Made in Britain

How important is it to you to buy products which have been grown or manufactured in your own country? Surely it’s a good way to get people back to work, instil some national pride and cut down on our carbon foot print?

Earlier this year I decided to produce a range of home wares and I was determined to design and manufacture them here in Great Britain. The first designs are a set of kitchen textiles which I think have architectural overtones. I am well aware that the market is awash with decorative kitchen textiles but I was keen to produce something for the contemporary kitchen – my designs can’t be described as pretty, and a friend actually thought they were quite masculine but I was pleased with that, it’s what I intended!

The designs are all screen printed – a long process but the best process for obtaining vibrant colours and colours that stay truer for longer. Digital printing is fine for some things but as it’s strong flat colour that interests me, screen printing was the answer (all the inks are water based causing minimal environmental impact). I decided to print onto linen union because the texture and slubs you find on linen gives the product more character.

So, they are designed and printed in Great Britain (including the brand label which has been woven) but I have paid the cost of taking this route. I hope it works out (I could have had them printed abroad for a fraction of the cost) but it gives me immense satisfaction having them produced here in Great Britain – I hope it is important to buyers too. I thought it was interesting to see that a new Made in UK  logo is set to appear in our shops next year.

My retailers would prefer me not to display the textiles until they have the stock (by the end of the month) which is why I have only inserted a tiny image of my proofs above.

Below are some of the reasons why I like living and working in Scotland. Where do you live and why?

Finding Warmth in the North of Scotland

A strange thing happens to me every October. As many Scots jet off to warmer climes to get a quick blast of sunshine in preparation for the dark winter ahead, I always find myself craving to go further North. Every year I drive to Sutherland in the North of Scotland and gulp in the staggeringly fresh air, stare at the huge skies and walk through forests straight onto beaches while looking at snow capped mountains in the back ground. Yes, it really is that good and you are unlikely to bump into a soul.

Well this year I was paying particular attention to ochres, reds and oranges on my walks as I am really keen to specify a warm colour for the restaurant project I am working on but warm colours don’t come easily to me. They are not “my colours” (I gravitate to cooler hues) although I do have great respect for them and I can see when they are required.

So, where else should I begin my search but at the Glenmorangie whisky distillery where even the air around the village smells slightly smoky, malty and warm.

In the fields around the distillery you will stumble across beautiful carvings left by the Picts (a name given to them by the Romans meaning “painted people” – it is thought that they dyed their bodies with woad before battles…..remember Braveheart….!). The Picts used local red sandstone so the carvings jut out of the tufty fields almost glowing, especially when you see them in the low setting sun.

Inside the distillery the graceful swan necked copper stills stand in line looking proud of the amber liquid they are brewing which will later be laid down to age in oak barrels. Barrels with ends painted a wonderful full-on red,

….the colour of the rose hip berries growing on the sand dunes nearby,

…..and the chosen paint colour of many of the local fishing boats.

I was definitely gathering up a lot of reds to take reference from until I was caught in a beautiful snow flurry while walking up a hill behind Alness – which very quickly transported my back to my default Northern colours….

As this post is rapidly turning into a list of my holiday snaps (sorry), I shall finish up but I have found a magnificent red wool cloth (colour 623) from kvadrat ‘s wonderful Divina 3 collection which I hope to use and it certainly transports me right back to those glowing whisky barrels at Glenmorangie….

Colour Proportion

I’ve spent some time looking at  Goethe‘s thoughts on colour value and found his theories of great help in colour placement. He stated that white and warm hues have greater strength than black and cool hues. For example, orange is twice as strong as blue and therefore an artist should use twice as much blue as orange in order to balance the relative strengths.

Balancing colours often comes instinctively to us so when you look around at images and patterns you find pleasing, you will often find they show colour harmony.

Goethe also paid particular attention to complementary colours – balancing colours to achieve a visual harmony. Our brains constantly seek colour balance so here the orange ladder (a small proportion relative to the blue of the sky) is satisfying our need to see blues’s complementary, orange.