My pockets were wearing out with all the coins, until I bought this purse with foxes on it from Jill Green in the Sunday Upmarket a year ago. Now I collect my loose change in here and empty it into the self-checkout at Sainsburys, Whitechapel whenever I go there to buy cans of rice pudding and cheap toilet paper. This modest little purse has served me well, it is a perfect piece of design and a year’s use has only improved its beauty.
All credit goes to Jill, who designs and manufactures them along with other screenprinted artifacts in an attic workshop high above the Brick Lane bookshop. Originally from Leeds, she studied graphics at Glasgow School of Art and expected no more than to end up working in Tesco, but spent a couple of years in various design jobs before starting out on her own seven years ago.
Jill has a technique of printing on leather whereby the soft suede pile is only exposed within the images – this is what gives the foxes on my purse such a convincingly rich colour and texture. Using this specialist technique, she makes an attractive range of small leather goods. Each piece is designed, printed and sewn together by Jill herself using leather from local suppliers. She loves making things and, as my purse illustrates, these are not mere novelty items, they are robust and functional too – desirable to own and a pleasure to use.
I want to celebrate Jill because she manifests an essence of what makes this place interesting to me. Running her own business, she is a designer of real talent, who is also highly skilled and experienced in printing and sewing too. It is no small achievement that she makes a living doing this because she is a perfectionist and puts a lot of time into finishing every single piece to a high standard, which means the profit margin is low. But, justifiably, she has great pride in what she does and I think her work deserves wider recognition, so I was pleased to learn Jill has recently been approached by Liberty. In fact, I know of people who buy her beautifully hand-screenprinted cards for a few pounds and then frame them.
When I visited her workshop, Jill was hard at work, busy and excited, making things to sell for Christmas. I love these leather pencil cases with black cats on them that she has underway this week. Reflecting her own Northern character, there is a very personal droll humour to all Jill’s work that I find immensely appealing.
Be sure to look out for her in the Upmarket on Sundays and go say hello, or visit Shopjill.com.