Hello! I’m super excited to bring you this week’s creative Q&A with screen printer and textile designer extraordinaire, Miesje Chafer!
Miesje combines wonderful bold colour combinations with a collage of graphic, geometric shapes to create remarkable patterns and designs, which she then screen prints by hand onto fabric. These are then either hand embroidered, or made into fab products like needle cases or head bands. I’m totally in love with her work, and am pretty confident that you will be too!
JANEY: Hiya Miesje, thanks so much for chatting to us! Let’s get stuck straight in – have you always been a textiles fanatic?
MIESJE: Hello! I’ve always loved textiles, but when I was younger I tended to be more drawn to crochet and knitting – maybe because it was accessible and portable, but as I got older I became more interested in the possibility of creating my own designs for fabric. About 10 years ago I did a 3 day screen printing course which focused entirely on printing on paper, but I was able to modify those techniques for fabric and quickly became hooked on printing textiles. After a couple of years, a friend of mine set up a small local fair which I took part in and after selling more work than I’d imagined I realised this was something I could build a business on. At the time I had no intention of doing it full time, as I was a nurse, but I really enjoyed it as a side hustle. After about 5 years however it became clear that I loved it far more than being a nurse and so made the decision to leave nursing and to become an entirely self employed maker, and I haven’t looked back!
J: Woohoo! To be able to do something you love as your full-time, everyday job is such a huge achievement. What are you inspired by in order to create your beautiful work?
M: I really don’t know! I don’t specifically look for inspiration, mostly an idea will pop into my head as I’m drifting off to sleep, and if it’s a good one I’ll remember it in the morning! Just doodling is a good way to get started, you can take a really small part of a drawing and turn it into a fab textile design.
J: That is amazing that you possess the eye to be able to take one look at a doodle and know that it will become a great print! Although I’m sure there is way more to it – what is the process that your designs go through to become what they are?
M: So I’ll sit down with a sketchbook, pencils and usually lots of different coloured card, and just cut and doodle until I come up with shapes that I’m happy with. I’ll then use Photoshop to play with sections of this to turn it into a repeat pattern. I’ll then get this made up into a screen which I can use for printing. In terms of product design, I usually pick really simple products that I know won’t take me too long to make, and then make and modify prototypes until I’m happy with the finished design.
J: And for those designs, what is your go-to colour combination?
M: Pink and red! Always! Although add a bit of mustard in there and you’ve got yourself a zinger!
J: Yaaas, now we’re talking! Pink and red is THE ONE. So other than beautiful prints and winning colour palettes, what’s on the cards for the future of your business?
M: Tricky one! I think the next step is to create a range of designs which I can get digitally printed onto fabric which can then be sold by the metre. Because I currently screen print all my fabric in such small quantities it’s not suitable for people to use for their own projects, so this is something I’d like to explore.
J: I absolutely love the idea of being able to buy your prints by the metre, think of the projects…! How did you find the recent lockdown? Did you need to change much about the way you were working?
M: I had to change the products I was making, I was supposed to be doing a lot of teaching which all got cancelled, so I made up a variety of kits which people could do at home. That and making a LOT of facemasks!
J: Oh those beautiful, beautiful facemasks! I mean, if you have to wear one, why not make it that fabulous?! Where can we get our hands on your work?
M: There’s my website www.miesjechafer.com but I also have a few physical stockists, The Old Fire Station in Oxford, Loop in London, Julia Davey in Bath, Chalks in Lymington and soon to be Basalt and Dune in St Davids. I think there are more but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head!
Give lovely Miesje a follow on Instagram (@miesjechafer) for behind the scenes and progress shots, and to keep up to date on what events you can find her at!
Thanks for reading along guys, have a wonderful weekend, and we’ll see you next week!