On Saturday, 11th May, I took part in a Floral Motif Workshop led by surface pattern designer and teacher of Make It In Design Rachel Taylor at the Reloved Upholstery Studio at the Pear Mill in Stockport. The workshop came at a great time for me, in the midst of my #100daysofpattern project to learn from someone, who was desiging work to be liscenced across the globe, producing her own products and teaching students online through Make It In Design.
It was my first time visiting the Pear Mill in Stockport and it cetaintly won’t be my last. The ground floor is a Vintage Emporium will sellers filling the huge space with their array of clothes, books, household objects, furniture looking for a new home. The Pear Mill, which was built in 1913 was was the last cotton spinning mill to be built in England. Following the end of World War 1 there was a boom in cotton production, in England, but sadly that was not to last, as forigen markets in India, China and Japan increased their spinning capabilty and cotton prices fell by 38%.
The space is now let by local businness of all sorts, including Reloved upholstery . It is ran by Simione who loving breathes lives back into chairs, specialiaing in iconic Ercol designs. The large studio is crammed full of inspiration, from fabric swatch books, a library and a huge workspace with industrial sewing machines. It’s fair to say it was a great creative space to work in.
Following initial introductions with the other course partipants, who were all women and in the majority looking to the turn their designs into a business, it was great to meet other like minded people. We listened to Rachel talk through her work and design process. For me, the main take away from the teaching was ‘how are my lines different to anyone else’s’ and what makes my lines and in turn my work individual. If you’re working in fineliners, (FYI I swear by Micon) it’s easy for a line to look like anyone else’s line, but Rachel re-iterated the importance of finding your personal style and one way to do this is to create lines with diffrent marks and textures. From there we got stuck in, using a range of warm up techniques, left handed, eyes closed, different materials and then started to create motif’s on the flowers in front of us. We worked in black so it’s easier to edit in greyscale in Adobe Photoshop and Illustraor.
It was great to draw a range of plants, all of which were (with permission) from Arley Hall Garden. They were a lot of show stoppers amongst them, Allium were stand out. But Rachel made a good point, these show stopper iconic flowers have been, and will continue to be inspiration for artists across the globe and through time. One alternative is to create flower hybrids, just like it’s done by horticulturist, with stems from one plant and leaves from another for instance, to create individual designs, that still remain familiar. For anyone who has read my blog from the start, (yep, I know that’s only you Rob) you’ll know initially I was reluctant to design florals because it’s not really my style, but I am prepared to take that all back. I love plants, I just don’t like ditsy style prints. So it was about making floral motifs that feel like ‘my style’.
Signature style can feel elusive, but the more work you produce the more you find your voice, so I’m happy to continue to keep making stuff until it feels intuitvely my own, At the moment my best work is a combination of inks and fine liners. I want to create a solid body of work before I digitally print any samples on to fabric. I was able to ask Rachel questions about printing fashion fabrics, how to collate a collection and what were the best studios to approach within the UK. As someone who followers a lot of home sewists online, I was familair with a lot of names mentioned and reiterated that although it can seem overwhelming, sewing, designing, illustrating all at once, all these pursuits feed into each other. So for now, i’m urged to keep up all the projects.
A rare photo of me caught in the act, happiest surrounded by plants, with a paint brush in my hand, wearing that jumpsuit I made. (Proof it’s not just clothes I make for Instagram photos, I do actually wear them.)
At the end of the day, I had created heaps of floral motifs to scan and edit and work up into patterns on Illustrator. But most importantly, I came away inspired, energised and filled with faith, that yep, I could do it too. When you’re creating work and putting yourself on the line, it’s all too easy for self doubt to creep in, you think ‘you’re not good enough’ ‘not talented enough’ ‘too many other people out there already’ and these moments of crisis in confidence can become crippiling. But Rachel instilled some wisdom, to make my work unique and made me feel that there is space out there for everyone, as long as you’re creating from your own authentic voice.
I’ve come full circle on my stance on floral design and now can’t get enough, I’ll be working these up into repeat patterns. Rachel is running a drawing meet up at Arley Hall Gardens on the 3rd of August, that i’ll be going to for another day of meeting like minded people and stopping to smell the flowers. Eyes peeled for more florals to come.
All for now
Claire & Co.