The art of screen-printing is no new one; some Japanese printed fabrics date back to 221 AD. Europeans commercialised the technique in the 17th Century, and now, our modern textile industry is dominated by digitally printed fabrics and mass-producing machinery systems.
Determined to reinvent the traditional technique of handmade screen-printed textiles, Angela Richardson founded her Brisbane-based textile studio, Aqua Door Designs, in 2011. Angela first explored screen-printing through short courses while on maternity leave, and after falling in love with the artistic process, she went on to study a Graduate Diploma in Textile Design. While there’s a textbook method one can follow with screen-printing, Angela designs most of her prints by trial and error.
“I am always thinking about patterns and designs. I have sketchbooks scattered throughout the house (there’s even one I keep in the car), and I am always doodling with ideas. My designs start as a drawing or painting, and I manipulate the scale and tonal variations of the motif. Then, the real experimenting begins with the screen-printing stage, and I test different ink colours and various colour-ways. This phase is my most indecisive; it’s so difficult to limit colour-ways for production. However, it is for this very reason, that I take custom orders so that I can offer an entirely unique product in a one-off colour-way.”
Angela’s desire to create something unique carries throughout the Aqua Door Designs range of linen tableware, cushions and tea towels, and her pieces stand out in a flooded homewares market. Angela’s linen tablecloths and napkins, in particular, are quirky and fun, inspired by her global travels and her love of colour.
“Aqua Door Designs was born out of a desire to decorate my home with textiles that are different, and not available in chain stores and not seen in every home. This small-scale manufacturing is best done locally, and in-house, to maintain quality and integrity. I’m all about quality over quantity, and this is not the typical approach for offshore manufacturing. In-house manufacturing means I can ethically produce too, as I print with non-toxic water based inks. They’re lovely to work with and easy to wash, and they don’t leave a horrible smell on the linen like other toxic inks do.”
Meticulously managing her production in-house has its ethical and environmental benefits, but the process isn’t without its demands on Angela.
“I love that my days are so varied; I could be drawing or painting for weeks, or printing, mixing inks, photographing products, updating my website, packing orders, talking to customers, or showing at markets. There are a few tedious tasks, like washing screens, pressing fabric and being on your feet all day, but I love the instant reward from screen-printing by hand. It allows for so much scope of trialling new ideas and techniques, and I love being creative.”
The Fashion Advocate x