We are very excited to introduce to you, Jenny Pemberton-Webb, the founder of Ivy & Lil which is a small studio based practice creating a unique range of hand screen printed homewares. Jenny is beyond talented and so inspiring. Coming from two parents that were super handy and creative, it’s no wonder Jenny is so bloody spesch.
Ivy & Lil includes designs and screen prints of everyday items from cushions, tea towels, greeting cards and decorative artworks all made by hand by Jenny herself.
We hope you enjoy this little chat as much as we did…
Tell us how you started Ivy and Lil? Why did you go into business for yourself?
I come from a family of creatives. Bought up in a quite country setting where days endlessly rolled into each other, our hands and minds in sync, we would lose ourselves in the process of making. Dad an exceptional cabinet maker and wood turner, mum an impeccable sewer, knitter and cook. From an early age I was given the space to invent and create. Throughout schooling it was the creative subjects that resonated, so I went onto uni and studied to become a secondary school art teacher. Once qualified I felt like I needed some time ‘out of school’ so looked for other roles in the arts. I have spent the last two decades working in various local government roles predominantly around project management, public art and place making. Privately I continued to create artworks and exhibit for my own fulfilment but it’s fair to say my own arts practice fitted in where there was spare time. In 2010 my husband Mark and I found ourselves in the privileged position of having long service leave, so we took a deep breath and embarked on a 6 month road trip around Australia. It was during the stillness of this time away that I realised it was time to give my creativity a much stronger voice, and the idea for Ivy & Lil was born.
The freedom to develop my own designs and realise accessible products for the home, from an idea into a finished and cohesive range was the main attraction. With Ivy & Lil I could see the opportunity to bring together my project management and administrative skills with my creative self.
Tell us about your range, how do you choose the styles and prints to take into production?
Initially my range was inspired by the road trip and the graphic road sign symbols that stood out to me along the way. They are instantly recognisable, nostalgic and a little humorous. Taken off the road and into the home they are ripe for new interpretations and offer up expanded associations.
Over time my designs have evolved organically and have become more graphic and pattern oriented. I sketch ideas continually in a small visual diary then filter out my favourites and either trial them as a printed card or take them straight through to a full size hand cut stencil. This stage (stencil making) is worth investing in because the stencils are re-usable. I might spend up to three hours cutting a complicated stencil, while simpler designs could come together in 30 minutes. I mix my own colours from the three primaries and am fortunate to have a good intuition for colour. Pairing the design with the right colour can involve some trial and error.
All my products are handmade so I can respond quickly with new ideas and get them from the visual diary, developed and onto the Ivy & Lil website within about three months.
Your site is the ultimate place for the perfect Chrissy presents, tell us what pressie everyone should purchase for someone they love this Christmas?
The traditional tea towel ticks a lot of boxes, its beautiful; a little work of art for the heart of your home; but can be put to practical use too. Our tea towels are strictly 100% linen so they absorb from day one and get better with age. If there is a grey nomad in the family then you can’t go past my caravan design which comes in five different colours on either white or oatmeal fabric.
What’s up next for Ivy and Lil? What can we expect in 2015?
For some months now I have been working on updating the Ivy & Lil website and this is to be released in November with some gorgeous new cushions for summer14. Looking ahead to 2015 is exciting, I’m adding to my range all the time with new designs and colours that respond to seasonal moods. Ensuring my cushion range can be mixed and matched is a priority because I want people to be able to add to their collection and build their personal style. I think the best stying evolves slowly so I’m pleased to offer a collection that people can return to for something new.
Our site is all about showing people things and telling them about it…it could be something near and dear to you, something that inspires you, something you could never live without?
I’m a bit of a bower bird so whenever we head into the outback I come back with a few momentos from Mother Nature. A bit ghoulish but I love bones and skeletons, and found this skull in a remote north west corner of Queensland in 2012 while on our way to Cape York.
What item could you never live without?
I can’t imagine life without my 1940’s era converted barn / studio. It’s so enabling to have a space that supports my creativity and in which I can produce and experiment.
Nestled in the backyard garden it’s my tranquil hideaway.