Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

Meet the Maker… Jenny McCabe, Coo & Co

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 7 minutes.

coo studio montage

I discovered Coo & Co recently on Folksy and instantly became a fan. Prepare to fall in love with Jenny McCabe’s playful yet stylish collection of textile goodies.

Tell us a little about yourself

I live in Lancaster with my Husband and children, Jesse 14 & Joe 5 so as you can imagine it’s all fun and games in our house! I make my work in a small studio in my garden, I have a fine art background but I’m self-taught in screen printing. I had been making textile work for the last few years perfecting a style and trying out ideas. I love creating useful and playful objects.

Jenny McCabe - Coo & Co
Jenny McCabe - Coo & Co

Tell us about your work?

I design and make screen printed textile home wares and accessories. Everything is hand made (apart from the baby grows and T-shirts) and I reuse and recycled fabric when I can. All my white cotton is recycled sheeting from the hotel industry, professionally laundered then straight to me, one mans waste is another’s treasure!

I have a very eclectic design taste, I love all things vintage and things that have a past and a story. I love to create narratives for the images I make, for the Lovely ladies print I found images of 1940s women that looked very thoughtful so I could imagine their back stories, but the final print is fun and playful with their spotty dresses.

Lovely Lady bags - Coo & Co
Lovely Lady bags - Coo & Co

Birds feature heavily in my work, I have struggled with this through the very fashionable trend of birds being on everything, but I’ve come full circle and know that for me it’s truly from the heart. Birds are a big part of my life. My little family and I are avid twitchers and have amazing woodlands just outside our back door, we are always on the look out for visits from our amazing and diverse British birdlife.

Pigeon Babygrow - Coo & Co
Pigeon Babygrow - Coo & Co

How long have you been selling on Folksy?

I have been on folksy under the name Coo & Co since last November. I’ve been here for over a year under the name Cinnamon girl prints but last year I decided to change my name, I got very stuck creatively and felt the name was holding me back, I wanted to be a bit more playful and allow room for my multiple personality creative practice! I wanted a name that sounded like a group of people because that’s how my work feels to me, like lots of different people make it! But its just me alone in my studio.

What’s your favourite piece of work? 

My favorite piece of my work changes all the time depending on what mood I’m in and what Im working on, but currently it has to be my pigeons! It sums up everything I wanted to do with my studio, make playful and beautiful things. I have also recently sourced some wonderful Linen fabric and that is a huge favorite of mine. I just love the texture and color I have been combining different linens to make a new range of cushion covers and I’m so excited about them, can’t stop hugging them.

Basket of Pigeons - Coo & Co
Basket of Pigeons - Coo & Co

When did it all begin for you?

I have come to textile screen printing the longway round, my degree was in fine art and have always worked in the arts, but as a community artist, facilitating creativity in others, within schools and hospitals and theatres. I finally got back to ‘making’ my work in 2009 and have loved getting my hands dirty ever since.

Tell us about your work space? Favorite place to work?

I’m very lucky to a studio in my garden. We converted our small detached garage into a room a few years ago, for my husband to use as a music studio, which he still does, but as my business grew he kindly accepted to share his space and we rearranged and now have half each, one half filled with drum kits and amplifiers and the other screens and inks and fabrics. I love my studio, its lovely to be able to ‘go to’ work, leave the house and be in a different space, but still be near the family, it gives me great flexibility in my working hours, I try to stick to school hours but when I need to I can work in the evenings.

Coo & Co Workshop
Coo & Co Workshop

How do you keep your work unique?

I’m not sure how one keeps work unique, I always make things I like, when I try to force a piece because it might sell or is a trendy design etc it never works. As an artist you do a lot of looking, so you are always aware of what else is out there, its good to know where your work sits style wise but you mustn’t compare it with others it will drive you mad. Just make, enjoy and be happy.

Describe your day as a maker? Are you organised/disciplined?

My day starts with the school run for my youngest. Then whilst the coffee is brewing a quick wiz round the house to tidy up the worst bits, then to the studio! I always try and have a list of tasks and I like to spend a whole day on one thing ie printing one day sewing the next. I find the designing part stressful as it always take me longer than I hope, I love it when a design is done and the screen is ready! That first print run is just so exciting, seeing a design work on fabric for the first time.

Forest Linen bag - Coo & Co
Forest Linen bag - Coo & Co

What three tools could you not live without?

I could not live without my laptop, my screens and my sewing machine! Though I’m sure if they all disappeared I would still create something, I just can’t be stopped.

What gets the creative juices flowing when creativity is stifled?

When I’m stuck creatively I just have to remember to Look! A visit to a gallery or an arty bookshop, looking back through my sketchbooks or a woodland walk. The one thing I shouldn’t do is browse the internet! Although there is an amazing wealth of fabulous things out there I just get lost and end up tired and frustrated. Pintrest is a good example, wonderful world of amazing images and work but too much, I should only look when I’m feeling happy and settled not when I’m stuck creatively.

Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?

I’m inspired by so many things and people that this is always a question I dread. Trying to narrow it down is very hard and it changes day to day. I will always love Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud, they were my first memories of being moved by art as a child. Currently I’m inspired by blogging artists whose work I love but it is their lifestyle and practice that I admire as inspiration for how to run a creative business with a young family like Arounna Khounnoraj from Bookhou in Canada.

What do you love most about being a maker?

I love getting my hands dirty and turning a piece of fabric into a beautiful item, I’m very lucky to be able to call it my job.

Stag cushion - Coo & Co
Stag cushion - Coo & Co

Where would you like to be in 5 years time?

I would love to have my range picked up by Liberty and be stocked in fabulous gallery shops all over the UK and then the world! Well you’ve got to aim high haven’t you?

What would you say to any makers starting out?

Go for it! Get your designs ready and get making, be brave, but be aware! Make things you love, but look at what’s out there so you know where to market your work. Be present and visible online but do it from the heart as you will find it hard to keep up if its forced. Be supportive of other makers by commenting positively on their work and ideas, it will come back to you and it just makes the world a nicer place.

You can see Jenny’s full collection in her Folksy shop Coo&Coo.