Calica Studio: Pillows and Picnic Blankets

We have talked about how Calica has grown and changed over time before. We are always learning and re-solving problems which may have felt solved a year ago. When we began, it was all painted and printed by hand onto silk, this evolved into digitally printing onto silk, and then moving towards digitally printing on to wool. It was always our intent to try different processes and techniques and ultimately design and make soft goods beyond scarves.

In the pursuit of new ways to use our surface designs, we came across a small textile mill in North Carolina that weaves home accessories on jacquard looms. In our initial communication with the team there, they showed enthusiasm about our designs and how they might translate into woven works. [A short article explaining how jacquard looms helped pave the way for other digital technologies.]

When we created the pillow sample we had not first asked about the colours of the threads used on the looms and which combinations of threads would achieve specific colours - rookie mistake. Though the pillow turned out looking different than our initial design, we loved the texture and quality and wanted to explore further - this time with colour swatches that matched the threads our mill stocked.


Meghan began playing with oil pastels and sending me photos of the process. From there we started working digitally on the artwork, converting it into a simple black and white graphic.

For our first production run, we chose two colourways, one which would act as a neutral and the other darker for a more mid-century modern interior. 

We liked the pillows. Actually we loved the pillows, and so then we both yelled "BLANKETS!" and started to imagine our designs woven on a larger scale. This is where Secret Catalog comes in. 

I should backtrack a bit. Meghan and I have been following STATE the Label and Secret Catalog for several years. The designer and curator behind both projects is Adrienne Antonson. She's located in Thomson, Georgia where she designs and makes using sustainable, organic, recycled and reclaimed materials. Two insider tips, her smocks are wonderful (I own two) and her Saturday newsletter STATE of Mind is filled with so many treasures, I highly recommend subscribing. 

The Secret Catalog is just that - a printed catalog (and online shop) offering a selection of exclusive pieces from independent designers. We reached out with an interest in the project and were so excited when Adrienne suggested that we create a square picnic blanket for the summer issue. We quickly got to work.

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We sent Adrienne a selection of prints and colourways. She and her team voted on their favourite (the Secret Catalog is a democracy) and Watermelon Lunch was born!


The designs above (G and I) were Adrienne's favourites and I ended up being the winner!

The catalog was shipped out in early May and is artful and eclectic, showcasing designs and craft goods from makers all across North America. We are so excited to be sharing space on a page with such beautiful objects. Check out these spreads from the catalog, works of art!

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In addition to Watermelon Lunch we created a second blanket (pictured above) in another colourway to stock in the Long Distance shop. This blanket, Cucumber Smash, has touches of soft pinks and beiges and reverses to a fresh garden green. We made these blankets dreaming of summer, sitting on the sand or grass, sipping a lemonade and closing our eyes listening to the surrounding noises. They are small enough that you can fold one into a tote for your journey and large enough that you can still tuck into it on a colder day.

Look for our blankets on the Secret Catalog site and in our Long Distance shop, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

- Rebecca


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