Chinese lanterns

At the beginning of the first world war, my Lincolnshire grandmother was at art school in Reading, Berkshire. Her paintings, drawings and prints are scattered around the family. There’s a country diary somewhere, a bound book carried on long walks, I remember a watercolour landscape showing enormous elm trees on a sunny summer day. Figure drawings, flower paintings.

maisie chinese lanterns 001

In the 1930s, mother of three teenage children, she studied design: textiles, wallpaper. I have some of that work, mostly squares of flowers, cleverly calculated so that they can be tiled into a never-ending pattern. They’re too big to scan at home; instead I’ve posted a print of some kind on very soft paper – one of two I have of this image. We used to call these flowers Chinese lanterns. Very pretty in England, and the seed cases are moon-like, flat and white, but apparently they go crazy in Australian gardens.

At the sewing group, Barb pointed out that there are ways of getting fabric designs printed up – Spoonflower in the USA will print your design on a range of fabric in smallish quantities, for example. My grandmother’s designs may see the light at last: roses or snowdrops or daffodils, on dress fabric or cushion covers.



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