Hatley Prints

Fri 19th August 2011
11am-12 noon

Hatley Prints
29 Shand Street, London SE1 2ES

About fifteen of us, including three new members of the Society, had a most enjoyable visit Hatley Prints, near London Bridge.

Louise Hatley, welcomed us and told us that she had trained as a weaver at Brighton and then worked here for David Jamison, who had set up Jamison Print, about 25 years ago. She worked for him for three years, then left and did free lance work, making bags and coming back here to do print as she needed it. Six and a half years ago, David wanted to shut down the business and she bought it – with all the equipment, and carries on as a small, independent printer.

Hatley Print specialises in short runs of textiles and wallpaper – normally 22 metres at a time. It can be expensive because it is a very labour intensive process. Customers come in with their own fabric and/or ideas of what they want and then there is a collaborative process whereby ideas as what can be done are discussed. The artwork is produced, screens are made and sampling is carried out before the printing is done.

Louise explained the process from the design, printed on to acetates which are fixed on the screens; how the screens are placed on the long tables (they have two – one in which the screens are moved by hand, and the other where they are moved along rails in a carriage.) The second table makes it easier to do long runs (they did 2,000 metres of camouflage for the film “Army of Men”, for example) but it takes longer to set up. We also saw a carousel which can print t-shirts

The colours used are pigments, which are water based and sit on the fabric. They are mixed with binders (which can look like PVA) and different binders give different effects. Each colour has its own recipe.

Louise then showed us samples of furnishing fabrics, deckchair canvas and amazing fabrics used in films. There was an embossed velvet, using a “puffing agent” which could have been used for an elaborate Elizabethan doublet; fabrics printed with just binders and no pigments which looked like Tudor damasks; printed fabrics used for robes in the Last Emperor, which looked like the genuine elaborate embroidered one; delicate prints for Jane Austen and Regency type costumes, a voile used in “Phantom of the Opera, a beautiful devore for “Wicked” which I yearned to have for myself; a corduroy printed for Clothkits, some fabric printed to look like a regular weave, - an amazing tweedy looking one for “Harry Potter”; a beautiful 16 colour print which looked like an 18th Century furnishing fabric - and many, many more – all beautiful . The variety and scope of prints was infinitesimal, and I thought it must be a joy to work with such beautiful designs, and also solve problems and come up with new ideas.

Thank you so much, Louise, for giving us the chance to see your beautiful fabrics and designs and being so generous with your time, and thank you Meg, for arranging such a fascinating visit.