Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Folk Tales and Printing Practices: Guest Post Shara Lotfi

Shara Lotfi contacted me recently sharing her clothing line and textiles and I was immediately struck by her very personal approach to her pattern making. I asked if she wouldn't mind sharing her process with me (and therefore you) and lucky for us she said yes. I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.


 I start each collection thinking about the textile patterns. I have an inspiration wall in my studio and that’s where I start gathering images that represent the colors I’m thinking of for a collection. There is also usually a particular story that will inspire me. For spring it was the story of The Crane Wife; it’s a Japanese folk tale about a man who finds a wounded crane and nurses it back to health. He then meets and marries a woman who can weave these beautiful blankets, but she makes him promise never to watch her weaving. Of course he can’t resist and he peeks in one day, and sees the crane he saved weaving its own feathers into the blanket, and because she has been seen, the woman/crane flies away.


It’s a bit of a sad story, but that image of a bird flying away sort of stuck with me, and that’s how I came up with the idea to make a pattern based on a flock of cranes flying across a night sky. The shape of the dress was also inspired by that idea of birds flying; when you walk, or when there’s a bit of wind, the ruffle at the bottom sort of flares out around you, a little bit like wings.

Once I have a sketch done, usually in watercolors, I scan it in and start to create a repeating pattern in Photoshop. I print some tests on paper to make sure I like how the pattern is looking, but the only way to really know what a pattern will look like on fabric is to have it printed onto fabric. Most companies will let you order test swatches of your designs, and I’ve learned to always order a few swatches for each textile print in varying shades and tones so that I can choose the one that works best. I work with two different printing companies; one based in San Francisco and one in North Carolina. Both offer different types of fabric, so which company I choose for a particular prints depends on the type of fabric I want.


For this print, I chose a silk crepe de chine. Every other piece in the collection is made out of organic cotton, which I just felt was a nice light and easy fabric for spring, but the crane print and the flock dress dress feel a bit special to me, and I think the silk really works well. It flows nicely and my hope is that it also has an elegance to it.

Thanks Shara so much for taking the time to write this up and share your process. To see more of her designs head on over to Lotfi. Well, what are you waiting for?

LOT06 LOT07 All photographs by Shara.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

those crains are amazing! and such a story!
Do you know if I can buy the fabric?

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