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Exploring Movement

The insects that I was looking into included ladybirds, dragonflies and beetles. I decided that the way they move and the marks and patterns that they leave behind would be an interesting point in my patterns, so as current restrictions mean I cannot leave the house, I went to YouTube to find some sources for these creatures moving instead of my local pond or marsh area, where I have seen dragonflies before.

This slow motion video shows the dragonfly taking off and the way in which its wing move, there is more of a rotary circular motion to the wings than the average flapping that you would normally see in anything that flies.

I decided to look into the idea of flight more, and this video goes much more in depth about the way it flies, even managing to create models of the dragonfly which work well and illustrate this. Even the way the small parts of the dragonfly’s back moves separately is very interesting, and a texture that is quite possible to explore.

This video illustrates how a dragonfly sees the world, I thought this might be literally through the unusual insect’s eyes, as if we would see some kind of kaleidoscope view of a very colourful field. However, this video more addresses the reflexes of the dragonfly, the speed at which it notices a seed flying past it and it’s ability to react to that in under a second, however it quickly notices it is not another insect and changes its mind. The whole process is over in little more than a second, but its clear that these creatures are incredibly fast and smart.

This is quite an interesting video of a beetle moving as you can imagine from this the kind of marks it might leave in the soil which I think is worth exploring. It is much more of a dragging motion than that of a walk, so the soil would be disturbed in linear patterns.

This tortoise beetle video however shows that it is much more of a walker with longer legs, and takes off with ease at the top of its leg height. It has a circular motion that it rotates in as well.

This next video shows a ladybird in slow motion, they walk very slowly but the wings can pop in and out very quickly, in a way that does not look very natural. The way it walks too could leave little scratch marks in the surface of where it decides to walk.

After exploring all the creatures I think I would like to explain how the online research differs from real life. For a start, I am only seeing glimpses of these creatures on videos, a glimpse that someone else has deemed the most interesting thing about them, but me personally. Ideally I wanted videos of dragonflies flying around the pond, because from experience I know they take on more erratic, quick turning type of flying. They also rotate in the air while hovering, which completely changes the way they move in the sky. From experience, I do not remember seeing them walking very much, but that might have been something I could see if I was able to stay by a pond long enough. Beetles too, I was interested in the slow walking video, but I thought about how different it would have looked on dirt, or sand. Even a video where the motion of the material moving with the bug there invisible would be useful to see the exact marks that it makes. A video where they have paint on the bottom of their feet could be interesting as they make a more creative and graphic display of the way that they move, the route they take and the pattern that they leave behind then which is usually unseen.

I think in terms of markmaking, I should explore the dragonflies circular motion as well as its erratic flying path, the beetles act of dragging his feet through the mud with the pattern it leaves behind and the ladybirds smaller scuttle with its feet and its more linear flying pattern.


Editing and Patterns

After creating some of the stitching to try out as motifs, I wanted to try and edit them to create patterns out of them, to see whether I could make a bigger range of stitched motifs to use.

I played around with brightness and contrast first and then saturated the image more to get more of an idea of the colour of the stitching. I tried a gradient map on it too which turned it red and inverted, and finally tried a posterise effect which I think did make it quite lino-looking. Although because of the backing fabric it does make it quite difficult to define the border, which I think would have made it a better motif, as it is quite dark due to the heavy stitching in the leaves.

I used the lilypad stitchings that I created here as motifs and created a few different patterns from them. I would probably place these more as blenders but again I think the backing fabrics made these quite dark and even saturating them up has not done too much to help it. I also think there is too much detail in these to really call them motifs, as then the background behind it looks far too flat and one toned, which I do not find as much when my motifs are made up of a couple of colours and are more graphic and present.

More Sewing Experiments

I wanted to work further on sewing samples to try and create some interesting motifs that I could play around with and edit maybe.

These samples were much more focused on the stitch, without the paint or applique behind it. I wanted to create bright and interesting motifs purely using stitch and seeing what I could do. The thick lily pad I think is interesting with the different colours that it uses, I also used thick stitch to show the squiggles on the fabrics, and the dragonfly trail marks across the fabric. I would like to try and edit these and see what I can do with them, and then make them into patterns.

Patterns from Drawings

Using some of the motif ideas I created in my sketchbook, I had a go with some more patterns today.

I think some of these look okay, the idea of using the bugs in a line is interesting and I think would work effectively. The leaves create an interesting pattern and I think this shows the idea of changing the colour scheme could work quite nicely as I think these go together quite well.

Creating Patterns

From my work in my sketchbook and my sewing samples, I wanted to create some patterns that reflected these motifs and colours, as I am experimenting with colour scheme as well as working on my digital and pattern making skills.

I think these turned out better than I thought, but I think they need to be much more graphic for the style that I want, or I would have to consider moving on to using Procreate. I think I could achieve this with photo editing, which I think I could try next to create more interesting patterns that I like.

Etsy Research

I found I was struggling to find small independent ’boutique’ type shops online, as this is something I would get out and do as much as I could in Cardiff or any other places I would visit. I thought about Etsy because loads of people create very unique, handmade things on there.

bee fabric

Bees are a common appearance in interiors, fashion and anything now, due to their declining population, I found these cute fabrics that show bees, but in quite a subtle way with a range of flora around it.


This led me to find Pink Button Studio, clearly with insects being a lovely source of inspiration and covering ladybirds too which I think is a very cute print.

I tried looking at beetles, dragonflies and ladybirds here too with a range of results. The ladybird produced some interesting pattern results and a very clear colour scheme due to the colour of the ladybird, it seems associated with patterns and aesthetically pleasing, considering I think it is rare to see this print in a shop I thought this was quite interesting. The dragonflies produced unusual results, including a candle with an attractive pattern around and some metalwork, which I think is reflected by the wings that could be seen as metallic. This bright and iridescent quality could be explored in my colour scheme too as I think this is clearly a trend of dragonflies. Beetles was probably the harder one, due to the car of the same name, but there were a few items that I would describe as attractive, however nothing close to bees or butterflies. My idea exploring insects was to see about making the less attractive ones cute and attractive as patterns, so beetles will definitely be a challenge for this, however my visit to the entomology department in Cardiff Museum shown me some very cute beetles in some very vibrant colours.

Sewing Samples

I produced a limited range of sewing samples on my last hand in, which was a shame because it is something I enjoy doing and felt like this was not where I was able to put time in when other things seemed more essential to hand in. However I have produced a few more samples now, which is more of an extension of my sketchbook and motif creation rather than experimenting for my mini fabric collection. My fabric collection will be simple digitally printed fabrics that will be reconsidered for what kind of product they will be used for as I think the idea of children’s dresses is not right for the patterns I have in mind.

I started here with some basic watercolour on fabric with stitching over the top, I experimented with patterns and different colours here in the stitching and in the painting. I think I could try some applique too as I think this would be clearer with the colour changes as something to try out.

Online Product Research

My aim here was to find a range of stores locally to me and see what they decide to stock or create with the theme of insects in mind. I started my search online in Cardiff, producing a list of around 20 names that I wanted to look into. I also tried my home area, Llandovery, Llandeilo, and also tried some more Welsh towns I have visited before on holidays.

The main problem I encountered with online searching rather than walking around and discovering these small boutique style shops was that often they do not have a fully functional website, they have a brief overview of their product lines or collections, and usual shop information, but sometimes not a comprehensive shop set-up to view all the products they have available. Another problem I came across was with the current coronavirus shut down, some shops have closed their whole websites as well as their shops, which meant I could not even browse anything they had available online.

Lunacy is based in Port Talbot and is described as a quirky fashion boutique, while it focuses on women’s fashion, it also stocks jewellery and accessories, which I was particularly interested in, finding a few that used insects as inspiration. The ladybird necklace is quite bold, while I thought I would find some jewellery, I expected more like the butterfly studs, using the basic shape and form of the creature but not sticking to the colour scheme, giving it quite an elegant look. The purses are quite simple and colourful, the bugs are beaded on so the shape is quite detailed for beadwork that small. Overall I think this shows that the colour and shape are inspiration points for other designers.

Llandeilo is a small welsh town fairly local to me, I went to school there, and spent a lot of free time there with friends, exploring the countryside and looking at the small bespoke shops. The Cuckoo’s Nest is a giftshop who pride themselves on unique products that avoid the mainstream rush of the big retail stores that we are used to. These two insect necklaces are both unusual and interesting. The butterfly in the top image is used as quite a clear colour and shape motif, and the one below of a moth focuses more on the shape and texture of the wing, while maintaining a smooth silver finish.

Goose Island began in 1993, inspired by the director’s visits to India and the amazing collections of colours, patterns and fabric that the country has to offer. Based in Swansea, the company has branches in Llandeilo, Mumbles in Swansea, and Cowbridge. They describe their clothing as fashionable and affordable and also offer accessories and bags. I found a scarf with an insect inspired pattern which I thought was nice, but very simple and girly, which is not to my taste as I think it looks quite childish. The jewellery as well was inspired by insects, but simply using the shape and form to create them with the metal, creating an elegant effect to them overall.

Online research was useful, but had I had extra time on this when the shops reopened, I thought about how I could walk and visit a great deal of them in Cardiff, Swansea and even my local Carmarthenshire area. I could take the time here to talk to owners and employees about previous ranges and whether they could notice styles and trends.

More Mark-making

Trying out this green, pink, yellow colour palette here I worked on some more realism with the shading and form but kept the colours quite surreal and vibrant. I like some of the leaves and lily pads and I think it would be useful to see what these look like as a repeated pattern, I also like the body of the dragonfly, just with some darker shades I managed to get a round and realistic look to it.


I also tried a pink cyanotype, which was hard to do without the proper equipment and darkroom conditions, but it was enough to give this idea of an outline that I was able to play with here, although i do not think any of these would be a particularly good motif in a repeating pattern.

Mark-making and Experimenting

Mark-making is something that I struggle with sometimes, as I tend to stick to the same media and prefer my favourites, although I wanted to try out some more variety here with the textures that I researched and looking into my colour palette with the colours I will experiment with now.

I explored textures through painting, using dry and wet brush strokes in a range of colours and thicknesses to see what looks effective and what would work well in my pattern. I think the scratchy quality of the strokes makes it look unfinished, so I do prefer the bolder lines, but even the paint then leaves behind the brushstroke, so maybe using pens or something sharper would be more effective for this.

I explored the idea of the graphic colour block with the lining here, which I think works well. I did not like how the paint looked lining the leaf as I think it is too thick and uneven, and draws attention to the imperfections in the lines too much. The sharpies were better and came out cleaner, I also like how the line misses the edge of the leaves sometimes which leaves a white bit through it, I think this is a graphic bold bit that could look very good with a coloured background behind it, giving it the effortless effect. I tried a variety of patterns over the leaves and patterns, but I think the most simple actually work better, avoiding black and going with a darker colour to go around the leaf, for some complimentary colours rather than contrast. I only did a little illustration of the pond with the dragonflies over it and the trails they leave behind them, which I think could be quite an interesting pattern idea.