A Custom Commission: Block Print Zebra Drapes
This was the third of three large drapery projects that I created for a client who is an architect in the bay area.
The first was a very intense cape buffalo pattern, and the third was a scattering of jacaranda leaves for a kitchen curtain panel.
When John (the architect) first sent me the drawings for the drapes, I was a little overwhelmed.
There were so many lines in all directions!
Zebra heads overlapping with zebra bodies and zebra butts. If we turned it into a block print, I didn’t know if anyone would know what it was! (besides a mess)
Also, me being very organized and slightly neurotic about spacing didn’t help, but hey, sometimes you gotta step out of your comfort zone.
So I got to work carving out the zebra blocks. I would email him every once in a while to confirm a certain line or zebra part was facing the right direction. (My job is so weird.)
There were two separate zebra blocks that were slightly different. In the diagram he sent me below, you can see how he wanted them laid out…also overlapping.
This meant that in some areas the zebra feet would overlap into zebra heads and other parts.
Even writing this makes me cringe! But the show had to go on.
When I put the design onto the block it all kind of blended together. I was not sure how this was going to come out, but we would make it work!
I had to do a ton of testing with this design. John had brought me a roll of practice fabric to use, and I put it to work.
I wasn’t sure about all the overlapping elements, but as I printed everything out, I realized it was kind of cool.
When legs combined with bodies it left a dark and dense print. Which gave the entire panel a lot more depth.
The whole thing felt wild and spontaneous, even though it was meticulously planned out from start to finish.
Here’s what one of the final panels looked like -
Here’s a close up of the details. Sadly these are the only photos I have from that project!
You can see how we separated the zebras from each other with a thin line around the bodies and heads. It wasn’t a completely solid line, so it blended in a little better and didn’t make the whole thing look flat.
This commission definitely put me outside my comfort zone. Lessons learned: document with lots of photos, and be open to crazy projects!