My name is Freya Scott and I am a book binder, photographer and marbler. I work mostly out of a studio in London, but I also work across the country teaching, especially in the West Country where I am an instructor with Bound by Veterans, a charity that helps sick and injured veterans to gain valuable skills and qualifications as well as experience the therapeutic effect of craft.
Describe your printmaking process.
It all starts with the marbling bath. The water-based substance I marble on is called ‘size’ and this needs to be prepared in advance. After a day or so
it is ready, and I can begin mixing inks. They all have their own properties and behaviours, so testing them out can take a while. Once they are all
doing what they should, I use different methods to apply the ink to the surface of the size. The inks can then be manipulated into hundreds of different patterns. Once the pattern is finished, I lay my paper (which has been treated with a solution to help the ink stick to it) onto the surface. The paper is then peeled back and the pattern has been transferred – this is the magical part! After that, it is rinsed and hung to dry.
How and where did you learn to print?
My first marbling experience was when I was about 9 years old with one of those kits you can buy. It wasn’t anything special, but I thought it was marvellous! After that I did a few marbling sessions while I was doing my bookbinding training (I trained in commercial binderies and also with individual bookbinders) but it always frustrated me – there were too many variables, and the method was confusing. When I started teaching with Bound by Veterans, we invited a master marbler to come and do a day with us, and something clicked. After that, I went home and couldn’t stop. I spent months and months testing, improving and developing my style and skills, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
There is something entirely magical about making patterns and prints, especially with marbling. At the beginning, everything is a wonder – you never know what you are going to get. As you progress, you realise how much is involved, but once you get to the stage where you can translate an idea in your head into a pattern on the bath, it is worth all the hours of testing. It is absolutely the most wonderful thing for anyone who loves colour, because the colour combinations are endless.
Where do you work?
Most of the time I work out of a studio in south east London, and when I’m not there I’m in the West Country teaching – every now and then I head further afield to teach, which is always good fun.
Describe a typical day in your studio.
Most days begin after a dog walk with my hairy dog child Ludo. He comes into work every day, so the first thing is to get him settled with a nice chew!
After that, I’ll begin work on any orders. I’ll put the radio on and just crack on. Sometimes, if it’s going well, I’ll forget to have lunch. By the
end of the day, if it’s been a marbling day, there’ll be a rack of papers hanging to dry, and I’ll be covered in paint. Ludo too, sometimes. The studio
is in an old factory which has lots of other studios, so there is always someone around to have a cup of coffee with, or generally procrastinate with. I tend to work right up until I can barely stand, so I often leave the place in a bit of a mess. I am determined to become more organised, but I’m
better at making than tidying and admin!
How long have you been printmaking?
In different ways, probably about 10 or twelve years.
What inspires you?
Everything. I take pictures of everything everywhere. Weird shadows, textured walls, random colour combinations I like. The last photo I took was of someone holding one of my blue books and they are wearing bright orange nail varnish. I need to make a paper that is blue with hints of fluorescent orange! If I deliberately need inspiration, I’ll pick up one of my books on colour, or I’ll take a trip to an art gallery. I love looking at other people’s work. It’s also important to me to get away from all the stimulation too – I can only process it all when I’m somewhere quiet and green and leafy.
What is your favourite printmaking product?
Paper. Aside from colour, paper is the thing that really makes a print sing. I love trying different types, and seeing what it can bring to a design.
What have you made that you are most proud of?
I’m usually a bit in love with everything that I make, until I’ve seen it too much, then I hate it. So really the thing I’ve made that I’m most proud of
is my business. I never imagined that I would be able to do it, and (with a lot of support from my partner) I’ve managed to turn something I love into
the thing I do every day.
Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?
I try and put my work in lots of different places, especially where I can interact with people viewing it. I do a couple of pop up shops and exhibitions every year, and I have my work in a few independent shops, but mostly I post my work online, either on my website (where it is for sale) or Instagram. I like to post videos of the process, and see how people react to new designs.
What will we be seeing from you next?
I’m working a lot more on moving into other areas of design. I will never stop making books, but I’m excited to try out my patterns on other things – I’m doing more on leather and fabric, and there is even some wallpaper in the pipeline!
Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?
Meet other makers, and take your work out into the world. Other makers can support you and inspire you, and meeting the people who love your work will spur you on to make more and more. And on that front, never stop learning and experimenting. Take other random classes – everything you do will feed back into your work.
Freya will be in the studio teaching Paper Marbling in April 2019!