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Making of a design - bee pattern

September and October are the last push on my children's book, but I've also been taking time to create some pattern designs. I recently finished a design featuring honeybees and various wild flowers. Earlier in the summer, I had the idea to create a series of nature-inspired patterns with an environmental message. I’ve already written about creating my first design, inspired by marine life and the effects of plastic pollution.

My second design in the series is quite a straight-forward floral design at first glance. I have a square of Liberty 'Windrush' fabric that I framed and hung on my wall, and I’ve wanted to create a similar design for a long time. I love how the dark background really makes the flowers pop, and the design looks like it was created out of folded paper, which adds just a bit of texture.

Liberty 'Windrush'

When I saw that Liberty was having an open competition on Instagram for new fabric designs (#LibertyOpenCall), I knew I wanted to finish the pattern in time to enter.

I wanted my design to be more than just aesthetically pleasing, so I added a subtle message about the effects intensive farming and pesticides have on honeybees and other pollinators. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t be able to grow food, so bees, butterflies, and birds are essential to our ecosystem.

I've been fascinated by bees since listening to a BBC Radio 4 programme called Gift of the Gods. It discussed the ancient Greek beliefs about bees, and presenter Martha Kearney met Greek beekeepers who are still using ancient methods today.

Earlier in the summer, I sketched out the design as a square. I scanned in the sketch and did a quick mock-up to see how it would look.

Sketch of bee pattern

Mock-up for bee pattern

The colours were all added digitally in Photoshop. I had to redo the sunflowers a few times to get them to match up and look good in the repeated pattern. My final adjustments were to add some interlocking leaves on the top to soften the edge of the repeat. It took a bit of trial and error to get everything to match up and look how I wanted it to. I also adjusted the colours of the buttercups a few times to get the hue right. Finally, I added some texture to the background with the brush tools to suggest pesticide sprays.

If you would like to know more about how bees and other pollinators are affected by intensive farming and pesticides, visit Friends of the Earth.

Bee pattern section

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