Perfect Patterns

Pattern and design were highly valued as a huge part of the work involved in the silk industry in Macclesfield. We have some wonderful examples of patterned handkerchiefs in the Silk Museum and a huge collection of pattern books. Many of the designs and patterns were inspired by natural objects. Nature is full of inspiring things such as flower petals, seeds, bark, fruits, berries, stones and shells. Some animals and insects have fabulous patterns which help to camouflage them in their habitats and keep them safe.

In this workshop we will explore patterns. You will train your mind to see patterns in objects you would not think had any.

  • Felt-tip pens
  • Paints – watercolour / acrylic
  • An assortment of paper
  • Small pieces of material (I have used some old sheets and pillow cases)
  • Silver or gold pens
  • Black pens
  • Wax crayons
  • Collage materials
  • A collection of natural objects (feathers, leaves, stones, fruit, seeds, etc).
  • PVA glue
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

1. Fast design exercise
Divide a piece of paper into a number of small sections with a ruler. Now quickly draw a different design in each section using a black felt pen.

2. Divide another A4 piece of watercolour paper into sections. Using a limited colour palette of up to 4 colours in each section, draw patterns from objects you have collected. Enjoy looking closely at objects. You could use cones, seeds, items from your fridge or things from the garden. You do not need to work with exact colours and do limit yourself to a small number of hues.
You could recreate some of the patterns using a wax resist method. Draw the pattern with wax crayon first and then paint over the top.
3. Collage work
Collect together a variety of different papers or materials, e.g. newspaper, magazines, wrapping paper, sweet papers, etc. Cut yourself a backing sheet of paper from coloured or white paper. This can be any size you like.
Now, have fun making your own pattern sheet by sticking shapes onto the backing sheet. It may be helpful to make yourself a template to make sure that shapes tessellate.
4. Material challenge
Cut cotton or linen material into some small pieces. I used an old sheet.
Draw a pattern onto your sheet using a pen. I used a silver pen but black or coloured felt pen would also give a good result.
Paint each section using either watered down acrylic paint or watercolours. When it is completely dry you can reinforce the pattern by going back over your pen lines.
Mounted onto card these make delightful greeting cards.