Meet the Maker: Zeena Shah

You may have seen Zeena at the Handmade Fair or Handmade Christmas Fair this year or even taken part in one of her workshops! If not, it’s about time you
meet Zeena Shah!


Hello! I’m a Printed Textile Designer & Maker based in East London. I screen print and sew a collection of textile goods for your home as well as teach
workshops all over London and the UK sharing my printing know how and tips. I have just launched my first book ‘How to Print Fabric
‘ that features twenty projects that you can print and sew!

Describe your design process.

I’m always so inspired by nature and the everyday, a design often emerges because I’ve collected a bundle of leaves from some fallen trees, drawn them
and then cut them out of paper ready for a stencil screen print. Then there will be a bit of experimenting until I have the right layout, shapes and
colour before it a design is turned into a product ready to sell.

How and where did you learn to design and print textiles?

I studied Textile Design at Chelsea school of Art in London. It was a wonderful course, we were all one big happy textiles family!

Why textile printing?

I actually didn’t intend on being a Textile Designer when I first started my Art foundation course, I thought I might be graphic designer or a fashion
stylist but something just clicked with printmaking and that’s how it all began!

Where do you work?

I work in my East London studio space, it is very chilly at the moment as we have no heating!

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I arrive at the studio bright and early, I seem to spend most of my time lately at my mac, replying to emails, business admin etc but I try to only spend
the first part of the day at my desk and then it’s over to the print table to make up my orders, work on commissions or package up some books. I’m
a bit of a workaholic/ night owl and am often still in the studio past 7pm (it’s always my most creative time) before heading home for the night!

How long have you been printmaking?

Since I graduated from art school in 2007! Gosh I feel old..! That’s 8 years of glorious printmaking!

What inspires you?

Everything and anything from the weather outside to nature and animals. These are always the most prominent images found in my collections and my favourites.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

It would have to be my silk screen and squeegee, I couldn’t live without these two things although a piece of lino and a lino cutter aren’t far behind!

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I would have to say that would be my book! How to Print Fabric
was published just over a month ago and I still can’t quite believe it’s here. It is a real labour of love and a collection of twenty of my favourite
printing techniques and sewing projects. It includes things I really love making and wanted to share with my wonderful followers and friends.


Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

You can find my work on my website as well as Etsy and various other stockist all over the UK and worldwide. My book can be found on Amazon.

What will we be seeing from Zeena Shah next?

I’ve actually just finished my second book…! It will be a beautiful illustrated adult colouring book with 48 illustrations designed and hand drawn by
me for you to colour in! It will be out next year so keep your eyes on my social networks to find out more!


Do you have any advice for other printmakers, designers and creatives?

Stay true to your own voice, keep going as hard work and determination will pay off in the end!

Easy Christmas Cards Six Ways

We’ve had a lot of fun this week working on easy, quick and fun ways to print your own Christmas cards! We’ve come up with six simple ways for you to try.
Take a look at our instructions below and have a go yourself.  

Bah Humbug Lino Printed Card

This two-layered lino card is quick, easy and so effective on these square kraft cards.

  • Print or draw your design onto paper. Trace your design so that it is in reverse.
  • Use a piece of tracedown to transfer the design onto a piece of lino.
  • Carve out the unwanted areas of the design with a lino tool.
  • Ink up the lino using a roller. We used white for our first colour.
  • Place a card on top and use a baren to rub all over the back to transfer the print.
  • Lift off the card to reveal your first layer! Leave to dry. Print all of your cards with the first layer. 
  • Use the lino tool so remove any areas of the print that you wish to remain white.We carved in stripes on our humbug and on the border. We also removed
    the cellophane sweet ends so that they would remain white.
  • Ink up the lino with your second colour. We used black.
  • As before, place your card on top and transfer the print with a baren.
  • Lift off the card to reveal your print! Print over the top of each of your first layer cards.

To download printable instructions for this card click here.   

Drypoint Robin Christmas Card

This drypoint card can be traced from a photograph into a simple line drawing. A mono-printed red breast is made with a swipe of an inky thumb and will
be slightly different on each card you print!

This method requires a press so feel free to pop into our studio to print yours!  

  • Use a piece of drypoint plastic slightly smaller than
    the card you will be printing on. Tape
    the plastic over the image and trace it using an etching needle.
  • Use a wadded up piece of fabric to daub etching ink all over your drawing. Use a piece of mount board to scrape off the excess.
  • Wipe off the ink using a piece of scrim with a twisting action.
  • Clean any remaining ink off the plate with a cloth. Be careful not to take too much ink out of the lines.
  • Use your thumb to apply a smudge of red ink to the robin’s chest.
  • Dampen your card with a sponge. Blot it with a j-cloth to remove excess water. It should feel slightly damp but not wet.
  • Place the plate face up on the etching press. Place the card on top. Cover with the blankets and put through the press.
  • Lift the card to reveal your print.
  • Ink up the plate as before ready for your next card.

To download printable instructions for this card, click here.  

Mastercut Holly Christmas Card

This card is such a quick make and is so easy to print in large quantities with Versacraft ink pads. A pencil eraser is a resourceful and quick way to print the berries! 

  • Draw the leaf shapes onto a piece of Mastercut
  • Use a lino tool to carve around
    the edges of each leaf. Carve in any detail such as the vein through the middle.
  • Cut around each leaf with a craft knife.
  • Ink up the Mastercut using a Versacraft ink pad.
  • Place the stamp face down on the card.
    Press down all over with the flat of your hand.
  • Repeat with each of your stamps.
  • Use the eraser end of a pencil to print red berries by dabbing it into a Versacraft ink pad.

To download printable instructions for this card, click here.  

Safeprint Bauble Christmas Card

This is a great option to print with children. Safeprint sheets of polystyrene are brilliant for quick printing. You need hardly any materials – the patterns are printed with the end of a biro! You’ll just need to cut out the
shape for them as, to get neat edges, it needs to be done with a craft knife.


  • Draw the shape onto a piece of safeprint with a pencil.
  • Cut it out using a craft knife.
  • Unscrew the end of a biro and use it to press circles into the safeprint.
  • Use the end of the biro ink tube to press in smaller dots. Add detail using a sharp pencil.
  • Roll out a thin layer of block printing ink onto a tray.
  • Roll the ink onto the safeprint.
  • Place the safeprint face down onto a card. use a dry roller to roll all over the back of the safeprint.
  • Carefully lift off the safeprint to reveal your print!

To download printable instructions for this card, click here.  

Foiled Christmas Card

This is one of our favourite ways to make a card, and it certainly the quickest! You will need a black toner photocopy of your design. This can be from
a carbon photocopier or toner printer. Inkjet will not work with this method.

  • Place the foil shiny side up on the
    carbon photocopy.
  • Place a sheet of grease-proof paper on top.
  • Ion on a medium heat for about ten seconds. You will see when it is ready as the foil will stick.
  • Peel off the excess foil to reveal your foiled design!

To download printable instructions for this card, click here.  

Screen Printed Snowflake Christmas Card

These cutout snowflakes make the perfect paper stencils for a screen printed card. Layered up with silver ink, these cards are so Christmassy, we couldn’t
stop printing them!

  • To make a snowflake start with a small square of paper.
  • Fold in half diagonally and then half again.
  • Fold the left side towards the middle and then the right side over the left – the pictures will help if you’re confused at this point!
  • Cut off the pointy tips to make a folder triangle.
  • Cut shapes into the edges of your triangle and unfold to reveal your snowflake!
  •  Make a selection of these snowflakes to be layered up on your cards – we made so many – they’re so addictive!
  • Place the card on a hard surface. If you’re using hinge clamps on your screen, use masking tape to mark where each card should be placed.
  • Use parcel tape to mask
    tape all over your screen,
    leaving an opening the same size and shape as your card.
  • Place your screen on top of the card and stencils and print with a squeegee and screen printing ink.
  • Your stencils should stick to the screen ready for the next print.
  • When the cards are dry, overlay more snowflakes on top and print with another colour. We with silver over our icy blue.

To download printable instructions for this card, click here.

We hope you have given you some ideas for how to print your Christmas cards this year. Try one method, or try them all! 


Meet the Maker: Arati Devasher

This Meet the Maker post is all about the fabulous Arati Devasher! Arati’s work is beautiful and we are so pleased to be able to share her work and techniques
with you:


I’m a book designer by profession and an artist by inclination… the structure required by book design can be restricting so it’s in my artwork that
I express myself uninhibitedly. I make hand painted one-of-a-kind silk scarves and ties, drawings and paintings. I work in several different media
for the simple reason that some ideas need to be expressed in pen, others in watercolours or pastels, and more on silk or other materials.



Describe your process

I’ve never been comfortable planning my work with a sketch or layout… I doodle, and that turns into a finished piece… I do sketch of course,
and that can be the source for a design, though the result rarely looks very much like the point of origin. In drawing and painting I work pretty much
as traditionally as everyone else does… on silk, however, I have my own methods:

I learned how to paint silk using the traditional gutta serti method of creating outlines with a resist and filling them in with dye. I then moved on to
soy wax batik, which suits my artwork and style more; hot wax and dye are applied in layers to preserve areas of colour and create a reverse pattern.
I also work with Resistad, which gives me great flexibility in being able to ‘draw’ on the silk in the manner I would on paper without changing the
‘hand’ or feel of the silk. It’s beginning to be my favourite medium even over and above hot wax batik. Another technique is to spray the silk with
starch to restrict the flow of the dye and simply paint freehand as though it were a canvas.

Ultimately, though, I use all these techniques depending on the design I want to create… sometimes, I will use all the techniques on a single scarf.

Making could take from half a day to several days depending on the complexity. Once I’m done making the pattern, the silk scarf (or tie) is rolled in paper
and steamed at a high temperature for a few hours in order to set the dye to be colourfast. I then wash and iron, hand-hem if needed, photograph for
my records and it’s ready to wear!

How and where did you learn silk painting and batik?

I’ve drawn and painted all my life, but since silk painting isn’t taught at most universities and is considered a craft rather than an art, it was only
a couple of years ago that I quite literally stumbled upon it. And from the moment I tried it – first iron-fix silk paints and then the more vibrant
silk dyes – I was hooked. I couldn’t find a class that I could attend, but silk painters are so helpful, and share information freely… Isabella
Whitworth, Pamela Glose, Ron Gutman and the SPIN silk painters group, are only some of the lovely people who did so, and of course YouTube is an invaluable
help when stuck. Now that I know the basic techniques, it’s just a matter of experimentation in order to achieve what I want to do on the silk.

Do you only work on silk or do you also work on other fabrics?

Currently I only make scarves and ties in silk… and as it takes a great deal of time and effort to make each, it’s appropriate that it should
be made in a luxurious fabric that works in all seasons. I draw and paint on paper and canvas as well, and might be working on wool or cotton in
the future.

Where do you work?

Our spare bedroom is my studio for most of the year. It’s kitted out with an eight foot catering table that folds away when guests arrive. And I drew
the yellow mural on the wall to brighten the room on dull and rainy days. Yellow is my favourite colour. So bright and happy!

Describe a typical day in your studio

Because I work from home and also work as a freelance designer, it’s a mix of housework, book design, and art. It varies from day to day in terms of
what I need to accomplish… I run through admin, answer emails, field phone calls from publishing clients, design books, and when all that
is done, turn to my studio to create a piece that takes all the stresses of the day away.

How long have you been making your scarves (and other work)?

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child and then did my university degree in art. Silk painting was a chance discovery a couple of years
ago. I then took a leap and opened my Etsy shop in August 2014.


What inspires you?

I read a lot, and also love to people-watch, and from the colours and shapes and ideas I see, my overactive imagination converts them to something
my hand can execute on paper, canvas or silk. I was born and brought up in India, so the colours and patterns I use are influenced by my heritage,
but I’ve a very modern aesthetic in terms of my own personal taste, so I try to mix the two in a manner that is pleasing.

What are your favourite products and tools?

I am addicted to the Pro-Arte sable and squirrel hair brushes… I tend to use those for nearly everything from painting paper to silk and hot
wax. Sennelier oil pastels are my favourite. And I love handmade Khadi paper which I use a lot nowadays particularly for my kitchen wall art.


I use Jacquard Green Label dyes for silk… also, soy batik wax flakes as the wax, and gutta by Marabu.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I think I was most proud of the first scarf I made – ‘Spring Garden’ from my Heritage series – using steam-fix dye rather than iron-fix paint…
I was apprehensive about all the colour washing out because I didn’t know whether I’d done things right while fixing it! It was such a relief,
and I was so excited! Such a surreal moment.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

I sell on my website or by contacting me directly. My silk scarves and ties are also
stocked at Things British on the upper level of the Grand Terrace at St Pancras International Station in London.

What will we be seeing from Arati Devasher next?

I’m doing some research into Shibori and Indigo dyeing, and am planning to have a collection of cotton scarves made in these techniques ready for next
summer. It’s in the planning stages yet, so hopefully it’ll come along on time! And a long time in the future perhaps a range of apparel.

Do you have any advice for other creatives?

Keep doing what you love, and experiment. It’ll all work out in the end while you have fun along the way.

You can see more of Arati Devasher’s inspiring work by visiting her website or you
can contact her on

If you would like us to stock any more of the products that Arati uses please email us at or call 01243 696789 and we will
see what we can do for you!


(Photographs by Yeshen Venema)

Japanese Woodblock Course with Laura Boswell

I was lucky enough to attend a Japanese Woodblock Course with Laura Boswell a couple of weekends ago. Laura’s work can be seen on her website.

Japanese Woodblock – Mokuhanga (Moku meaning wood and Hanga printmaking) is a relief printmaking method which is similar to printing with lino. There are a few differences in the way you cut your block, registration, paper preparation but I think the main difference is the way you ink your block. Instead of using rollers and block printing ink you use watercolour paint and Nori paste (rice flour paste). This gives you lots of flexibility with blending colours and creative inking. It also means you don’t need a huge amount of kit to start – just Japanese PlyJapanese Woodcut ToolsWatercolour PaintsNori PasteInking Brushes and a Baren.

Laura got us to all to design an image that would involve cutting more than one plate. We then traced the layers onto our piece of ply.

Most of the design was cut using the Hangito knife held like a weapon rather than a pencil, the V tool was hardly ever used during the weekend.

Cutting the Kento marks – these were key and would enable us to get good tight registration.

Inking up using a mix of watercolour paints and Nori paste.

The paint and nori paste is mixed on the block using Japanese Inking brushes. You don’t need much and you want the wood just to appear to have a sheen rather than be swimming in ink. Only the ink on the surface will print the excess ink will flow away into the gulley.

Laura mid demonstration.

Here are the other participants’ prints from the weekend.