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Inspired by Australian native fauna, Nicole carves her own block print designs to create unique, handprinted artworks, gifts and homewares

15 March 2019

Designer Spotlight: Owl Little Print Shop

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City-dwelling nature lover & printmaker, Nicole: ‘I love the manual aspect of hand printing; I love that I can create repeatable prints completely by hand’

Hello, my name is Nicole and I'm the face behind Owl Little Print Shop. I've been selling my handmade items online for a couple of years and decided to join Madeit last July.

‘Hooded Plover’ limited edition lino print artwork by Owl Little Print Shop

I live with my partner in Brunswick in Melbourne, which I love because it's an inner-city neighbourhood which still has a community feel and supports a diverse range of people and cultures. The local council is very accepting of the different kinds of people which live here and are very supportive of the activities people are interested in.

Inspired by Australian native fauna, Nicole carves her own block print designs to create unique, handprinted artworks, gifts and homewares

I'm lucky enough to live right next to a large park which means I am never out of view of trees and birds and the occasional possum, which is quite special for an inner-city location. It's also only a short trip to the Melbourne Zoo from my place, which is a great source of animal and plant inspiration.

‘Weedy Seadragon’ limited edition lino print artwork by Owl Little Print Shop

I originally trained as a scientist but have worked in many different roles such as a website content developer, learning and development designer, and currently I have a full-time job in Human Resources so spend most days in the office.

Owl Little Print Shop maker, Nicole, enjoying the parks, gardens & zoos of her home city of Melbourne: ‘on the weekends I am always torn between my artwork and getting out into nature’

On the weekends I am always torn between my artwork and getting out into nature and spending time in the parks and forests near Melbourne. Birds are my favourite animals and I can often be found bird-watching but I do love all kinds of creatures. I'll nearly always be doing one of these activities whenever I can.

Owl Little Print Shop maker, Nicole, carving a new platypus design into a rubber block for printing

Because my home is small my art space consists of half the kitchen table, with all my craft supplies and pieces stored away in any spare space I can find. This is challenging but I have always lived in small places so I am used to it.

 ‘Willie Wagtail’ lino-printed bird tea towel by Owl Little Print Shop: ‘I have developed an addiction for block printing and am constantly thinking about new surfaces I can add my designs to’

I have crafted on an off for most of my life but in the last couple of years I have developed an addiction for block printing and am constantly thinking about new surfaces I can add my designs to.

Nicole’s interests in art and nature were apparent early on; a sketch from her high school art class

My first online shop came about in a somewhat strange way when I found a deceased Eastern Barred Bandicoot in Woodlands Historic Park where they are being reintroduced. This was sad but got me interested and I decided to make a print of a living one.

 ‘Wombat Scratching’ limited edition lino print; ‘Australia’s unique animal and plant life are endlessly inspiring to me’

After getting a number of compliments I decided to start up an online store and things just went from there. Australia's unique animal and plant life are endlessly inspiring to me and until recently they have been underrepresented in the design world so I feel compelled to promote my love of them through my artwork.

Echidna and bilby cushions hand-printed from one-off lino-cut designs by Owl Little Print Shop

I love the manual aspect of hand printing; I love that I can create repeatable prints completely by hand. Handmade prints are also 'imperfect' so each one will be that little bit different and have its own personality, and this gives them character.

Detail of ‘Stick Nest Rat’ limited edition lino print by owl Little Print Shop: ‘My decision to create a new print often starts after experiencing an up close and personal with an animal’

My decision to create a new print often starts after experiencing an up close and personal with an animal or plant either in the wild or at the zoo or a garden. From there I research the animal online to get an idea of where it lives and how it behaves so that I can portray an interesting aspect of the animal.

Hand-printed bamboo llama decoration with the tools of the trade; hand-cut rubber stamps, ink, and carving tool

I then hand draw the image I want to use onto paper using a pencil. The image is then transferred onto a rubber block or piece of lino, this results in a reverse image of the original. I then carve out the image and when I am happy with it, I will do a few tests prints before I'm ready to start printing the final pieces.

The printing process: rolling ink onto a hand cut design ready to print onto paper or fabric.

Printing involves using a roller to roll some ink onto the block then laying the paper or fabric onto the block and pressing with a wooden spoon or barren to transfer the ink onto the surface. The printing aspect has taken me a while to perfect as some types of ink work better with some types of paper, fabric or other surface so it's a bit of trial and error to get the match right. The finished products: Echidna print in three earthy colour variations

It then takes a few days to dry and the fabrics require ironing to set the ink. So you can see, there's a lot of work that goes into producing even a simple print.

Handprinted ‘Willie Wagtail’ design blank greeting card & envelope by Owl Little Print Shop

I decided to join Madeit because I believe it's important to have an online site that promotes and supports Australian creatives. I think it benefits us all to have a site where customers can easily find quality local hand made products. I think Madeit works hard to achieve this, so I wanted to support and be part of that. As a seller I have also found the site easy to use and a pleasant experience unlike some of the other more complex sites, so thanks to Madeit and here's to a long future together.



Visit Owl Little Print Shop to find unique hand-printed artworks, homewares and gifts: owllittle

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