This month we had the pleasure of meeting bookbinder and paper artist Freya Scott, Founder of Paperwilds at her studio in South London. We were lucky enough to witness Freya creating a beautiful marble print as we found out all about the wonders of marble printmaking and bookbinding.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and Paperwilds?
I am a paper lover with a serious obsession with colour and form! I have always been creative, and I love so many different art forms, so my career path has been a wonky one. I studied photography at college, English at University, and did many courses after university in different disciplines. I spent many years freelancing as a photographer and bookbinder before properly setting up my business. Paperwilds has been a really organic process for me - it encapsulates so much of what I love.
Where did your passion for printmaking and book binding come from?
My love of books started really early. 'Book' was my first word. I 'made' my first book at the age of five with the aid of a hole punch and some string! Then I fell in love with words, and it wasn't until after university that I started making books again. I'd had a severe illness in my last year that seriously affected my cognitive abilities - I couldn't really read, or even speak properly some of the time. I took a class in bookbinding as part of my rehabilitation, and it used a completely different part of my brain. Suddenly I could create again; it's helped me recover over the years. I got a job where I studied, and the rest is history.
Can you describe your printmaking process?
Marbling is a simple concept, but a tricky process to master. Essentially it is floating paints or inks on an aqueous mixture. The way I do it is to mix gouache paints, watercolours, acrylics or my own paints with water and a spreading agent and then float them on a bath of water mixed with carrageenan or methylcellulose. The balancing of the paints takes time - each one is mixed differently and behaves differently once applied to the bath. Once it's all on the surface, I manipulate the colours in different ways to make particular patterns. Then it's time to lay the paper. The paper I use is coated with a mordant to help the paint bite into the fibres of the paper instead of just sitting in a layer on the top. Once the pattern is transferred, the paper is rinsed with clean water and hung to dry. They are then pressed between heavy boards to make them flat enough for use on books and boxes.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everywhere! I am obsessed with colour. I'm a West Country lass at heart, so I love the countryside; I take a lot of inspiration from the landscape. I love visiting gardens and old houses. In the city I'll head to the art galleries and museums. I'm lucky that my partner is a photographer - we take our cameras and phones out everywhere and we're forever stopping to take random pictures. For me it's often colour palettes, whether it's lichen on a rock, a particular combination of colours in a painting, or even someone's outfit. Yes - I'm that person who asks if they can photograph you holding that red drink against your pink shirt with your green watch on.
How would you describe your work and aesthetic?
I would describe my aesthetic as modern with a traditional edge. Or perhaps the other way around! Books and boxes can be as traditional or as artistic as the project dictates. I recently got asked by an artist to make a leather book with two spines that didn't open! My marbling work can be quite varied depending on whether it is bespoke work or marbling for my products. Sometimes it is mad and bright, sometimes it is subtle and clean. I rarely make traditional papers. Often a client will give me a colour palette or a photo or an idea and just ask me to design something based on that. Recent requests have been to make a paper based on walnut veneer, a photo of an owl, and something that resembles the sea!
Can you tell us about your work with charity Bound by Veterans?
Working with Bound by Veterans has been one of the highlights of my career so far. It's an amazing charity that uses bookbinding as a form of craft therapy. It is designed to give veterans, many of whom are coping with physical and mental illness, new skills and qualifications in a friendly and supportive environment. Based on my own background of using craft to help me back to health, I felt a real affinity with the students coming through the program. I was their principle instructor for four years. I met so many wonderful and inspirational students and have made some great friends. I don't work with them as much as I used to, but it is always a real joy to go back.
What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?
Everyday is different, but most start with a dog walk! My dog Ludo is a permanent fixture in the studio, usually getting under my feet. If it's a marbling day, I'll start by making up my paints and coating my paper. Bookbinding and box-making happen in stages, so sometimes in between marbling I'll be finishing off covering a box or cutting materials for books. Towards the end of the day I'll pack up orders and order in more materials for new projects. Then around all that there's the usual accounting, quoting, marketing and other admin. During the summer, an ice cream van visits the estate, so often there's an ice cream break in there too!
What advice would you give to someone starting their own creative business?
Be prepared for a lot of hard work! While sometimes you get to choose your hours, there will be times when you work longer than the regular 9-5. You also have to be good at separating work life and home life. It's so easy to take it home with you. Also, be as original as possible, and be true to your own likes and aesthetic. That way it will be easier to keep going when you go through the inevitable ups and downs of business. Remember to network! Not only will you meet people in the same boat as you who can champion you and support you, but you will often discover opportunities you wouldn't have found otherwise.
How do you make your clothes work for you and your busy lifestyle?
My clothes have to be comfortable and hard wearing, especially my shoes! I am on my feet most of the day at the bench, so they have to be comfy and supportive. I wear a lot of clothes that aren't too restrictive - marbling and bookbinding make you move in weird ways, so clothing has to move with me! I also do trade fairs, demonstrations and a lot of face to face meetings, so I have a second half of my wardrobe which has to fulfil the brief of smart, comfortable, but also good for making in!
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
I love a good pair of jeans and a relaxed cotton shirt. In the summer I go for loose cotton dresses and overalls too, and in the winter layering pieces come into their own - I love long sleeve t-shirts and polo necks under a good quality bit of knitwear. I can spatter the t-shirts in paint, and then pop the knitwear over the top to go home in! And finally...
If I wasn't running Paperwilds... I'd still be a photographer.
The best thing about my job... the people I get to meet, and the fact I get to play with paper and colour every day.
My ideal breakfast... pancakes or french toast with bacon and maple syrup! Although usually it's a grab'n'go smoothie.
Words to live by... Love and kindness are the greatest things. Give them freely to yourself and others.
My day isn't complete until... I've read something, eaten some chocolate, said a proper goodnight to Ludo.
A holiday destination I love... Italy. Or walking in the Scottish Highlands.
My favourite London hangout... the South Bank for theatre, art, books and culture in one place. Beckenham Place Park for a bit of countryside in the city.
|Striped Shirt >
|Moleskin Trousers >
|Cotton Striped Sweater >
|Cord Trousers >