A couple of weeks ago I visited my printers in Macclesfield. These are the amazing people who digitally print my designs on to silk but this time, I was invited to see them being printed onto cotton, to be used for my new home accessories collection.
To me, manufacturing is as near to alchemy as I’ve ever experienced. When I created the Language of Flowers prints, the process of screen-printing them by hand on paper and then seeing them rolling off the enormous printer filled me with utter joy.
In the past, I've dashed to Macclesfield and back in a day, but this time I decided to familiarise myself with this historical town by staying the night at the sumptuous Hollin Hall Hotel.
In the evening, I met with Brita from Hirsch Tailoring, to see her new and very stylish atelier in the centre of Macclesfield where she told me all about her inspiration for the tailoring academy and how she set it up. We both share a passion for manufacturing quality products in the UK and value good design and craftsmanship. She showed me the delicious butter soft cloth she has worked so hard on, sourcing the 100% Scottish Merino wool, made entirely in Britain. I could not resist asking if I could use some of this fabulous tweed for one of my own designs, watch this space to see what I am working on with the yummy fabric…
The following day, after a hearty breakfast at Traders Macclesfield, I paid a visit to the Macclesfield Silk Museum, which tells Macclesfield’s fascinating silk heritage story. The town became associated with the industry as the ‘unofficial’ end of the Silk Road route. The museum explores the work of some of the Art School students, from their initial ideas to their final exam pieces; it reveals the properties of silk, how it is woven, printed and coloured. It also introduces you to some of the well-known Macclesfield silk manufacturers and their looms. My personal favourites included the eighteenth-century silk buttons, the silk escape maps and parachutes which helped to win World War II and the loom used to make the famous Brocklehurst Whiston silk pictures.
My enthusiastic expert guide Daniel took me on to Paradise Mill, which was like stepping back into a typical working day at the Mill in the 1930s. I saw restored Jacquard looms and machinery and watched them weave their magic.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit, it is a gem of a place and afterwards there is the lovely Jacquard Tea Room which serves fresh tea along with an array of delicious cakes - delicious!
The Museum Shop is filled with gifts, silk accessories and local history books. I bought The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan and a book on Silk including textile designs of Macclesfield.
I had a wonderful time getting to know this town a little better and thoroughly recommend a visit.