I've just started taking a course in screen printing, as the first step towards printing my own fabric. I've wanted to learn how to screen print for years and was really excited when I realised that with Jim still not working, I could actually take advantage and disappear every week for a few hours to quite literally fulfill a dream of mine.
As I expected, I'm absolutely loving learning how to print and am finding that it's completely changing the way I'm looking at design and of course, fabric in particular. The reason that I love patchwork and work with it in almost all my designs is that it allows me to effectively create my own textiles. I struggle with the idea of making something out of a single print, because it feels too much to me like it's just a vehicle for someone elses design, instead of being a new design of my own. So this has always been something that I've wanted to explore.
The really interesting thing for me though is that I'm pretty much back at the beginning of designing.When I first started making quilts I found that I needed constant external inspiration. I would scour books and exhibitions and (once I discovered what was out there) the internet, for images to help kick start my imagination. So many times I would come up with a design only to discover that I had been 'inspired' by someone else. I knew what I liked but didn't know how to translate that in to something new.
It was a quite a while before the ideas free flowed in the way that they do now and before I was quite comfortable that my work looked like my work rather than a conglomeration of everybody elses. These days I take inspiration from glimpses of colour or shapes that I catch as I'm doing other things, rather than other people's work and I find that idea's naturally grow and evolve as I work on them.
But with printing I'm back at square one. When I sit down to design a pattern my mind is pretty blank. So I've had books out and have been noticing as much pattern as I can everywhere I go and most of all, I've been drawing, drawing, drawing.
The funny thing is, with all the drawing that I've been doing I had started thinking that I was beginning to develop some slightly more original ideas. Until I looked back at some of my favourite design books and realised that the reason I was loving the pattern that I was working on so much, was that it had already been designed by Lucienne Day!
I'm a huge fan of Lucienne Day's textile designs and love how timeless they are. She was comissioned by Heal's for 25 years and produced over 70 different textile prints as well as creating patterns for ceramics, wallpapers, carpets and fashion fabrics. And just by looking at a small range of her work, it's obvious how much of an influence she has been and continues to be with todays printmakers. It's also obvious just how relevant her work still is.
There's a definite thread that runs through the patterns that appeal to me, with lots of recurring themes. When I started drawing patterns recently, I found that a certain combination of shapes make me happy. What I've also found of course is that I lack the ability to make a pattern my own and that at the moment my designs are as basic as can be and more than a little derivative! I've also discovered that as with any form of artistic design, similar themes and influences can be seen running through many printmakers and textile designers work.
The prints below are from a book about modern Scandinavian ceramics and their similarities to Lucienne Days work is obvious. Of course, it's also obvious that Lucienne Day was originally influenced by Scandi designers and printmakers, so it's all swings and roundabouts really.
I'm really loving exploring this side of textiles as well as learning a new skill. And of course, anything that can give me a justified excuse for buying new pens and paper can only be good. It also means I get to draw and colour for a whole day and say that I'm working!