Lisa Stickley x MakeBox + Co

Lisa Stickley is an award-winning designer, author, illustrator and all-round marvellous maker. Her distinctive, delightful style earned her collaborations with global brands including Burberry, Liberty and John Lewis, and her prolific imagination has resulted in a series of successful craft books and children’s stories. She’s a very big fan of marshmallows, milk moustaches, and moon daisies, and we’re thrilled to announce she’s collaborated with us on this month’s Makebox! The Make Blog sat down to ask Lisa more about her work and her Dainty Daisy Printing Box…

Lisa, you’re such a creative person, what is it about designing prints and the act of printing in particular that inspires and excites you?

I think the reason I chose to be a printed textile designer (I very nearly became a weaver!) is because I love the immediacy of printing and the variety of designs you can create. Once you start printing, spontaneity takes over and you can be so prolific in terms of the amount of marks you make, and no two prints are ever the same when you print by hand. Anyone who creates the Dainty Daisy print will produce their own take on the design because it depends so much on the pencil they use to trace the flower, how they decide to carve the lino and so on. I think the joy in every print is created by the imperfections of that physical printing process and the happy accidents that occur as you go. I particularly love printing with lino as the technique offers up all of these beautiful imperfections in abundance.

We are so excited for your MakeBox collab! What inspired the Dainty Daisy design?

Daisy flowers of all varieties have always inspired me. I love the naïve quality of the petals and the graphic nature of the flower shape lends itself really well to lino printing. In terms of cutting the block, the simpler your shape, the better the result. When your shape is simple you’ll be able to achieve different textures within your prints – depending on how much paint you apply to the block, the surface you are printing on, and so on. And lino blocks are a great way to get printing. It takes skill to cut the lino, but once you’ve cracked it and have your blocks ready you can print till the cows come home! And you can print on loads of stuff – it’s great! I think the Dainty Daisy box is a really nice starter kit for anyone wanting to enter the world of printing.

This really is a brilliant box for beginners. Can you remember your first experience with printing?

I was 10 when I was given a screen printing kit and I loved it. It was an A4 silkscreen with a little squeegee to fit and you had to make paper stencils to use it. I used that screen for years. I remember taking it on my foundation course and when I first started Lisa Stickley I even printed my own labels on it. I remember I printed a flower design with it, too – a really simple, two-colour daisy on a pair of white hot pants!

They sound AMAZING! Can you share any of your top tips for lino printing success?

If you use a paintbrush with thick bristles you can get a really interesting brush mark effect on your prints. Remember once you’ve painted your block you need to press it down firmly and try not to move it around (no wiggling from side to side or up and down!). In terms of cutting the lino, you must keep your fingers out of the way – it really hurts if you slip. So be patient and take your time. Think of it as layering up the cuts to create depth rather than charging in and taking out a big chunk. And make sure you cut away as much of the excess lino as possible otherwise you’ll get pickups from the edges. You can print directly from the lino without mounting it on a block but when you’re doing multiple prints it might get a bit messy as you’ll get covered in paint! We’re utilising the box the Dainty Daisy kit arrives in to create blocks to mount your lino design onto.

Your work is so full of joy and we know making can inspire a huge amount of positivity. Has your work/making in general helped you during lockdown?

YES. It really has. When I sat down to write my craft book Makes for Mini Folk a couple of years ago, I’d forgotten how much I love making and how much better it makes you feel. The process of making something with your hands is so meditative I think, and for me it’s certainly stress relieving. Printing, baking, drawing, painting, whatever it is, is my go-to when… well anytime really, but I’ve felt particularly compelled to make during lockdown. And I’ve got two young children so they’ve enjoyed making along with me and being creative with me, and I’ve been sharing our makes so hopefully their friends have too. It’s been essential. I don’t know what I would have done without stuff to do like that, and it’s incredible how quickly people reverted to arts and crafts when lockdown started. Everyone is well aware of the importance of mindfulness and taking care of our mental health and I think being in that creative moment is really vital to that.

Absolutely – interest in craft has really blossomed during lockdown. Is there a new craft you’ve tried/would like to try?

We’re really lucky to have a garden. I’m rubbish at gardening, luckily my husband’s really good, but I’ve been giving it a go. We’re growing potatoes and planting up stuff with the girls, and our lovely neighbours brought round some yummy carrot cakes for us decorated with nasturtiums and I’m really getting into growing edible flowers now. Hopefully I can keep them alive! I also enjoy a bit of weeding now and again – that’s very mindful, addictive even! I would very much like to try making homemade marshmallows, too.

What’s your favourite work moment so far and what are you working on next?

One of my best memories of the Lisa Stickley label is from a photo shoot. I just loved having a wonderful team around me and the planning and the doing and the creating and the shooting and that really busy buzz of having to get up really early in the morning and create. It was such a great time. Right now, I’m just absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to head up MakeBox Kids. It’s so great to be working with Hannah and to be using my skills in a meaningful way to (hopefully) help and encourage children to make stuff and be inspired and inventive. I think imagination is so key. Kids have got such amazing, amazing imaginations when you let them run free with them, and to be enhancing that is a good feeling. I feel very, very lucky. I’ve been pinching myself a lot, I’ve got pinch marks all over me! I’m really enjoying it.

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