From the time I was born till I was about six years old, we lived with my Grandparents in a coastal town in Australia called Wollongong. Wollongong is sandwiched between coastal beaches and a rainforest covered escarpment behind. Throughout my school years I would also regularly return for a few weeks visit with them during Summer holidays.
When I think about my grandparents and their garden I think of Summer. Summer bringing with it the bloom of Frangipani and Eucalyptus (Gum) flowers, it also brings with it the sound of Cicadas.
Here in the US there has been much talk of the Cicada inundation on the East Coast this Summer, but I don’t remember it ever being like this in Australia. Not in my Grandparents’ backyard anyway. Also the Cicadas we use to find are cute and a vibrant green. The Green Grocer Cicada is common on the east coast of Australia, it is also one of the loudest insects in the world. Click to hear them in all their glory… you might want to turn DOWN the volume.
As kids we would hunt Cicadas on the lower branches of trees and then walk around with them gripping on to our t-shirts like some sort of fine jeweled brooch. When they had had enough they would fly off and we would seek out a new one. Luckily they don’t make their sounds when they are that close to you.
My Grandparents’ garden was filled with many trees and bushes mostly on the edges of the yard and a large grassed area. An exception to this was the frangipani that had pride of place in their front yard. All that grass brings to mind the back and forth of my grandfather mowing the lawn, that and the patterning on the bark of the Scribbly Gum tree informed my choice to approach this design with line. The lines on the Scribbly Gum are formed by a moth larvae that burrow around under the bark marking the trees with wonderful curvy lines.
So I drew with line-work reminiscent of calligraphy and chose to work in an old world ogee pattern that harks back to vintage wallpaper, reminiscent of my grandparents era though with modern elements.
For the main print, these elements are reflected and repeated to form an ogee pattern, then the space left between the reflected cicadas is filled with line work that could represent their sound waves or the back and forth of my Grandfather mowing the lawn. This is a larger scale print filled with line texture to suit both large and small pieced pieces of fabric.
The colors I have used emerged naturally from the greens of the Cicadas, grass and Gum leaves with a hint of white and yellow from the Frangipanis and Gum flowers. It’s funny because when I was first thinking about this pattern I was sure that I wanted to keep it as a simple black and white design, much like those old photos, but then the color crept it the more I thought and remembered.
For the secondary print I simplified the color, reducing it down to only two and worked with just the lines, repeating and overlapping them to form new motifs. The Cicadas are there in the middle, hidden from view as they are in the trees, the sound waves from the Cicadas song form a surrounding structure. Again this design calls back to vintage wallpaper motifs.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey back in time with me. It’s been great to reminisce about a special time, place and people in my life. Wish me luck, I have my fingers crossed that you’ll see more of my designs in the final round!
You know I can’t resist cutting both patterns up into hexys and rearranging them with each other!
Have a great Summer!