Meet the Maker: Freyelli Textiles
Ellie Hipkin from Freyelli Textiles is a textile artist with a fascinating and involved design process. She begins each of her pieces by painting directly on to fabric using seasonal colours as inspiration, then builds up the layers by mono printing with real plants and flowers before adding in embroidered details. Once she has created the original textile artwork, she then translates it into a series of limited-edition prints and homeware by using digital giclée printing and, in the case of her printed artwork, reinserting the handmade element with additional free-motion embroidery, often leaving the threads free to inject a tactile element and assert their handmade beginnings. Ellie talks to fellow Folksy maker Mel Adams from Bluebell Woodturning about her work and influences…
Ellie is offering a 15% discount on all her pieces with the code Summer15 (only valid until 3rd August 2018) – click here to shop Freyelli Textiles >
I’m very happy and proud of what I make and design and hope to able to do it for many years to come.
Hi Ellie. Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello! I’m Ellie and I live in Brighton with my husband and two young children. I’m a textile artist and designer, painting original textile artwork, which is translated into prints and homewares. I also design original fabric prints which I then make into homeware items, such as cushions and lanterns. I’m inspired by living by the sea, the wild flowers that grows on the pebble beaches, the hills of the South Downs, and the changing colours of the seasons. When I start a new painting it begins with colour, adding mono printing with real plants and flowers, then bringing in the detail with free-motion embroidery.
I’m inspired by living by the sea, the wild flowers that grows on the pebble beaches, the hills of the South Downs, and the changing colours of the seasons.
I started creating textile artwork nearly eight years ago when I was on maternity leave with our first child, just as a creative outlet while I wasn’t working. I decided not to go back to work for family reasons and carried on with the art. Over the years it has developed from being a creative outlet to a career, showing in artist open houses in Brighton, supplying galleries around the country and showcasing at fairs and exhibitions. I’m very happy and proud of what I make and design and hope to able to do it for many years to come.
I always look forward to the next season arriving and the changing colours that come with it.
Working from nature as you do, which season of the year inspires you the most?
I don’t have a favourite – I love all the seasons. I always look forward to the next season arriving and the changing colours that come with it. I live in Brighton, so I feel especially lucky to have the sea and the beautiful hills and countryside of the South Downs on my doorstep. I have the joy of watching the changing of the season and the colours and how they reflect on the sea and countryside.
I spent many years working from the kitchen table, clearing away after each session so little fingers didn’t ruin what I’d already done!
Can you describe your workspace in three words?
Sunny, small and mine! I feel really lucky to have my own space to use for painting, designing and making. Even though it’s a small room, it’s always bright because it’s south facing, but mostly I enjoy being able to pick up where I left off and not having to tidy away at the end of each day. It hasn’t always been the case: before we moved and did some building work, I spent many years working from the kitchen table, clearing away after each session so little fingers didn’t ruin what I’d already done!
I work at mixing paints and playing with combinations until I’m happy with the colours and then the painting starts. Those paintings and colour combinations inspire my prints and homeware range.
Which part of the many processes involved in your work do you enjoy the most?
The beginning. I love colour and a new painting is always inspired by colour. I work at mixing paints and playing with combinations until I’m happy with the colours and then the painting starts. Those paintings and colour combinations inspire my prints and homeware range.
I like to put the textile and handmade element back into my prints by adding some free-motion embroidery. I’ve started to leave the thread to hang free as it looks great when it’s framed.
Can you explain what giclée printing is and how you add embroidery to it?
Giclée is a professional fine art digital printing process. My prints are printed on to an acid-free, slightly textured 310gsm alpha/cotton mix paper using archival inks. I use this to achieve a high-quality, professional print of my original textile paintings. Since my original artwork is painted directly on to fabric, I feel this is the best printing process to capture the textures and stitching of the original artwork. Due to the high quality of the inks, the print will last and not fade. The prints are usually printed to the actual size of the original painting and limited to 25.
I use giclée printing to achieve a professional print of my original textile paintings. Since my original artwork is painted directly on to fabric, I feel this is the best printing process to capture the textures and stitching of the original artwork.
Once the prints have been produced from the original painting, I like to put the textile and handmade element back into the print by adding some free-motion embroidery. I’ve started to leave the thread to hang free as it looks great when it’s framed. To add the free-motion embroidery, I use my sewing machine – but I need to be very careful not damage or crease the paper when I’m doing this part of the process. For me, adding the threads brings a beautiful texture to the prints.
To add the free-motion embroidery, I use my sewing machine – but I need to be very careful not damage or crease the paper when I’m doing this part of the process.
Your work is informed by your environment. Do you sketch in situ or work from your photographs?
I do love to sketch, but I must say I do snap away with my camera phone, mainly because I’ll just see something when I’m out and about and love it so much that I want to capture it with lots of photos. As soon as I’m home, I add sketches with the photographs into my sketch book, mixing colours to get the right combination.
I often tweak the placement of a print on my products, for example moving a flower from here to there.
Do you use your own range of homewares in your own home?
I do – but we mainly get the first samples! I have my cushions, mugs, coasters and tea light lanterns around the house. As I design the fabric prints for the cushions and fabric lanterns myself, I like to make them up once they’re printed to see how the print works once it’s in an actual product. I often then tweak the print and the placement, for example moving a flower from here to there. As a textile designer, I like to work with the print and make things with it, live with it and see how it works, before making the final pieces to sell.
I like to work with the print and make things with it, live with it and see how it works before making the final piece.
Do you work alone or do you have help in producing, marketing or distributing your work?
I work alone. I have a few products that I get professionally printed, which are prints from my original textile artwork, but everything else I paint, embroider, design and make by myself in my little studio in Brighton. I love being creative, so I love doing it all – this is why I do it! I supply a few galleries, so I manage their stocks and pack their orders up to send off or deliver – I am post person when orders come through. I like being part of the whole process.
I love doing commissions and wish I got more to do. I love getting a little snapshot into someone else’s life, and I really like the communication with the customer.
Is there such thing as a ‘typical’ day at work for you?
Not really. As a designer/maker I doing most of the process myself, from painting, embroidery, designing, making, photography, marketing, stock for shows or galleries, prepping for workshops or the dreaded finances! So it really depends what’s needed that day. As most makers know, you need to be the master of all trades! But that’s what I love about it too – that most days are different but mostly creative.
Your personalised pieces, which you make from photographs, seem incredibly accurate. Does working on personalised commissions hold any fear for you?
No, I don’t get worried about commission work, I love doing them and wish I got more to do. I love getting a little snapshot into someone else’s life, and I really like the communication with the customer at the beginning. I like to keep the customer involved with the process, so they really get a finished piece they want. I find it a satisfying and enjoyable part of what I do.
That’s what I love about it being a designer and maker – that most days are different but they are mostly creative.
You also run workshops. What do you enjoy most about teaching people a craft?
I love the look on people’s faces at the end of the class – they are always so pleased with what they have achieved. At the beginning of the class I demonstrate what I would like them to do throughout the day, usually learning to textile paint or free-motion embroidery. They usually have a look of fear after my demonstration, saying they can’t do that! But they can, and the look of pride on their faces when they have gives me a lot of joy too! I really enjoy my workshops at The Made and Making studio, getting to know new people (who, of course, have a love of being creative) and putting the world to rights with cups of tea and chocolate biscuits!
You are active across several social media platforms. Do you have any advice on how to manage them all?
I’m still learning myself, but I mainly use Instagram and Facebook. I love the visual aspect of Instagram, just little visual snapshots. So I mainly post on Instagram, then use the same post for Facebook to save time. I like to think my posts give an honest picture of how I work and the processes I use. I also love to follow other creatives.
I still feel I have much to learn… but do you ever stop learning and evolving when you run a creative business?
How do you see your business developing in the next few years?
This year I feel I have pushed forward with my little business. I’ve started running workshops, suppling new galleries and started exhibiting at bigger events. I am exhibiting at Handmade at Kew in October, which I am excited and a bit nervous about too. I would really like to carry on with bigger shows for next year.
Meeting my customers, and getting to know who they are, helps me push and influence the design side.
I love meeting my customers, and getting to know who they are, which in turn helps me push and influence the design side, enabling me to hone the branding and direct where I should be selling. I still feel I have much to learn… but do you ever stop learning and evolving when you run a creative business?
Treat yourself to 15% discount on Freyelli Textiles with the code Summer15 – offer ends 3 August 2018
The maker asking the questions is fellow Folksy seller and woodturner Mel Adams from Bluebell Woodturning.