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Flora, Fauna, & Aliens Origins

Sometimes, folks want to know how a specific design developed, so here’s a little about the development of my “Flora, Fauna, & Aliens” textile design.


My design was inspired by this cotton fabric in the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s an early 19th-century, fabric from Masulipatam in India (V&A Item IS.1765-1883). I think of it as the "bear on a golf course” pattern. Can you see why? The whole idea is here—rolling hills over populated with flora and fauna.



I started by drawing a pattern of repeating hills. 



Then I added some details to confirm that the idea could work. At this point, I wasn’t trying to make a refined design—just a sketch to see what might happen if characters from my sketchbooks stood on the upper side of each of the hills.



Then another version with even more plants and animals. At this point, there were buildings, dinosaurs, devils, and other fanciful creatures that were eliminated later. It seemed like a promising design, but the overall feeling was a little bland. A bit too even.



I decided that the hills needed to be more dynamic—less flat with more sweeping diagonals. So I started over with a fresh hill pattern.



With my brush pen, I drew vegetation and creatures directly on a paper print of the new hill pattern. At this point I decided to limit the population to contemporary birds and mammals—no dinosaurs, reptiles, or mythological beings. That way, if I added aliens later, they would contrast nicely with normal animals.


The element that repeats to create the pattern is like a puzzle piece that fits perfectly with copies of itself in every direction. That’s exactly the same way traditional Indian textile printers repeat images carved into wooden blocks.

Notice that the hills repeat every 4 inches but the creatures repeat every 8 inches. I don’t know what traditional textile designs call this. I call it a double repeat—two different patterns are each repeating at different intervals. I think it makes a pattern more interesting, so I do it often.



Finally, I slipped in a flying saucer and few aliens. This guy has a ray gun for additional menace.


To complete some kind of mysterious, cosmic circle, we found a textile printer in India to print cotton fabric and make it into a variety of useful items—tea towels, apron, oven mitt, placemats, napkins, etc. The new printer is just down the road from where the inspirational “bear on a golf course” design was produced 200 years ago. That’s kind of spooky, right?

To get your paws on these kitchen and dining room textiles, visit our store.

If you want yardage fabrics or wallpaper with this pattern, you’ll find them in the Calamityware Spoonflower store.

Pittsburgh, September 26, 2019

12 Responses


December 14, 2020

Do you make wallpaper?

Gene Lavergne

October 01, 2019

What are the care instructions for the textiles?


September 29, 2019

I like the first pattern with the dinosaurs and stuff too.

Kerry Parslow

September 28, 2019

Click on the Spoonflower “partners” icon in the middle of the Calamityware home page: Spoonflower can print both fabric and wallpaper in several Calamityware pattens. I’m not sure exactly how it works but Spoonflower pays a portion of the sale to the designers who partner with them.

I just ordered a sample of the wallpaper and the fabric to see if they will work in my vintage bathroom. For such a small print I would recommend sticking with the smooth cotton fabric options rather than some of the alternatives (like knits and synthetics).

Maggy Shannon

September 28, 2019

Thank you for sharing the process! Fascinating! And the result looks great.

Kerry Parslow

September 27, 2019

I want this as wallpaper for my bathroom!!

Catherine A Ogburn

September 27, 2019

Put me down for some cotton fabric too! Love it.


September 27, 2019

I, too, would love a few yards of this fabric for sewing/quilting projects!

Diana Mulloy

September 27, 2019

I love this pattern and especially enjoyed the way you shared it’s origin, design process and evolution! I agree that I would love to have this available as yardage. I think it will be the impetus to get me back into quilting!

Lisa Garbrick

September 27, 2019

Agree with the call for yardage. So many possible uses.

Olga Roth

September 27, 2019

Thank you for enlightening us on your process. This may be my favorite design, at least for now.

Karen Hennessey

September 27, 2019

Hey, I love this textile! I want it printed on cotton so I can use it in quilt making!!!! Yardage! Go for it!
Best, Karen

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