Welcome to Ruby Red Skipper, a chic new line of table and kitchen linens. I’m Jenna, fourth-generation Brooklynite and printer. My great-grandfather, Malcolm McLean, was a Scottish sea captain, sailing all over the world in the 1800s.
He met his wife Catherine when he sailed into Liverpool, England to stock up his ship with supplies. Her father ran a ship chandler’s shop, which was where you would purchase such things. They fell in love and married, moving first to Nova Scotia and then Brooklyn.
He was the respected skipper of a ship named The Ruby—so I named my company in honor of him and that side of my family ! Having grown up by the beach, I have salt water in my veins….and a lot of non-toxic ink on my hands.
For years I was a biologist by day and an artist on the side, teaching myself how to draw. I learned how to letterpress from an elderly printer 20 years ago. Then I decided to learn how to silkscreen, signing up for classes at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
I still study there, absorbing as much as I can from my teacher and master printer Larry B. Wright. Larry has some serious cred: he was Robert Rauschenberg’s right hand man, and he also printed for Andy Warhol.
(I almost ran over Andy Warhol with my car near 5th Avenue and 17th Street, but that’s a story for another blog post.)
Primitive art has always appealed to me rather than the works of the great masters. Alexander Calder is one of my favorites, as the simplicity of his art, sculpture and jewelry was often inspired by African tribes.
Another person who has inspired me is Lucienne Day, the doyenne of fabulous textile design in the 1950s. She and her husband Robin were at the forefront of British midcentury modern design. While Robin designed furniture, Lucienne created abstract, funky fabrics.
It was Lucienne Day’s desire to bring art to the masses, to make it affordable. She wanted people to enjoy her designs on upholstery and curtains, tea towels and napkins. To this day her work has fresh appeal.
So that’s why I created this line of kitchen and table linens—to help bring art into your home in an affordable manner. You’ll see that I stick to clean lines and bold statements, which you can see in the line of graphic tea towels and the napkins.
My nostalgic side shows up in the themed tea towels: the vintage baseball piece, for example, or the Mad Men martini-esque cocktail tea towel. The iconic New York City landmark towel was inspired by old checkered cabs, and the coffee shop piece by 1950s Mom-and-Pop diners (with a subtle nod to modern day French presses and baristas)
Also in the works: stationery, maybe gift wrap, definitely pillows and possibly table runners.
I’ll be doing live events in the NYC area from time to time, so look on the bottom of the home page for updates. And in future blog posts, I may offer some DIY printing tips for you to do at home.
Thank you for joining me on Ruby Red Skipper’s journey!
(The photo on the home page for this blog post is of Alexander Calder’s sculpture and jewelry.The one below is of Lucienne and Robin Day, with a snippet of one her fabulous textile designs.)