Tales of textile meaning & making

Bespoke Letterpress & Edith Rewa

Bespoke Letterpress & Edith Rewa

There is something exquisite about creating a beautifully wrapped gift. Combining well chosen paper and ribbon with a card that sings is the perfect way to acknowledge the significance of any occasion, as well as feed that creative urge. Do you relate? Then there is a good chance that the texture of beautiful paper also stirs you. Or well designed patterns and colour schemes beckon. Can’t walk past a neatly stacked pile of textiles or cotton reels without smiling? Well, imagine these worlds combined.

Throw in an exquisite appreciation for botanicals for good measure, and that’s exactly what Bespoke Letterpress has done. With the help of textile designer Edith Barrett’s masterful strokes, this traditional letterpress studio has recently added a new double sided gift wrap to its existing collection. Titled ‘Native’, each roll is adorned with Edith’s trademark hand drawn native flowers on one side, and white cockatoos floating in a sea of pink on the other. This beautiful paper is the perfect collision of design, print and illustrative skills.

Alischa Hermann created Bespoke Letterpress in Brisbane in 2007 after slowly learning the art of using her antique cast iron letterpress from a retiring printer. Staying true to the slow craft, Alischa grew her business by creating custom stationary for clients that included intricate cutting and embossing, as well as a selection of gift wrap and stationary that drew on her former career as a graphic designer and successful art director. Relocating to Bowral in the Southern Highlands, she has since collaborated with other creative, including florists and lettering specialists, to produce delightful products that give more than the icing on the cake.

Bespoke Letterpress has always been a regular at Finders Keepers, where their collection of Washi tape in tones of ‘Copper Hot Foil’ and ‘Charcoal Glitter’ hum next to gift tags printed and embossed with hues of Pistachio Green and mellow turquoise. It was here that Alischa met Edith Barrett last year as she was sharing her popular range of silk scarves under the brand name of Edith Rewa. Edith’s fine pen drawings of Australian native plants and animals blur the line between art, design and botanical illustration. A textile design graduate, she worked as a commercial designer for three years before launching ‘Fossik’, a range of nine pure silk scarves printed with her delicately coloured drawings. Protea, banksia, grevillea and gum drift across each dreamy surface, sometimes dusted with the stars of a clear night sky. As a self-confessed fossiker Edith happily explores her craft by communing with nature, recording her finds on paper in lengthy outdoor sittings. Now based in the Blue Mountains, Edith’s portfolio also includes successful collaborations with Gorman, Pinkey Cup and a BioCup commission.

Needless to say, this pairing is a match made in present heaven, and inspiring to see how textile designers can work across disciplines to create beautiful hand made products. Here’s what Bespoke Letterpress Studio Manager, Renee Bennett, had to say about the collaboration.

How did the collaboration come about?

We discovered Edith and her beautiful work at The Finders Keepers markets where we exhibited together last year. We started chatting about each others work and the possibility of collaborating on a project arose not long after we returned back to our studio.

What do you most love about Edith’s work?

Her subject matter was definitely a major drawcard. Her illustrative style is reminiscent of vintage botanical drawings that we have loved and worked with in the past. How Edith incorporates colour to add a modern vibrancy to the traditional native subject matter is what increases the appeal of these products.

And how does this fit with you and your work? 

We are always looking and working on new ideas to add and compliment our ranges. By working with illustrators who both understand a little about our land of print, as well as being completely ridiculously talented, allows us to collaborate and put two different mindsets together and hopefully produce some amazing work! We love the challenges that designing for gift wrap brings, and working with Edith was a joy to be able to share a little of our processes with her and for us to be able to see her magic as it unfolded!

Can you share a little about the process you both followed to get to the finished product?

Initially we identified various native subject matters that we felt would suit the style and direction of our new range. Discussions with Edith commenced pretty soon after and she also worked on various ideas and options, sending us quick sketches of her thoughts and opinions.

From there it was refining the illustrations, their scale, adjusting and trialling accompanying foliage illustrations and testing colour options.

With any new product design we are very conscious of what we know our customers like, but use new products to evolve our ranges and to always provide visually exciting products. The refinement stage is often involved. Working with an equally passionate craftsman to ourselves has definitely resulted in a beautiful product that our customers are equally loving.

And how is the finished artwork transferred to the paper?

Our wrapping paper is offset printed in Sydney on 100% recycled paper.

Do you have a fondness for textiles? If so, please share how this appreciation plays out in your life and work!

As letterpress printers our fondness will always lie with paper, as it’s feel and smell always delivers a tactile experience. However that being said we do love seeing what is happening in the land of textiles and especially what clever illustrators are creating to suit the land of fabric!

And finally, what have you learnt from this collaboration, and the process of working with a textile designer?

We have been fortunate to have collaborated with many artists, illustrators, designers, calligraphers and hand letterers in the past, and it is always an experience we enjoy! We get to learn about another land, and hopefully get to share a little of our letterpress process as well!

All photos courtesy of Bespoke Letterpress. 

Shuh Lee of Shuh.

Shuh Lee of Shuh.

Instagram May 2016

Instagram May 2016