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Mosaic - 1970s Textile design of small blue and tan squares with little green and white flowers


We’re highlighting our popular greeting card design, ‘Mosaic’, which was first created in the 1970s as a pattern for a dress fabric. Its small-scale design makes it ideal for a fashion textile.

The background of this design is a chequerboard of navy blue and raw umber squares. Small floral motifs, which have bright green circular centres edged with white petals, are tucked behind the background squares at regular intervals. The motifs are rotated so that they appear to face in different directions. From a distance, the design reads as a cool, dark brown studded with tiny green stars.

Mosaic: A complex design

The design was hand-painted in perfectly smooth Designers’ Gouache on cartridge paper. Originally it was intended for silk screen printing. This would have required considerable skill on the part of the printer, because each of the four colours in ‘Mosaic’ would have required a separate silk screen. Fitting the colours together on the fabric would have needed great care and accuracy.

A silk screen-printed fabric

To produce a design as a silk screen-printed fabric, the printer first prepared an acetate sheet for each colour. With ‘Mosaic’, the navy blue squares were painted onto the acetate sheet. Similarly, the raw umber squares would be filled in on a separate sheet, followed by a sheet of acetate with only the green circles. Finally the white parts of the design would be blocked out on an acetate sheet.

The printer laid the acetate sheet on an emulsion-coated silk mesh screen. Each acetate sheet was exposed to an intense light, which hardened the emulsion on the silk screen. Only the areas left unexposed remained liquid emulsion. The screen was then washed, leaving the design as a stencil on the silk mesh screen. This process needed to be repeated four times for ‘Mosaic’ – one for each colour.

Placing the silk screen onto smoothly ironed-down fabric on a long table, fabric ink was poured into one end of the silk screen. The printer spread this ink over the entire screen using a squeegee (a rubber blade embedded in a wooden handle). As the squeegee passed over the silk mesh, the coloured ink was pressed through the stencil onto the fabric. Much repetition of this process was required for ‘Mosaic’, and subsequent colours were placed very precisely to fit in with the first part of the design.

A lot of work, both to hand paint this pattern, and to silk screen print it. But ‘Mosaic’ is such a chic and sophisticated design, it was certainly worth it!