Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stylish tea towels: Become a collector

Handmade tea towels are not just colorful, decorative objects -- they are essential for the home. Whether grabbed for cleaning up spilled milk or crisply laid out for a beautiful tea time display, these cleverly designed conversation starters are sure to earn you a compliment on your savvy sense of style. You can frame them, or make them the star of your latest DIY project. Even old tea towels will be as soft and sentimental as your favorite boyfriend t-shirt making them an eco-friendly choice. However you use them, they'll give instant character to your home.

Here is a sampling of tea towel shops on Each shop owner pictured writes about their featured tea towels. So much talent, Oh my!

Most of my designs start out with a particular friend in mind. A wedding, birthday or a new baby will often inspire a new design, which may eventually end up in my shop. I always wonder where my creations find a home. Its exciting thinking they might be unwrapped at someone's birthday on the other side of the world, or even just down the road!

On cold, sunny days, my little son and I sit outside at our cafe table, wrapped in blankets. I bring out a tea towel-lined tray of hot cocoa and fresh bread with butter, and candle lights. Although he is only 3, he sits quietly satisfied as we enjoy the fresh air and a special moment. -Elizabeth
Handprinted skirt and teatowels at

"Diagrams of everyday machines, like bikes and cameras, are totally fascinating to me. I love the contrast of a very informative, technical drawing printed on a quaint, lovely item like a tea towel. The unexpected pairing makes great modern accessories for the home." -Sara

"It's amazing how the smallest things, when well designed, bring pleasure to the everyday. Even the humble tea towel can brighten your day." -Susie Stubbs

'I love collecting real leaves and using them as stamps to make prints. Leaves are my passion. Transferred to linen towels, they bring the wonder of nature into everyday life.' -Lotta Helleberg

"I love tea, and everything associated with it: swirls of steam rising from a freshly brewed cuppa, pretty vintage crockery, cakes and biscuits and cookies.
First printed on paper, as part of a series of prints about food, this cloud of steam now floats free on a tea towel, whetting your thirst for the next perfect cup."

I agree with William Morris when he said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. If you can have objects that are both useful and beautiful then I believe you have hit the jackpot. My philosophy is to: 1. buy only what you love 2. buy less but of better quality 3. ignore fashions and keep the things you love until they fall apart, and 4. never “save things for best” as every day should be best!
Cheers, Deidre Robb

My design sense is guided by the same ideals that I strive for in my everyday life.
simple. natural. beautiful. useful.

"I have been obsessed with tea-towels for quite some time. I love the format, and that I'm getting a little piece of art on fabric; I often frame my favourite tea-towels. So I'm so happy to have started producing my own, at last."
-Francesca Iannaccone

"I always feel good when I make something myself. People ask me; "can you make me a wallet?" and I make them a wallet. Or this screenprinted linen tea towel, made from scratch. It feels different when you use a handmade product. It makes you feel good and it brings a smile on your face." -Karin Röling

"The Heated is a band... well, actually it's a band with only one active member. The tea towels are my band merchandise but I like that they've taken on a life of their own on Etsy. I want everything The Heated does to be high quality and to have meaning. Applying that to my merchandise means that whatever I sell has to have a purpose. Sure, I could have commissioned some cheesy matchbook cover (The Heated. Get it?) but these towels are far more useful and it gave me the chance to learn how to screen print. Bonus." -Cristina Espinosa

Inspiration for our prints comes from many sources. Victorian houses, old postcards, city lane-ways and retro pop culture. Quirky and subversive, our tea towels and bags are anything but traditional. No floral prints here! The people who like our designs are generally a little bit different - just like our designs. -Valentina

Colors, shapes and minimalism inspire me, along with typography, nature and making things by hand - whether it's cutting up bits of paper or screen printing my own work. I'm also one for practicality, so tea towels are perfect - why not have something beautiful and inspiriting to dry your dishes with? -Susan

Tatting, embroidery … you name it, I stink at them all. Inspired by these techniques, I create my towel designs using hand carved stamps instead of thread.

"Textiles are the perfect way to bring art into life - in a useful way. I truly enjoy all aspects of pattern making and tea towels are great little windows of pattern and imagery that fit into life easily. They tell their story while brightening your day! Enjoy!"
-Leanne Graeff

Think of warm sunny days,succulent green leaves,juicy tropical fruits and bright colours, enhanced by clear African skies - these are the things that give me inspiration for my designs!
-Colleen (Note: there are three 'z' in this shops' name)

I always try and infuse some brightness, happiness, or silliness into whatever I'm making. I'm a bit of a goofball myself, so I really can't help it. Taking something so plain and humble, and giving it a life of it's own is what makes printing them magical to me every time." -Laura Fisk

Everything in your home you should absolutely LOVE! That's why when you entertain yourself...your friends....your cute dogs....make everything perfect right down to your fancy tea towels! Take this example with SweetPea and me, we know how to do it right! -Gina

"My goal is to create functional art that people want to live with in their homes. I know that when I use and live with art all around me, my quality of life is better, and I feel happier just being in my living space. To help others acheive this, I love to think up new illustrations to silkscreen into my line of tea towels, among other items. Tea towels have a special place in the kitchen, they are both workhorse and accessory. No kitchen is without one, so what a perfect way to add a little artwork to the heart of the home." KAREN KLASSES ILLUSTRATION

I think we could all do with a bit more pattern in our lives. More colour and definately more pattern. There's something about the rhythm of pattern that soothes some very basic need in us. If your a little bit afraid of introducing more pattern to your home - the tea towel is the perfect starting point. Start with a tea towel and progress to a curtain, a wall, a room!!!
-Alison Murray

I run a true cottage industry- I create my designs, make the silkscreen, and transfer the design onto the screen and finally onto the fabric- all at home in my apartment in Astoria. I am in love with the luxury of being able to wake up and work (and sometimes vice versa!) A cup of coffee in one hand, squeegee in the other, I am inspired by the things I can see from my kitchen window- Astoria rooftops, the New York City skyline, my neighbors grapevines. And, of course, the recycling bin beside me- now forever free of empty paper towel rolls.
-Bonnie Skiver

Inspired by living in the city and spying nature making it's way alongside us, I use fresh, unexpected colours in my modern prints and always the best quality materials. In the case of my tea towels, it’s 100% linen - particularly good for putting a shine on your champagne flutes! In fact they’re so good, you might even want to wear them…

After a long career in the fashion industry, where huge production runs of one commercial design are common, I love the uniqueness and spontaneity that's possible with handmade items. These tea towels are inspired by my collection of old frames, and my Nan's old spoons. But why make tea towels? Well for me, it's their simple functionality. They are, in fact, the perfectly designed gadget - low tech, reusable, and now pretty too!
-Sharon Mendham

As a child we spent summers at grandma's gardening, canning, and visiting the farmers market. During this time I developed a deep fascination with nature and vintage items and ideals which has carried over into my adult life. I am thrilled to combine my love and need for printmaking, fabric, nature, and home items into my line of linocut block print tea towels! -Lisa Price

"For me, there is nothing more fulfilling than making. Be it baking bread or sewing tea towels, it all comes from the same place. There is a joy in creating things that are nurturing and cherished. My love of cooking inspires my designs and beautifully functional kitchenware inspires my creativity in the kitchen."
::J e w e l w e e d s:: handcrafted green design

Twyla Tharp once said; "Art is the only way to run away without leaving home." I strive to create work that brings that magical feeling of escape into people's lives and homes, just as I'm lucky enough to feel while I'm creating it. Run away with me at

“No matter how your day was, a favorite piece of fabric can brighten your evening and remind you that you’re home.” -Tricia Lane-Forster

At the end of a long, busy day, my favorite thing to do is to pull out a piece of fabric and some ink and try to create something lovely. My time in the studio at night is meditative, preparing me for the next day. Waking up in the morning to a strong cup of coffee and a sun-filled kitchen full of new prints is the sign of an evening well-spent and a new day filled with beauty. Enjoy!Frankly speaking, I make stuff for myself. It always delights me so when other people enjoy my creations too! I produce beautiful things that are simple and profound as well as funny and witty. Being a student I feel I'm only beginning my journey as a textile artist, and there's a whole world to explore. I'm inspired by nature and my surroundings in general, as well as the simple and harmonious visuals of Japanese craft books. - Outi

Also: features machine-sewn (by me!) tea towels with doodle-turned-block prints