Meet Your Maker: Jenna Rose

I have no regrets about the education I received or the path that it took me on. However, I won't lie that I often have pangs of jealousy when I discover that the designers and makers I admire most were formally trained in a Fine Arts or Design degree. If I had time to do it all over again, I tell ya. But since I can't, I'm determined to turn that envy into inspiration and try to learn as much as I can.

Enter: Jenna Fenwick, founder of Jenna Rose. Jenna designs and screenprints fabric that she then creates beautiful accessories from in her a gorgeous Hamilton-based textile studio. Her peices have been featured in the top design blogs and magazines and are sold in numerous boutiques in both Canada and the US. She is basically living my dream and she inspires me more than I can say. So, when she agreed to take the time to answer some of my questions, I was over the moon! Enjoy!

WHO are you? Tell me a bit about yourself and your work.
I grew up in a family where art and sewing were a part of life. I sewed my own clothes in high school and worked in my mom’s quilt shop - it was inevitable that I would go on to work with textiles one day. I received a Bachelor of Find Arts Degree from NSCAD University in Halifax with a major in textiles and a minor in fashion. After graduating in 2006 I returned to Guelph and set up my studio in the top floor of my mom’s quilt shop and started producing my screenprinted fashion and home accessories full time. In the summer of 2008 I moved to a lovely studio surrounded by a vibrant artist community in Hamilton, Ontario.

The current Jenna Rose collection consists of hats, scarves, handbags, pillows, blankets, and storage bins and hampers. I illustrate each design by hand and screenprint all of the fabrics in house using non toxic waterbased pigments and natural and organic materials

WHAT inspires you?
I am constantly drawing and photographing things I see and places I go that I find interesting or intriguing. I am really attracted to old objects and architecture as well and trees, or anything out in nature really, most of which I find on forest walks. These are things I enjoy to draw and that eventually become prints. The prints remain very personal to me because of where the initial inspiration came from, such as pinecones collected and sketched at the family cottage, or animals and trees photographed while on trail walks with my husband and dog.

WHERE do you work? Describe your workspace.
My studio is just around the corner from James Street North in Hamilton. It’s a building where other creative businesses have their own studios and offices as well. There’s a painter, a recording studio, a clothing company, a record manager, and a vintage clothing shop. The building opens for the art crawl the second Friday of every month, often with live music and art shows throughout the hallways.

My own space is a big room with high ceilings, painted exposed brick, and all the necessities of a screenprinting studio. I have a 15-foot print table, a dark room, cutting tables, and an industrial sewing machine. I have inspirational images framed and hung on the wall. There’s a partial wall painted in chalkboard paint where I write my long list of to-dos each week. I have shelves and baskets of fabrics and notions. There’s one big window in the studio, in front of which sits my sewing machine. It’s a nice place to sew, and it also overlooks the best sushi in town, which is so tempting every day.

WHEN do you feel most successful? frustrated/insecure?
Success, I suppose, is when everything just feels right. When a design that I have worked on and worked on is complete and is a hit, or when I have great show with lots of positive feedback from customers. I love meeting customers and hearing that they love what they have of mine. To hear that my work makes a customer happy is the most successful feeling of all.

The harder times would be when I feel stressed and pressured by time constraints and deadlines, mostly when preparing for shows. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day.

WHY do you do what you do?
On a creative level, I make what I make because screenprinting is the perfect medium that combines my love for textiles and drawing. From a business and environmental stand point, in a mass produced world I am providing objects that are thoughtfully, locally, and independently made with a small environmental footprint. And I also do what I do because it’s great working for myself.

HOW do you do what you do? Describe your creative process and/or your typical work day?
On a typical day I would walk to my studio with my yellow lab, Beau. I spend most of my day making. I am lucky to have a long print table where yardage is pinned and printed. I also have a big cutting table and an industrial machine. I initially hand draw each design. They start out as sketches and are developed into patterns which are exposed onto screens for printing. I screenprint each piece of cloth and while the yardage dries I will usually cut or sew. Each design is heat set in a heat press to make the pigments permanent - I am also doing this at the same time. So I pretty much go from task to task all day long: from the print table, to the cutting table, to the heat press, and back to the print table. I’m a multi-tasker.

You are always welcome to visit the studio by appointment. Anything you see on my etsy shop will be in the studio for you to look at in person. I also usually try to open for the art crawl. I mention on my blog when I will be open for it. I often have screenprinting demos and button making happening that evening, as well as treats and goodies to eat.

I am currently working on products for the One of a Kind Show. It runs from November 25th to December 5th in Toronto. If you are able to make it I will be at booth I-04.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Jenna. I look forward to meeting you and seeing your studio in person at your next Art Crawl event. I'll try to not talk your ear off with all the other questions I'm dying to pick your brain about.

To find out more about Jenna and her work, please visit her website, etsy shop, and blog.


All images via Jenna Rose.

1 comment

mikey j said...

We definitely need to check out that studio next time we do art crawl, what great fabrics.