A Chat With... Atelier de Cassia
Getting in touch with the artists and designers of Liberty Fabrics’ worldwide community
@LibertyFabrics is home to a unique network of artists and crafters, each with their own distinct design perspective. All around the globe, our talented makers draw from a vast range of Liberty prints to create a living patchwork of ever-changing projects – and here at Liberty HQ, we love to see what you’ve been making. In this instalment of the series we chat to Rita de Cassia Medeiros about Atelier De Cassia – her upholstery and soft furnishings workshop based in Leamington Spa, where she combines Liberty Fabrics with Brazilian chita cloth.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative background?
I have always been involved with the arts. Back in Brazil, where I’m originally from, I used to work as a movie and advertising producer. Since my move to Portugal in 1999 and then to the UK in 2004, I have been juggling family, my professional life and hobbies. I studied Design & Crafts, Upholstery and Soft Furnishing and have always worked at my home in Leamington Spa, where I have a workshop that’s very colourful and busy.
How long have you been working as a maker, and what do you specialise in?
I’ve been making since I moved to Portugal – however not for work, just as a hobby and a passion. It was only in September 2019 that I finally decided to rebrand and launch my business. Atelier De Cassia comes from my full name, Rita de Cassia Vieira Medeiros – and ‘De Cassia’ also sounded like a play on words of ‘de casa’ for Portuguese speakers, as the items I make are for the home!
I have a variety of craft skills, but specialise in upholstery and soft furnishings. I like giving old things a new life, and enjoy spending time reviving forgotten and worn furniture by reupholstering them. The recycling and reusing of old furniture therefore reduces waste and helps the environment. My hand-sewn products are created from scratch – each one is unique, handcrafted using quality fabrics and materials.
Can you tell us about chita fabrics, and how they tie in with Liberty prints in your work?
Chita (pronounced sheet-ta) is a fabric originating from India. The Brazilian chita is a simple cotton fabric called morim (very similar to muslin or cheese cloths) with bold and colourful floral prints. The prints serve to enrich the fabric and hide its irregularities and imperfections. Chita became iconic in Brazil’s popular culture and is widely used in crafts and decorating projects, and became a Brazilian textile due to its floral designs and to its connection with national identity. Nowadays, you can find chita printed on other types of fabric, such as polyester and tricoline cotton.
Since I haven’t yet been able to find chita in the UK, I had to diversify my source of materials. I found that Liberty’s floral prints have a similar intricacy and the floral designs and colours remind me of Brazil, making it feel like home.
How do you source your materials?
For Liberty Fabrics, whenever possible I drive down or take the train to London, or I buy them online. As for chita fabric, it involves more logistics – throughout the year I shop online in Brazil and have everything delivered to my sister over there. Then once I know someone is coming to visit, I kindly ask to bring all the materials, or I bring them myself when I go.
What do you like about working with Liberty Fabrics?
The quality and the beauty of Liberty Fabrics mean that the simplest of works become a masterpiece. This quality and the variations in designs means that old furniture can be revamped or enhanced without the need to buy a brand-new chair, stool or lampshade.
What inspires you creatively?
Mostly my childhood memories – I used to draw and colour flowers on the cover of my school notebooks, and would do art homework for my friends who didn’t like art lessons. Also watching my grandmother sewing – she was a seamstress, and I found it fascinating. My father loved to build, he was a salesman but in his spare time he was a skilled handyman. He once built a bar out of a barrel, cut it in half, made a shelf, covered it with felt and embellished it with tacks. When it was finished it was so beautiful that I can still picture it vividly.
As for my travels I always want to go to local craft fairs, not only to buy, but to see local handmade crafts, paintings and goods. This gives me inspiration and I truly enjoy learning about global cultures and how this influences a city or a country’s materials and products. Morocco is a perfect example of this, and I can’t wait to one day be able to go to India.
What’s your favourite Liberty print?
I am crazy about The Secret Garden collection, and especially Faria Flowers.
@LibertyFabrics lovers – we always want to see your creations. Upload and tag us with #LibertyCraftClub, so we can see what you’ve been making, and maybe we’ll feature your work in our next series instalment.