Meet the Maker: Flora Arbuthnott

I am a printmaker, natural dyer and forager. My work is all about nature: from doing prints and illustrations of birds and leaves, to dyeing using
plants I’ve grown or foraged. I run workshops teaching printmaking on fabric and indigo dyeing. I also run wild food walks.

Describe your process.

My process is quite meditative. I clear my mind of all thought, put pen to paper and see what happens. I work spontaneously, doing lots of quick drawings
and paper cuts, repeating images again and again, like a human photocopier.


How and where did you learn to print?

I first learnt to print with my mother, Vanessa Arbuthnott. I still use the printing methods she taught me when I was four! Then, I loved doing prints
of fish. I haven’t changed much, just switched from fish to birds!

Why Printing?

I enjoy the quick and clean results you can get from screen printing when using such simple materials. I love craftsmanship, hand making beautiful things
that have a function and will be loved, endured and repaired over time. The simplicity of printmaking makes it accessible to people who are not creatively
confidant, this makes it fun to teach.

Where do you work?

I have a studio at In Bristol Studios, sharing with lots of interesting community artists and makers. We share a big print room. I also
do lots of drawing from home as it is quiet there.


Describe a typical day in you studio.

I have very varied days. No two days are the same. I am most productive in the early morning when I can clear my head, not think too much about
what I am doing and be spontaneous. Some days, I teach from my studio in Bristol or in Cirencester. Most days, I go out gathering wild food, go to
the natural dye garden to do some harvesting or weeding, or go for a swim in the river. I spend a lot of time outside.  


How long have you been printmaking?

Since I was four! So twenty two years on and off. However it is in the past four years I have really gotten into it.


What inspires you?

As a forager, I get a lot of inspiration from the wild food I gather throughout the year. I am currently developing a range of fabric designs inspired
by wild edible spring plants such as cleavers, nettles and herb Robert. I am always inspired by the freedom and movement of birds. Lately I have been
exploring the process of dyeing with organic indigo. The chemistry of the vat, the pureness and depth of the blue is mesmerising.


What product/tool could you not be without? 

I love a fresh, sharp scalpel and a stack of paper for cutting out paper stencils for screen printing.


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

I print and create designs to commission. I run regular printmaking and natural dyeing workshops which are bookable via my website I design for my mother too – you can find my ‘Bird Hop’ design on her website:


What will we be seeing from you next?

I am running printmaking workshops and organic indigo workshops an shibori workshops this autumn in Bristol and Cirencester.


Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Print first, think later. Trust you instincts and have fun with it.

See more of Flora’s work on the following sites:






Printing with Magic Stamps

If you haven’t tried printing with Magic Stamps yet, this is your new project. It’s really quick to create a unique block that can be reused again and again to create different textures and patterns.
All you need is a heat gun and a variety of objects and surfaces to create your stamps.

Arrange a collection of low relief objects or find a texture that you would like to replicate.

Heat your stamp with a heat gun until the surface is pretty hot – don’t go too close to the stamp with the heat gun or you will damage the surface – learn
from my mistakes).

Press the hot side of your block into the objects or surface and hold for a few seconds.

Ink up your block with Versacraft Ink Pads or any water-based block printing ink.

Press your block onto your paper or fabric to make your print!

When you have finished printing, clean your block with a baby-wipe or damp sponge. Use the heat gun to restore the block to its original flat surface ready
for your next texture or, if you would like to keep your block as it is, leave it and the texture will still be there next time you pick it up!

Lots of different objects can be used to create different blocks. Try rubber bands:

…or copper pipes:

…or keys:

Try using the blocks to create cards:

Indian Woodblocks make a brilliant impression
in the blocks too:

To print with Magic Stamps you will need:

  • Magic Stamps (of
  • A heat gun (a hair dryer will not create as good an impression as when using a heat gun)
  • Versacraft Ink Pads or other water-based block printing ink
  • Paper, cards or fabric on which to print
  • Objects and textures to create your blocks

Meet the Maker: Karin Moorhouse

Meet Karin Moorhouse: local artist and designer who is teaching Monotype Printmaking with us in November!

Hi, my name is Karin and I have been an artist/designer all my life starting off with studying printed textiles for my degree at Liverpool art school,
followed by experience gathering work in large London commercial studios and design companies. My creative life has taken me on an interesting journey
and I have met some fascinating people. Whilst working in fashion and textiles I had opportunity for frequent travel as I was busy not only designing
but selling the design collections around the world. I have worked in interior design, garden design, mural and trompe l’oeil, portrait and landscape
painting, teaching art from Montessori age to degree level and I have trained in art psychotherapy. Happily all these threads now weave together and
one area feeds the other. My plein air landscape work informs my printmaking and vice versa. I am also making inroads into exploring how I could monoprint
directly onto fabric… full circle!


I currently use my plein air oil paintings as reference material and as a starting point for a new series of monoprints and I use the printing process
very much like I use oil paint: I work in layers which means I will present the plate many times to achieve the layering and depth and rich colour.

How and where did you learn to paint and print?

I knew from junior school that I wanted to work with colour and fabric and so I spent every possible moment with pens, paints, pencils and was lucky enough
to go to Junior Saturday morning art classes at Glasgow School Of Art.

Why monoprinting?

I find monoprinting to be a perfect marriage between drawing and painting. It is a fluid process, like painting and it can be fast like a drawing. It can
also be detailed and as the inks stay open for quite a while there is opportunity to “play” with colour mixing just like an oil painting.

Where do you work?

I have a hidden studio in my garden.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

Last thing every day I clean up palettes, plates and brushes and first thing every morning I put on radio 4! Then I layout my paints and inks ensure all
my soldiers are in a row and carry on where I left off the day before. But if the day is fine I will often take the opportunity to paint outside and
then the great outdoors becomes my studio!

How long have you been painting and printmaking?

Painting since I was a child and printmaking since I had the facility to so do.

What inspires you?

Everything… too much! I am fascinated by light and the effect of light. I try to convey the feeling of the day.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

My daughters!

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

I have taken part in the Arundel Gallery Trail every year for a number of years now and have exhibited at the Oxmarket, Chichester, The Mall Galleries,
London. I have also shown my work in group shows around SE England and will be taking part in an exhibition at Candida Stephens, Chichester in February

What will we be seeing from you next?

I will be working further into my series of “From Town To Country”. This is an umbrella title which for me covers my interest in journeys from noisy cityscapes
to quiet rolling country and seascapes. For me the title embraces my love of both spaces. I shall also be taking my monoprinting plein air and am looking
at transferring monotype prints onto fabric.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Don’t be shy of technology. Thrive on and digest the process. By that I mean don’t hope for/look for/only work for the results. When we become absorbed
in process very often the product takes care of itself and is the richer for it.

See more of Karin’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or on her website. Karin is teaching her Monotype Printing Workshop with us on the 5th & 6th of November! For more information or to book a space, visit our website or call 01243 696789.

Eco Printing

Quick and basic Eco Printing in preparation for our Fab Friday class tomorrow!

We gathered a selection of leaves and berries. (Dyes from leaves will usually be more permanent than dyes from berries. It is such a shame you can
get some lovely colours from berries but often they will wash completely out of fabric – unless you want them to of course!).

We pre-soaked our fabric – Ponge Silk and
Prima Cotton in Soy Milk for a few minutes. The longer you can pre-soak the better the dyes will take.

We also tried pre-soaking with other solutions

  • White Vinegar (1/3 vinegar 2/3 water), 
  • Just Water
  • Alum solution (1/4 Alum diluted in 3/4 warm water)

The results were varied but the Soy Milk created much stronger colours working on both the cotton (cellulose) and silk (protein) fibres.
The vinegar was also good, the alum so-so and the water on its own very pale.

Wring out the fabric a little and lay out flat. Arrange your leaves on top of one half of the fabric – we also tried some pennies and some wire wool –
the wire wool works really well.


Fold over the fabric to encase the leaves



Roll tightly around a short length of pipe. We used copper pipe as this will help the colour. You can also use a short branch – some wood
will affect the colour especially if they still have their bark. You can use anything that will withstand hot temperatures and will fit in your pan.


Tie up tightly with string. You need to steam the wraps for at least 2 hours. The pan you choose must not be used for cooking afterwards. We put a
couple of inches of water in the bottom of the pan and bent some chicken wire to stop the wraps from reaching the water. You will need to keep
a close eye on the pan that it doesn’t boil dry and top up as required.


After a while you will see the colour appearing through the fabric.


After a couple of hours remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool. When the wraps are cool unwrap and leave for a couple of days, you
can then wash with a gentle wash such as Metapex – the
colour may alter a little at this stage.  


If you like to know more about our Fab Fridays or any of our other classes please click here