Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance--Criteria for Judgling Prints

Grace Margaret Morton considers the understanding of value as basic to choosing prints. This is something every quilter understands: value is often more important than color. "Watercolor quilts" are based on this concept; one arranges prints based on value, from light to dark. Print fabrics with high value contrast have to be handled thoughtfully in a quilt as they can really stand out.

Nolan is the Japanese term for using light and dark masses creatively to achieve harmony in tonal relations, Grace explains. And good costume analysis takes into consideration dark-light contrast. Here is the author's guide to judging prints:

1. The shapes or motifs should be interesting in contour and arranged in a pleasing rhythm to give balance (see figure 8, upper left sample above)
2. When more than one motif is used, they should be harmonious in shape and size (see figure 9, upper right sample above)
3. The negative space of the background areas should have interest in itself (see figure 10, lower left above)
4. Pictorial or realistic images are never suitable for wearing apparel. Good prints may have naturalistic motifs, but there should be something original, smart, or exotic (see figure 11, lower right above)

5. The effect of design as a whole when viewed from a distance through half-closed eyes should give a satisfying impression, with no part appearing to jump out as in the fabric in figure 12, upper left above.

Allover prints may be poor in design because the motifs are unrelated, as those in figure 13, upper right fabric in photo above. The flowers have nothing in common with the plaid. Bad arrangement of patterns will lack movement or rhythm, and spottiness of lights and darks also contribute to problem prints.

Characteristics of prints include:
Scale. The horse and buggy of  figure 15, lower left in the picture above, is a small scale print. Below is a large scale print, which Grace suggests could be used by "larger" women or more sophisticated women.

Widely vs. compactly spaced motifs (figures 9 vs. 17)
Strong contrast in value vs. close value (figures 11 vs. 17)
Strong or intense vs. soft and grayed colors
Abstract or geometric motifs vs. naturalistic motifs (figures 17 vs. 18)
Conventional vs. exotic
Formal vs. informal or exotic character

Forceful (see Stehli wine and gray silk plaid below) vs. dainty small prints

The print on top below is "dainty." The "amusing" Mexican hats and original plaid at the bottom of the picture should be worn only by the young, 

 The print below by Christian Berard has orange Victorian motifs on rusty black crepe and are suitable for afternoon or "personal mood".
Below: The violet-blue crepe with formal motifs in black and white "suggests street wear for mature women."

I wish the photos were in color! Imagine blue-violet with white and  black. Yummy.

Next post I will share from the chapter "Design Essentials for Good Costume."

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