When a pattern takes you on a voyage

Sometimes, one piece works REALLY hard for you. You never really know which piece it's going to be, and you certainly won't know where it's going to take you, but with hindsight, you'll be powerfully grateful to that single piece. I want to share one such pattern with you.

Back in the Summer of 2014, Spoonflower announced their annual Robert Kaufman collaborative project called Fabric8. The theme was "Cosmic Voyage" and the rewards sounded like Kind Of A Big Deal. You can learn a little about it here. I had just read an article about Sam Kerr's amazing patterns, and really wanted to give tessellation a go.

Scrappy sketches of various space-themed objects followed, and a Pinterest board to nail down a colour palette. But the tessellation wasn't happening. The shapes were too complex for a novice like me.

Preliminary ideas and Pinterest mood board

Preliminary ideas and Pinterest mood board

Eventually I figured out that I had to start simpler: much, much simpler. So, inspired by the cosmic theme, I chose a quarter circle line as my tessellating shape, because I figured I could do something moon-like with it. After playing around a little I realised this arc could also create waves... BINGO! This could encompass the "voyage" element of the brief too.

Eureka! Creating patterns from one single arc shape

Eureka! Creating patterns from one single arc shape

Cosmic Voyager, available to buy from Spoonflower

Cosmic Voyager, available to buy from Spoonflower

Well, ultimately, the pattern - not a true tesselation - made it to the long list of 100, but sadly was not shortlisted in the final group of eight (I think it came thirty something). However it was (and continues to be) far and away the most popular design I've ever uploaded to Spoonflower, so that felt like a result in itself. I ordered a faux-suede swatch, and was pleased to see that it printed out beautifully.

End of story.

Well, not quite.

Six months later, a friend sent me the link to the Print & Pattern scholarship for the Make It In Design e-course. I was aware of the deadline but, I'll be honest, I was a bit slopey-shouldered about it. I'd been longing to do the courses, and had applied for the scholarship unsuccessfully in the past. But also I knew I would be moving house during the first module, and I'd had a few minor confidence setbacks that week already, and the baby hadn't been sleeping, and... [insert excuse of your choice here]. Basically, it never gets easier to put yourself out there and risk a big fat fail. Again. And again. And again.

But I was so touched that this long-distant friend had been thoughtful enough to send me the scholarship information. So I figured: what harm could there be in spending an hour preparing the application? And I've got that pattern that did relatively well at Fabric8 that I could submit...

So yes, you guessed it, the Cosmic Voyager pattern won me the scholarship! And yes, I had to move house during the first module, and yes, there are still setbacks in confidence on a regular basis (though mercifully the baby did start sleeping a bit better). Module 1 has now come to an end and I can honestly say it's been a wonderful, inspiring, enlightening and most importantly, fun, five weeks. I can only imagine what a joy Modules 2 and 3 are going to be.

See? It's amazing where one pattern can take you.

Further pattern developments for the Cosmic Voyager collection: