I'm very happy with the Creature Comfort Throw Blankets. A perfect combination of dignified good looks and creepy crawlies.
Let's review where this design came from.
I originally created the Creature Comfort pattern for the backs of the Creature Comfort playing cards...a Kickstarter project in 2017. I needed a busy, symmetrical pattern that would feel like traditional playing cards but if it could be made up of bats and wriggling creatures, so much the better.
My very first sketches (above) were just to determine how much detail was needed. Too plain and the pattern would be boring. Too busy and the detail would become gray mush.
Next, I auditioned creatures who could be the building blocks of the pattern (above). Most were rejected, but a few deserved further refinement. Like everyone else, my favorites were bats, bugs, and reptilian creatures.
Because the card back design is symmetrical along two axes, I only needed to refine the size and spacing of the creatures for one quarter of the area (above).
The best arrangement included creatures of various sizes, evenly spaced, but with no strong alignments. But the creatures alone were too isolated and too dull. The negative spaces between the creatures needed some detail to make them more interesting, so I tried adding a stroke. This is a trick that has worked for me in the past.
Adding a stroke around the contour of each creature helped by activating the negative spaces and gluing the elements of the design together. But too many strokes, like the sketch above, felt too busy. It also gave it a strong folk-art feeling that seemed irrelevant.
The design works best with a single wrapping line surrounding each creature (below).
For the throw blanket, there were two ways to approach the design. I could reproduce the pattern as it appears on the playing cards but much bigger. Or I could modify the design to allow it to repeat across the surface of the blanket several times. I chose this repeat approach so the creatures could be a pleasant, non-threatening size. See below. If you own the playing cards, you might enjoy comparing the designs to see what's different.
I wanted the design to be woven right into the material, not applied to the surface. That can be done with a Jacquard loom that raises and lowers the threads while the shuttle gallops back and forth (below).
Jacquard looms were an early step on the path that lead to robots.
We evaluated several weavers with Jacquard looms that could produce my design. Portugal was the clear winner.
I was delighted when I saw the prototype from the Piscatextil workshop in Portugal. Their Jacquard loom produces a distinctive raised effect reminiscent to quilted blankets. It's perfect for this pattern with frequent juxtapositions of dark and light elements.
I'm open to the idea of applying this pattern to more items. There has been some experiments with the idea of a porcelain mug. Much will depend on how the Creature Comfort Throw Blanket is received.
Don—Pittsburgh, July 8, 2021