Category Archives: Featured Makers

Meet Jessie from the newly launched Root and Branch Paper Co

Root and Branch is a wonderful new stationery & paper goods shop. Owned by Jessie Tyree Jenness, who designs and illustrates all of her products, I’ve been completely drawn in by her gorgeous, dense and dreamy illustrative style, and fresh use of colour. I know you will be too!

This is the latest in our meet the maker series, I hope you enjoy getting to know Jessie and discovering the amazing world of Root and Branch Paper Co.

Greetings Cards by Root & Branch Paper Co

Sparkfold: Tell us a little about you & how you got started in this wonderful world of design

Jessie: I studied graphic design at university. I spent my entire freshman year as an undeclared major because I was so torn… should I study art or study something “practical” ?! After a year of waffling I realized that art-making is what I absolutely love to do, and to balance, majoring in graphic design felt like a strategic career move. I’ve never once regretted that decision! During school and in the years since, I’ve done quite a bit of freelance design and illustration in various forms. This past year I decided to focus my portfolio and produce some ready-made pieces. Lo and behold, Root & Branch Paper Co. was born!

What’s the background to Root & Branch, you had a business previously – what’s inspired the slight change in direction?

For the past few years I have been taking commissions and creating one-off custom projects for wonderful clients… it’s awesome when people come to me with thoughtful and meaningful ideas. I love that collaboration! The first product I sent to print without a commission was my ABC Coloring book, which was a personal piece that I made purely for fun. To my surprise, that book received an awesome response, and I sold way more copies than anticipated. That’s the project that got my wheels turning. I started dreaming up so many products, enough to fill several collections. Eventually I realized hey, I can do this!

Botanical Greetings Cards by Root & Branch

Your illustration and pattern designs are really distinct and totally beautiful – obviously nature is a huge part of your work. What else inspires your style and your work?

Thank you so much! You’re right, the natural world is absolutely where I draw my inspiration. I grew up near the mountains and much of my childhood was spent outside- climbing trees, collecting leaves, pressing flowers. And honestly I still do all these things, haha! I can’t resist a good leaf! I have a huge collection.

Jessie Tyree Jenness of Root and Branch Paper Co

I travel a lot and am lucky to have lived on three different continents. One of my greatest joys in traveling is discovering new and exotic plants and flowers. I am always inspired by what I see, even just while running errands… my phone is constantly filled with snaps of interesting flowers and leaves. Each of my illustrations is inspired by a specific plant, and they represent places all over the globe. There are water lilies from China, hibiscus from Thailand, and foxgloves from Norway. Each represents a different season of my life, where I’ve been and where I’m dreaming to go.

Friednship Greetings Card by Root & Branch Paper Co

Additionally I am very inspired by Art Nouveau, traditional woodcuts, botanical prints, and folk art from all over the world. My floral drawing style and emphasis on heavy lines evolved over the years as an homage to these styles of work.

You must have a million product ideas! How have you managed to decide on your ranges & collections for your launch?

It’s true, I have more ideas than time, haha! I tend to just create and create until I have a huge stack of illustrations. My process is very casual, I carry a notebook with me wherever I go, and if I’m sitting in a cafe or if I’m stuck in a meeting, I draw flowers. I tend to be a kinesthetic learner, so I listen better when I’m drawing. Granted, getting some professors and speakers to understand this can be a challenge! I guess it’s a right-brain thing. Quite a few of the illustrations that made it onto my products were designed while I was “taking notes” in a lecture.

Root and Branch Paper Co - A Work In Progress

Once I have an overwhelming stack of drawings, I organize them in a three-ring binder. It becomes apparent which ones are the most intriguing designs. From there, the process turns entirely digital… scanning, touch-ups, and adding text and color. This is where my graphic designer side takes over, and it is one of the most fun parts of the process.

The last step in narrowing down my collection is sending screenshots to my mom and sisters… they have good taste and aren’t afraid to give real feedback!

Fun fact – tell us something that not many people know about you!

I live in China! When I’m not running Root & Branch, I’m studying Mandarin Chinese, and my husband Ben is currently studying architecture here. This shakes things up a bit, as Root & Branch is an online business but located primarily in the US, where all our products are manufactured and stored. My mom Ellen is my inventory manager, and she fills and ships all orders that we receive. I manage our web shop and take custom projects via email, and I have a network of printers and manufacturers in the US that I work with to make things come to life.

Pretty Botanical Greetings Cards by Root & Branch Paper Co

Apart from your new website, where else do you hang out online?

Pinterest is my favorite place on the internet. I have had an account since it was in beta (find me here!) and I often search there for reference photos, color palettes, and inspiring images.

I’m also a huge Instagram fan! I love the community of creatives there. You can find my feed here.

In addition to running my own web shop, I have an Etsy shop. Etsy is an awesome platform and have been selling my illustrations here even before launching Root & Branch. It’s a great place to meet and support other creative entrepreneurs, and one of my favorite places to look for gifts.

What’s the plan for the first year of Root & Branch? Any exciting new products we can look forward to?

I hope to get notepads and desk calendars in the shop soon. I’m very inspired by tropical plants lately, so expect to see some of those popping up this summer. I’m already thinking ahead about this year’s holiday season… botanical Christmas cards! And I hope to have a yearly calendar out for 2019!

Finally,I asked Jessie to talk about her personal favourite products. Here are Jessie’s picks! :

Personally I LOVE our notebooks. I am already using two of them myself: the Monja Blanca Orchid notebook is for my business, and the Water Lily & Lotus style is for my Chinese class notes. I am a huge notebook lover, and I designed these to suit my own taste for a perfect notebook.

Root-and-Branch-Paper-notebook2

Botanical Illustrated Notebooks by Root & Branch

Another favorite is our brand-new Garden botanical coloring book. It’s my second coloring book, made with gardeners, nature lovers and flower enthusiasts in mind. I had so much fun designing it and it’s a great gift for anyone who loves to color.

Botanical Coloring Book by Root & Branch

As far as greeting cards go, I designed our line with versatility in mind. Many of our styles can be used for a variety of occasions. Some of my favorites are the Hip Hip Hooray! card, which is suitable for any celebratory moment, along with the To My Dear Friend card, a sweet and simple friendship card for any occasion.

hip hip hooray card by Root & Branch

Card for a Friend by Root & Branch Paper Co

I had a super fun time creating the It’s Time to Party! card. I feel like Dahlias are the perfect party flower so they were a natural choice for this card.

Time to Party Card by Root & Branch Paper Co

And finally, one of my favorites from our gift wrap and wallpaper collection is the Coral Charm Peony design. It’s a pretty botanical design with a dash of funky.

Peony Gift Wrap by Root & Branch Paper Co

Jessie, thank you so much for being on the blog, I really enjoyed learning more about your business and hoping Root and Branch has an amazing fledgling year!

The Sparkfold Instagram Top 9 Images for the Year

First of all – Happy New Year and a massive thank you to everyone who has supported Sparkfold during 2017, which was the fledgling year for the blog. I’m overwhelmed with the grace, kindness and enthusiasm from the wonderful designers, makers and business owners that have been featured so far – thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I really can’t wait to show you the content for 2018 – some fabulous designer interviews to bring you, as well as loads of other features on all things paper, stationery and gift inspo. We’re also launching a printables library in the first quarter of the year, and a couple of other little surprises too! Aaaanyway, I digress…..

It’s no secret that I LOVE Instagram – I have 4 different accounts! But the Sparkfold Instagram is the focus of this post…. (psst – follow us!) – I use it to help to build the profiles of those who are featured on the blog, and a few other designers whose work I love. So at the end of this, my first year in blogging, I thought it would be fun to discover what the most popular Instagram posts of the year were (I used this site to do mine) and I thought I’d publish the grid here too, because there are some wonderful pics from brilliant designers (and a couple of my own made the cut too!).

Sparkfold Instagram 2017 Best Nine GridL-R from the top

  1.  Josh from The Postman’s Press makes brilliantly bond patterns and quote wall art (read more about The Postman’s Press here)  |  Shop  |  Instagram  |
  2.  Our Heiday, run by sisters Patricia and Donna have a trove of floral and painterly gifts & stationery goodies. This pic is gift wrap of theirs.  |  Shop  |  Instagram  |
  3. Tamar Dovrat creates magical works of art in gouache. Florals and much more (read more about Tamar here)  |  Shop  |  Instagram  |
  4. That’s me 🙂 I love creating pretty images with paper!  |  Website  |  Instagram  |
  5. This is a snap I took of a wonderful Japanese stationery subscription box I’ve purchased a couple of times. It’s from The Stationery Selection. Boxes are limited and sell out fast!  |  Shop  |  Instagram  |
  6. Tamar Dovrat gets another score in the best nine of the year! This is one of a set of gorgeously sweet paper toys that she recently created.
  7. This playful pennant banner is by Gabrielle of House of Hooray – if you’re after nursery and sweet kids’ decor, go see what she’s got for you!  |  Shop  |  Instagram  |
  8. Another snap of mine. I like pink watercolour apparently!
  9. This gorgeous handmade paper is the creation of Zoë Durber. Zoë offers her paper for sale in small batches, so keep an eye on her Insta for that, and she’s also graphic designer and illustrator.  |  Website  |  Instagram |

Go and check out these guys – they all happen to also have brilliant Instagram accounts if you’re on the hunt for some new peeps to follow.

Here’s to a brilliant 2018!

Claire xo

A Moment With – Alex Foster of Alex Foster Illustration

Alex Foster of Alex Foster Illustration is well known for the beautiful maps and house portraits he creates. In addition to these, Alex has ventured into new territory with a recently expanded product range, moving into stationery, notebooks, notepads and gift wrap.

I’ve followed Alex’s work for a while now – those map prints pop up everywhere (including on my very own blog post here), and I recently had the chance to ask him a few questions about his new product lines. It was lovely to find out more about Alex and his business. I hope you enjoy meeting him too!

Hi Alex, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are now!  I’m Alex Foster and I learnt about illustration when my art teacher at school mentioned the University for the Creative Arts – our career advisers hadn’t heard of the place despite it being only 1 of 3 universities in the area. So I’m glad he told me about that!

I went on to do the foundation year there, then moved to London to study a degree in Illustration at Middlesex University. This is where I did a little bit of commercial work and it was also my first introduction to the freelance illustration world – since then it’s been hard work, trying to always improve and market myself to continue the flow of work. I’m very lucky to now have regular commissions and sales through my shop to keep me very busy with it all.

notebooks by Alex Foster Illustration

Lucha+libre+notebooks by Alex Foster Illustration

Your new lines are stationery focussed – what made you decide to branch out now?  I’ve always liked stationery, and moving in to this is a bit of an experiment really. Since signing up to exhibit at Top Drawer I wanted to expand what I did more and this meant designing a range of gift wrap, notebooks and notepads. I’m definitely still going to be making more art prints and maps when I can though – they are still my main focus.

Gardenia+greetings card by Alex Foster Illustration

I love the illustrations and patterns on your new products, I especially like the volleyball and Lucha Libre wrestling patterns! What inspired these new designs?  Some of the patterns I had made a few years ago but never had a good use for them, so I’m glad I’ve found a good medium for them. For example the foxes pattern was when I used to make tshirts and it was a pocket tee design. Others were more recent and inspired by my trip to Mexico for a friends wedding – we went to see the Luchadores and it was such a great experience.

House+plants+print+cropped by Alex Foster Illustration

Pink Painted Flowers+notebook by Alex Foster Illustration

You’ve worked on some fantastic projects during your career – what’s been a favourite project of yours?  I’ve got to say the Roald Dahl map for obvious reasons – I’ve been a lifelong fan and it was amazing to have a job where I got to look through almost all of his books and make a map out of them. But really any project where there is good communication with the client and things go relatively smoothly – a solid brief and vision of what is needed really helps produce good results.

Volleyball+print by Alex Foster Illustration

 

woodland+notepad+by Alex Foster Illustration

What’s next for you!  Christmas is coming so I’m already getting ready for that. My House Portraits are going on some great gift guides this year so I will be very busy with those soon – this has happened a few years in a row now and it’s always a challenge doing as many as I can before the Christmas deadline, but I really enjoy trying to satisfy all these new customers, and I love hearing back about how their special someone loved their gift!

Paris+Pink+map+print by Alex Foster Illustration

Foxes Pattern Gift Wrap by Alex Foster Illustration

Christmas+snowman+card by Alex Foster Illustration

Thanks for taking the time Alex, it’s been great finding out more about you and wishing you a very busy Christmas season!

Find the Alex Foster Illustration shop here

Follow Alex on Instagram here.

A Moment With Tamar Dovrat, Illustrator & Pattern Designer

I recently discovered the work of Tamar Dovrat, an illustrator and surface pattern designer, and was immediately drawn to the bold yet highly romantic and folksy style of her work. Tamar has a wonderful online shop where you can buy her original art, prints and stationery and is also available for commissions and custom surface pattern work.

It’s been a pleasure getting to know her over the past couple of months. Also – go see her Instagram, where Tamar posts her art, works in progress, and behind the scenes stuff including some super sweet little paper animals she’s been making of late.

I hope you enjoy Tamar’s work as much as I do!

Tamar, please introduce yourself & your business! I’m an Illustrator and Pattern designer from Tel-Aviv, Israel. I love creating and selling textiles, paper goods and original paintings. I also provide surface pattern design and illustration services. My art style is decorative and naturalistic with simple shapes, gentle lines, and usually lots of details from different textures and patterns.

What inspires you and your work? Why do you do what you do? I’m inspired mostly by nature and by things that surround my daily life. These could be objects in my home, a flower or a special leaf found while strolling with the baby, or a vintage object / photographs I found at my parents house. I’ve always been very passionate about art and craft. I simply can not imagine a day going by without creating something with my hands! Its impossible!

I also love to see how it makes people feel, how they smile or shine when they see art – even more so when they own a piece of art – it’s amazing! So, it was only natural for me to choose a creative path for living, no other option seemed to keep me happy.

How did you get started in your field / business? I used to teach ancient craft for women and children, but painting has been my major since I was a child. I’ve always loved creating – for myself, for our home or family and friends. I simply started by making different kinds of art for my loved ones and it spread from there.

Pattern is something I am simply addicted to – I see patterns wherever I turn! Combining my love of pattern design and painting is what I enjoy most and this can at times be a challenge.

It’s only recently that I decided I want to get serious about my art, and I love every step of the way. Even though some days are harder than others, I see it as a big privilege to get to do what I’m most passionate about, and to see the reaction of people when they connect with my work. I took to Instagram as a stage to publish what I do, things I draw and create on a daily basis, and it took off from there – I got motivated by the many great people I met along the way and it has encouraged me greatly!

What’s Next For You?: Oh my! Everything! I’d love to see my work on high fashion or home decor! And I really wish to own my own brand someday and expand it to far away areas. Not only geographically, but also learning new fields of art as I go as it’s something I love doing!

Tamar, thank you so much! I wish you all the best and I can’t wait to see your new work and how your brand grows in the future! 

Visit’s Tamar’s Website right here.

Follow Tamar on Instagram.

You can also follow Sparkfold on Instagram here.

Meet DodeCal! An amazing, innovative object and perfect gift for a man

If you’re looking for the perfect luxury men’s gift, I have it right here for you. I was delighted to recently discover this gorgeous wooden calendar called “DodeCal”. It’s a 12 sided wooden polyhedra calendar, designed with mathematical precision, with each month laser engraved onto one of the rhombic sides.

luxury men's gift ideas dodecal wooden desk calendar

The brainchild of London-based Ric Bell, who also runs the graphic design agency POST, DodeCal was born as a concept back in 2012, and, after conquering the technical challenges of actually designing and manufacturing the piece, I think you’ll agree the resulting product is gorgeous.

luxury desk accessories dodcal wooden calendar

Can anyone say “design classic”?

handcrafted wooden desk calendar by dodecal

Each piece is made in the UK by a master craftsman using responsibly sourced timber. The 2017 edition of DodeCal was made from European sycamore wood and the first edition (limited to just 100 pieces) sold out in 7 days. A second run was produced which proved equally as popular.

The 2018 edition is crafted from beautiful American Cherry wood and is already available to buy now. Ric’s also recently announced that the DodeCal will be available to buy in the wonderful Barbican design shop. Plans for the 2019 edition are already in motion with a new wood finish and plans to further reduce the environmental impact of the already very eco-friendly product.

men's gift idea wooden calendar dodecal

DodeCal is indeed a handsome object, fusing design, technology and craft. It would be gorgeous on a desk or as a design piece around the home. Given as a gift, I cannot see how this would not be received with absolute delight!

Buy DodeCal here.

Follow DodeCal’s great Instagram account here.

Dodecal-Men's-luxury-gift-idea-wooden-desk-calendar2

Lovely Inspirational Graphic Wall Art Prints by The Postman’s Press

As a huge fan of surface pattern design, I discovered the work of the Postman’s Press a couple of months ago and was bowled over by these lovely wall art quote prints from the Postman’s Press. Owned by UK-based Aussie Josh Varley, I got to find out the inside track on this recently launched venture.

The Postman’s Press art prints are available in limited runs on Etsy, and an online shop in the works. Each print comes with it’s own lovely mount to be hung straight onto your wall. I caught up with Josh to find out more about the Postman’s Press. Over to you, Josh…

wall art hanging print by the Postman's Press on Etsy

Josh – I am displaced Australian living in Heathfield, East Sussex with my beautiful wife, our 18-month-old son and soon-to-be baby daughter. We have recently relocated from London, longing for a quiet life in the country. I am primary school teacher by day, and channel my creative energy into ‘The Postman’s Press’ by night.

wall art DIY ideas by the Postman's Press on Etsy

The Postman’s Press was established in early this year after years of flickering away as slow-burning flame at the back of my mind. Still finding it’s feet, The Postman’s Press is my creative outlet/micro-business which I use primarily to create rich, colourful surface patterns for use in various lifestyle products.

I am so inspired by simplicity and restriction. Taking inspiration from art mediums that are inherently restricted in their use of material and palette (lino-printing, screen-printing, collage, calligraphy etc.) I love to create surface patterns by manipulating simple shapes and arrangements.

wall art prints by the Postman's Press on Etsy

I never start out with a plan, but rather may take a simple shape and create through play and experimentation. Working with children all day, I am so inspired by their ability to create with very little. Children are so unaffected by their inner-critic and are able to create so freely and openly. I try to replicate this openness and sense of play in my own design practice.

Visually, my work tends to take inspiration from many different sources. I am inspired by simple line art, bold typography, modern/brutalist architecture, geometry, maps and technical drawings amongst many other things.

wall art quotes by the Postman's Press on Etsy

I did a fashion design degree at university, but I fell out of love with making clothing soon after. Whilst I always enjoyed working with my hands and exploring the design process, it never really seemed like a perfectly natural fit for me. The creative compulsion has never left me though and over the last five or six years I have slowly taught myself how to use different software to create imagery that I love.

The Postman’s Press is a culmination of my attempts to kick start my creative practice by focusing my efforts on one particular pursuit. Creating surface patterns keeps my imagination buzzing and provides endless motivation. I consider The Postman’s Press to be a kind of  physical record of this journey.

wall art DIY ideas by by the Postman's Press on Etsy

My wall art prints are bold, colourful and playful and they are designed to be small, inexpensive additions to a wall/work space.

Each print is A5, printed on lovely ‘G Mund Tactile Blanc’ paper. The finished print is mounted on a piece of Baltic Birch plywood, which is held in place by a chrome clip. The prints can be hung using the chrome clip and a small nail, or leant against the wall on a table/desk.

As of right now I am focusing on creating affordable, motivational prints to adorn the walls and work spaces of dreamers and doers alike, I have a whole array of lifestyle products in mind for the future. I am a bit of closet stationary tragic and as the business and my following grows, I plan to produce a number of products in line with this. (Think notebooks, writing sets, gift wrap, greeting cards etc etc)

clipboard wall art by wall art print by the Postman's Press on Etsy

I am determined to let this little business grow in a way that is completely natural and perfectly paced; so with that in mind, these products will appear as they are imagined.


Josh, thank you so much for sharing a little about you and your business. I love what you have to say about working within design constraints and it’s certainly paying off with such wonderful pattern design. I can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

Ps. Follow Josh on Insta, his account is great!

@sparkfold

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