Shelley Barton established West Australian design sensation Silken Twine just over two years ago. Stylish Australiana talks to the WA artist and designer about her successful business, her inspiration, and how she makes the magic happen.
Coming from a long line of creatives, including dressmakers and artists, Shelley developed a love of drawing and painting from a very young age. At 16 she bought her first sewing machine, and at 17 she was designing and making ballgowns. This evolved into a successful Bridal and Formal wear business which Shelley ran until only a few years ago.
“I really felt the pull to rediscover painting”, Shelley says, and after many years she picked up a paint brush and Silken Twine was born. Shelley favours water colour as her medium of choice. “I find it so mesmerising to use and love the way it doesn’t want to be controlled, you just have to go with the flow. Even though it may not look exactly how you want it to initially, once it dries it is always just so beautiful.”
Shelly has always enjoyed spending hours in the studio crafting and painting. “My creative life would have to be my three loves combined, painting, sewing and graphic design.” Silken Twine perfectly showcases each of Shelley’s talents, as she undertakes each step of the creative process.
Shelley started Silken Twine as she has always been inspired by Australia's unique and fascinating native treasures. “I am lucky enough to have the skills to turn my paintings into beautiful fabric designs which I then sew into gorgeous scarves, cushion covers and handkerchiefs”.
Shelley’s modest take on her unique skill set doesn’t fool her thrilled customers. In addition to many glowing, sometimes quite emotional reviews, one of Silken Twine’s stockists enthused “These are the most beautiful things I have seen in my 20 years of running gift shops” -- and we have to agree!
From her bush studio on her 1-acre property near Bunbury, WA. Shelley, a mum of two, wears many hats: “I do all of the painting, graphic design, sewing, packaging, posting and marketing. Sometimes if I'm lucky, I can convince my husband or one of my kids to give me a hand by folding boxes or putting labels on,” Shelley jokes.
Australiana, for Shelley, is a tasteful homage to all that she sees around her from her bush studio. “My favourite thing about where I live is the amount of amazing Western Australian wild orchids and flowers I have. I’m very lucky to have such a wide variety right in my back yard.
What technique or skill are you most proud of?
I’d have to say I am most proud of my sewing skills; I have made some pretty amazing outfits over the years!
What challenges you?
I find it challenging when things don’t go to plan in my business. If I order something and it comes slightly different to the original specs, it drives me insane. So, I think the real answer here is probably being a perfectionist is the most challenging thing for me!
What is the strangest gift you’ve ever received?
A set of LED Poi balls, but I totally love them and am getting quite good now!
What is your dream project?
Printing fabric! Having a large set up where I can print my own fabrics would be amazing.
What tool / item couldn’t you do without?
My industrial sewing machine without a doubt, it turns a 4-hour job into a 1 hour job.
What piece of advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Not to push myself to the point of burning out, it’s never a good idea to rely on your adrenaline to get you through each day. Slow down, don’t take on too much and always take the weekends off!
You can view Shelley's amazing scarves here, and we're very excited to announce that we will have some new designs of Shelley's in store very soon - so stay tuned!