Creative collection Meet textile artist Deborah Devaal
NATURAL TREASURES FORAGED ON STROLLS AROUND THE COUNTRYSIDE ARE AT THE HEART OF DEBORAH DEVAAL’S TEXTILE DESIGNS
ALL SORTS OF good things can start with a chat. In textile designer Deborah Devaal’s case, a casual conversation with the man who sold her a stand-up paddleboard resulted in him asking whether she would work with him on a collection of locally produced boards.
Fast forward several months and SMO Surf’s new range, which features Deborah’s striking designs, has launched. “It’ll be fun to go out on the river and see the boards with my designs,” she says. It’s quite a change of medium for the designer, whose works to date have been hand screen-printed onto tactile linen and lovingly transformed into homewares such as cushion covers, tea towels, market bags and tablecloths.
Born in Holland, Deborah grew up watching her mother and grandmother stitching up lots of different type garments – from baby clothes to wedding gowns – and also teaching others to sew. “As a child, I loved spending time in my grandmother’s studio, helping with small jobs like sorting out fabrics,” she says. Moving to Australia at age 20, she maintained her love of textiles as a hobby for several years before she enrolled in a design course at TAFE in 2011.
Mentored by renowned painter and textile artist Tori de Mestre, Deborah began to make her own prints and transfer them onto highquality European linen. Gradually, the hobby morphed into a business, which saw Deborah sell her unique range of products online at Etsy, before expanding to brick-and-mortar outlets throughout Australia. Now established at Tori’s creative hub, Callemondah Studios near Albion Park in NSW, Deborah continues to draw her inspiration from her sublime surrounding area. “I have a real passion for Australian flora, as well as the breathtaking landscape and hidden treasures of the Minnamurra rainforest,” she says.
All of Deborah’s designs have been inspired by the natural world. “Something will catch my eye and spark something,” she says. Transferring that vision to fabric – or board – can take many weeks, especially as Deborah also develops her own colours, mixing pigments until she has just the right hues to suit the design in her head.
Then there’s the added complication of making her patterns to suit a finite area. “The screen is only a certain space that you can work with, and you have to fit everything in it,” she explains. “But it also has to become a repeat pattern, so when you put the next screen down, it’s like a puzzle.” Deborah, who also teaches screen-printing workshops, plans to add linen clothing to her range and has even branched out into stoneware. “I would also like to keep running my workshops and spreading the love for screen-printing,” she says. “Hopefully more and more people will explore [screen-printing] and keep alive this wonderful form of art.”
“I REMEMBER PICKING UP A BRACKEN LEAF AND INSTANTLY HAVING A VISION OF A PATTERN. THIS INSPIRED MY BRACKEN LEAF DESIGN” ~ Deborah
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Deborah shows off fabric in her ‘Banksia Leaf’ design; “The banksia is my favourite flowering plant of all time,” she says of a framed print in the studio (right); sustainability is key for the artist, who uses eco-friendly inks on linen that is renowned for its environmental credentials.