Wednesday, 8 December 2010


            I love this gentle Indienne design from France, late 19th C. The flowers and buds are in soft misty colours so the bolder brown branches make an effective trellis, running in diagonal lines across a background of tiny dots and other greeny- gray flowers that hardly show. This diagonal line is very important in designs and particularly effective when used on wallpapers and curtains.
         A long time ago when I learnt a bit about flower arrangements (I had two flower shops for several years) I was shown how to create a diagonal line across large arrangements, taking one colour  from top left to bottom right using four or five stems of the same flowers and pulling them forward or recessing them alternately and repeating with another colour from top right to bottom left. It not only gives a life to the design but gives a rhythm and line to the whole.which is very satisfying to the beholder. This has a sort of connection with the S, or serpentine line, which artist and classic draughtsman, William Hogarth, decreed was the' line of beauty' in the 18th Century following the High Rococo movement in furniture and art designs.
      If you look at the beautiful calicos of 19C. they often have interesting backgrounds of dots, wormlike squiggles (vermiculate) tiny geometric diaper patterns which add to the depth and charm of the overall design - something that modern copyists often leave out and neglect.  The dots (picotage) were made with a board that had pins driven into it and then the board was hammered on to the cloth with the dye on it - this was because it was almost impossible to get the fine pattern on an engraved metal 'bat'. A lot of Colefax &Fowler designs do have this feature - I think John Fowler was very exact in his reproductions of beautiful old fabrics that he found in the country houses he helped to re-furnish and restore.  There were coral, seaweed, mosaic and other popular patterns all used for the background of larger designs;. in fact  inspiration was often from nature - leaves, ferns, feathers,  all used in repetitive forms.

1 comment:

  1. Very lovely teaching. Thank you! The history of these designs is quite interesting.