Don’t you secretly want to gather all those loose leaf pages of pattern and design—from magazines, photocopies, downloaded, wherever—and turn them into one mammoth archive that is both useful and gorgeous to look at ? I have…it’s a disorganized person’s control fantasies. I’m going to give it a try, though.
We found a large Italian-English Dictionary in a rubbish pile behind some buildings in the CBD. It had been sitting on my shelf for a year when I decided to use it another way:
I’m gathering that wild pile of patterns and designs that I have been saving since I was 16 (it lives in filing cabinets, cardboard boxes, in ring binders and plastic shopping bags and large zippered portfolios), and whenever I need a break from doing other things I’m going to freehand a pattern…okay, maybe just a tiny fragment of a pattern?…onto a page in this big, yellowing dictionary. Do you think that’s crazy?
You will need:
- one of those large empty sketchbooks you hoard, or a large book with suitable paper that you want to ‘alter’ in this way. I used the dictionary because text adds quirkiness and does away with my fear-of-the-white-page problem altogether. And because it was there.
- pencils or pens…waterproof for drawing the design outlines, and not so strong that it bleeds and blots through to the next three pages. I put a sheet of plastic behind my working dictionary page, just to be sure.
- All those coloring materials you never use…cheap pastels, the boxes of broken crayons and colored pencils, kids’ marker sets, watercolors and poster paints, those tubes of acrylic from 1987 that are drying up. Don’t buy anything new for this, use up what you have, use up what your kids have outgrown or lost interest in.
- Possibly an eraser and a ruler, if you want to muck around making perfectly scaled copies of patterns, or if you want to analyze something complicated and mathematical, like Islamic interlaced patterns
Try not to trace or transfer the designs using the usual tricks. You can do that, of course, but you won’t understand the pattern that way, or learn how it was made, and you’ll miss out on a chance to hone your draughtsmanship skills, and become better at drawing in general.
So here’s my ‘fragment’ of an old French embroidery pattern, in black outline…and it’s very different from the original, but the basic idea of the flowers and the curving stems is there. I would prefer to do several of these pages, just the outlines of designs…to have a dozen or so designs just waiting to be colored in, like my very own hand-made coloring book, when I’m in the mood to do something fun and easy. But I colored the first couple I did, so that I’d have pictures.
I tried to use color combinations other than my usual favorites, too, to introduce myself to new palettes. I took inspiration from palettes created on colourlovers.com
Color by COLOURlovers
So much fun! And the results are spectacular! Is this something you’d like to try, too? Will you show me a pic if you do? Would love to see the sort of patterns you’ve been squirreling away…