This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to New York City and attend a three-day Fabric Design Workshop led by the amazing designers Heather Ross and Anna Maria Horner. (I’ve mentioned AMH several times on here before, you might remember me meeting her at Quilt Market last year).
Three days of insight into the fabric design and manufacturing industry, peeks into the design process of Heather and Anna Maria, looks at their sketches and fabrics, great conversations, learning a different design process, and exploring the awesome city of New York. Above Anna Maria is showing us an example of her original sketch and then her final pattern (Eucalyptus from Pretty Potent).
Again, another sketch to final pattern example. This one is Small Gathering from Folk Song. I was so happy that she showed this particular example, as this fabric was actually quite influential to my own story. When I was prepping for my freshman dorm room at Tulane, I bought this fabric (in her Good Folks collection in the sea colorway) to make a pillowcase for my bedding. That fabric ended up being the jumping off point for my dorm decor. It was while I was living in that dorm room that I realized I had a passion for design and that I wanted to be a designer. Not long after that that I read an article in Country Living about Anna Maria Horner and saw this sketch on her bulletin board in the photo of the article and realized she was the designer of my pillow fabric. I had always been a collector and lover of fabric, but hadn’t before thought much about the design process or the designers behind them. That article and AMH’s fabrics started my desire to learn more about this elusive industry and made me want to design fabric of my own!
I also love the sweet illustrative style of Heather Ross’s work and I loved getting to learn about her process as well. In the photo above, she is showing the class how to build repeats in Photoshop using one of my designs as an example. Loved seeing the subtle differences in the colors she chose, verses the jewel tones I was originally using.
I really love how the final pattern came out. It is a different style than my other work (much more sketchy and hand-drawn looking), but I really love it! As I said before, the original colors I used were jewel toned, as they usually are, and in Heather’s demo, she changed the colors to these. I loved seeing my work re-colored and in a new light. These aren’t colors that I typically would have chosen, but I love how they work together. It has me looking at colors differently now! Anna Maria also gave several talks about her color theories in her work and I loved hearing her perspective.
From AMH & HR on Instagram:
For this course, we learned how to design pattern repeats in Photoshop. At first I was a little wary of that (I like using Illustrator for pattern design), but in the end, I actually really loved learning this process and the different look it gives the artwork. Although I do really like the flexibility of designing in Illustrator, I might give this Photoshop design thing a try more often! (Photoshop was the first Adobe product I starting using, way back in grade school!)
The class met in the same building as Heather’s studio, on Fulton street in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. It was only a few blocks from the new Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center, and was an awesome area to get to explore a bit. We walked over to Chinatown one day for soup dumplings for lunch.
I was in class most of the time we were in NYC, but I got the chance to explore a few other places in the evenings. This was my third time visiting NYC, so I didn’t try to squeeze in a lot. I really wanted to make a trip to MoMA, but alas, it wasn’t open late enough for me to make it after class. It was Drew’s first time in NYC and he explored craft beer/coffee/food places during the day while I was in class.
Chinatown, the East River Ferry (we stayed in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn), Flatiron Building, Times Square, The High Line (so awesome!), Chelsea Flea, ABC Carpet and Home (so amazing! floors and floors of amazing furniture, bedding, awesome rugs, etc…). I’ve had a great time every time I’ve visited NYC, but this time I really fell in love with New York! The weather was amazing, I mastered riding the subway, and I came to appreciate the determined energy about the city and the fact that so much is all at your fingertips. It was a really awesome trip.
I’m so glad Heather and Anna Maria put this class together and I’m so grateful for them opening up their careers to give us advice and insight. I came to New York with a mini portfolio of designs and I left with a different perspective and new direction and ideas for my work. This class made me grateful for my art degree and left me wanting to draw/paint/sketch/block print and in general put a little more art into my design work.
Interested in taking a similar workshop? Heather is hosting another Fabric Design workshop this fall! Details can be found on the workshops page of her website, here. Anna Maria also hosts different workshops at her shop, Craft South, in Nashville. Find more info on her workshops and classes, here.