I attended Lotta Jansdotter’s workshop this past February in San Francisco. Lotta is a Swedish textile artist that I have followed for many years and visited once before in her Brooklyn studio in 2011. She publishes books, licenses her designs and teaches workshops all over the world. I love her clean, minimalist aesthetic and her simple, yet bold patterns. 

Lotta teaches infrequently, to keep her workshops fresh and special, and I was fortunate to get a spot. As a side note, Lotta also teaches and hosts a four-day workshop and nature retreat in Silverskär, which is a remote island in the Åland archipelago between Sweden and Finland, and is definitely on my bucket list!

The workshop space was beautiful, a perfect setting to be creative. It was held at Studio Smith, a photo studio and event space located in downtown San Francisco. There were high ceilings with exposed beams, whitewashed brick walls, and soft and lovely light filtered through the large windows.



We started with potato stamping, yep, the kind you probably did as a kid! It’s actually amazing how quickly you can create a design with a potato. Just a few cuts with a knife and presto! you have a unique shape that you can print in a repeat pattern or randomly on your paper. The participants came up with a wide variety of shapes and patterns.

Next up was block printing. This method is what I’m familiar with. Watching someone else teach this technique was valuable. It was also reassuring to see that she teaches very similarly to me! We used simple flowers as inspiration for the blocks. Then we experimented with brick repeats, half drops and all-over repeats. The simple designs of the blocks speak to me and align with the aesthetic of my own work.

We finished with stenciling. I hadn’t used stencils in printing since my undergrad and it was refreshing to try it again. I eschewed all planning and drew with a sharpie directly onto the acetate. Then I cut out the pattern and simply stippled the ink onto my fabric using a handled-sponge. This is a departure from how I usually work, because I usually plan my designs thoroughly (obsessively?). But hey… nothing like the deadline of the end of the workshop to put the pressure on!

We ended the day clinking glasses and munching on yummy appetizers. Lotta provided the most amazing homemade treats and a delicious Cava based cocktail.

Overall the experience was fantastic. I got to take a workshop in one of my favourite cities with one of my favourite artists! What more could I ask for…

Join surface designer Charis Birchall on the 25th of October in the studio for an introduction to surface pattern design through block printing. Explore pattern with hands on demonstrations teaching the basic concepts of repeat and multi-colour block printing. Find out more here...