Seems that seamless designs are now in vogue. Or is it just because I’m making them?
When I studied textile design back in the early 80’s, we didn’t have access to computers. So the students sat in rows at large drawing boards in a studio. We would sketch our motifs with pencils, randomly arranging them into a design. Those motifs were generally photocopied from books and magazines. As part of the brief we would be required to make a storyboard, which would then be critiqued. I was always so nervous about being critiqued!
Students would need to wait their turn to use the lightbox in order to trace the repeat. It would take days if not weeks to perform all the necessary prep for a design. The drawing was done within a 30 x 30 cm square on a larger page, then you would add 15 cm of the design to all sides to see the pattern repeat. Everything had to be precisely measured and drawn with finely sharpened pencils and long metal rulers. If your measurements were off, the print would mismatch.
We chose our colour range which was usually restricted to about 5 shades, then mix the gouache paint in small containers, making sure there was enough to cover the whole design. It would have been a disaster to run out of paint before finishing. Impossible to mix the exact same shade or tone again.
The process was quite long and painstaking. Artisan pattern makers are rare these days but I must admit that computers are fantastic machines, they do the boring work and allow us much more time to be creative.