It's been a quiet spring on this here blog. I've been tending to several projects behind the scenes that haven't left much time for writing. But it's time to take the lid off of some of what I've been working on.
Mankolam, pictured above, is a collection of fabric designs that I put together in March from bits and pieces I'd been playing with for more than a year. Once I knew what I wanted to do with it, I was amazed at how quickly it came together. Mankolam is the sanskrit word for "mango design," or what we have come to know as paisley, thus the name (and the spring fruit). I have always loved the color and movement of paisley designs, but I wanted to do something with them that also reflected the more buttoned-up elements of my personality. So the paisley is on a background of pin stripes. The earthy buttons are neatly arranged because, as my dear friend Emily would say, "a polka is my signature dot formation." The over-the-top floral is kept in check with, well, a check stripe. And the fluttery gossamer wings (which are my favorite) float in tight tandem with one another.
The whole collection is available for purchase from my shop at Spoonflower. I've printed them on Spoonflower's newest fabric offering, lightweight cotton lawn, which I think complements the designs perfectly, but they are also available on quilting cotton, organic sateen, linen-cotton canvas, and more.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Because for the last 6 months, I have been working on a huge fabric collection that is the biggest jump forward for me as a designer, well, pretty much, ever. The designs themselves have been pretty well finished for months, but for tinkering with colors (and there are 5 colorways, so that's a lot of colors to tinker with!). Aside from the tinkering, I've been struggling to decide what to do with my designs—try to get them licensed? Sell them from Spoonflower? From Etsy? After months of dithering, I took the plunge, thanks to the amazing encouragement of my twitter friend, Michelle Bencsko, and submitted my designs to a major manufacturer. And, well, they sent me the nicest rejection letter ever. So. Now what? I can keep submitting the designs to other manufacturers, one-by-one, until somebody bites. And that's probably the smart thing to do (well, really I know it's the smart thing to do, because it's what Michelle told me to do, and that Michelle is one smart lady). And I probably will, eventually. But these designs are so happy, and they are so special to me that it's making me feel all bottled up and angsty not to be sharing them. Sharing is good, right?
Without further ado, I present Ice Cream Social!
This collection began with a tile motif in pink and brown and white. It reminded me of neapolitan ice cream—one of my childhood favorites. And when I think of ice cream and childhood, I think of the old-fashioned ice cream parlor that once anchored Market Street downtown in Charleston. Brass railings, tile floors, stained glass lamps, flower boxes. I'm sad every time I walk by that spot and see my old haunt replaced by a new tourist trap every year. Looking at my pink and brown design, I knew almost immediately that it would be the jumping off point for a whole series of designs. And what I have tried to do in this collection is to highlight those images of old, while gussying them up with a modern sensibility.
There are 5 ice cream social colorways, each taking their name and their hues from favorite ice cream flavors: neapolitan (of course), rainbow sherbet, banana split, blue moon, and mint chocolate chip. And each color way features 9 (!) designs.
For the time being, I am making these available in my Spoonflower shop, as well. I have debated back and forth about how to do this—should I market my work on Etsy, and take advantage of their huge global reach? The downside is that in order to make it worth my while on Etsy, I have to markup my fabrics to the point that they aren't really affordable. On the other hand, if I sell on Spoonflower, how will anyone ever find me there? And though my profits will be slim, will it be worth it not to be involved in the day-in-day out hassle of cutting and shipping fabric. Given that my full-time jobs as lawyer and mother allow for very limited free time, and because of my passionate loyalty to what I think is one of the coolest companies ever built, I am going to continue to host the bulk of my work on Spoonflower and see how it goes.
In the meantime, I'm thinking there should be a printable something or other with some of these designs...It's an open mic in the comments, and I'm taking requests...