The Upcycle Collaboration Project

Ideas can be born out of anywhere. Where a few simple exchanges thrashing out ideas via text or over coffee with fellow creatives turn in to the “Why don’t we make this happen?”

Local Abstract Artist Rachel Williams is the force behind Art in My Garden, an annual, collaborative, one-day art exhibition in the gardens of historic Oakville, Ontario. Founded in 2021 this will be the 3rd year that a growing number of Oakville artists will come together to share their work. This year I will be taking part and showing my own work but Rachel and I also felt it would be fun to create something together, something a little different and out of the ordinary.

Rachel’s work is very abstract and full of texture so let’s combine that with my sense of order and love of pattern. Despite my usual pull to geometrics and graphical designs I could see the potential in developing some of her art into something fabulous and 3-dimensional. Rachel has the knack of collecting interesting furniture from the side of the road, things well loved but that have maybe seen better days. Chatting about one of her recent finds the seed was sown and we had ourselves an upcycle project.

Putting a plan into action

So, how did we do it? Firstly we needed a high resolution image of Secret Garden, a diptych. Elle Bruce’s professional photography skills captured a perfect high resolution image we knew would work well. I then set about digitally manipulating it, blending the 2 canvases seamlessly and creating a workable repeating design that could be transferred onto fabric. We didn’t want to take away the essence of the art and the brush strokes. Art Fabrics based out of Quebec, Canada offer eco-friendly on demand printing, perfect for this type of project. We just had to upload the file then order the exact yardage we needed. The velveteen fabric we chose was printed and on the doorstep within a matter of days and it looked amazing! All the texture of the paint and even the canvas perfectly executed onto fabric.

We picked a coordinating plain green velvet for the back of the chair and the project was then passed into the hands of my highly skilled upholsterer to work his magic. A few short days later what had been a tired, water stained antique pink chair had been transformed into a stunning eye catching statement piece. Now we need to find a room worthy of it!

Top – Original Art
Bottom – Digital Seamless Repeat

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From Photos to Fun Stripes

I would be embarrassed to tell you how many photos I actually have on my phone, but I also use it like a visual scrapbook. Little snippets capturing a moment in time where something has peaked my interest. It could be colours in nature, some amazing colourful graffiti or just an obscure thing I find visually stimulating.

So what do we do with all these photos? People rarely print them now as we live in such a digital paperless world. I’ve made a conscious effort though to change this for myself and plan on making some photos books capturing family time and vacations in the coming weeks. Many of my photos I use as colour inspiration for interior schemes or surface pattern design but one of the simplest forms is to create these fun stripes. Below you’ll see just a small selection of the photos I have taken and the lovely stripes they can generate. For some cosy Autumn vibes check out my previous post Interior Colours for Fall.

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Architectural Elements & Design Motifs

Do you ever think to look up as you walk around towns or cities? Often the architecture found above street level is far more interesting than the modern day facades on our level. So many decorative architectural elements and details are a source of inspiration and also act as a record of the passing of time. The different styles and types of stone or brick tell so much of a story.

There is a beautiful gothic style church on the main street in my town dating from 1888. My eye has often been drawn to the shapes and structure of the stained glass windows. Although I have never been inside it, I imagine the windows take on a whole new look with the light shining through. All the windows are made up of simple repeating geometric shapes, the perfect starting point for a collection of fabric designs.

With a fresh colour palette to hand I began by drawing various elements and motifs to then develop into new designs. This colour palette is part of a collaboration with another group of designers. Throughout the year we design several collections all using the same colour palette and then offer them for sale on Spoonflower. Customers can then order from a collection of over 500 mix and match designs all using the same range of colours.

Spring Garden Collection

This group of designs has a retro feel to it but the crisp colours give it a more updated feel. By varying scales and colour combinations the designs can be used together and applied to a wide range of end products. The full design collection can be found on my Spoonflower Store or you can contact me directly for ordering and customizing locally here in Canada.

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Interior Colours for Fall

With so many colours around us in nature I have a camera reel full of interesting colour combinations that I have collected over the years. Extracting the colours from an image is a great starting point for pulling together an interior scheme. One really simple yet effective technique I use within Photoshop enables selecting just one fine line segment out of an image and then using it to generate a lovely blend of stripes.

These ornamental cabbages with their rich autumn shades of oranges, purples and pinks have a wonderful comforting warmth to them. Imagine these printed on a luxurious velvet or as beautifully textured linen curtains combined with a deep terracotta wall colour. The perfect environment to curl up with a good book and a soothing mug of hot chocolate.

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