Karen is a longstanding customer of Wicked Printing Stuff and has recently written a book Screen Printing At Home: Print Your Own Fabric to Make Simple Sewn Projects. she also has a blog you can follow http://karenlewistextiles.blogspot.com
Whilst taking time out from teaching after having her 3 children, Karen was able to indulge in her enthusiasm for knitting and textiles. Along with a couple of friends in a similar position, they produced an informal co-operative, selling their wares locally. This heightened Karen’s passion for all things handmade, so when her youngest child started full-time school she wanted to create a shopping experience where it was possible to find unique, beautiful and functional products that ooze the charm and originality you can only get with something handmade. “Blueberry Park” was born.
Karen and her team live by William Morris’ motto of “never having anything in your home that you don’t consider to be beautiful or useful”. In fact the team believe all their items are not only beautiful, but also useful – a double whammy that no doubt William Morris himself would be impressed with!
When did you start screen printing?
I started screen printing about 4 years ago in 2010 and was hooked from the very first print!
I wanted to learn to screen print because I had a business selling handmade textile products and I wanted to make my work more unique and individual and recognisable as me, rather than using other people’s fabrics and designs. When I first started working with textiles i was particularly drawn to screen printed fabrics and loved working with them and knew I wanted to produce my own.
What problems have you encountered?
I went on a screen printing course at my local college in Leeds which was fantastic but I knew i really wanted to set myself up at home to make it more flexible and immediate. I didn’t want to have to wait to book in to use the facilities if I needed to print up fabric. It did take me a while to master the techniques, particularly printing on fabric which can be tricky and it was wonderful to have the lecturers to hand to help troubleshoot, but I eventually took the plunge to set up at home.
I am very lucky to have an old cellar to use so space wasn’t an issue. I set my space up with everything I needed, including making an outdoor washout booth…ie a hose by a drain!
It didn’t take long for screen printing to be an every day part of my life and my business really took off as a consequence. I was printing for myself and also my fabrics became desirable for other quilters and crafters and I now send my fabrics all over the world and see them made up in all sorts of wonderful projects, which is extremely gratifying. My fabrics have been very popular and in January I set up a Fabric Club where members receive a specially selected bundle of fabrics every other month.
Earlier this year I brought out a book Screen Printing at Home, teaching others how to set themselves up at home to do small scale screen printing to produce their own fabrics to use in their projects.
I host workshops in my home teaching others screen printing on fabric and travel to various corners to do workshops for others. I love meeting potential printers and see the lightbulb moment and enthusiasm they have for something I am so passionate about.
What do you see in the future?
This year has been quite a whirlwind, with the Fabric Club, workshops and book, but next year looks set to be even crazier! There are big exciting things in the pipeline, which you will have to come back to ask me about in the New Year as it is all hush hush at the moment!