Designing a fabric pattern at last.


Where have I disappeared off to? It’s been a while, but in between commissions and teaching I’ve been gradually, tentatively, painstakingly working on something that has turned out to be a fabric pattern design.

As you can see from the video at the top, a lot of twiddling, fiddling, nit-picking and plan-changing went into this design, despite having some very clear inspiration to work from:

Textile fragment with falconers and gamekeepers, more detail at MFA Boston

I was heavily inspired by this 16th century Persian textile fragment depicting figures with birds, plants and animals. The figure holding the little dog (or deer?) immediately connected with me and I began imagining a reinterpretation of this design using some thinly veiled version of myself and Peanut (previously mentioned small dog) and our daily walks through the local London wildlife.

Globe Thistles

The pattern includes a version of these globe thistles from the local park (the small but lovely Manor Park in Hither Green, South West London), as well as some scrabbly dandelions from it’s less manicured corners.

Dandelions, small hot dog.

These yellow roses from our garden also make an appearance.

I found that designing this pattern invited me to pepper in little symbolic details which don’t need to be legible to anyone else, but that gave me a framework to cling to while trying to figure the design out. (Which still took me forever despite all the heavy lifting having already been done by the antique textile that inspired this whole project).

I’m Scottish so including the thistles was a nod to that, while the opening and closing English rose represents the country I’ve lived in for the past ten years but am now maybe ready to leave. These kind of allusions would probably feel too on-the-nose in a painting or illustration, but making a pattern felt like license to use this kind of imagery without it becoming too clumsy.

Also featured: Peanut chasing pigeons, flies, squirrels, dignity….

The two sections of the design were painted in gouache before being combined and edited in Procreate and Photoshop.

The full pattern is now being printed onto some cotton lawn fabric and I’m nervous/intrigued to see the results. I’ve got some plans for what I’ll be making out of the fabric when it arrives, but more about that next time…