Meet the Maker: Zeena Shah
Today we’re bringing you the wonderful Zeena Shah, author of Scandia: A Colouring Book Journey, to have a chat about her crafting inspiration and what she’s up to at the Handmade Fair this year!
Describe your crafting style.
The work hygge actually epitomises my style of crafting. It’s the Scandinavian art of comfort. I have always been influenced by this style of living and hope that this is reflected in my style. I love soft tones mixed with pops of bright colour, natural fabrics with interesting textures and blocks of colour mixed with pattern. I’m also getting rather addicted to weaving, there’s something about mixing yarns together that is really rather cosy.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve made?
Now that’s a tricky one, I have many favourites but one I always see at home is a simple pale grey geometric print pillow I made for a project in my first book ‘How to Print Fabric.’ It uses a very simple printing method that involves a roll of masking tape, ink and a silk screen, which is why I love it. It’s also a very easy method of sewing that I enjoy sharing with beginners, as you really will be able to whip up a cushion in no time.
What was the first thing you made?
Haha! This was a very long time ago when I was probably 5 or 6. I remember winding wool around cardboard to make a pom pom dog, I also remember sewing some tapestry and basket weaving! My mum bought my sisters and I every 90’s craft kit there was! It was so much fun.
Which of your makes are you most proud of, and why?
I think it would have to be my book “How to print fabric’ as it’s a collection of all of my favourite makes and was a labour of love to write. There are 20 printing and 20 sewing projects within the book to choose from. I feel really proud every time I look inside and see a tag from someone that has made one of my projects.
How did you get into crafting?
I studied Textile Design at Chelsea school of Art and immediately fell in love with design, craft, making and especially screen-printing! However if I really think about it I have always been crafting, ever sine I was little. I also used to make little pocket zip purses and sell bracelets at school fairs. Finding a career in textiles just seemed like the perfect continuation.
Have you had any crafting disasters along the way?
Gosh so many! The thing about screen-printing is that it can be completely unpredictable, or if you’re a bit clumsy or having an off day you can ruin and entire piece of fabric with an ill placed blob of ink. I remember during my final year at university completely ruining a 7 colour printed piece of fabric in exactly this way… there were tears!
Where do you find inspiration for your makes?
My inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m always looking around for things that might make a great print design. Nature is an easy one that I am always drawn to. I can often be found collecting leaves, twigs and foliage to turn into a print design. Animals also inspire me hugely they are such beautiful shapes. I also collect vintage textiles and scarves that have a beautiful pattern on or colour way.
You recently launched your colouring book, Scandia. What was your inspiration behind developing a colouring book? Why did you decide on a scandi theme for your book?
Last year, a publisher that really liked my illustration style approached me. I always begin a print design collection with a series of intricate and detailed drawings alongside my paper cut stencils so it was a perfect fit. I’ve always been drawn to a Scandi style and it really does inspire the way I design so it felt fitting to name the book Scandia as it’s filled with foliage, birds, foxes and florals.
Are there any craft trends you’re really excited about or expect to see this year?
I am really excited about embroidery for mindfulness. I’ve recently launched a collection of screen printed embroidery kits using illustrations from Scandia that you can ‘colour in with thread’ it’s such a relaxing craft and reflects all of the benefits of adult colouring in but with sewing! I’ve already had such a great response to the kits that I’ll be launching some new ones at the handmade fair.
What’s next for you? Can we expect any more books in the future?
For the moment I’m focusing on more embroidery kits and commissions as a textile print designer but who knows! Never say never! You’ll also find me at The Handmade Fair this year, running some fantastic workshops on lino printing tote bags and making confetti crackers – see you there!