A series meeting designers, creatives and makers in the world of craft. Craft takes many forms from products to processes, objects to original techniques, handcrafted materials to printed paper. We have a great appreciation and love of craft and will be sharing a series over the coming months of people working hard in this space. What inspires them, what motivates them, what drives them. Stay tuned as we delve into their processes and share the inner workings of some great modern-day makers.
Kicking off the series in style, we grab a chat with Ren Valuzyte; the Chicago-raised, Lithuanian-descendant, now living and running her textile design venture in London. Catching our eye a few months back Ren’s work captures a raw visual aesthetic, promoting the texture of her homeland-sourced-linen and bold painted woodblock prints in a warm and homely collection of beautiful products. After learning a thing or two about linen, how a failed career in woodwork inspired her new venture and the backstory to her family’s history in fabric factories, we've shared Ren's story below.
Hey Ren! Great to get the opportunity to chat with you as part of our Craft feature. Can you tell our followers a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m a textile designer based in London and I produce a range of hand printed linen homewares. I have a family connection to linen, so it’s most prevalent in my product range. Earlier this year I released a small line of mindful womenswear made locally in London only using natural fabrics that are good for the wearer and considerate of the environment.
Can you take us back to the beginning and how it all started for you?
I managed a building of artists studios where I encountered small and established creative businesses, individuals and artists, and it’s where I worked up the courage to pursue my own creative endeavours. I initially took up wood working, but soon transitioned into textiles and that’s where I’m at now. An interest in African mud cloth, indigo dyeing and other various ways of embellishing cloth led me to experiment with printing. I used wooden off cuts from my old wood working studio and printed on linen fabrics I had hoarded over time from a local dead-stock fabric supplier. Dubious about the quality of cloth I was buying I got in touch with my grandmother who spent close to 40 years working in a flax mill. She happily put me in touch with her old workplace and they are now my supplier of linen that I use both for my homeware and clothing range.
Dubious about the quality of cloth I was buying I got in touch with my grandmother who spent close to 40 years working in a flax mill.
Can you tell us more about where your ideas begin and the process you go through in bringing them to life?
A shape, colour or a combination might strike me and it might be as simple as a road sign or an element of architecture, or it could be a work of abstract art. After that is very much trial and error. There’s been many ideas that have not translated very well onto cloth.
What project are you most proud of?
My partnership with Toast and teaching block printing workshops to their customers has been pretty special. Toast tells such a beautiful and consistent story through their clothes, images, events and shop interiors, so it’s a brand I’m delighted to be aligned with.
What are you working on now?
Finishing touches on S/S18 clothing line.
We love that you run workshops to share your knowledge. Can you tell us more about them and how can people get involved?
Basic block printing using wooden blocks. I’m happy with the technique I use, I love the finish I get on cloth and the imperfect nature of each motif. It also allows me to be spontaneous and in the moment while printing.
What equipment and techniques do you like to use? Are there any new-found ones you’d like to experiment with?
My style of block printing is very paired down and fairly easy to teach. It feels really great to see people get into it, think creatively, take ownership of their design, get messy and craft something with their hands. I really enjoy facilitating them and there’s the added bonus of promoting my brand. Before the year end I’m hoping to run a workshop where my guests can design and make their own printing block. Some upcoming dates:
It feels really great to see people get into it, think creatively, take ownership of their design, get messy and craft something with their hands.
What’s next for Ren London?
I’m exploring other natural, sustainable fabrics and materials and would really like to expand the homewares range into woollens.
Tell us something unexpected or memorable your work has led you to do or achieve?
I’ve had several really kind and humbling emails from people that have purchased my stuff and it blew me away that it can touch people in such a way.
What’s your personal motto?
I have 3 letters permanently scribbled on my ankle. NBD - no big deal. It was a joke, but it reminds me to keep things light.
3 top tips for anyone wanting to become a maker & creator?
Try different things.
Be open to change.
Trust your gut.