I found a wonderful source of antique embroidery patterns and books on the net, all scanned and available under a creative commons licence. It’s here. There is heaps of stuff there, and it would take an age to look through it all, but by dint of looking at published dates I was able fairly quickly to come up with two or three possibilities for the cover of my commonplace book. Yesterday I went shopping and spent ages looking at possibilities for the book itself, and finally bought one. It’s a scrapbook, only a small one at 8 inches square. The bigger ones are 12 inches square, and I debated long and hard, but the big one is too llimiting in terms of paper and printing. You’d need to use A3 paper and cut it down, and there just isn’t the variety that you can get in A4. With a smaller book I’ll have many more options for printing on coloured paper, it will be easier to scan and print my drawings to a suitable size, and altogether I think better.
I’m going to do a cross stitch design for the front cover, there are at least two if not three possible designs on the site which I have downloaded. A couple are only in black and white, one of which is a bunch of flowers which would be quite easy to colour, the other is a pair of peacocks, which I can see in just black and white, or possibly red and white. Any colour and white I guess, except that black and red are traditional, although not necessarily very art deco. Then there is a very geometric design in a few colours, an oval shape, but I could find a border to put round it. At the moment I am leaning towards the bunch of flowers, if for no other reason than it has a slightly wood cut look to it, and I’m also trying to get a Margaret Preston feel in some of the other drawings.
Now that I have the book I have no excuse not to push ahead with the drawings, before I run out of time. I think I’ll start with the title page, if I’m going to put embroidery on the front cover then the design I had for the cover can go on the title page instead. That’s the logo made up of the letters of ‘book’, and the word commonplace drawn in a suitable font. Do I stick with a certain palette of colours throughout the book? I think it would be better to do so, in which case I might need to stick to one medium for the drawings. I can probably do acrylic, need to buy some more white if so since I have none, and that limits mixing of colours and tints. I’m leaning towards a purple/plum/pink palette, with some greens as well, and purplish browns. Perhaps also some peachy colour, although not orange. More an ecru, no, darker. Not sure what it is called, don’t even really have it in my mind yet. I guess all this deliberation is part of the concept development, and must be documented somewhere for assessment. I should also try out the water colour pencils, but I don’t think they will give the look I am after. I need to experiment a bit with mixing colours for them.
Here are the embroidery designs I am considering, all downloaded from the site above. What a wonderful resource it is. It would be terrific if there were a similar resource for sewing and dressmaking patterns, but I don’t know of one.
I thought uploading the files would make the picture appear in the post instead of a hyperlink. It usually does, but these files are pdfs which seems to make a difference. Not sure why.