Working in fabric I only changed one heart with another but started with several different coloured squares.
In this version there were three different pear shapes.
Taking a shape
Another way to play with design is to take a shape and cut into it and expand it.
In the examples above the shapes cut out were glued down on the outside of the original shape. In the example below the rectangle was cut into different shapes and glued down with different intervals to expand the shape.
You can see the quilts made by Claire Higgott using this method on her website. Click on Split Shapes in her Portfolio.
You can take part of a photograph or part of your own drawing and make a physical stamp or digital stamp and produce various patterns.
This can lead to a piece of stitched textile.
I went on a Jean Draper workshop where we drew a small object and then expanded it on a photocopier. This can inform structures, work on paper and fabric. I wrote about this on my blog.
Non-visual inspiration for design
Not all inspiration has to be visual. You could use a poem or a piece of music to inspire your work. Earlier this year I used the poem 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost to produce a concertina book. My starting point was the text and unusually for me through various stages of the design process I ended up with this:
Of course, there's always just letting the fabric 'speak' to you and coming up with a piece of work that results from playing with ideas without planning. Just go with the flow and see where it takes you.
Some of my Venice pieces came from playing. I printed with stamps and thermofax screens randomly on a large piece of cotton using thickened dyes and fabric paints.
And finally in this post, there's thinking!
Lots of textile artists use sketchbooks and workbooks, experiment and make samples, I tend to think. Instead of making several samples I think through what each once might be, ask the 'what if ...' questions and then disregard the ideas. I might write a list of all the possibilities so that I have the capacity to think through each option - rather than hold the list in my head. Maybe I miss out on some ideas by not doing samples. I don't know. What I do know, is that I produce pieces that work for me and really that's all that counts.
How do you design your work?