Cover Story – from idea to finished work

I’ve always been very inspired and influenced by trees in the landscape of England, and I’m especially interested in the visual layering I see all around me in rural Hampshire. Lines of trees sit atop fields with hedgerow boundaries, walls and fences.


Cover Story was the first range which I printed and was one of the first three range ideas I had. I wanted to work with the idea of trees and leaves and this was the starting point. I also knew that I definitely wanted to print lampshades and cushions.

My initial idea focused around the idea of leaves blowing in amongst the trees and the idea of using an abstract element to represent the wind. The initial sketches were landscape in aspect and this idea developed naturally into the design for the lampshade.


These early treatments through to finished design show the development of the idea but you can see that actually very early on in the process I had sketches which are quite similar to the finished piece.


It was actually a long process from the initial ideas to finished lampshade. Even when I had finalised the artwork, I printed my first test lampshades and realised that a number of things were wrong; the artwork was too large, the colours were completely wrong and I needed a way to hold down the fabric between each print.

I spent quite a long time mixing inks using some jeweller’s scales which were very accurate. This allowed me to get much closer to the colours I had originally envisaged. And, I built some platens from hardboard to fix the fabric down to for the entire print run. With this design, the lampshade needed six screens (three colours for the left hand side, three colours for the right) so it was critical to keep the fabric in position.

With the artwork resized and these technical issues addressed, I was finally able to print the finished lampshade and the end result was really good.


But I didn’t stop there. I designed a vertical aspect Cover Story artwork for things like tea towels and prints. This artwork took as its influence looking up through canopies of leaves – specifically sycamore and chestnut.


And I also needed a square design for things like cushions and bags, so for that I was influenced by the roots, fallen leaves and seed pods of trees. I spent a long time working on a design which was a repeating pattern even though only a tiny part of the repeat is seen.


The final cushions looked exactly as I’d intended them.


I realised that I had actually designed three focal designs for Cover Story, the horizontal leaves and wind design, the square roots, fallen leaves and seed pods and the vertical canopy. Asking for feedback at this point, it became clear that it would be a bit overpowering to only have the focal designs as cushions and lampshades so I set about designing a whole range of less focal, more abstract patterns for a set of cushions.

I took my favourite elements from all the focal designs and set about creating abstract patterns from them. As usual, I went completely overboard and designed twelve more cushions! I narrowed this down to three designs, but two of them were printed in two colourways so in the end the cushions for Cover Story numbered six in total.


Although I still have many items to print in the Cover Story range, such as the print, tea towel and bag, I’m very pleased with how the range is looking as a whole and am really happy with how it turned out.