2023 – Tea Towel Collection

I would like to introduce you to the designs of my 2023 selection of tea towels for my Patterns of New Zealand collection. All are printed on custom woven 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton.

A fabric decorated with butterflies from New Zealand in oranges, bronze, brown, black, red and yellow. Lying crumpled on a table with a tea cup and books.

Pēpepe - New Zealand Butterflies & Moths

I felt I was taking a risk with this one but I really wanted to bring these tiny beauties out into the open, which is what putting something on a tea towel does. It’s a six-colour print so it’s a little more expensive than the others.

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A white tea towel with black and red motifs of plants and animals from New Zealand.

Iconic NZ – This one is one of my first collaborations. Rebekah and the team at Rise Creative created the design for my packaging based on my motifs and then we extended that into a tea towel print based on a mandala concept.

Up until this year, it was the only design that I had a Kiwi on. For many years other brands had mostly only kiwis as their design which hit the tourist market and I’ve always been a person to turn the other way if that’s what everyone else is doing. So I never did a Kiwi design until this year.

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A white tea towel with images of black and white kiwi birds.

Kiwi – As I mentioned above it has taken me nearly 20 years of drawing from New Zealand flora and fauna to finally do a kiwi. I wanted to not just repeat one shape as most people do but try to capture the personality rather than a symbolic motif. Using a woodcut technique and single colour helped me achieve this. I also like to keep the handmade aspect visible in my work as much as possible. Of course, people are asking for colour now so we’ll see…

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A white tea towel with a red and green print of the pohutukawa flower. The tea towel is wrapped around a present in the shape of a box.

Pohutukawa – Still is, one of the best and going strong after many years. I am so grateful for this design and I remember the exact day I drew the original. I have created two brands off this pattern. My aim was always to create something timeless and with this one, I believe I have.

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A white tea towel with a green print of a plant with heart shaped leaves.

Kawakawa – Originally an art print from a drawing. I subconsciously drew it in the perfect composition for a tea towel, so that’s where it found its home. For 2023 I have introduced new colours and I love the combination of these two greens which I have used in the following two designs. So all three match perfectly as many people like to gift a set so I like to have them work together in smaller stories with one, two or three designs.

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A white tea towel with ferns printed in two shades of green.

Ferns – A drawing from a fern taken from a walk on our family property in Maratoto, Waikato. I asked Rise Creative to play with this for me as at the time I had too much printing to do, so they made the repeat.

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A white background with a vine like plant with heart shapes green leaves, red berries and pale green star like flowers.

Rohutu – A small tree that supports bird life but is sadly under threat from Myrtle Rust, grows mostly on the East Coast. I don’t know why it took me 20+ years to actually use one of the designs I commissioned from one of the most talented illustrators I have ever met – Lesley Robb. I’ve redrawn and worked this several times but I do like the result of this and love the colours that match across the whole range and I am happy to finally bring it into the light. 

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A white tea towel with little pink flowers and green leaves on it, like a Japanese cherry blossom.

Manuka – I believe the 2023 version of my manuka is the sweetest so far and it makes me think of Japan. I think I did this one just for myself.

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A white tea towel with yellow and black kowhai flowers in the weave like pattern. The tea towel is draped over books with a jug on the top.

Kowhai – One of my classics styled in a weave like pattern. Slightly larger motif than before. I have made many Kowhai variations over the years but this is just lovely on a tea towel and is a popular gift. 

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A blue and tan coloured tea towel with shells on it.

Shells – Pencil-drawn shells that I collected from Papamoa Beach. For this new print, I have introduced a second colour making complimentary shades of the seaside.

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A tea towel design with the map of New Zealand surrounded by deep blue water and birds flying and a whale's tale.

Earth Sea Sky – Collaboration with Janine Murray. I met Janine in the Waikato when I used to teach screen printing workshops. A talented graphic artist based in Hamilton. This print was an exciting drawing brief around our country being the centre of the water hemisphere. I turned it into a vector and included the albatross and whale tale. Originally it was just a two-colour print but for 2023 I wanted to make the water deeper and darker.

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A blue, mint and black print of New Zealand mountians on a white tea towel.

Mountains – Again part of a collaboration with Janine Murray. When I was hand-printing all my tea towels I found that I needed help to create the next ranges so Janine was an awesome person to work with. I wanted to have a vintage 1950’s screen-printed poster feel for this one and I made so many colour variations I went a little crazy. I’ve kept with the original and it's just lovely.

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A white tea towel with New Zealand wood pigeon (Kereru) eating berries in a Puriri tree with pink flowers. The print goes down the centre of the tea towel.

Kereru – This is from the all-over print I made for interior fabrics. Hand-printed 5 colours on 150cm width fabric was a challenge, to say the least. A two-person job for sure. I was, and still would have been one of the only people in the country to be printing like this. I retired that print and then for this range I reworked it into just a centre repeat through the middle of the tea towel and indulged in 6 colours. I’ve kept the colours true to the hand-mixed originals.

See product here.

It was very hard to stop some of my designs in order to bring in new ones but I always like a scarcity challenge as a designer. These have not appeared over night. My work has evolved over the years with finding the right cloth and testing different designs and colours. It grew from my thoughts, my hands and my resources. I believe the collection tells a unique story of Aotearoa New Zealand, my heritage and a glimpse of our young and hopeful nation. 

Photography and styling by yours truly, (I'm in learning phase). AD x

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