Jun 28, 2013

Soul Craft: Thornfield Hall Designs

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Katie's Anne of Green Gables shirt here.

The "Literary Love" link on the side provide a direct link to her site.

It was very interesting to hear Katie's story behind her Etsy shop, Thornfield Hall Designs.

Enjoy a "behind-the-scenes" look into her "soul craft":

What made you want to start your shop ThornfieldHall Designs?

I’ve always loved to read- for years I’ve said I wish someone would pay me to read. Sadly, I never found that job. I had been looking for shirts with some of my favorite quotes on them and hadn’t been able to find anything that I liked, so I started at looking at ways to put quotes on t-shirts. I also do not like to wear men’s/unisex cut t-shirts- I prefer something a little more feminine, so that was something I wanted to provide in my shop for women. I want to give people who love classic books something with a quote they will love, but also a product they will love. And my idea has just grown from there.

Do you have any specific background/skill that led you to sell your creations?

My major was English in college- that’s actually the closest background I have to the products I’m providing! I do have a strong background in customer service, so that helps. As far as the screen printing goes, my husband and I took more than six months teaching ourselves how to make silk-screens, how the process works and learning to screen print. I create the designs, my husband makes the screens, and I screen print everything by hand. All our screens are made by hand- even the frames are handmade. We also chose water based inks that are better for the environment and feel softer on shirts. It’s definitely been a learning process.

How do you decide which quotes to choose?

With books I’ve read many times, such as Jane Eyre or Frankenstein, I go back through my copies and look through the passages I’ve underlined and make a list of everything. Or, if I haven’t read that book in a long time, I re-read it and underline quotes I like and make a list of them. Then I go through my list and mark the ones I particularly like. This still usually leaves me with 5 or 6 quotes when we’re only planning to make 1 or 2 screens. So then I really have to narrow down which 1 or 2 I like best, which can be hard for me. Then I have to design it to fit our screens and see if the quote will fit. Sometimes, as in the case of the Frankenstein tshirt that has Victor’s quote on it, I’ve omitted some words or phrases and replaced them with an ellipsis, just to get the quote to fit and convey the feeling I want the shirt to convey. I try to balance readability of the quote on the shirt with the essence of the passage. But many times I would have been happy putting the whole page on the shirt! My husband is always telling me to shorten the quotes.

 What are some of your favorite books?

 Jane Eyre has always been one of my all time favorite books. I also read all 8 of the Anne of Green Gables books in elementary school and loved them- I wanted to be Anne! I’m also a huge Jane Austen fan, I’ve read all her books. I love Kate Morton’s writing. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. I’m such a sucker for WWII/Holocaust novels, even though they can be emotionally difficult to read sometimes- I loved The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I love YA fiction as well- some of my favorites are the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Enclave by Ann Aguirre, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

How did you come up on the name for your Etsy shop?

Thornfield Hall is the name of the estate of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. I wanted the focus to be on the books I chose my quotes from, and as Jane Eyre is my favorite classic, I picked something from it.

Is there any significance to the way you package materials to be sent to customers?

 I’m definitely a sucker for pretty packaging. When people get one of my shirts in the mail, I hope they feel like I took time to package it well. So I try to make it pretty, but also hopefully get there safely and not too expensively. I love neutrals, so I picked a craft bag to put a shirt in and then I include a care card that tells people how to wash and care for their t-shirt. Then I wrap it with some navy blue and white bakers twine to match Thornfield Hall’s colors and slip in a thank you card.

(ink squeegee and scraper)

What other ideas do you have in store for your shop that we can look forward to in the future?

So many! I have more ideas than time right now. I actually have two Dracula (by Bram Stoker) designs I’ll be adding to the shop very shortly. Then I’m working on adding men’s shirts for the Frankenstein and Dracula designs. I’m also working on black t-shirts for men and women, scarves, kitchen towels, and onesies with some new designs. After that I’ll be working on adding new quote designs to the shop.

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