I have a number of those tea towels, produced by schools and nurseries, as fundraisers, with the handprints, or drawings, of children; schools and nurseries from London, Tiree, Barra, Canna, Leicester and even one celebrating the Millennium at Ferryhill Church, Aberdeen. They are always a ‘crowd pleaser’. I have often wondered about the firms that are involved in arranging the printing. Then I came across Class Printing on Instagram; ‘this is business that would be a good subject for In Conversation With…’ I thought.
Kathryn was a font of knowledge but, of course, there will always be a problem about getting photographs of tea towels to use in this article: firstly, because many of their tea towels have the names of children which might then easily lead to identifying some children and secondly, because tea towels are ‘commissioned’ by other organisations, not necessarily designed by themselves, so it requires permission of the originating commissioners. But a little problem like that has never stopped me, it just requires creativity. Class Printing produced a lovely tea towel for “ecole de WIX Primary School: 2016-2017” which is in the Museum but which I won’t print in this article. Let Kathryn tell their story:
”Our company was founded by our two directors in 2010. Class Fundraising was launched to provide screen printed textiles for school fundraising projects. The company grew quickly to then form Class Printing, offering textile printing to a larger range of customers, from artists and charities to large national companies. We also invested in the latest high-spec digital printing technology and expanded our product range to include items such as cushion covers, bags and aprons.
We offer screen and digital textile printing; our customers include schools, artists, retailers, charities and companies of all sizes across the UK. Products we have produced have been shipped all over the world, including to America, Australia and Japan.
Many of our design team come from a background in printing, production and design. They have gained knowledge and experience through employment, courses and specialist in-house training. We have a close-knit productions and operations team who work together to take orders from an initial enquiry through to a finished product”.
I wanted to know if Kathryn and the team had a favourite tea towel that Class Printing has produced: “This is a tough question as we have so many to choose from and each of us has personal favourites. We do all love the tea towels that we have printed for Perkins and Morley though, as they always create such colourful designs”.
How many designs do they print each year? and do they create their own designs, or just work on commissions?: “Each year we screen and digitally print thousands of designs for schools, artists, retailers, charities and companies. We have an art work team and can create bespoke designs in-house but usually receive completed designs from our Class Printing customers, rather than being commissioned to create designs”.
What about choice of colours and materials? “If you look at the website you can see the wide range of our colour palette. There is also an article about the new fashion for purple. There are seven standard tea towels: 100% premium cotton with options of hemming on two or four sides; 100% natural, unbleached cotton with the two hemming options; cotton/linen union with hemming on four sides and 8oz cotton panama with the two hemming options. Plus there is the possibility of organic cotton. Then it’s up to the customer to choose.”
What about the ethos of the company?: “We believe it is important for the company to excel, which means investing in our employees as well as new technology. Our company understands the significance of passing down our specialist knowledge and skills for future generations. As a company, we want to be able to offer a friendly, professional service to those who are just starting a new business, right through to large companies. We want to see our employees continue to develop their knowledge so that we can endeavour to offer our customers the best advice and service.”
”We understand the impact our company can have on the environment. We only use water-based inks for printing and we are also carbon balanced. We believe in supporting other local and national businesses and work closely with UK based suppliers”
And the future? “We want our company to continue to grow so that we can offer employment opportunities within our local community. Also we aim to develop and expand our product range, as well as invest in new technology, to offer the highest quality to our new, and returning, customers”.
Thank you Kathryn for an insight into the world of screen and digital printing. I am sure there are many of us who do not think about what goes into the production of each, and every, humble tea towel. I will look at them all in a new light now!
For more information: http://www.classprinting.co.uk