Chez Beccy creates original hand painted homewares, which are digitally printed using eco-friendly water based inks. Her love of blue and white pottery was the starting point for her range, wanting to find kitchen textiles to match her growing collection. Now she creates a wide range of tea towels, aprons and soon tablecloths in a rainbow of shades. We talked to Beccy about her designs, studio and inspiration…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
When I left school I had no idea what wanted to do with my life. My best friend had organised a gap year before going to University. I thought it sounded fun, so I did the same. Only my gap year turned into about 10! Africa was the place that I found truly magical. Eventually I realised I wanted to do something creative career wise, so I did an Art Foundation course at Norwich School of Art & Design and then a degree in Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University. I have been working in the design industry ever since.
How did Chez Beccy begin?
It was a gradual process. The idea began to germinate when I saw this stunning display of blue and white china in Rossiters Department store in Bath. I knew then, when I had my own house, this was the look I wanted for my kitchen, so I began to collect nice pieces of blue & white china. Fours years a ago, I moved into my own house and I put up my china on the dresser. Now all I needed were tea towels and aprons to match. So I decided to design my own.
How would you describe the Chez Beccy aesthetic?
Chic, stylish, good quality. The idea is that the designs look good and you can mix and match within a collection. When I create a new design I always just hang the tea towels and aprons in my kitchen as decoration. It takes a while for me to actually use them!
How did you find your style? Did it develop naturally or did you make a conscious decision to draw and paint in a particular way?
It developed naturally. It’s just the way my ideas come out!
Where do the inspirations for your pieces come from?
I design products that I want to use myself. I love cooking and entertaining. Recently I’ve had a lot of enquiries for tablecloths, so that’s going to be my next design project.
Are there any pattern designers who particularly inspire you?
I grew up with Laura Ashley designs. I love William Morris and Tricia Guild. And I think Quentin Blake is just the most amazing illustrator.
What else influences your work?
I find nature very inspiring. I love being out in the countryside. I often go to Devon on holiday where I can relax and take in the fantastic scenery. I also love going to exhibitions. I went to see the Matisse exhibition recently and left feeling so inspired. He also used a lot of blue!
Can you talk us through one of your pieces from start to finish?
I’m always collecting inspiration in a scrapbook. Before I start a new collection I create a mood board from all my research. This can made from be anything from photographs, patterns, fabric, ribbons. My blue floral design was inspired by the bank of blue forget-me-knot flowers that came up in the garden. They looked so pretty because there were so many of them. So I sat in the garden and just did some drawing and painting to see what would happen. I always use loose pieces of paper because if I don’t like it I can throw it away! If I use a sketch book I think it’s got to be perfect first time and I find it very hard to draw anything. Then I scan in my images and create a repeat pattern on Photoshop. I then order a sample of my fabric to check that the colour is how I want it. Colours look different on different types of fabric, so sometimes I’ll have to order two or three samples before I get the colour exactly how I want it. Then I can order a bigger quantity and make up my aprons and tea towels.
How do you choose your fabrics?
I wanted to use good quality natural fabrics, that are also as eco-friendly as possible. So I chose the lovely linen/cotton canvas for my tea towels and aprons and an organic cotton sateen for my napkins. All are printed with water based inks, so much kinder to the environment. I think it’s important to think about the impact out actions have on the world.
Where do you work? Can you describe your studio?
My studio is at the top of my house with a window overlooking the village square. I can see all the comings and goings, I try not to get too distracted! I have a lovely big table where I have my sewing machine set up and my computer is on a table by the window. In the summer if the weather is nice I like to draw and paint in my little courtyard garden. I have a honeysuckle that smells amazing. I find it inspiring to be out in the fresh air. I remember last year on a baking hot day in July painting my Christmas design!
Do you have a favourite print that you’ve designed?
It changes – it’s usually the last one I did so at the moment it’s my green damask design.
Are you working on any new products or prints?
Not at the moment. This is a busy time of year for me with lots of craft fairs and Christmas on the horizon. January, February, March is when I do most of my designing. I want to create a pattern suitable for tablecloths next. I have my ideas already for that.
Finally, just how big is your collection of blue and white china?
Actually not that big, probably about 20 pieces. I’m quite selective about which pieces I buy.