The Mother Hustle Interview

December 18, 2017



                                

Fiona has been hand making beautiful yet practical screen printed items for the home, since 2011. After graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Printmaking, Fiona quickly discovered her love for fabric printing, and has been hand printing and making products from her countryside studio near Falmouth since moving down to the South West in 2012. 

Surrounded by green fields, cows, and sauntering pheasants, Fiona developes her drawings in to fabric collections, finding her inspiration from the beautiful surroundings, wild flora and fauna, and countryside walks. Her British made homeware collection ranges from screen printed cushions, tea towels and lampshades to stationery and a ceramic range.

Originally form the North East of Scotland, Fiona has made a home, just outside Falmouth in Cornwall, with her wonderful husband Tom, and their gorgeous two children Edith and Archie.

Fiona also runs a programme of workshops throughout the year, including lampshade making, lino cutting and screen printing. Whilst living in London, she taught Printmaking at the London Print Studio, gaining a wealth of teaching experience. You can find out more about the workshops here, and they all include copious amounts of tea and homemade cake!

Particle press products are stocked in various shops throughout the UK, and you can also find them online at notonthehighstreet.com

 

I was recently interviewed by the lovely Mother Hustle Blog. An inspiring collection of working Mums from here in Cornwall. You can read some more interesting stories from the lovely Bonbi Forest and The Sky Gardens!

Read on for a little insight in to my life with my beautiful babies, and our life in sunny Cornwall!

 

This weeks Mother Hustler is Fiona from Particle Press she illustrates the most beautiful nature inspired designs and translates them into screen printed patterns for textiles and home wears and also runs workshops from her little cornish studio, as well as a print club which I am very tempted to join soon! 

 

Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what your family looks at the moment.

 I am Fiona, I am from a little town called Lossiemouth in the north East of Scotland, but now live just outside Constantine with my husband Tom, our daughter Edith, who is almost 4, and our son Archie, who is 18 months. 

 Tell us all about your business/ side hustles/ work life and where we can find you on the interweb?

 My business is called Particle Press, and I have been running it since 2012. We lived in London together for 8 years, and after getting married, we shortly moved to Cornwall. We moved in to a converted barn near Tom’s parents, and they very kindly gave up an out building, which I now use as my studio! I screen print fabric for homewares, all inspired by nature, and I teach screen print workshops and run a print club alongside.  I have recently re- discovered my love for painting, and have started turning my painted designs in to patterns for fabric. I really love baking, and our cake tin is not often empty! My reasons are  {a} ….Edith and Archie love making and eating cake (Archies first word was cake) …. And {b} I make a cake for my workshops and print club, so we get through a lot of ingredients!

 You can find me on Insta and Facebook as @particlepress or my website is www.particlepress.com

How do you find the Juggle with work/ family/ life / childcare etc?

 I think like most Mums, I find it very hard! My husband works from home too, and is a photographer. He has a big solo show coming up in London in October, so he has been working every day and night recently. I have to try and keep things running like clock work, so trying to eat at 5, bath at 6.30, and bed by 7.15, just so that I can start my days work! Edith is at pre-school, so I have 2.5 days a week without her, but I still have my little bundle Archie to entertain. Its lovely spending time with him on my own, and sometimes he comes to the studio with me! He mainly likes to tip things out, so by the time I've packaged up orders he has wrecked the place! But he enjoys doing it, so I'm fine with that!  So evenings and nap times are my productive times, and any other time, you can find me with my beautiful babes exploring this lovely place that we live! I run a couple of workshops a month, and having these times booked in, means that I get child free time, and I can do what I love best - teaching, printing and eating cake!

 What would your ideal balance be, and are you close to achieving it? If not what needs to change?

 I think I’d love to have a couple of days a week where I could just go to my studio and print, without worrying about the children, and or house work, food shopping and washing! This may happen after Toms exhibition, (not the house work bit) and its great that we can just work around each other, and let each other have the time when we need it. I could put Edith in to pre-school more, and little Arch can start when he turns two, but although its a struggle trying to fit it all in, I want to keep them with me as long as I can, as school will come around way too quick, and all the fun that we can have now is so special. I wouldn't change it, and even if I do feel my creative urge bursting out of me some days, I have to just wait until its my turn!

 

 Why did you decide to work for yourself?

 I set up Particle Press after Tom and I got married, and I went crazy making everything that you could possibly make for our wedding. It got me thinking about making cards and tote bags, and selling them alongside my job at the time, which was teaching at London Print Studio. I knew that we wanted to start a family, so trying to set up something that I could do alongside being a Mum was what I wanted to do. I studied Fine Art Printmaking in Aberdeen, and then went on to do a masters at the Royal College of Art, so I very much went down the route of making work to sell in galleries. I have put that aside for now, to concentrate on PP…..and the children, but I might re-visit it one day. 

 Would you say you have been more productive since having children, or less?

 I’d say both! I do wonder what I used to do all day in the studio, I think I kept it tidier, and I definitely printed more, but now that I have the children, I am much more regimented, and try and get done what I can , when I can! I remember after having Edith, I thought that I would be able to work, and I remember completely loosing it, as it was impossible. In hindsight, one baby was very easy, but actually that realisation of knowing that you can't achieve something very simple, was hard. I decided that I just had to set myself small goals, and I was happy with that, and ive steadily built on it. 

 What is your favourite thing about being a mother?

 I love my little babies soooooo much! Their little faces in the morning are the cutest. I love watching them grow in to little people, I am excited to see them grow up and see what they become, but I also want to hold time still and keep them little forever, protecting them. Edith is very complimentary of my work, and only this morning she said, ‘Mum your patterns are wonderful, you are such a clever artist!’ I love teaching her my love for making things, and she is a dab hand at the old screen print!

I also love cuddles! Lots of cuddles!

 And your least favourite?

 Days that you just want 5 minutes to yourself, and you can't get it. Being followed to the shower and toilet, and you can't even make a cup of tea as you have a child in one arm all day! These days are frustrating, but when they need you, they need you! 

I also really hate being so far from my family in Scotland. It now means that the kiddies miss my family too, making it doubly hard saying goodbye!

 What do you love about where you live and what does your ideal weekend look like?

 I really love living here in Cornwall, I love the beaches, the turquoise sea, the food, the wonderful activities for children, and lovely friends, but I do miss the mountains! At the weekend I am either teaching, or if not, I take the children to a dance class! We always spend Sundays together as a family, and try and organise a day out somewhere exploring, or Ediths ‘go to’ is always swimming, followed by fish and chips!

 And finally do you have any tips for working from home with toddlers?

Hmmmmm. I think just being super organised…if you can be with children! I have an app on my phone called Wunderlist, and its my saviour!  I try and make sure I get what I need done at night time, otherwise its chaos if I start trying to do something when they are around. Even doing an Instagram post can be quite hard if I've not planned it! When Arch naps, Edith and I paint or draw, and that means I can work and spend time with her. Who knew sitting painting with my children could be my job!? Its great to involve them if you can! 

 




Fiona Leighton
Fiona Leighton

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