Selvedge talks to... Cambridge Imprint


What made you start making, collecting and doing what you do? All three of us treasure similar everyday objects of no great monetary value: a scrap of patterned paper; a pink lustreware cup; a worn wooden spoon. This shared appreciation and the fun of making something beautiful together was the driving force behind our collaboration. What inspires you? We take inspiration from far and wide – American quilts, Barron and Larcher block-print fabrics, Uzbek suzani and Japanese paper. 7578328_orig Who inspires you? The cheerfulness and humour of the printing done by the Curwen Press during its golden age in the twenties and thirties is a touchstone for our patterns, illustration and typography. Recently, finding a back issue of Selvedge with a feature about a V&A exhibition reignited an interest in the glorious colour and inventiveness of the costumes for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. What is your favourite part of the process of making what you make? Printing a new design for the very first time. Our designs are drawn onto silk screens by simply blocking out the negative spaces by hand. We mix our own colours in the studio; it’s exciting finding a palette that brings the designs to life. cambridgeimprintdesign And what’s the hardest part? What do you dislike? Shlepping the stock up and down a spiral staircase to the studio - paper is surprisingly heavy. How long does it take to make one product? Our design process is very traditional – we start with just a pencil and paper, erasing and redrawing. Or we use paper cut-outs, rearranging elements, drawing with blocks of colour. Occasionally we use an ancient black-and-white photocopier to change the scale or make lots of repeats. But that is the full extent of our technological support. We all work on our own pieces, asking for feedback from each other as an individual pattern develops. The printed prototypes cover the studio walls. Some designs are immediately put into production, others take time to grow on us. cambridge_imprint Where do you live? And why have you chosen to be here?  We all grew up in Cambridge and two of us chose to move back here in adulthood. Until recently it was a sleepy country town with cows grazing on common land right in the centre, amongst the extraordinary architecture and vibrant cultural life of the university. The paired down simplicity of Jim Ede’s beautiful, unpretentious house at Kettle’s Yard, was a strong local influence on all of us. When we were children you had to change trains at Royston on your way from London, because the track wasn’t electrified all the way. Now the fast rail link and the growth of the tech sector have woken the sleepy town up and it is changing fast, and growing: we’re trying not to be too sad about it. Your ideal Sunday? Paint a picture... A walk in the hills or on a deserted beach. A freshly cooked bacon sandwich and a thermos of tea. A good book or film in front of an open fire and a slow cooked stew for supper, by candlelight. Tea or Coffee? Every time we hit a creative block or feel tired, we make a round of tea. We drink buckets of it. If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go and why? Uzbekistan to look at silk ikat. mug What do you typically listen to whilst working? We tend to work in silence or with radio 4 in the background. What are you reading at the moment? We are steadily working our way through the Persephone Books' back catalogue. We love the end papers: each one a textile printed in the year of the book’s original publication. The books themselves are all great reads, rightly rescued from undeserved obscurity. High Wages, by Dorothy Whipple, a novel about a shop girl who sets up her own dress shop in a northern town, was completely gripping; as was Round About A Pound A Week, a contemporary investigation of household expenditure among the working poor in Lambeth at the turn of the last century. We also eagerly await the arrival of Slightly Foxed, a beautifully produced quarterly full of recommendations for out-of-print books. Find Cambridge Imprint and their lovely things at The Selvedge Artisan fair, Summer, 21 May Tickets are now available now here. BANNER

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  • Gill on

    Where in the US might we buy your products?

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