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Q&A with Jo of Hadley Paper Goods and

Mel of Mercer-Mercer

S/S 24

Meet Mel Mercer (from Mercer Mercer) and Jo Waterhouse (from Hadley Paper Goods). Both v v good at drawing. Both v v nice. Both v v funny. Perfection. Find out what they have to say for themselves.

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Hadley Paper Goods produce the most glorious greetings cards. Starting life as original artworks by founder Jo Waterhouse (collages, paintings or prints) and printed on recycled paper oun exquisite detail, these cards are both seriously beautiful and delightfully whimsical.

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Mercer Mercer and The Hambledon was a little love in at a recent trade show. Mel, founder and fashion colour consultant (her proper job), makes beautiful print and text based cards, featuring the prettiest colours and some cheering words. Just lovely.

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Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you do before you made cards for a living?


JW: My name’s Jo Waterhouse, I live in Totnes in Devon with my partner and two kids. I run Hadley Paper Goods and also make original collages which you can see at jowaterhouse.com. I was an antique dealer before I sold cards and I loved it; driving out in the wee hours in my little red van, haggling with swarthy antique goblins and always having a wodge of cash in my back pocket. Selling antiques really informed my eye too - I bought and sold a lot of art and prints and decorative trozzle: it gave me a feel for what I like.


MM: I am fundamentally a creative, I have worked in fashion design for 35 years and have loved every minute travelling the world. My degree was in Textile Design, and I worked for large retailers in womenswear design. I now run my own colour studio, and my stationary range runs parallel with that. My fascination lies with illustration, surface pattern and fonts. It’s a rich life!

Have you always loved painting and drawing?


JW: Yes, absolutely. Sometimes doing it as a job can take the joy out of it - never enough to make me retrain as an accountant though. I’m always drawing or creating something, I like to have a project on the go or be learning a new skill. I used to do printmaking which was never very successful, I’d always manage to get a big inky fingerprint on my work. Before that I had a phase of drawing little naked people all over things, very crudely in pencil. For a long time when I was a child I really enjoyed painting onto toilet roll, it really sucks up the paint you see, so I created a rolls and rolls of swooshy patterned toilet roll. Yes; I’ve had many different art phases; much like Picasso.


MM: Always! As a child I always only wanted paints and drawing materials as presents. I always carry a small sketchbook and pencils wherever I go and I love to record everything visually.

We love the idea of old-fashioned letter writing. Are you a good correspondent?


JW: Yes and no. I’m a fun correspondent in that I always write on coloured paper and add a little something from the studio, some snipped paper pictures maybe, but I’m very easily distracted so I rarely reply promptly.


MM: I send visual notes rather than formal letters, sketches, doodles, cartoons that communicate something amusing or inspiring! I am not really a good correspondent...it's rather too random for that!


Felt tips, paints, or illustrator. What are the tools of your trade?


JW: Paints always. Or anything tactile really; pastels, soft pencils, scissors. Felt tips creep me out and Illustrator is boring.


MM: Pencils, 4B, Gouache paints, perfect brushes and Photoshop…Illustrator only if absolutely necessary!

Do you have a favourite occasion or holiday when it comes to designing a card?


JW: Valentine's is definitely my favourite, it’s so lovely to design for with all those hearts and kisses and nice feelings. I’m a big fan of love.



MM: Valentine's Day is my favourite! Everything in life comes down to love. My absolute fave is coffee in Paris and time to sketch down ideas. Bliss.



Favourite artist, and how do they inspire your work?


JW: I love Beryl Cook, she comes from Plymouth near me; I started off liking her work a bit ironically but now I’m just wholeheartedly into it, I like the lightness of it and the narratives. I like Louise Bourgeois, I’m especially inspired by her textile pieces, they really speak to me. My favourite thing though is folk art, I have many folk art books on my shelves that I browse if I need a quick visual pick-me-up. I have children’s art framed in my house, some that my own children have done and some very old children’s artwork from the 1950s or so, I just love the freedom of it.


MM: The Fauves, Celia Birtwell, Laurent de Brunhoff, Ludwig Bemelmans…and hundreds more. I gravitate towards colour, spontaneity, pattern and the enchanting things in life.



Silence or music when you’re working? And what are you listening to?


JW: When I’m in a creative flow I like to listen to Beyonce very loud in my headphones and bop about, then I can make pictures on fast forward and also imagine I’m Beyonce, she’s my favourite person to be when I’m alone in the studio. I also need some silence in my life, to keep me on the level. It depends on the day.  


MM: When I am working it's simply Radio 4 or Radio 3... rarely silence.

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching any secret paramores, you’ll be sending a love token to? don’t worry. Our lips are sealed.


JW: I’ll be sending love tokens to my wonderful studio wives: Hennie henniehaworth.co.uk, Becky eccabin.com, Clare clarefisherart.com and Allegra wildwoodstudio.org. It’s all part of the masterplan, I’ll start my wooing now and then one day we’ll all live together in a crumbling Dartmoor mansion. Perfect.



MM: No secrets…I send cards to my darling daughters Georgina & Amelia and my gorgeous, beyond gorgeous boyfriend.


You’re shopping at The Hambledon, what’s in your basket?


JW: The Red BasShu quilt please. A lot of my possessions seem to be quilted these days, I can’t get enough of quilting it would seem. And a big pair of Grainne Morton earrings too, obviously. Gosh I love The Hambledon, I could carry on - who’s paying? If it’s an option I’ll just take one of everything please. Or two. Two of everything. Thank you.


MM: The whole store... I'm not lying.


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