While looking for new collaborators including artists and screen printers to be a part of our Fall 2013 collection, we met Kate Troyer. As our luck would have it, she's an artist and a screen printer — an ideal combination in our book. She's also located right across the Willamette River from Schoolhouse, and we were instantly charmed by not only her talents but also her beautiful and light-filled studio. We are proud that much of our throw pillow collection is sewn here in the Schoolhouse Factory, and the idea that we could keep yet another part of the process local by working with a Portland-based screen printer and artist made us happy campers indeed.
The process of collaborating with Kate involved sharing ideas, designs and colorways. Working in this way allowed us to design and create custom pieces to compliment our furniture and bedding collections. After we landed on a few potential pillow designs and colors, the screen printing process began. It was fulfilling to see our designs come to life on Kate's incredibly long screen printing table.
What designs did we dream up with Kate? We created the Contour Pillow, featuring a design of delicate curves and lines that merge in a graceful, organic pattern. The Contour Pillow is offered in both a Gray and a Pink colorway, both printed using eco-friendly pigments on a slightly slubby natural linen. The second piece we created is the Leaf Pillow, also on linen and silkscreened by hand, with a vintage-inspired, layered yellow and gray leaf motif. We're pleased to include the Leaf Pillow among our Schoolhouse Electric Originals. The Contour Pillow and Leaf Pillow are both available in your choice of 18"x18" throw or 26"x26" Euro sizes.
We recently visited Kate in her studio as she printed our Leaf fabric and asked her a few questions about her background, creative process and what's on her calendar as we dive into 2014.
How did you get started in this business?
"For as long as I can remember I have been involved in art - exploring lots of different art mediums along the way. It wasn't until I started working with fabric as a material for my work that I felt like I found my true passion. I then pursued a graduate degree in textile art and design with a strong focus on print and dye techniques. When I moved to Portland I began working in textile product design and apparel design, embracing the amazing creative center and resources that are offered here. I built a large scale textile printing studio and over the years it has continued to grow and transform. Over the past few years, my business has developed from hand-printed product collections to custom design, licensing and exciting collaboration work."
What do you love most about your studio space?
"The natural light! We searched for many months to find a space that had large windows and light. It doesn't hurt to have a view of Mt. Hood on a sunny day either! It is an inspirational space that feeds my creativity and soul. It is easy to let go of everyday stresses in such a lovely space."
You screen-printed pillow fabric for us; What other products are created from your work?
"Currently, I am collaborating with Apparel Designers Michelle Lesniak and Garnish Apparel creating original hand-rendered textiles for their clothing lines. I have a line of wallpaper designed with Paper Paint Press that will also be available soon. We are looking forward to offering more fabric by the yard as well as some specialty textile products in early 2014."
What do you like most about working with other designers/companies like Schoolhouse Electric?
"The creative process is different each time, and I love brainstorming ideas with other talented designers/companies to design something really special that ultimately will match their vision, storyboard, and concept. It is also amazing to receive outside feedback and fresh perspectives from individuals and teams I am working with. I have always enjoyed working in a collaborative atmosphere, and it helps me grow as a designer."
What projects are on the horizon for you?
"I will be pursuing more collaborative and licensing design work as well as some new in-house products. Also, I am working on a big project that I can't reveal quite yet!"
We couldn't be more thankful for our partnership with Kate and for the creative community here in Portland and beyond that breeds such multi-talented people and inspiring businesses. We look forward to more exciting collaborations in 2014!