I often see artists portrayed as unfettered and wild, throwing paint at a canvas, compelled by some creative force beyond their control, chaotic. And sure, sometimes, there is a disorganized urgency to my art making, but that initial surge of inspiration can be fleeting. Far more often I make a list, tie my hair back and work to a schedule.
I listen to a LOT of science podcasts while I draw. I fell in love with the tardigrade, while listening to the Bryology episode of Ologies with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer Objectively tardigrades are fascinating. I was curious about the tun state of suspended animation that they adopt when they find themselves in less-than-ideal circumstances. As an introvert I can relate! I imagined a formidable tango dancer intimidating her partner into a cryptobiotic state.
Rendering this idea began with pencil crayon sketches, and then I painted light washes of shading with watercolor. I painted the chlorophyll cells on separate pages, and then photographed the illustrations. Using Adobe Photoshop, I collaged the individual illustrations into a seamless repeating pattern. Here is an easy tutorial for creating seamless patterns by Artsy Dork.
I uploaded the finished design tile to Spoonflower and ordered a fat quarter proof on Petal Signature Cotton to make a throw pillow…. this led to the need for another project: re-upholstering my living room rocker to match the throw pillow… but that is a story for a different blog post!
I loved the look of the chlorophyll background on its own, so I made this Chlorophyll Cellular Watercolor design too. My friend Emma Shelford, a dedicated zero waste mama, used it to sew a set re-useable cotton dinner napkins.
The next project was a request for a cozy fleece tardigrade tango top. Custom tardigrade top? – yes! I sewed the Emi T-Shirt pattern by Waves and Wild . This pattern is beginner friendly and very easy to adjust. I like the peplum option because the extra length helps with winter cozy-ness. So many fast-fashion clothing items for little girls are made with fabrics that are unsuitable for winter wear. And as a Canadian, I take winter cozies very seriously. The Spoonflower fleece is low-loft and easy to sew on a domestic machine, but it has little stretch. I sewed a muslin to work through pattern adjustments and decided to go up one size to make it easier to pull over the head. For managing the bulk of the fleece, I would recommend doubling the width of the neck and arm bands. To adjust for height, I lengthened the torso by 1″ and the peplum by 3″.
The finished top is a great outer layer for long playground sessions in the snow. And while conversational prints are not for everyone, they are wonderful choice for extroverted kiddos. Onward!