Historical Textile Reproductions for Museum L-AKristin Crane
Design Pool is excited to let you know about a volunteer project we are working on to create textile reproductions for Museum L-A in Lewiston, Maine. Museum L-A was founded to tell the story of the textile mill workers who had once worked in the Bates Mill in Lewiston, which ceased production in 2001. Their mission reads that it “connects generations and cultures, fosters a spirit of discovery and human ingenuity, and helps people experience the rich history and heritage of work, the arts, and community.”
Design Pool founder Kristen Dettoni first connected with Museum L-A through interior designer Paul Lewandowski. Paul had worked on a project in the region and collaborated with the museum to use a historical pattern for a customized piece in the project. (You can read the story of that project here.)
Once Kristen heard of Museum L-A’s history and mission, she was inspired to volunteer her time and expertise in helping the museum produce unique products, featuring designs from their archives, to sell. By reproducing their historical designs for a modern audience, these designs can live a second life. The products are printed on demand through Zazzle, a perfect solution for a small museum. They can offer more designs and don’t need to produce a large quantity of inventory.
What does it mean to reproduce historical designs, and how does it work exactly?
For Kristen, the process starts with talking to the folks at the museum, going through their archives, and deciding which patterns to feature. These historical designs in their archives are handpainted on paper, and Kristen’s first step is to look at the artwork and figure out its repeat. Is it a straight repeat, a half drop, a stripe? Next, what is the repeat size, and does that size work with the products that will be for sale in the museum shop?
With these questions (and answers) in mind, Kristen scans the artwork and works with it in Illustrator to create a seamless repeat and put it in an appropriate file type. Once it’s in repeat, Kristen looks at the artwork to see if it needs anything to make it more appealing to modern buyers, keeping in mind that she doesn’t want to sacrifice its historical nature. Would it benefit from fewer colors? What about needing some cleaner edges? These design questions are always considered while tweaking the final design.
Once the design is complete and in a size that will work well for the intended products, Kristen starts to consider the color. Do the colors need a little updating? Do they work for modern taste? Kristen works on producing a colorway for each pattern that she thinks will respect its historical nature, while also appealing to today’s buyers.