IN A NUTSHELL, WHAT IS YOUR CRAFT?
I am a textile designer, printing lengths of fabrics for curtains, throws and upholstery. It’s a labour of love but the process is so lovely. The nice thing about printing everything by hand is all the little imperfections you get – every piece is unique. Treading lightly is really important to me and I try to operate as sustainably as I can. It’s hard to always get it right, but doing everything by hand means you can source everything locally.
WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOU TO TEXTILES?
The utility of it. When you think about it, so many things in our lives are made from fabrics. Whether it’s a bright bold printed chair or a soft drape, textiles have the ability to change a space and make you feel something without necessarily noticing. I love that. When I was younger, I used to cover every bedroom from top to bottom with fabrics. Whenever you opened a cupboard or got anything off of a shelf a piece of fabric would fall down. I imagine it was actually quite annoying.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY LIKE IN THE STUDIO?
Every day is quite different. I try to work with the weather, so when it’s sunny and warm I’ll do most of my printing and when it’s cold and grey I snuggle up, get the sketch pad out and make designs. Obviously, it doesn’t always work so smoothly. And like everyone else, I still have a lot of long days trying to get things done to meet deadlines.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE KEY PRODUCT THAT BEEN SELECTED FOR THE MAKERS’ MARKET AT THE ROYAL EXCHANGE?
Lots of my prints are based on stories and myths. These lampshades show a sun and a star that was inspired by Ancient Egypt. They are screen printed onto linen with hand-painted gold embellishments.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE COMMISSION TO DATE?
My favourite commission was for a nature/bird-loving family. The design was a bespoke tree of life filled with birds, flowers and fruit for their bedroom curtains. I drew the whole thing out onto paper and printed it bit by bit, every hoopoe and pomegranate. It was so lovely having them really involved in the design process and seeing the tree evolve, and I love the distinct colours and shapes of the hoopoe.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR CRAFT INSPIRATIONS?
It always seems to come back to the Bauhaus. They taught such an interesting way of looking at craft – every colour/shape/line must be considered and will change your whole design. Design was a sacred endeavour.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT PEOPLE CAN DO TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT BRITISH CRAFT?
Think about what you buy. What materials are being used, who made it and where does it come from? If you can, buy from local makers.
- Favourite film: Honeyland. Such a lovely film about a beekeeper
- Designer or brand you would most love to collaborate with: Issey Miyake. He’s a genius.
- Podcast recommendations: 99% Invisible – quite fun stories about design in the world.
- If you could own one piece of art (regardless of price), what would it be? Matisse, Memory of Oceania.
- Favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe: Frida Kahlo dungarees, made by my gran.
- Music album that left a lasting impression: Mysteries of The World, MFSB
- Go-to snack: Carrots and hummus
- One Instagram account you recommend following: @camo.pots, an amazing ceramicist from Margate
Jessie de Salis will be taking part in The Makers’ Market at The Royal Exchange from 10-13 May 2022.