How can you take a fabric swatch from 1890 and make it relevant in today’s market? It’s a technical and creative process that our designers at the Baxter Mill Archive have mastered. Each archive piece requires customized treatment, but there are some basic guidelines we follow. Read on to see how our designers get it done.
Research trends and gather inspiration. First things first, our designers get inspired! We follow leading trend service firms and interpret their research to create the foundations of our seasonal collections, always working 12-18 months in the future. This is also the time when we develop our key color stories. Our designers also have their own mediums for inspiration, like following their favorite influencers on Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. While this is a very creative step in the remastering process, we also remain practical by thinking about the end use for each design we create whether it’s home décor, apparel or something else!
- We go archive diving and scan art in. Our designers and archivist select art and fabric swatches that fit into the trends we’ve developed. A lot of times the art isn’t perfect, but with a little vision, potential can be found in each archive! After selections have been made, the antique documents are found in our digital catalog or are scanned in so the designers can get to work!
- The Clean-Up and Repeat. The longest part of remastering is usually the clean-up. High texture fabric swatches and hand-painted art require a good bit of CAD work before they can be placed into repeat. Depending on the complexity of the design, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to three days! There are several ways clean-up is achieved:
- Color Reduction– Some of our art has been discolored over the years (especially our mid 1800s pieces) so we work on reducing the colors and flattening the file.
- Redrawing– Sometimes an archive has to be completely redrawn. This happens when we have selected an archive that’s on a specialty fabric, like a plisse.
- Use Filters– Filters in Photoshop and Illustrator help to index color on an art file.
After the file is cleaned up, it is put into repeat using a program like Photoshop or Coyote.
- Colorways, Textures, Scales. Now it’s time for our designers to put each print into the corresponding collection colorway. They might add some hand-drawn or computer-generated texture. This is also when the designer decides what scale the pattern will be while keeping the end use in mind. The design is then printed to serve as a color standard for matching when the fabric is created.
- Identify Road Map Piece and Find Supporters. The main collection print is identified after the entire remastering process is complete. The designer will then find supporting prints to complete the collection and to create a cohesive look.