In 2015, designer Speronella Marsh moved to Shropshire and found herself in need of multiple pairs of curtains. Having amassed a collection of vintage sheets, she decided to enroll in a natural printing course at the Chelsea Physic Garden, where she learned basic printing methods. She found herself drawn to block printing, and—several courses later—she began hand-carving her own blocks and making repeat patterns on to a length of vintage fabric. Gradually, a kitchen tablecloth—and a new business idea—emerged.
Here’s a look:
Three years later, Speronella launched Hare’s Tail Printing. Today, she creates handcrafted textiles through block printing on to vintage sheets—many of which are over 100 years old—offering three succinct collections of one-of-a-kind fabrics that can be made into curtains, blinds, and upholstery.
Speronella’s background is in garden design. “After moving to the English countryside years ago, I realized my passion for gardens and nature,” she recalls. “I created my own garden and worked at the Chelsea Flower Show for several years with designers including Tom Stuart-Smith and Luciano Giubbilei.” The garden provides endless inspiration for the shapes, colors, and patterns that appear on her fabrics.
Speronella also recognizes the influence of her Roman upbringing in her designs: “My Italian heritage comes through mainly in the colors I use and my printing technique,” she explains. “By using big print blocks, my patterns aren’t perfectly uniform,” she explains. “They have uneven and faded colors, a bit like the washed-out colors of Italian buildings. I like that imperfection.”
Hare’s Tail fabrics are sourced from antique shops in France, nearby Ludlow, and Etsy. “Wherever I go, I always look out for antique or junk shops,” says Speronella. “You never know what you’re going to find.” Most of the fabrics were once used as bedsheets and come in a range of ages, weights, colors, and textures. “The bedding might have belonged to the smartest member of a household or to the farmers of that estate,” she explains. Many sheets bear the monogram of their previous owners—a feature that Speronella incorporates into the design.
For Speronella, the benefits of working with antique fabrics are multiple. “Antique fabric has a life and history of its own,” she explains. “Anything with history definitely shows off my designs more. The ink and rich fabric work in unison and they hang completely differently to new fabrics.” The sustainability credentials of working with antique fabrics are also intrinsic.
Over the years, Speronella has created three collections—Home, Trails, and Echoes—with a fourth in progress that will launch this autumn. She also welcomes bespoke projects. “As a designer, I love being able to collaborate with clients and designers,” she says. “Whether they see a border and a block they think would work together, would like a design in a different color, or want to add something to compliment a design—anything is possible.” The project she remains most proud of however, is her own home: “It’s how my business started,” she reflects. “If I hadn’t needed so many curtains, Hare’s Tail Printing might not even exist.”