Leslie Keating of Maze and Vale in Melbourne, Australia produces the most gorgeous handprinted and handmade fabrics. She had me with her stormy weather handprinted fabric. I also LOVE her dropcloth art – framable canvas from her screenprinting jobs that has organically picked up dribs and drabs of paint. All images courtesy of Maze and Vale.
Read my inspiring interview with Leslie and see her adorable studio and fabrics here…
1. Tell us a little about your creative process.
Ideas come from everywhere and nowhere. Some of my designs come about spontaneously, just playing with carving blocks, experimenting with the lines that can be created and having a workable pattern or shape appear. Others come to me while I am going about my day, when I take the time to really notice the shapes of things around me, the colours and shades. It is amazing what you can “see” when you change your perspective a bit. When I have a design idea, I turn to my block carving tools and work on it that way, creating a design that will then be scanned and worked on my computer, or I will just head straight to Illustrator and create the pattern digitally. I recently began producing my own screens because I had so many ideas that I wanted to see on fabric and couldn’t afford to have screens made on a whim. I use old picture frames and found a way to do the photo emulsion easily at home, it has really freed up my design process as I can try patterns easily.
2. What is a typical “work” day like?
I’m a mom to a two and four year old so my typical work day is really from 8pm to 10pm each night once they have gone to bed. That’s when I pack up orders, work on new designs, cut and sew and iron fabric. My kids do attend childcare one day a week and I try to pack a lot into that day, lately doing a ton of printing and screen preparation as it’s the only daylight hours I have, unless I can sneak a bit in on the weekend when my husband is home.
3. What inspired you to start your business?
There are so many amazing textile designers screen printing in Australia, watching their businesses grow was, and is, a huge inspiration. I had built up a nice little following making quilts and soft toys over the years but eventually I got to the point where I wanted more control over the colours and designs in my work. I was a graphic designer for over 10 years and had always loved screen printing, the next logical step was for me to turn my design skills and colour ideals into fabric for myself and others to use.
4. How did your favorite products come to be?
My current favourite is my Dropcloth Artwork. It’s just so simply, effortlessly lovely – the cotton canvas dropcloth that I use to cover my screen printing table picks up little bits of prints and colour, mixes them in an amazing way that could never be replicated if tried.
Each little section forms a bit of art in itself and so I decided to mount them on 300lb watercolour paper and hope that they may bring a bit of modern colour and form to someone’s wall.
5. Are you involved with any grassroots or local level fairs and events?
I participate in a few markets around Melbourne, the Finders Keepers event earlier this year was amazing and I’m participating in Craft Victoria’s Craft Hatch market for emerging designers this September. I just joined Craft Victoria as an Accredited Member so I’m excited to see what this leads to, I’d love to work on some collaborations or an exhibition or two. Another organisation I’m involved with is the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild, I will be doing a talk there in September, showing my quilts as well as selling fabric.
6. Tell us about your relationship with your consumers. What kind of feedback do they share with you?
It’s easy to build relationships with your customers when you sell fabric! I’m always so interested in what they plan on making and I LOVE it when someone takes the time to send me a photo of what they have created with my work.
7. Where do you work?
I work at home, our spare bedroom has been converted into my sewing/printing room with a custom made printing table and storage shelving by my carpenter husband. It works well for now as I can duck in there easily in the evenings or if I have a bit of spare time but it has its drawbacks space wise. I dream of a bigger space where I can have a huge printing table and not have to worry about every spilt drop of paint!