Last year, pre-Covid, Karen Buck started thinking about the next chapter of her working life. "For the last 25 years, I have worked professionally in marketing communications — clawing my way up from basic production work to strategy lead," she explains. "My training was in journalism, but I always had a strong interest in graphic design and the craft of design work."

Looking for a creative outlet, Buck started Willoughby Works, a blockprinting practice that focuses on textiles. Her favorites are graphic and modern patterns, and she has created prototypes for a variety of fabric applications, including custom clothing for herself.

Her latest series tackles the world of Mardi Gras decor, something she isn't typically drawn to. Last year, she began working on Mardi Gras designs that were stylish but still capture the essence of Carnival season. "I mean, it can’t NOT be purple, green, and gold! I designed a set of whimsical blockprint stamps that celebrate the Mardi Gras season: a jester’s diamond, crown, mask, and king cake."

She revisited the work she had done last year and refined her approach. "Ultimately, I settled on a series of petite tea towels and napkins that could be purchased one off or as a set for the table." Each piece is 20x20 inches and is made of 100% cotton (sourced from Cotton Craft and World Market). 

Buck's designs are all created in her home studio in Bayou St. John, and each work is packaged with a branded hangtag and ribbon tie. Her products are available on Etsy, and her Mardi Gras series is currently carried at The New Orleans Food Co-op. Her next season is in the works and will explore two-color prints that feature basic geometric shapes.