On the back of my business cards, there is a single line: “The secrets of Portland, secrets no longer.” It’s catchy, but it’s rarely true. Much of what I write about here is well known both within our community and in the world at large. So you can imagine my glee at discovering, tucked away in a nondescript building on a fashionable but out of the way side street, South Street Linen.
Of course, they’re hardly an undiscovered gem. Out in the wide world they’ve become fairly famous, actually (and as they should be) for their exceptionally beautiful hand-printed textiles. But here in Portland, while the names of the artisans – Lynn Krauss, Jane Ryan, and Mary Ruth Hedstrom – may be fairly well known, I’ve been hard-pressed to find many people who know of the exceptional work that they are producing.
I can’t stress enough that my photos don’t at all do their work justice. Like sighting a UFO, I sort of stumbled into their shop unprepared for what I was about to experience. Still, Lynn Krauss was gracious enough to allow me to step into their studio, to watch her work, and to talk with me for a moment or two about the work they are doing.
The core business of South Street Linen is their unique, delicate and unusual scarves – some one of of a kind, others produced in small batches – and their graphic and bold table linens (napkins and place-mats, table-runners) which use simple, repeating geometric patterns to create clean, modern table dressings that are at home in a Scandinavian modern apartment as they are in a rustic Maine kitchen.
But scarves and tableware are not all they do. They also make adorable pinafore style dresses (which, if they’re not a staple of every Maine girl’s wardrobe, they should be) and generous, practical aprons, along with linen throws. (If you’ve never tried a pure linen towel, let me tell you, you’re missing out.)
Spend even ten minutes in their sunny, airy studio and it is very clear that these three women are artists as heart, and it is the interplay of color and pattern on the neutral canvas of taupe linen that inspires them. Because every item is hand produced, every item they sell is an artwork – as individual and beautiful as the women who block the designs and operate the presses. (There is some very fine original artwork by these talented women adorning their studio space, as well.)
I cannot urge you strongly enough to visit South Street Linen’s showroom/workshop. Even the exceptional photography on their website does not do the beauty of their work justice.
South Street Linen is located at 5 South Street in Portland. You can visit their website, or Like them on Facebook. They also have a blog. You can read about their work in Maine Home + Design or on Remodelista or SF Girl by Bay, or purchase their work at Lekker Home.
Distance from the Maine State Pier: eight-tenths of a mile, about a 12 minute walk.
Still can’t find them? Here’s a map!