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Workroom Profile XI & XII: Molly Mahon and Mr Smith



Bridie Hall

It has been a delight to share our pop-up shop with Molly Mahon and Mr Smith this month. The shop has been buzzing and it’s brimming with their wonderful prints and textiles. They are here until the end of November so do come along and see for yourself. In the meantime, so that you can get to know them better, we asked them both a series of questions. Read all about it below!

If you are a maker and interested in taking the pop-up shop, we still have a few spaces left during 2016. For more information please email: info@pentreath-hall.com.

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WORKROOM PROFILE XI: MOLLY MAHON

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am Molly Mahon – designer and block printer.

From pencil drawing, to carved block to printed design, I offer a range of of fabrics and wallpapers through our London showroom, Tissus d’Helene. I am now growing the homeware range which is available online and at pop-ups. This includes cushions, lampshades, hand-printed cotton quilts, tablecloths, stationery and more. All the paper for the stationery is printed at my workshop in Sussex.

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2. What are you currently working on?

A range of bedding and silk scarves, all hand-printed and sewn by artisans in Rajasthan. Block printing is inherent to the particular community I am working with and having initially visited for inspiration, there was no way I could walk away with out creating some sort of collaboration. I am excited as I think this is the start of quite an adventure.

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3. When stuck for ideas who or what do you find gives you a little push?

I don’t very often feel stuck for ideas. Such a small amount of time is spent designing and mostly it’s about running and building the business. In this instance, I seek advice from people with expertise. Generally people are flattered to be approached and mostly willing to help.

4. When did you realise you wanted to do what you do?

When I went on a block-printing workshop – six years ago now – it realigned my life and I haven’t looked back or stopped printing since.

5. Who or what helped point you in this direction?

I have been seeking my creative outlet for a while. My mother was always doing creative things when we were growing up and I loved to join in. Once I had my own home I realised I had the perfect canvas. Living near Charleston Farmhouse I am enthralled at how everything was decorated by themselves – mixing colour, pattern, print . My own house is now layered with all of these things but with a more modern aesthetic. It was thanks to friends and family that this has grown from a kitchen table hobby into a business.

6. What is the best aspect of what you do?

No one thing. I love making, I get huge joy from seeing a finished product that has been in the pipeline. I get to travel to India, which is an inspiration. I love talking to clients and mostly enjoy hearing how delighted people are when they have bought from me. A little bit of pretty pattern and colour can create an awful lot of joy.

7. What is your latest discovery?

That I can learn something from running a block-printing workshop. This is a new thing for me. My total focus was on making the day enjoyable and ensuring that everyone had something to take away with them at the end of it, I never expected to have felt so inspired by it all myself.

8. How long does a product take to make from the conception of an idea to the finished product?

Sometimes I will think of a design for months, other times I will draw it instantly and like it how it is. It often depends on my mood. A finished product can take months, a year even. I am a one-lady-band and so things can take longer than I would like as there never seems to be enough time in the day!

9. Any other information you think interesting please let us know!


I am on a mission to bring colour into people’s houses. I want everyone to see how homely a papered wall can be or how a piece of stationery, made by hand – and with love, can be both useful and a thing of joy.

To find out more visit www.mollymahon.com 

WORKROOM PROFILE XII: MR SMITH

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

I am Kelvyn Laurence Smith – Mr Smith. I run Mr Smith’s Letterpress Workshop – a typographic studio designing, setting & printing using letterpress.

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  1. What are you currently working on?

A new set of prints & dust jackets under my publishing moniker Smith’s Rules. It’s collaboration with a paper mill in Cumbria.

 3.  When stuck for ideas who or what do you find gives you a little push?

The smallest observations can trigger the best ideas – I tend to adhere to the phrase: “Look very closely, the small can be very beautiful . . .”

It’s the things ‘in between’ that I find interesting, the spaces, the pauses, the negative space – the grey space. Walking and gardening clear my mind, radio and cinema fuel it.
 Love and support allow it to function.

4. When did you realise you wanted to do what you do?


Pretty early in my student days, I uncovered an empty letterpress workshop at Norwich School of Art and realised I could explore all areas of the design process with these materials.

  1. Who or what helped point you in this direction?

Well . . . I was initially inspired by a poster (in Gill Sans) that a friend of mine had made for the Monday night film club. Cinema was and 
is my obsession and I had just discovered the title sequences of Saul Bass & Maurice Binder – it kind of all fell into place.

6. What is the best aspect of what you do?

I enjoy the construction of the work in three dimension, building the composition – it’s an essential part of the design process for me. The structural allows the detail
 to be focused and informs both the thinking and the eventual meaning; it’s a very architectural process.

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  1. What is your latest discovery?

Decorative typographic ornaments. I’ve always had a problem with ‘decoration’, but have now found a way to appreciate it
 by giving decoration an ordered, formal, graphic form (see my Typographic Ornament prints).

  1. How long does an image take to make, from the conception of an idea to the finished product?


It really depends on the complexity of the piece – I don’t have to think about the ‘technical’ side any more, the ‘craft’ comes out of me without too much effort, but only after years of experience. The ‘designing’ is fluid and expressive, the difficult ‘setting’ stage is disciplined and ordered and the ‘printing’ carefully prepared but then immediately satisfying.

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  1. Any other information you think interesting please let us know!


My new website has just launched: www.smithsrules.com which is very exciting and I no longer have an agent or gallery
 so this is my first foray into retail!

Molly Mahon & Mr Smith are at 17a Rugby Street, London WC1N 3QT until the 30th November 2015

 

 

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