Monday, 19 May 2008

Why Is There A Gender Imbalance In The Study Of Printed Textiles?

I think the phrase "Printed Textiles" immediately has feminine connotations. Throughout history, the general stereotype depicts women as figures that stay at home to care for the family and carry out designated domestic duties. Therefore a degree in 'Printed Textiles' suggests a suitability for females as opposed to males, which is reflected in the obvious gender imbalance. However, the reality of the situation is that the diversity of the course makes it perfectly suitable for males and females alike. The general intention of the course is to produce aesthetically pleasing designs, suitable for an end product, may that be for fashion or interiors.

In terms of subject matter, there is no doubt that in the commercial market, floral prints are highly viable and have been for many years. However, many designers are becoming bored by the relentless theme and there has been an up-surge of quirky, unusual and maybe more 'masculine' designs. A prime example is the design-led manufacturing company Timorous Beasties, formed by Paul Simmons & Alistair McAuley, who produce intellectual, deceptive and sometimes disturbing designs that are aesthetically pleasing and extremely successful. Therefore the view that 'Printed Textiles' is largely suitable for females alone, is a fairly archaic one and I feel that the title is perhaps a little deceptive.

'Iguana' and 'Oriental Orchid'

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Laser Cut Papers

Towards the end of this final project, there has been an emphasis upon reworking my drawing style and experimenting with different working methods. To develop this idea, I played with the idea of laser cut papers, eliminating the negative space and leaving behind delicate, lace-like strucures. I was really pleased with the fragility of the finished pieces and felt they leant themselves well to jewellery and so, with the help of a friend spent the morning in the photography studio, placing them in situ. I am really pleased with the outcome and the production of an almost unexpected series of final designs.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Experimental Drawing

Below are a few of my drawings using my 'refreshed' drawing style. They combine both blind and continuous methods of drawing with different densities of mark, helping to enliven the images. My original intention was to produce wallpaper designs for interiors, however I feel that my work is becoming more appropriate for Fashion Prints . I have mocked up a few designs on garments in order to offer a suggestion of how they could be placed, however I intend to develop them further and push them forward through colour experimentation and stitched line drawings to add further irregularity and energy.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Claude Heath

In this final project, I felt as if my drawings had become a little stale and 'safe'. After being recommended to look at the work of Claude Heath (shown below), I was really impressed. His 'blind' experimental approach has resulted in energetic, lively, descriptive drawings. He has undertaken a method in which one hand travels over the given object whilst the other one records the 'journey' on paper, all whilst blindfolded. I have begun to apply a new, 'blind' approach to my own work, layering drawings with different densities of mark and stitch, adding different qualities of line and colour. I now feel like I have begun to make a break through.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Tropical Greenery

These are a few photos that I've taken on my travels that demonstrate the types of plant forms that I find appealing and want to include within my design work for this project.

Artists Books

The image above is a cover of one of my mini tea-bag sized books from the Artists Book project. After deciding to study 'tea' as my Objet Trouvet I looked at various ways of illustrating it, from typography regarding tea connotations to images of the actual tea bags themselves. After using the printing press to attain prints of actual tea bags I was amazed at the clarity of them, and developed a series of different shape/sized tea bags in both singular prints and repeats. It was a simple idea and technique, yet I feel that this project was one of my most successful this year. For the Contemporary Artists' Book Fair held in Leeds, I produced a series of ten miniature books with reduced size prints and a series of larger prints, packaged in A4 printed envelopes.

Whilst browsing the stands at the Book Fair, I purchased a book by Ciara Healy based upon Birds as I was drawn to it due to its bright, canary-yellow cover. The image below is taken from the website, from which some of her work can be purchased. I also bought a smaller book called 'Honey Darling's Old Clothes', as the vivid colour of the lobster again caught my eye. Within the book are four progressive images of a pet lobster shown to be growing in size throughout her lifespan. As I discovered through our personal project and with many of the books at the Book Fair, the best ideas are often relatively simple yet when communicated effectively and clearly, make for the best artists books.

Nick Morley

I've recently finished my Print Elective, and whilst doing research for contemporary printmakers, I came across Nick Morley, an illustrator and printmaker based in London. I really like how he effectively and realistically portrays his subjects through print. He works in series', recently producing a quirky collection of prints based upon bearded men.

'Going Green'

Within this month's Elle Decoration, there was a feature called 'Going Green', showing the desire for bright, tropical prints this season for interiors. The fabric print below is by Poimulehti for Marimekko. I like both the design and the fact that it has been transferred onto various objects within a series. I think that this is something I'd like to achieve within my final project. As we have 6 weeks instead of the usual 4, I'm going to push my design work forward and apply my designs to different surfaces. The images below of Orla Kiely's work show the application of her graphic prints to various items.

Last Project - Year One

For the Final Project, I have decided to study tropical plants and leaves in order to produce lush wallcoverings. In conjunction with this I hope to print onto wood veneers and tabletops along with tiles, possibly intended for flooring as I feel there is a gap in the market for pattern on such surfaces.

At the minute however, I am collecting drawings and visual research through using the sewing machine and stitching free-hand. It's loosening up my drawing style and adding a different style of drawing.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


For the 'Wallcoverings' project I really wanted to place an emphasis upon illustration and differing scale. Below are a few of my observational drawings and final CAD designs. I initially enlarged my drawings, transferring them onto A1 to give a clearer idea of a more appropriate size for a wall-covering. For my final collection, I screen printed designs, layering blue and black inks, used heat press papers and hand drawn lines and also CAD. I found the digital manipulation of my drawings particularly effective, especially digitally draping into situ, as it gave an immediate indication of the effectiveness of my designs within an interior space.

Clare Coles and Timorous Beasties

As part of the 'Wallcovering's' Brief, we were required to produce a ten mintue presentation on a given question. Ours was 'Compare and Contrast the Work of Two Contemporary Wallpaper Designers'. We chose to discuss Clare Coles and Timorous Beasties. The key points and some images are below:

Clare Coles

She graduated from Middlesex University with a first class degree in Applied Arts, and has a background in ceramics. Her bespoke wallpapers involve reworking over existing papers through collage, embellishment and illustrating with stitch. Her work has been chosen to be exhibited at The London Art Fair and Affordable Art Fair. Clare was also selected by Elle Decoration to produce a window display for Selfridges, London.

Timorous Beasties

Paul Simmons and Alistair McAuley met doing Textile Design at Glasgow School of Art and Design in the 1980s, forming the design-led manufacturing company in the early 1990s. They work on a larger scale, screen printing their bold, graphic designs onto continuous lengths of wallpaper for commerical purposes.


  • They both produce aesthetically pleasing, beautiful wallpapers
  • Both successful - in terms of popularity and demand
  • Both reinvented traditions - Timorous Beasties have reworked traditional designs and updated them, making them relevant to the Twenty-First Century. For example - Glasgow Toile and Damask. Clare Coles employs an innovative approach, drawing from tradition by sourcing old, vintage papers and injecting a contemporary feel with her embroidered imagery.


  • Materials - Clare Coles uses stitch and embellishment with leather and gems. Timorous Beasties screen print their designs, fulfilling what is expected of a traditional wallcovering.
  • Content - Clare Coles papers are merely visually pleasing. Timorous Beasties achieve this and a layer of intelliegence/meaning through the use of deceptive, unusual imagery.

Therefore: These two designers shows that the creation of wallpapers is becoming cross-disciplinary adding diversity to the market and providing endless inspiration for aspiring designers. The popularity of wallpaper is increasing and is back in demand. Clare Coles and Timorous Beasties may differ in their approach and the materials that they use. However, they both produce beautiful, innovative papers that are helping the wallpaper industry to evolve.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Wallcoverings Brief

I've been giving some consideration to the new brief and like the idea of a 'Conversational Print'. I'd like to approach it with the same method as in my other work - in that a series of illustrations/line drawings can be combined to produce a rhythmic print across a wallcovering.

The above papers obviously directly relate to bird imagery, employing the use of line drawings and block silhouettes which I feel could be effectively combined. I love the Marimekko street scene below due to the approach to the actual drawing- it's loose, bold and energetic.

Jocelyn Warner - I came across her wallpapers through research and they've given me inspiration for the reinvention part of this project. She experiments with quality of line and scale, often using large scale floral imagery as the focus of her papers. I feel they're really effective. Her colour use also helps to ensure the impact isn't too great - for example a soft apple green as opposed to a bold, striking black line which may appear over dominant in a living space.

I like the large scale repeat of the tropical leaves within Cole and Son's paper and feel the use of different marks in the Marimekko print and the colour use make for an effective print.