Gemstone: The story behind the pattern


(or actually it is a story about three patterns)


So at a first glance Gemstone may not be a design that you’d look at and think ”This is typically something Bärbel did”, right? I do have a love for very detailed, complex organic patterns with a hand drawn look and feel, often with a flirt to old patterns and motifs, which I’d say is sort of my style now. And Gemstone is more on the other end of that spectra.

But the truth is, Gemstone is a product of a pattern just like that. Here you can read about the whole process behind this pattern and how it bas born.

I had a period when I was completely mesmerized by Paisley, well I’m still quite a bit smitten by that style, but by then this was t h e pattern style of all styles. I spent a lot of time on Pottery Barn and other home textile companies sites ooohing and aaahing over the complex designs and compelling details of Paisleys.

So as always, when there is something I like I throw myself at it, immersing into it and soaking up everything there is and try to learn how to create it myself. I try to copy for practice, mimic and then eventually give it a go to create an original.

The stupid thing about this is that when I become interested in a specific area, I get this urge to know everyt hing about the topic. If you’ve taken my Classic Pattern Designs courses on Skillshare you probably know this… So of course I had to learn to create this style as authentic as possible. Drawing everything by hand, painting with watercolour or gouache. I didn’t carve my own wooden blocks for printing though, but did try to find ways to accomplish a look and feel that could mimic that technique.

One morning after weeks of practicing and a few completed Paisleys - some not for the public eye (yikes!)- I painted this elaborate motif that sort of stood out from the other studies I had made. But the shape of the motif was really weird and I couldn’t figure out how to make a pattern with it, so it had to sit and stew for a while.


But, the chunk of motif I'd painted had some quite interesting elements to it, for example a winding, organic shape with elaborate detailing that I really liked. So I thought I’d try to make something else with the same style, but more simplified this time. Perhaps as a coordinating pattern to the first one (it later turned into the 'Annika Paisley' pattern).

So I created something that turned out to be little oblong frames. And then the next idea popped into my head. What if I drew some silhouettes - of a lady and a gentleman. A bit rococo inspired. Next it had become an idea of creating a cameo alike lady and gentleman. I played around with it a bit and voila! ”Cameo” was born. Now, looking at it I could tell that it wouldn’t work as a coordinating pattern - at least not for the paisley patterns I'd made, it was a bit to complex on it’s own. 


I needed something much simpler, yet reminding of the original motif.

So I decided to use a completely opposite process and not draw any motifs by hand this time, but create it completely digitally in Illustrator and see if I could scale off as many details as I could but still keep the connection to the paisley pattern.

I started playing around with different geometrical shapes first, to see how I could fit them together in patterns and eded up with an oblong hexagon shape that reminded me of the oblong in the Cameo design. Then I duplicated it into several larger shapes surrounding it - as frames in off-white and dark brown. And it was these frames that turned out to be the key that could connect the two patterns.

The first version of Gemstone had a coloured background box - I chose a blue color way with three different tones for the hexagons together with a light gray and repeating the mid blue in the background box.

I made a second color way with coral, pinks and turquoise.

For Svanefors fall/winter-18 collection we recoloured the pattern into three new color ways where I used the darkest color of the hexagons for the backgrounds. The Svanefors colorways are Saphire, Mustard and Rust:

So that's the story. I had to create two hand drawn patterns before I was able to find Gemstone between the 1s and 0s.

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The story behind pattern design Gemstone by Bärbel Dressler in collaboration with Svanefors.
The story behind pattern design Gemstone by Bärbel Dressler in collaboration with Svanefors.