Featured Artist: Ashley Rodriguez Reed

5RodriguezReedA_FashioningaFableFashioning a Fable, Dyed, painted, and screen printed sheets, dimensions variable, 2009

2RodriguezReedA_EnchantedHallowEnchanted Hallow, Screen printed found sheets, cardboard, 6’x 7 ’x 12,’ 2010

3RodriguezReedA_FestivalGateFestival Gate, Screen printed paper, fabric, cardboard, packaging edge protectors, and wire, 28’x28, 2012

SONY DSCRe-Composing, Screen printed paper, fabric, cardboard, found chair, 7’x 15’x 4,’ 2014


Today we have something a little different from our usual 2D fare, these exciting sculptural installations by Philadelphia-based artist Ashley Rodriguez Reed!

“Movement, growth, and transformation are all important themes in my art. I use cardboard, textiles and screen printed imagery to create installations because the material is humble and everyday. The printed surfaces are from photographs and drawings that create a mood for the space. By transforming these materials, my goal is to create a narrative through them that is open for wonder and excitement. I want participants to enter into the space and engage with it through their imagination and physical senses.

The use of print, pattern, and color create a sense of energy that relates to a time and place that I am referencing. I’m interested in our idealism of nature and our struggle to work within a natural cycle as we progress. Our own evolution and ingenuity cannot be stopped as we figure out how to maintain a balance between our push towards growth and with nature’s cycle.”

I am so intrigued by Ashley’s mixed-media approach and the new life she brings to patterns by making them a part of a 3D space. If you’d like to learn more about her inspiring work (and see some of her gorgeous 2D pattern collections as well!) visit www.ashleyrodriguezreed.com. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! -Chelsea


From The Textile Design Lab: Agnes Somogyi’s “Future” Collection

Chelsea’s Challenge is a twice-monthly post series in The Textile Design Lab, in which we share design ideas and inspiration to help our students create new work and build their portfolios. The goal of these challenges is to help spark ideas for prints that may be outside of their usual go-to themes or styles. You can read more about the Challenges here.

vonalak2Earlier this month, TDL member Agnes Somogyi created this stunning collection in response to our future-themed challenge. In contrast to our normal challenges where trend research is an important element, for this particular challenge I encouraged students to use their imaginations to “predict” future trends. This allowed students to use every ounce of their creativity to experiment with new techniques (both digital and hand-done) and to just go wild without filtering their thought process. Since none of us know what patterns are going to be “in” 5+ years down the line, there was no right or wrong way to go about this challenge! The key point I stressed was to try to honestly stretch yourself and reach beyond your comfort zone, trying to create something truly different that would make a buyer say, “wow! I’ve never seen anything like that…I need these prints!!” Well Agnes did just that. Not only did she create the beautiful patterns seen above, she also created two gifs “just for fun to see how moving prints could be in the future.”

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Agnes writes, “my intention for this collection was to play with the idea that with new technologies sooner or later we will have smart textiles. I imagined the future, with moving patterns, mirror-like, or touch reactive surfaces and everyday DIY print applications for everyone. So I investigated to express movement. Op art, and the work of Victor Vasarelly was my main inspiration. I used hand painted watercolor images, one of them I cut by hand and stuck to a paper, scanned and finished in Photoshop. I mixed photographs with vector files I made in Illustrator. I played with lines in movement. With all I tried to imitate movement. I created this collection for the apparel market. I chose colors which fit my chosen customer’s style. And tried to create a wearable collection even though it was about the future. I really enyojed the whole process! Thanks for this great challenge!”

You can connect with Agnes on Pinterest here.

Join us for our next challenge which will be posted today in The Textile Design Lab! We also have a group study coming up in The Lab for our Sellable Sketch e-course, starting Monday Jan. 26th. The Sellable Sketch method has helped hundreds of designers bring clarity and focus to their collection development process, and is the same method that we use for Chelsea’s Challenges. We look forward to helping you build your portfolio!

History of Surface Design: Katagami & Katazome

Series on the history of surface design by Julie Gibbons.


Katagami is the traditional Japanese art of paper stencils, and katazome is its complement – the traditional art of dyeing textiles using a resistant rice paste which is applied to the cloth, most often through the stencil. (The two don’t always come together of course, Katagami is sometimes simply used with inks on paper, and Katazome is occasionally applied freehand to fabric through a small tube.)

The making of traditional katagami is quite labour intensive. First, multiple layers of thin washi paper are bonded together with a glue made from persimmon extract, resulting in a strong, flexible, brown-coloured paper. The designs are cut by hand with a knife, and sometimes with shaped punches. Then, if the resulting katagami is particularly intricate or delicate, it is stabilised by overlaying the cut with a fine net of silk or hair.

The katazome is applied by brush through the screen and allowed to dry before immersing the fabric in dye. Indigo has been the dye of choice for Japanese textiles for generations – not only did it have a particularly affinity for cotton, but it was also believed to repel insects and snakes, and it was much favoured by farmers when working in the fields.

PO - katagami katazome1

Image credits: clockwise from top left – katagami via http://wikipedia.com; http://wabisabiantiques.co.uk;  Meiji period, via http://japanesetex-style.co.uk; Meiji period, via http://japanesetex-style.co.uk; Meiji period, via http://japanesetex-style.co.uk.


Both katagami and katazome have been used in Japan for centuries, with the use of stencils being recorded as far back as the 6th century. However, it was around the end of the Edo and through the Meiji periods (around mid-1800s – early 1900s) that they gained an enormous boost in popularity when Japan opened up its trade with Europe. The beautifully patterned fabrics became sought after by artists, designers and wealthy European patrons alike.

The designs had a huge impact on the Arts and Crafts movement throughout Europe. The Japanese patterns of this period are often quite rhythmic, featuring large motifs such as family crests, umbrellas, boats or birds but especially flowers, joined by flowing branches and leaves, floating over a background fill of dense, small-scale pattern. The same flowing lines, rhythmic spacing of motifs and background fill can be seen in many of the Arts and Crafts designers from around that time; for instance Walter Crane, William Morris and CFA Voysey.

PO - katagami katazome 2

Image credits: clockwise from top left – circa 1850 via http://rugrabbit.com; mid-Meiji via http://clothroads.com; Edo period via http://narablog.com; handspun handwoven, late 19thC, via http://minamitextiles.com

Sally Pickles and The Sellable Sketch


Sally Pickles is a passionate surface designer who created this Winter Bloom collection while a student in our Sellable Sketch e-course. The beautiful textural print above is the main print in her collection (or what we refer to as a “moneymaker print” in the course) and the prints shown below, her coordinates. Through the system taught in The Sellable Sketch, Sally and hundreds of our alumni have learned how to combine their unique artistic style with relevant trends and inspiration sources to create a focused, cohesive collection for their target market.


Sally’s Inspiration

“Most of my work is inspired by organic subject matter, I love to draw from things that are alive or once were! I think this need is from the years that I used to teach art and often laboured to my older students to draw from primary source material..photos they had taken or objects they had collected. I think it makes your work so much more unique and personal than using images you have borrowed from the internet. Winter Bloom was created in the winter months, my garden does not look very inspiring at this time so I used some pressed flowers and photos from the summer to develop my ideas for this collection. The designs naturally took on an autumnal colour palette and is intended for the Autumn/Winter market.”


My Sellable Sketch Experience

“Before taking the course I could design but I often took to creating a collection with a rather haphazard approach, not fully considering the layout and scale of each design. The Sellable Sketch gave me clarity and focus when designing a collection. Michelle’s tips really motivated me to develop my design skills and pushed me to create a collection that wasn’t just good but one that was great! My working method has now changed for the better and I now apply the skills I learnt from the course to all my pattern making. I hope in the near future to manufacture my own line of home decor products.”


You can follow Sally on Instagram to view snippets of her works in progress, or visit her website at http://sallypickles.com


Join us for the next Sellable Sketch Group Study, starting Monday, January 26th, in The Textile Design Lab. This is the most popular course in our e-learning community and comes with some great extras like a 2-month subscription to trend forecasting service WGSN, and a series of inspirational and informative emails to keep you motivated! 

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At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and private design community, The Textile Design Lab.