from a home studio.
Do you prefer working alone or with/near others? I do prefer working solo. I get so focused that I block everything and everyone out. I enjoy having people around though. It's nice to have visitors and to share my space sometimes to get a new perspective or to see how others work. You can get so used to working solo that when you do share your space you think, "Wow! This is fun!!"
How many hours a week do you spend there? Ha ha, every minute I can!! No seriously I find myself floating into the studio at every opportunity. I do have two full days that I can solidly work. I have a six-year-old, Mila, and a two-year-old, Freya, so I’ve had to be smart about how I use my time. I do a lot on the weekends when my partner Dean is home. So it would probably be between about 20-30 hours depending on what's happening that week. Sometime I have to have a whole week off to spend with the girls.
What's your favourite thing about the space? I love my desk! I feel like having the right desk can really change how you work. I have everything I need on it. Computer, drawing materials and I can move close to the window and get really good light or further away and work on the computer. I can stand or sit, which is great for switching between computer work and then cutting up fabric and pattern making. I do love my window too, which I frequently find myself staring out of.
How, if at all, has a workspace (this or previous) influenced the way you work? Having everything I need in one space definitely makes me more productive. It's also got a lot of room to spread out and have everything out where I can see it. If I can't see what I'm working on I'll forget about it! Ha! It's also warm. My last space was freezing so I didn’t want to be in there as much.
What does your dream space look like? I have always wanted an old milk bar as my studio space. I would love to have a shop front with an open studio at the back. I like the idea of opening up my space for people to see.
What inspires your work? (ie: the work of others, a ritual, nature, colours, dreams) Nature, big-time! Whether it's colour, texture, shape I am always the one looking out the window daydreaming or the one collecting all the leaves and flowers in a cute little basket. I get my kids to take a basket with them on our walks and I end up filling it up!
I definitely feel inspired by people around me. I get really excited when I get to talk to other creatives. I feel like having a community of people around you who are like-minded can make a huge difference to your productivity.
I love op shopping and vintage markets. I am really drawn to all the old vintage kitchen wares. The bright colours and pastels pop up in my work a lot.
Do you have any tips for great things to do in your work hood? Walks to Merri Creek are great for getting a big gulp of fresh air. I’ll also pop out to my local op shop on Oakover Rd if I feel like I need some inspiration. And Vintage Garage is just down the road. High St. Thornbury isn’t far either and there are lots of great venues and shops to visit. Think Thornbury is a great little shop supporting local makers. I always pop in for a quick visit and then end up having awesome chats with Maggie or Josh, the owners. If I get coffee, mostly we make our own each morning but I will got to Ampersand or Short Round in Thornbury. Both venues have great plants to drool over. And on the other side of St Georges Rd in Thornbury I’ll head to Pearl Oyster. It is super chilled there and they are always smiling.
Finally, music or no music when you're working, or podcasts? If so, what/which? I have to have music. Especially when I’m drawing. I love how it affects what I’m doing. I’ve been listening to Bonobo a lot lately, and I’ve also gone back to an old favourite the Whitest Boy Alive. Their Dreams Album is ace. I also discovered, earlier in the year, a Fleetwood Mac album, before the girls joined the gang, called Men of the World: The Early Years. It is incredible and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it before. If you opened my music right now you would see quite the mixture of different artists. All depends on how intensely I need to work! These are some… Flume, Bowie, Hermitude, Kaytranda, Big Scary, The Pharcyde, The Knife, A Tribe Called Quest and Massive Attack. Sometimes I will get up and have a little dance if I’m feeling good.
CLAIRE RITCHIE: LINKS
Instagram www.instagram.com/claire__ritchie/ @claire__ritchie
Thanks, Claire! And don't forget to follow Studio Space on Instagram: @studiospace_ #hellostudiospace or sign up to the mailing list below and be the first to find out about new studio visits.
STUDIO SPACE MAILING LIST
Join the Studio Space mailing list to receive an update each time a new studio visit is posted.
Words and photos © Susan Fitzgerald.
STUDIO SPACE: ESTHER SANDLER OF TOGETHERNESS DESIGN
Esther Sandler is a Melbourne-based illustrator and textile designer. She currently splits her time between freelance work (for brands including Megan Park, Mecca, Limedrop), working on her own label Togetherness Design (which she established in 2011, when she was still a student) and teaching (she'll soon be lecturing part-time in the course she studied, Textile Design at RMIT). Esther works from the home studio she shares with her boyfriend and was kind enough to let me come along and photograph it.
Esther's work features rich, multilayered and colourful patterns, often with plants, animals, imagined worlds and naive and folk-inspired motifs. She often starts out creating a watercolour or gouache painting and then brings it to life using traditional and more recent craft and textile traditions including digital fabric printing, embroidery, sewing and screen printing. The Togetherness Design product range features textiles, paper-based work and hand-formed ceramics.
Esther's other passions include gardening, collecting trinkets, watching true crime documentaries and crafting - check out some of the many ace projects she's created for Frankie Magazine's blog: a decorated umbrella, a shaggy seat covering, a sweet treat doormat, a sleeping kitten wheat pack and resin jewellery.
I hope you enjoy getting a sneak-peek into Esther's workspace. Following are more snaps and a little interview.
ESTHER SANDLER: Q&A
How long have you been in the space and where did you work previous to this?
For the past two years I’ve been working in a spare room in my house that has been set up as a sewing room and creative space. Before this I was working out of my tiny bedroom on a desk that was snuggle fit between my bed and the door - it was such a relief to move to a larger space!
How many hours a week do you spend in your workspace?
I do a mix of working in-house and working from my studio, so this can change week to week. Leading up to busy markets times or while I am working on a large personal project I can be in the space every day, but on average I would guess around 20 hours per week.
How, if at all, has the space influenced your work?
Working in a space with plenty of room to store materials, product and knick-knacks is a dream come true and makes it a lot easier for me to become inspired and create. The trick to this however, is keeping things tidy and I am often guilty of making a huge mess on every surface, although I am trying to rein this in a bit!
What would your dream workspace look like?
The main downside to my studio is the lack of natural light, so it can get a bit dark and is particularly bad when it comes to taking photos. Our whole house is quite dark so I often resort to taking photos outside, which is a bit of a pain! My dream space would have large windows with natural light, a bright white wall for taking photos against and a heap of cupboards and drawers for me to store all of my things!
Do you prefer working alone or with others?
I enjoy a mix of working by myself and with others. Being alone is best when I have a heap of things to get done but it can also be a bit lonely. In the future I would love to share a studio space with a few of my creative pals and will hopefully get around to doing something about this soon!
Which other creatives inspire you (personally or professionally)?
I am constantly amazed and inspired by the work of my friends and other up-and-coming designers from Melbourne and the rest of the country – people like Min Pin, Tara Whalley, Edith Rewa, Cassie Byrnes, Caitlin She and many more. I also find a tremendous amount of inspiration in the work of my favourite textile design heroines from the past and present including Maija Isola, Gunta Stölzl, Jenny Kee, Tsumori Chisato and Collier & Campbell. I could go on and on!
ESTHER SANDLER: LINKS
Etsy shop: esthersandler.etsy.com
And don't forget to follow Studio Space on Instagram @studiospace_ #hellostudiospace
Thanks so much Esther!
It's with much excitement that I launch Studio Space, featuring the studios of other artists/creatives. I'm so inspired by other people's workspaces and would like to investigate how a space can influence creatives' artwork and practice. It's also fun taking a close look at the work of others and getting to peek into their life/space/work, so I figure other people will like to see this stuff too.
What better place to start the series than with a fellow screen printer who's also based in West Footscray*, the lovely Leslie of Maze & Vale. Leslie's studio is a former hairdresser, complete with an old trough that is perfect for washing screens, and she moved in about 1.5 years ago.
Leslie's background is in graphic design and she has a passion for textiles. She previously created quilts, toys and more under the name onegirl designwrks. In 2011, Leslie decided to make a sideways jump and started designing and screen printing her own fabric, and she hasn't looked back.
Leslie now sells her fabric (and printing kits and more) online and at select design and quilting markets. She also holds screen printing, block printing and quilting workshops at her studio and teaches classes for The Craft Sessions and Work-Room Melbourne.
There's also a wee interview with Leslie further down but first, here are the photos I took of the Maze & Vale studio space.
* Leslie left this space, moved to Riverside Studios in Footscray and is now based in Yarraville, where she runs a shop called Fibresmith, selling fine cloth and yarn (and sometimes printing Maze and Vale).
LESLIE KEATING OF MAZE & VALE: Q&A
How many hours a week do you spend in your studio?
It really depends - I work around my kids’ schedules. Some weeks I might only spend a few hours in the studio and do what work I can at home but a normal week, I probably spend about 20 hours there. In the weeks leading up to a market that number usually doubles.
What's your favourite thing about the space?
The light is a huge bonus feature. It makes taking product shots really easy, but my favourite thing is my four meter long printing table. Small by professional screen printing standards, it works well for me and also gives me the space to spread out when I’m putting together kits or basting a quilt.
How, if at all, has being in this space influenced your work?
Having great light available has definitely improved my photography and made my Instagram stream more uniform, which strangely pleases me. Having a bigger print table allows me to be more productive during studio time.
What would your dream workspace look like?
My dream workspace would be a custom built space at home, ideally on a first floor with a bush or ocean view. About 60-80 square meters with bright white walls, worn wooden floors, maybe some exposed brick or beams, a pitched roof and huge windows perfectly placed to get the best light. It would be big enough to have both my printing and sewing/quilting equipment set up in their own areas and plenty of storage space… Sigh, so nice to dream!
Which other creatives are you influenced by?
Oh so many! Lately, I’m really inspired by the patchwork/quilting of Anna Farago, Season Evans, Maura Grace Ambrose and Meg Callahan, and the painting of Julian Meager, Stephen Baker and Tiel Seivl-Keevers.
MAZE & VALE: LINKS
I hope you liked this first instalment of Studio Space. It sure was fun for me to begin this project, and super inspiring - visiting Leslie's studio and looking at some of her beautiful freeform quilts made me want to go and sew one myself right away.
And don't forget to follow Studio Space on Instagram @studiospace_ #hellostudiospace. Thanks!