Hatch Master Printer takes textile art to interior tiles

By Jennifer Chesak
Photography by Michelle Morrow

Master printmaker Jim Sherraden, who managed Nashville’s iconic Hatch Show Print for more than 30 years, has a new venture called jimjim and co. His artisan tile business is a collaboration with sculptor Jammie Williams and the crew at Nashville Tile & Interiors.

“I regret allowing the word ‘retired’ to be used,” Sherraden says about his 2016 farewell from Hatch Show Print. He says the goal was always to “move on, creating my own art based on my woodcuts in designs that resemble tiles or textiles, in traditional patterns or those of my own making.”

Sherraden, who has been making wooden and paper quilts from his woodcuts, says he was always interested in ceramics and that tile was a natural next step, even though he lacked experience in the medium. “I don’t have the same amount of ceramics books as I do printmaking and art books,” he says, “but it’s close.”

He reached out to Williams, a painter and sculptor who does the inductee portraiture for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Williams took him under his wing. “I wanted to not be the artist who just pointed and said ‘do it,’” Sherraden explains. He also is working with intructors Jessica Wilson and Perry Johnson of the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee.

“I wanted to learn the process. It’s going slow right now. But the only thing that could make it slower is if I took a donkey and a wooden wagon on the drive over to Ashland City to work with Jammie.”

The process goes like this: Sherraden carves his wooden blocks and prints them, and then he cuts that printed paper into a tile motif. He sends the digital motif to a platemaker in Michigan. Then once he receives the crafted magnesium plates, Williams and Sherraden press in the clay to make the plaster tiles. Sherraden now has seven designs in the mix.

“I’ve always been cognizant of the value of the border to not so much control the information, but to enhance or accent the information,” he says, “whether it’s a Johnny Cash poster or something of my own art. So you have a border design built into the artwork that I make, which reflects well into the tile design components.”

Another jimjim and co. collaborator is Nashville Tile & Interiors, a division of cabinet maker and full-service construction company Hartert-Russell, which Sherraden says has supplied the print shop with wood to carve for decades. Nashville Tile will be representing jimjim and co. and finding clients.

“I stood in front of the people for almost 34 years,” Sherraden says, “and I feel like I’ve accomplished all that I’m supposed to as the front man to that great letterpress destination

called Hatch Show Print. This is my opportunity now to completely transition into becoming an artist.”

Some of Sherraden’s work under jimjim and co. will appear at The Roots Barn, the new Music City Roots venue that’s scheduled to open early next year at historic Amqui Station in Madison. The commission involves an 8- by 8-foot piece of art based on Sherraden’s individual woodcuts that will be paper on wood in a tile design. And the bar and restaurant will incorporate jimjim and co. tiles into the interior.

Sherraden says having worked with repetitive imagery for years provided a natural entry into the tile space. “All of those decades of binding posters, annual report covers, pieces of art called monoprints—all of that has led me to this road,” he says. “All that I learned at Hatch has prepared me for this next phase of my aesthetic and spiritual career. I’m still in my early 60s, and I want to do this until I can’t lift up the wood-cutting tools anymore.”