Founder of Scribble & Daub, Caroline Kent creates original pen and ink drawings that are transformed into metal plates before being traditionally printed on an antique letterpress.
As part of our London Craft Week celebrations, Caroline will be hand-painting her card designs live in-store at The Conran Shop Selfridges. To honour the occasion, we spoke to Caroline about what initially motivated her to start Scribble & Daub and learned a little bit more about the process behind each delightful card.
What was it that first inspired you to create the pen and ink drawings that led to Scribble & Daub?
I have drawn for as long as I can remember but spent many years on the other side of the creative divide as a contemporary art curator in Scotland. When I was expecting my first child, I got a call out of the blue from an old friend who ran The Fruitmarket Gallery shop in Edinburgh to ask if I might make some cards like the one I had sent for his recent wedding.
When that small batch sold out within days, he called to order 100 more, and I realised I had found something that would enable me to balance both creative and family life. A short time later, Scribble & Daub was stocked at The Conran Shop and Liberty, and featured in Vogue and The World of Interiors - and so it has grown, along with my family!
Can you tell us a little more about the traditional printing process?
Every card begins as a simple line drawing made with a traditional dip pen and ink which is then turned into a magnesium plate to be letterpress-printed by Ian Foster, master printer at Adams of Rye, one of the few remaining traditional workshops in the country.
Every card is individually hand-fed through a vintage Heidelberg press (quite a laborious process!) to create the prints, which I then hand-colour in the studio.
Why is the hand-painting element of the process important?
It was an idea originally borrowed from the artist Howard Hodgkin, who would add hand-painted elements to his prints. There is a humanity and inherent imperfection in something hand-painted that I always find charming, old ceramics have that same quality.
I wanted to elevate something quite ordinary - the greetings card - which is usually cheaply and endlessly reproduced and transform it into a hand-crafted object designed to be a tiny gift in itself.
Each card has a unique, hand-drawn feel, is there something about free line that particularly appeals to you?
Even when an artist is best known for their paintings or sculpture, it will almost always be their sketchbooks and drawings that I love best. A hand-drawn line has such immediacy, is such a simple, intimate gesture, that I think people will always find it appealing, ever more so in our increasingly digitalised lives.
Do you have a favourite Scribble & Daub design?
The Sparkler is a particular favourite, not just because I love the things themselves - the sparkles, the smell! - but it’s so useful; I’ve sent it to say thank you, congratulations, happy birthday, or just because - who doesn’t love a sparkler? Incidentally, I always buy my actual sparklers from Adams of Rye too, which has a stationers and toy shop in front of the workshop. Ian, my printer, also organises the annual Rye bonfire display!
Caroline will be based at The Conran Shop Selfridges on Thursday 10th May, from 2 - 8pm to personalise cards and favours for you to take home to friends and family.
To discover what else we have going on at The Conran Shop for London Craft Week 2018, click here.