Friday, September 25, 2015
Fibs & Fables
Oh hi. When I began work on my Fibs and Fables collection last winter, I remember thinking that by the time the fabrics are in hand, so much will have changed in my work & home life. And while that is all true, returning to this blog to write about my design work feels comfortable and almost nostalgic. I have been writing about my work here for just about exactly 9 years, which is hard to believe. I am so thankful for the personal history and correspondence that exists here and love being able to deepen it when time allows. So today. Fibs & Fables. Here is the official inspiration statement:
"Fibs & Fables was inspired by my interest in and love for vintage fairytale illustrations and I have never had more fun doing research. The notion of storytelling, in a sense, is a system of make-believe with various motives: to teach a lesson, to entertain or to perpetuate a culture's belief system. And perhaps in a more cynical sense, stories are just fibs- but when set to beautiful images....they are welcome lies. Exploring old German, Danish, British and American illustrations revealed all of the beloved book scenery that I got lost in as a child. Many of those artists were themselves influenced by ancient artwork, ancient stories and Greek Mythology. What entranced and inspired my color directions was the element of fear and tragedy combined with joyful resolutions. The balance of the two, as well as the good and evil that is such a common theme helped me to cast a moody palette on the fabric's color ways. The prints themselves are a not so literal in telling any specific fib, fable or fairytale, but rather bring to light the elements that exist in so many of our favorite stories. The collection is as fun for children's quilts, decor and clothing as it is unexpected for women's fashion."
I will further say that for someone who is not so much a novelty print designer, I found the fairytale theme a unique challenge. And I can't say that I was inspired by any one fairytale or set of characters as much as I was inspired by the art that has told those stories over centuries. I therefore sometimes shifted my focus to present imagery in a less literal way, but still include elements that act as the building blocks that can tell many stories at once.
So shall we have a look at the prints?
A described above, I was as interested in peripheral imagery, and I suppose you can say that rather than having a print portrayal of a clock striking twelve, I have the above gem.
Church windows, castle windows, tower windows, yes this is much more literal. But my focus here is on the possibility of escape from dark to light, as seen through the windows. You just have to figure out which one you fit through.
I of course had to give a nod to Greek mythology.... but I was really only inspired to do so in this collection when I found so many illustrators over the past two centuries doing the same in their work. Helios was imagined to be the god of the sun and he lit up the sky each night with four winged, fire-breathing horses. And who wouldn't want to draw that? Drawing horses is such a connection to my childhood that it was a welcome theme. This one will also come in three colors of Rayon Challis.
So many of my favorite stories as a child had an element of making- the spinning wheel in Sleeping Beauty, the humble dress made by little creatures in Cinderella, the invisible garment in the Emperor's New Clothes.... so I paired those ideas with the culture of dressmaking and tailoring that and set them to a seemingly magic wand of a needle doing the work without hands.
This one is a sweet representation of folk art styles found in many German and Dutch fairytale illustrations and to me it feels reminiscent of cozy interior spaces and kettles and dishes.
I was obsessed with drawing characters with braids when I was a girl. I loved having to re-figure out how to do it every time. I really enjoy how equally weird and normal this print can be. Only weird when you imagine it to be hair, but more normal if you have baskets on the mind.
I suppose you could call this my wish upon a star print. Eyes, tears, stars. It is a tiny little print and this one will be in Rayon Challis as well.
And if a fairytale is a depiction of struggle from start to resolution, I loved the idea of including some sort of a maze-like print. I had originally thought of hedge mazes, but that was less interesting to me visually, so I was messing around with meandering designs. Then when researching ancient Greek art to develop the Helios print, the Greek key design was waving at me. It was saying DUH.
Well OF COURSE I had to do a landscape. What good fairytale book was without some sort of landscape? Aside from that, I have always been intrigued (terrified) of developing a landscape image into a repeat. I presents a very unique set of challenges that other prints do not. I've shown what an almost fat quarter looks like above so that you can see how it all comes together. I will admit this one took me FOREVER. Resolving how elements came together on all sides proved quite tricky (lots of walking away) and but then extremely rewarding once I let go of reality. Stars become flowers. Roadways lead to clouds. Clouds become water. Sky becomes ground. And weeping willows grow tears instead of leaves. And the whole of it is guarded by a flight of swallows (how could I not pay homage to Thumbelina?) If you follow me on Instagram you might remember that when I was first sketching this print (in my bedroom mind you) that a bird practically landed on my shoulder who must have gotten in the house and was hiding under my bed. Yep.
And Gallant colorway~
There are a total of 27 pieces in the quilting cotton collection, and I have been working on some very fun sewing for the upcoming fall Quilt Market which I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. As mentioned above there will also be 6 Rayon Challis pieces, that I have already been making clothes out of!
Beginning on Monday of next week, my online shop will be pre-selling full collection stacks of Fibs & Fables which should ship out the first week in November!!! And to celebrate the launch, anyone who pre-orders a full collection stack from my shop will receive a free limited run fine art print of Helios, shown above measuring 8.5x11". Perks, people!
We will send out a note with a shop link along with some other studio news on Monday morning, so be sure you are on my mailing list!
I hope you love this collection as much as I loved creating it for you!
be well, xxooAnnaMaria