1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.


Fabrique 1840 - Smith Made Fabrique 1840 - Smith Made

When fabric comes in all kinds of colours. 

Shannon Smith launched her design studio in Toronto 3 years ago, more than 10 years after beginning to practice her art. “The art that I do is screen printing, but I do it on natural fabric,” she explains. With Smith Made, she uses this artisanal printing technique to create handcrafted textile goods. “I was always interested in this idea of taking an image and being able to put it on anything,” says the artist. “A lot of what is out there is digitally printed, and it looks very different from something that has been handprinted.” Besides the beautiful, high-quality designs it produces, the interesting thing about screen printing is that this technique requires skill and precision. “There's not a lot of room for error,” explains Shannon, who has perfected the art over the years.

Shannon Smith - Smith Made Shannon Smith - Smith Made

Screen printing is definitely a fascinating process to observe. It starts with designing the image that will be brought to life. “I either draw, paint with acrylic, or make a collage,” Shannon explains. “Then, I’ll take the design and actually make the silk screen myself.” This technical procedure involves transferring a photographic image onto a screen. Once the image is printed onto the fabric, it is fully dried, and heatset at a high temperature before the piece is assembled into its final form. Shannon takes care of every step.

Smith Made - decorative goods Smith Made - decorative goods

“Everything I do has to be sewn on in some form. I really like to put a lot of time and quality into that aspect,” she explains. According to her, this makes all the difference.

Smith Made's creations are based on pattern. “I’m really interested in the different textures of everyday life and natural forms,” explains Shannon. “None of what I do is like a picture or an absolute object.” These creative wanderings manifest themselves through colour. When it comes to gathering ideas, Shannon draws constantly and taps into her imagination instead of indulging in modern trends. “It’s really whatever strikes me,” she says. “It could be something that I saw when travelling, or just from looking at a bird outside.” Born and raised in British Columbia, Shannon spends a lot of time on the water and in the mountains, where she also finds inspiration.

Smith Made - textile Smith Made - textile

Smith Made focuses on using eco-friendly practices in its production process. “Sustainability is very important to me because textile waste is a huge problem for the environment,” Shannon explains. “Unfortunately, in Canada, we don’t have a great textile recycling facility. There are a few organizations that will occasionally collect textiles and ship them overseas to textile recycling facilities,” the designer explains. She collaborates with these organizations and also donates her fabric scraps to schools for student projects. “I find that by doing this, very little goes to waste,” she says. “Also, all my fabrics are organically produced without pesticides, which is super important,” she adds. These organic fabrics are also sourced from Canadian distributors.

And finally, during the screen printing process, Shannon mixes the colours herself. Not only does this allow her to get exactly the colour she wants, but it also ensures that the ink she's using is water-based and soluble, making the process easier on the environment.