art, Craft, Design, printmaking, Uncategorized

Making repeat patterns from an abstract etching

Scan 44 copyThe image above is an experimental drypoint etching I made a few years back. The inspiration for the drawing came from looking at preserved  herbarium specimens of the cotton plant. At the time, I wanted to find out more about cotton, a plant that we use everyday in such a wide variety of ways. I started looking at some of the many variations of the plant, displayed systematically on sheets of paper at the Herbarium of Liverpool Museum. I was inspired by  composition of the various parts of the plant, dried and placed on sheets of parchment.

To make the print, I etched a loose line drawing into a sheet of aluminium, the drawing method I used helped me lose control, creating a more obscure image. I hope that the image obtains an abstract quality, that’s subject matter is left to the imagination. In a sense, it is my attempt at interpreting the beauty of a highly complex and important material.

The following images were generated through randomly cropping parts of the above print on the computer and flipping and repeating to achieve something that looks a bit like a pattern.



art, Craft, Design, Mid-Century-Modern textiles, printmaking, Textile Design, Uncategorized

Developing Patterns from Paper Collages

Following my previous post, ‘The Joy of Paper’, here are some patterns developed from the paper collages. After cropping the collages into small squares of colour combinations and compositions that I found interesting, I experimented with flipping the images to make repeat patterns in Adobe Illustrator. Here are the results.


Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 17.28.09Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 17.28.35Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 17.28.18Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 17.27.45

art, Craft, Design, printmaking, Textile Design, Uncategorized

The Joy of Paper

For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with shapes and colour. Following on from my last blog inspired by Matisse’s cut outs, I’ve been exploring painting blocks of colour with goache onto sheets of newsprint paper. Using a felt pen, I played about with taking a line for a walk, making loose, unplanned shapes which I then cut up and put aside.

I then selected coloured shapes at random and firmly glued them to a blank piece of paper, the result was a very busy, cluttered collage with many overlapping shapes.

My plan was to then simply fold the A4 paper into quarters and then eighths, to create compositions. By rotating and cropping, I am now able to decide which compositions (if any) I would like to develop further.


The below images, show how patterns can begin to emerge through reflecting and rotating in Adobe Illustrator.

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 15.15.12


Craft, Design, Tapestry, Textile Design, Weaving

Marta Rogoyska and a Theatre of Images

Recently I picked up a vintage copy of ‘Crafts’ Magazine (no.63 July/August 1983). I was attracted to it because of the bright, characterful design on the cover. The image was both full of energy and fun but also showed restraint, control and elegant minimalism. I had to find out more.


The tapestry is by Marta Rogoyska. The famously outspoken, charismatically assertive artist and craftsperson, one of the most acclaimed and feted weavers in Britain before moving to the United States in 1995. She describes her approach to tapestry as unpretentious and concise, the mediums idiosyncrasy providing opportunities to create speculative and aesthetically spontaneous work. Her aim being to simply, “engage and intrigue the viewer.”

Excerpted from Tapestry, A Woven Narrative, Black Dog Press, 2011 accessed from

Intrigued I certainly am by her monumental tapestries, and filled with admiration for the commitment, physical exertion and imagination that goes into them.

The article, ‘Theatre of Images: Marta Rogoyska, tapestry weaver, interviewed by Ian Starsmore’ published in Crafts Magazine 1983, makes a very interesting read. Rogoyska’s passion for the medium of weaving is obvious through taking one glance at her work. But what is especially impressive is how she brought a vigorous energy and love of drama to a medium that could too easily be misunderstood and under estimated, “weaving was not the usual thing for anyone who was dynamic.”


Rogoyska finds inspiration from a variety of sources and we learn that she keeps small sketchbooks filled with ideas, decorative schemes, landscapes which provide starting points for tapestries. Examples of sources of inspiration, include early french tapestries, primitive art, modern painting, music, theatre, ideas about story-telling, a feeling for life and for an audience.

In comparing tapestry to painting, Rogoyska identifies some interesting distinctions between the two.

“You have to be twenty times more alert, twenty times more intelligent and twenty times harder on yourself than in painting, so that you bloody well unpick what has taken you two days to do if it’s wrong”

“ Because tapestry has to be done in a strict sequence from the bottom upwards, you have to be more visionary too, very much in the sense that you must visualise what is coming and what has been. You are committed and there is no going back. I see its affinities with life so much, balancing on this crazy tightrope, trying to be intelligent about the future, learn from the past and very much involved in the present.”

Her work therefore takes elements from what are usually known as craft, design or art, as she decides. “The division between art and craft presents fascinating issues which for me are living arguments, positive things which I use and enjoy. It’s possible then to step down on either side as it suits, though you are hated on both sides. I’m prepared to shout and bang a few tables, but I don’t have any set rules. These are things I’m redefining the whole time.”

‘Theatre of Images: Marta Rogoyska, tapestry weaver, interviewed by Ian Starsmore’ published in Crafts Magazine 1983

Images accessed from

Design, Mid-Century-Modern textiles, printmaking, Textile Design, Uncategorized

Playing with Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

This evening I have been experimenting with generating quick spontaneous patterns using Adobe Illustrator.

The idea was to play with manipulating an image by cropping, reflecting and distorting.

I began with a very crude, mindless doodle (a squiggly line). I then took screenshots and used the image trace function in Illustrator. I began experimenting by removing parts before flipping the image both horizontally and vertically and arranging them in an order I felt looked interesting.

The computer really does do all of the work, but the simple process shows how through continuous exploration (or play!), unexpected results can occur that can become starting points for more developed work.Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 20.28.10

Design, Mid-Century-Modern textiles, printmaking, Textile Design, Uncategorized

Tibor Reich and Designs from Nature

I thought I’d begin by writing a little bit about an exhibition I visited last year that uplifted me and filled me with inspiration.

It was an exhibition held at the rather wonderful art gallery in Manchester, that is, The Whitworth. Prior to stumbling upon the exhibition, I had not heard of the name Tibor Reich or was familiar with his work (at least consciously). It was a marvellous discovery.

Held between 29th January – August 2016, the exhibition was described by the Whitworth as
‘a retrospective celebrating the centenary of Tibor Reich, a pioneering post-war textile designer, who brought modernity into British textiles.’

I was struck by Tibor’s bright, textured, abstract fabric designs. He was considered, a virtuoso colourist, introducting new shades such as Kingfisher Blue, Sunshine Yellow and Siamese Pink.

Their true impact could be appreciated in the gallery, where they were displayed on long runs of fabric running from floor to ceiling, it felt like these designs needed to be seen on a large scale.

The abstract prints, reflected a new trend in mid-century modern fabric design for abstracted, distorted and attenuated forms.

But Tibor was an innovator, by fusing together his love of photography with a keen eye for observing nature, he developed a new approach to developing pattern. The design process became known as ‘Fotexur’ and involved making positive and negative screen prints from parts of photographs. The prints would then be rearranged and manipulated to the designer’s own conception of harmony, balance and flow. The result could be described as a’virtual texture’ and the technique was considered to be ‘revolutionary’.


The following short 1957 film by Pathe, provides a charming insight into the pre-digital design process.

As narrated,

“ the loveliness of nature lies where you find it, in every river, in every tree…..
…..Tibor recaptures this charm and adds to it a touch of mans ingenuity to produce something unique in modern design…….
….he does not copy nature but interprets its rhythm, light and shade and adds to it ideas of his own…..
…..when you ally the wonders of nature with the ingenuity of man you can assure you’ve got something worth looking at.”