Monday, 9 June 2014

Recipes for Pattern


Does pattern have to be superficial and imitative or can it capture a fleeting moment, the fingerprint of a place or even the spirit of a person?

My final collection for my BA Textile Design Course at Chelsea College of Art ( is based on five pattern-making experiments that try to answer this question – to find out if pattern can be anything more than skin deep. Together with gardening friends on my local allotments, at Spa Hill in Upper Norwood, I have created five pattern stories that reflect a time, a person and a place. You can read more about their pattern stories at

By collaborating with them, I wanted to create a recipe for pattern-making with soul: a way of using pattern to re-enchant and beguile the eye, encouraging people to look more closely and care more deeply about the world around them.

I found the process of collaborative making intriguing and inspiring. Each person was so very different and each life in its own way was so extraordinary and challenging. As we grew closer and spent more time together - making design decisions about the colour, form and composition of the pattern became clearer and clearer - a bit like a picture coming into focus the longer and more carefully you look at it. 

Looking back - it seems as if the process of making something together was quite straightforward - but actually at the time it was anything but. The process of practical making with my  hands  - printing, dying and stitching, helped me refine the process at each stage.

I learned three (at least) important things about making patterns together - 

1) Begin by exploring the world around you - look closely and as often as you can. Try looking through someone else's eyes. Draw as much as you can and in as many different ways as possible. Take risks and feel the seasons change.

2) Slow down and look for detail. Seek out the overlooked and the ordinary. 

3) Share as much as you can - cups of tea and cake, seeds, advice... Reciprocity helps the process to flourish and grow.

A HUGE thank you to the pattern-makers - Stinky aka Sarah Newton and Isabelle, Eileeen Ward, Beverley and Thabo Witter and Tim Gundry-White. Thanks also to Martin Cleave for the beautiful photographs.

You can meet the pattern makers by watching a short film I made about them at