Two Great Images

Mini Moderns beautiful Margate range

Mini Moderns beautiful Margate range

This month we’ve been sent two great images by our customers.

The first is a beautiful photo, taken of a lovely new Margate range we’ve just printed for Mini Moderns, and is featured in Coast Magazine.

The range consists of tea towels, aprons, a double oven glove and a flat canvas bag and was screen printed on to unbleached cotton, cotton drill and canvas.  Together the range forms part of a beautiful collection commissioned from Mini Moderns by Turner Contemporary in Margate.‎

Mini Moderns is a range of interiors products for design conscious families,
created by UK design agency, Absolute Zero Degrees.

You can visit their website on www.minimoderns.com
The second lovely photograph we’ve been sent was from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and shows Sir Quentin Blake, with a canvas gusseted bag we recently produced on their behalf, featuring one of his brilliant sketches.
The Jerwood Gallery are currently having an exhibition, as part of the summer Jerwood Drawing Festival, called ‘Artists on the Beach’.
This exhibition is featuring an exclusive display of Sir Quentin Blakes’ artistic responses to ten of his favourite artists from the Jerwood Collection.  The exhibition of drawings playfully explores the stories of artists in the collection from Sickert to Wallis.
Sir Quentin Blake, looking very happy, with an exclusive bag produced for Jerwood Gallery, featuring his sketch and printed by Countryside Art

Sir Quentin Blake, looking very happy, with an exclusive bag produced for Jerwood Gallery, featuring his sketch and printed by Countryside Art

We were thrilled to be asked to produce tea towels and bags for the exhibition.  Sir Quentin Blake actually commented in his speech at the private viewing that this was the first time his work had been put on a tea towel!  We are honoured.
You can see more at Jerwood Gallery’s website at www.jerwoodgallery.org
Finally we are pleased to announce a new recruit to our Sales and Administration team.
Claire Prendergast has recently joined us enabling our previous Sales Manager, Kim Evison, to start working alongside myself and our design team co-ordinating new artwork and orders.  Dani Albright, previously working with Kim, has now taken over as Sales Manager.
We have made this change as the amount of new designs we are currently receiving is growing enormously.  By taking on an extra person we will be able to reduce our lead times at the artwork stages.
The changes we made to our production processes over the eighteen months have improved our production lead times greatly.  We are now hoping to make similar improvements at the visual and sampling stages too, thereby reducing overall lead times yet further.
As always best wishes and kind regards
Kathy
Kathy Brookes, Sales Director
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Expansion Plans Completed

tea towels, tea towel, bag, bags, aprons, cushions, UK

One of our machinists at work in our the newly enlarged sewing unit

It’s been a while since we last published a blog due to the fact we’ve been in the middle of some major projects, especially throughout the last six months of 2013.

We were incredibly busy in the run up to Christmas, not only producing a huge volume of orders, but also finishing off the extensive expansion of all our production capabilities. It has been ‘all hands on deck’ to make sure we had everything finished as soon as possible.

For most of last year we have been involved in increasing the size of all the production areas, including building on two new extensions to the factory. These extensions have enabled us to enlarge the size of our screen and ink mixing departments, our sewing unit, and our despatch department. The extra space has also enabled us to take on additional staff too.

tea towel, tea towels, cotton bags, digital printing, aprons, UK made, printed bags

Applying swing tickets in our quality control and packing department

In addition we bought a new MHM 4000 automatic screen printing carousel, new sewing machines and cutting equipment. We have also installed a cutting-edge digital textile printing machine. This has proved very popular with our customers wanting to purchase smaller runs of full colour tea towels, bags, aprons,

kitchen textiles, cushion covers and t-shirts. Set-up costs are low and the amazing print quality has to be seen to be believed.

Finally we have put new software programmes in place, enabling us to keep track of the progress of orders throughout the system from start to finish.

Our goal, with this extensive expansion programme, has been to aim to reduce our lead times to their traditional levels whilst maintaining our same superb product quality.

Printed tea towels, tea towel, uk made tea towels, cotton tea towel

Theresa Dever of Magna Colours presenting Lawrence, our Director and Print Manager with our two first prize awards We have become busier and busier ever since moving to our new factory in 2006.

Events such as our company winning Best Overall Water Based Print and Best Softbase print at FESPA 2013, which is the world’s largest digital and screen print show, have raised our profile yet further and are testament to the great care and attention we apply to every order that goes through our company.

We very much appreciated the great loyalty our customers have shown us throughout 2013, when our lead times were more extended than we wished, and thank everyone for their patience. We are looking forward to working with both old and new customers in 2014 with our new and improved production facilities.

Kind regards

Kathy

Kathy Brookes, Sales Director

Two First Prizes & Latest Digital News

Printed tea towels, tea towel, uk made tea towels, cotton tea towel

Theresa Dever of Magna Colours presenting Lawrence, our Director and Print Manager with our two first prize awards

Printed tea towels, uk-made tea towels, printed bags, printed aprons, customised aprons

Our proud award winning Print Room Team – from left to right – Richard, Phil, Gary, Tom, Ben, Marcus & Steve

Well, it’s hard to know what to start the blog off with this month as so many interesting things have been happening recently.

One of the most exciting has been our company winning Best Overall Water Based Print at FESPA 2013, which is the world’s largest digital and screen print show, held recently in London.

In addition, we also won Best Softbase Print at the same show. Competition was stiff, with a high level of entries, so we were thrilled to be chosen by the judges to win these prestigious world-class awards.

British-made tea towels, printed aprons, uk-made aprons, cotton aprons, printed apron

Our new MHM 4000 automatic screen printing carousel in full production

We were delighted when Theresa Dever of Magna Colours, who sponsored the prizes, came up to present us with the awards. It means a great deal to everyone in the company to have our high skill levels and dedication to quality recognised, not only by our customers, but also by our peers within the print industry, and especially so to our great team of printers featured here.

Pictured here is our latest addition to the factory floor; our new MHM 4000 carousel screen printing machine, which was shown being unloaded in to the factory on the last blog. The machine is capable of printing up to 8 spot colours, which is ideal, as much of our work now includes complex printing in both full colour process, spot colours and a mixture of both types of printing within the same design.

The machine has been fully in action for some time now and is turning out some great work. Whilst the state-of-the-art equipment we have is obviously a great factor in the quality of the work we produce, the largest part is also down to the very high skill levels of our great Print Team featured above.

Digitally printed bag produced for The Lowry

Digitally printed bag produced for The Lowry

We also wanted to feature some images of our digital printing in this month’s blog.

The British Museum, The Lowry and The Natural History Museum have all kindly agreed to allow us to show images of the bags we have recently produced on their behalf.

All four bags feature very intricate, all-over prints, with a very high level of detail impossible to achieve using normal screen printing methods.

Superb print quality, in addition to low set up costs and small minimum orders, make the digital printing a very attractive option for a wide variety of products including tea towels, bags, aprons, kitchen textiles and cushion covers.

Last but not least; our latest extension to the factory is nearly finished. This will allow us to expand our Packing & Quality Control and Despatch Department which is bursting to the seams under the very high work load we are currently experiencing.

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Two digitally printed bags produced for The Natural History Museum

It will be great to have the extra space and should also help make things much easier for our Packing & Quality Control Team, who we’ll feature in the next blog.

Until then, thank you as always, for taking time to read our blog.

Kind regards and best wishes

Kathy

Kathy Brookes, Sales Director

Reach For The Top!

"Tea Towel" "UK Made Tea Towels" "Full colour tea towels" "Cotton Tea Towels"

The tea towel we recently produced for The Shard, featuring a bespoke packaging wrap – all produced in-house

Recently we were thrilled to be asked, by one of our long-standing clients, to produce a tea towel on behalf of London’s newest and most eagerly awaited attraction, The View from The Shard.

The design required a complex full colour process print and we were delighted with the results. The tea towel packaging also featured a bespoke wrap-around to further enhance the brand image.

The customer has already placed a second order so the tea towel appears to have been a success with visitors too.

To have our tea towels selling, not only in the highest retail outlet in the capital, but also to such a prestigious customer, is very exciting.

On other fronts our expansion plans continue at a great pace. Our new extension is nearly ready. It is going to house an enlarged screen making and storage facility, plus our litho printing department is also moving in there too. This will free up more space in the existing factory, enabling us to have a larger in-house sewing unit.

"Tea towel printers" "UK Tea Towel Printing" "Silk Screen Printers" "Silk Screen Printers UK"

Our new extension early on in the construction phase – it’s nearly finished now

We are already fans of the MHM range of direct screen printing machines and the great quality work they produce. Therefore we were very happy to take delivery of another new MHM 4000 automatic screen printing carousel today. This new machine will enable us to further speed up our sampling and delivery times. We can’t wait to see it go in to full production in a few days.

Finally our new digital textile printing machine is going from strength to strength – we will be featuring some fantastic images of jobs currently going through production on our next blog.

Kind regards and best wishes
Kathy

Kathy Brookes – Sales Director

"UK Screen Printer" "Silk Screen Printers" "Tea Towel Printers" "Tea Towel Printing"

Our new MHM 4000 screen printing carousel being carefully lifted in to the factory

Shows, samples and latest news

Apologies for the fact there hasn’t been a blog for a few weeks.  We’ve been absolutely flat out throughout January producing samples for Top Drawer, the Scottish Trade Show and Spring Fair.  These have mainly included tea towels, aprons, oven gloves and cushion covers.

cushion cover, cushion covers, digitally printed cushion covers, UK-made cushion covers, designer cushion covers

Sheep cushion designed by Rosemary McIntosh for Basil Bird Brain and digitally printed by Countryside Art

The demand for new designs and samples for the shows has been the highest we’ve ever known and we’ve had some fantastic feed-back from our customers.

We  took the decision not to exhibit at Spring Fair this year after a 20 year unbroken stint, due to the fact we are very busy already.  So many of our customers have come back to us year on year for repeat orders and new designs resulting in the business growing far faster than we had anticipated.  This year we want to concentrate instead on continuing to increase and improve our production facilities to cope with all the extra demand.

These improvements include our having recruited lots more sewing machinists, building a new extension on to the factory, which is currently under way, buying another direct screen printing carousel and putting in place new manufacturing software to improve the monitoring of all orders as they pass through the system.

Gusseted bags, gusseted bag, canvas bags, digitally printed bags, UK made bags, canvas bag

Digitally printed large gusseted canvas bag featuring Rosemary McIntosh’s Sheep design

We have also been working with our new digital printing machine.  We are just waiting for the final modifications to be made to enable us to print all of our products including t-shirts. Once these have been carried out we will be able to fully launch the service to our customers.

In the meantime we have been producing some samples and small runs of tea towels, bags and cushions including these lovely designs shown here in this month’s blog.  Painted by Rosemary McIntosh and produced for her new start-up website gift company called Basil Bird Brain.  The soon-to-be-launched website is also going to promote the work of other designers and artists as well as more of Rosemary’s paintings and patchwork designs featuring British and Canadian themes.

gusseted bag, canvas bags, UK made bags, designer bags, cotton bags, canvas bags, printed bags

Digitally printed large gusseted canvas bag, soon to be featured on Basil Bird Brain’s new giftware website

Our digital printing service is going to be ideal for this type of customer wanting to produce small runs of full colour textile products without all the setting-up costs of the traditional screen printing service.

Finally we wish all our customers every success at Spring Fair this year,

Kind regards and best wishes

Kathy

Kathy Brookes, Sales Director

The Digital Revolution Starts Here!

The Digital Revolution Starts Here!

digital printing, digital textile printing, tea towels, tea towel

Angelo, Martin and our director Lawrence holding up one of the first prints off the new digital printing machine

World Exclusive!  We now have the first Aeoon digital printing machine of its type, anywhere in the world, installed in our factory.

This is cutting-edge new digital technology.  Using a revolutionary new type of print heads, this machine is capable of printing incredibly high-resolution full colour images on to bags, tea towels, aprons, kitchen textiles, t-shirts, panels and canvases at a print quality only previously achievable in the fine art market.

The Austrian engineers, Angelo, designer of the machine, and his young colleague, Martin, have posted an Aeoon company promotional video of the machine actually printing in our factory on You Tube.

Follow the link below to see the machine actually in action (watch out for Aeoon’s rather arresting Ice Lolly test image being printed!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVvkF3p6rXU

This machine is going to be great for printing short runs in multi-colour which previously would have been very expensive to set up using traditional direct screen-printing techniques.

It will allow our customers to produce small runs of superb quality full colour products, to test the market without risk, and not have to outlay large amounts of money in stock.

cushion covers, cushion cover, digital printed, digitally printed, one-off

We produce cushion covers in all shapes and sizes, both zipped and envelope fold constructions

One of our product ranges in particular, could have been purpose-made for this machine.  We are producing more and more cushion covers and offer a wide range of shapes and sizes.  We also manufacture zipped and envelope fold constructions in all the options.  The market is huge for cushion covers and the more individual the better – ideal for digital printing.

Please contact our Sales Team to discuss any aspect of our new digital printing service.

Welcome to the future of textile printing and you’ve seen it here first at Countryside Art!

Kind regards and best wishes

Kathy

Kathy Brookes – Sales Director 

The digital machine arrives!

It’s official – it’s here!  The new Aeoon digital machine is now in the factory and the engineers are arriving from Austria on Wednesday to commission it.

"Tea Towels" "Tea Towel" "Digital Printing" "Digital Prints"

A tense moment as our new digital ‘baby’ is unloaded in to the factory

We are very excited – the wait to get the machine up-and-running has been longer than we anticipated but we are hoping we will be able to start sampling and printing jobs next week.

"Digital printing" Digital Textile Printing" "Tea Towel" "Tea Towels"

The new Aeoon digital printing machine in position

We already have orders for bags, cushions, tea towels, aprons and panels waiting to be sampled and printed.  As soon as these prints start to roll off we will be publishing images on the blog.  We will also have samples we can send out to interested customers.

The digital machine is going to be perfect for customers wanting small runs of full colour printing and also for complex printing on to items such as canvas bags.  It is also ideal for printing t-shirts including dark shirt printing as the machine is capable of printing whites.

We will very shortly be publishing an article devoted entirely to the new machine on the blog.

"Tea Towel" "Tea Towels" "Aprons" "Double Oven Gloves"

The new Archers Addicts ‘Baking With The Archers’ tea towel, apron and double oven gloves

We have also been printing some great new products for our customers in the run up to Christmas.  Our designers, in collaboration with the team at Archers Addicts, came up with this winning range of delightful ‘Baking With The Archers’ tea towels, aprons and double oven gloves.  It seems to have hit the spot with the additional interest in home baking that programmes such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ have generated.

Added interest was also provided by each item being packed with a co-ordinated Recipe Card of one of the Archers character’s favourite recipes and personalised packaging – all printed here in-house at Countryside Art.

"Tea towel packaging" "Apron packaging" "Double oven glove packaging"

Bespoke packaging designed to compliment the new ‘Baking With The Archers’ range

We would like to thank the Archers Addicts team for allowing us to show the range on our blog.

If you would like us to feature any of the products we have produced for you on our blog please let us know.

We are also shortly introducing a Links page on the website for any customers interested in linking to our site.

Kind regards and best wishes

Kathy

Kathy Brookes, Sales Director

Tea Towels – latest news

What a fantastic Summer – not because of the ‘wonderful’ weather but because of the Olympics and Paralympics.  It was great to see such a pride in all things British and in the determination and success of all our athletes.

It is also great as far as we are concerned to see what a huge swing back there has been to customers sourcing UK made products over the last few years.

We have been experiencing a massive growth in the demand for our products which has led us to looking for new ways to streamline and improve our manufacturing processes.

Tea towels, tea towel, printed tea towel, printed tea towels, bags, aprons

Terry, working on the new fabric laying up machine used for cutting up the rolls of cloth in to cut pieces ready for printing.

Our two most recent purchases have been in our fabric cutting department.  We purchased an automatic laying up machine a few months ago which has helped us keep up with the ever-increasing demand for cut pieces for printing tea towels, bags, aprons and kitchen textiles on our large format automatic direct screen-printing carousels.

In the last month we have also purchased a clicker-cutter for cutting individual shaped items such as oven mitts, aprons, bag handles etc.  This is proving a great help in speeding up these previously time-consuming jobs in our sewing unit.

"Tea towel" "UK made tea towels" "Tea towels printed in the UK" "Tea Towels"

Abi, at work cutting oven mitt linings on our new clicker-press cutter

Our next incredibly exciting purchase (which is being delivered and installed at the end of this month) is a large format digital textile printing machine.  The Aeoon machine heralds a new era in digital textile printing and will be the first machine of its type to be installed in the UK.  It achieves the highest print quality using a new type of printing similar to an ink-jet printer but on a much larger scale and using many more print heads.

The Aeoon is also capable of printing very large format panels so we will be able to offer our whole range of tea towels, aprons, bags, oven gloves and t-shirts and well as very low minimum quantities and minimal set-up charges.

We will be publishing an article and pictures on the blog just as soon as it is installed.

And then….what next…?

Well, we are also planning to build a new large extension on to the factory so we can expand our sewing unit considerably.  When finished, this will enable us to bring our lead times, which have become more extended due to the huge amount of work currently in hand, back down to their historical levels.  This should be good news for everyone.

Anyway this is all the latest news – we’ll be back soon with more on the digital revolution that’s heading our way.

Kind regards and best wishes

Kathy

Kathy Brookes – Sales Director

New Tea Towel Packaging

Countryside Art new tea towel header card

New generic Countryside Art header card

We have recently introduced some new cardboard header-card packaging for tea towels enabling the tea towels to be hung up on a euro slot without a plastic bag.

These headers are available with either our own generic Countryside Art design (with no minimum order) or can feature the customer’s own design specific to themselves (minimum order quantities apply). 

Portmeirion tea towel header

Tea towel header designed for Portmeirion

We have featured some photos showing some of the headers we have already supplied featuring customer’s own designs. 

A swing ticket can also be added showing the full tea towel design too if required.  The photo of the RNLI tea towel shows an added swing ticket.

RNLI tea towel header card

Tea towel header and swing ticket designed for the RNLI

The advantages of this type of packaging are that the header cards are completely recyclable.  The quality of the fabric can be felt by the prospective buyer and the tea towels can also be displayed neatly in a small retail area.  

Both the headers and the swing tickets can be designed in-house by Countryside Art or customers can provide their own artwork placed into templates that we provide. 

Portmeirion Prisoner Header Card

Portmeirion Prisoner tea towel header

Although the headers are designed for hanging on euro slots, the header-carded tea towels can also be neatly displayed flat on shelving too.

For more information please contact us at sales@countrysideart.co.uk or call on 01790 754 806.

How We Started

Countryside Art Ltd is now managed and run by a brother and sister team, Lawrence Chapman and myself Kathy Brookes, ably assisted by our spouses, other members of our family and a great team of enthusiastic employees.

The company was originally started in 1975 by our parents, John and Margery Chapman, plus a very close family friend Patrick Carnwath.  Prior to this they had all established a small screen printing company producing home furnishings which ran for a few years until it out-grew the buildings in which it was housed.  The original reason our parents wanted to set up a business close to home was in order to be able to spend more time helping to looking after our younger brother Patrick (nicknamed Patch) who has severe learning difficulties.

The establishment of Countryside Art coincided with a move to an Old Rectory, based in a sleepy Lincolnshire wolds village, where John, Margery and Patrick built the first small workshop in the tree filled grounds.

The move to the new premises and change of name also brought a change of direction.  John’s mother and our Grandmother, Pat Chapman, was also a very entrepreneurial lady. She persuaded John, who had a great talent for drawing and painting, to produce a couple of tea towel designs for some local churches with whom she was friends with members of the congregations.  Once these were in the public domain she took samples around other churches and as far as our main stream giftware business was concerned, it all started from those small beginnings.

With John designing and printing, Patrick assisting in sales and Margery running the quality control and despatch, business continued in the same way for a few years although a new partner Simon Hildred also came on board during this time.

Very early on in Countryside Art’s existence, children from our brother Patch’s Special Needs School started coming up one afternoon a week to experience hand-silk screen printing and designing.  One of the projects they completed was to produce their own tea towel featuring the children’s drawings and a picture of the school.

Our Grandmother immediately saw the potential in this idea and again went off and marketed the idea to all her local schools.  The rest is history – needless to say the idea was a huge hit and we quickly became the main producer of School tea towels, something which we still are to this day.

As the company was consistently growing throughout this period both Lawrence and I joined.  A second building was also built on the same site as we had outgrown the original workshop.

Around 2003 we realised we were going to have to move as the business had out-grown the premises yet again and there was no way we could extend the buildings any further.

After a prolonged search for a suitable site we decided to move to our local market town of Spilsby on to the industrial estate.  It was quite a wrench deciding to leave the original workshops as the surroundings were idyllic but we were very lucky in being able to find a site right on the edge of the estate facing over farmland with a fantastic view across the fens.

By the late summer of 2006 we had over-come all the planning problems and were ready to move in to our purpose-built factory mainly designed by John and Lawrence.  The building was a complete success allowing the production to flow smoothly throughout. 

By this time our parents were taking much more of a back seat in the running of the company with Lawrence and I taking over the day-to-day responsibility.  However after we had completed the move they decided it was finally time to take a well-earned rest and they both retired. Although, to this day, they still continue to take a great interest in their ‘baby’.

With our experience of having a brother with learning difficulties; throughout the whole existence of the company we have always tried to employ people with disabilities wherever possible.  We have had some great members of staff throughout the years whose contributions to the company have been immense despite being over-looked by other employers.

Our interest in continuing to help with issues of disability led to us winning BT’s Deaf Employer of the Year in 1994 and we also work closely with the Shaw Trust assisting us to currently offer jobs to two employees in need of support.

Our brother Patch continues to live within our family with our parents and is a frequent visitor to the factory.