Helen Musselwhite's fabric design for Liberty

'Windrush' (© Liberty) will be available in A/W 2014 in the Tana Lawn range of dress fabrics.

'Windrush' (© Liberty) will be available in A/W 2014 in the Tana Lawn range of dress fabrics.

Work/Life 3 artist Helen Musselwhite recently achieved a lifelong ambition as she was approached by Liberty and invited to design a fabric pattern for their collection. Her paper constructions turned into fabric are absolutely stunning! I asked Helen how this collaboration came to be...

In December 2012, I received an email that made my heart skip a beat or two. It was from the design director of Liberty Art Fabric in London asking me if I’d like to design a repeat pattern for inclusion in the Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. Of course I said YES!

The brief was to create a paper cut design inspired by something in the Liberty archive. I’m a great fan of the work of William Morris so his fabrics were my starting point. I used to live near his weekend retreat Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire and I imagined him walking through the summer meadows and along the banks of the Windrush River that flows near the Manor. My design takes some of the flora he might have found that is indigenous to the Oxfordshire countryside and re-imagines it in a multi-layered papercut and modern colours.

I started with a line drawing which I then divided in half and flipped vertically. 

I started with a line drawing which I then divided in half and flipped vertically. 

I then photocopied several of these and coloured them in to get and idea of how colour would work in the repeat.

I then photocopied several of these and coloured them in to get and idea of how colour would work in the repeat.

It was then divided in half again and flipped vertically to produce the repeat.

It was then divided in half again and flipped vertically to produce the repeat.

I then made up a pencil grid and cut out all the pieces working out the layer and levels of pattern.
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I took a high res digital photo of the finished artwork which was then sent to Liberty and they worked some digital magic which resulted in Windrush being printed on their beautiful Tana Lawn cotton fabric in 4 colourways.

I took a high res digital photo of the finished artwork which was then sent to Liberty and they worked some digital magic which resulted in Windrush being printed on their beautiful Tana Lawn cotton fabric in 4 colourways.

A few weeks ago I received a parcel of fabrics and a shirt made of the black background fabric.

Windrush is now the copyright of Liberty London and the paper cut artwork is in their archives, which as I type this gives me goosebumps—I can truly say it is one of my greatest achievements. The process and making was extremely time-consuming and totally in the sprit of the Arts and Crafts Movement. I’m not sure now how long it took me to finish as I got carried away with the making and even though it was a bit mind boggling getting the repeat to work I was in paper-cutting heaven!!

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