Cornwall-based textile designer, Helen Round, shares the inspiration behind her first ever festive linen collection…
From her studio in the picturesque Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, Helen Round designs and creates beautiful and functional linen homeware inspired by the Cornish landscape. Offering everything from Aga tops and aprons to tea cosies and towels; her popular designs combine traditional screen printing and hand-making techniques to produce quality products that suit contemporary and country kitchens alike. Her first ever Christmas collection was released earlier this year in response to a growing demand for festive linens. Eager to learn more about her artistic processes, FOODLOVER caught up with Helen to find out what goes into designing a brand-new range…
Designing for this collection began back in June with sunshine blazing through the windows as I poured through photographs of family Christmases to get me in the mood. Never one for reindeer, snowmen or other stylised Christmas icons, my inspiration for our first ever Christmas collection came from the beautiful Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in which our shop and studio is situated. Since we opened the shop earlier this year, my journey to work has been through this wonderful wooded park. It’s very much an English idyll. I cycle to work on most days, around the tidal creek which feeds into the River Tamar, with the last part of my journey into the park and through the woodland. It’s a lovely, slow way to commute and you really do get to look at things as you pedal along. I love the way that ivy hangs in tendrils in the trees, the shape of oak leaves and colourful berries. In the Christmas collection, I have tried to capture this classic winter foliage and a touch of seasonal magic.
The Process of Design
A new collection always starts with drawings. I keep piles of photographs to draw from and for this collection, I also foraged leaves and berries, which I used as direct inspiration. Once I am happy with my sketchbook work, I transfer the drawings to a screen in a darkroom and print a number of tests. Often a design can change quite considerably from the paper format to the screen print you see on the linen. I’ll then go back to my drawings and make any additions and changes, then create a new screen and repeat the print test. I think we test printed this collection about three times, making edits along the way until we were happy with the design. It’s a great feeling when you finally get it right!
The Importance of Materials
We chose to use linen because of its sustainable qualities. Linen is a natural fibre that is harvested from the flax plant. It requires no pesticides when growing and no extra watering, apart from that which it gets from rainfall. It’s a really eco-friendly fabric choice. It’s also long lasting and of excellent quality.
Our customers enjoy buying products that have provenance, are locally produced by artisans who love what they do, are made in small batch production with care and have exceptional attention to detail. Producing things in this way is really important to me and the whole team. We are proud that all our manufacturing is done in-house by a small team of makers. Hand-printing of the products and using water-based inks takes place in the studio, too. Our apprenticeship programme has given young people the opportunity to work in a creative and sustainable business that puts the environment and people first.
Working at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park
We moved our studio to Mount Edgcumbe in March and have two old, converted buildings; one we use as a studio and the other as a shop. There is a little community of creatives here at Mount Edgcumbe and it is great to be part of that. Having the shop means we get to meet our customers on a daily basis. It’s always lovely to get feedback and inspiration for new product ideas first hand and to hear how much people enjoy using the products. As a team, we like to have ‘walking meetings’ when the weather allows and with over 865 acres of parkland to explore, there is always a different route to take and so much inspiration!
Decorating Christmas Tables
At this festive time, I love to go on a wintery walk, in search of holly and ivy, returning home to entwine them with little sparkly lights, just perfect for table decoration. This Christmas, I’m excited to be able to use the napkins and placemats from the new collection to dress our family table.
You can find Helen Round’s festive collection online at www.helenround.com or visit her studio at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in South East Cornwall.