London Calling: inspiration from the V&A

Taken during a 2010 trip to London, this image of an iron window grille was the catalyst for the Patterns Found blog project. I began documenting found patterns in every landscape. Architecture. Nature. Industry. Far from accidental, this particular piece of ironwork resides at the V&A Museum—a deliberate, beautiful artifact on display. If you can’t get there in person, check out their online database for inspiration. I don’t know of a richer resource for textile design inspiration.

London. It’s dear to me for many reasons. My short residence there in my 20s made me more self-assured and adventurous in all areas of my life. Forging out on my own, I had the pleasure of working in the tea room at the V&A Museum. Not only did I get to experience the culture on a much different level than if I’d been passing through as a tourist, but I was surrounded by incredible textiles, jewelry, costumes, and so much more that this wonderful museum holds in its massive collection. Decades later, with my son in tow for the first time, I returned to London. Seeing the city through his eyes renewed my perspective and helped me rediscover the city, the museum, and the visual contrasts in every corner.

*London grille 2 final1 lores

artwork inspired from ironwork, V&A museum, London 2014

This is the design I created inspired by the photo taken of the grille.

Read more for instructions/ materials and more photos…

*London grille 2 repeat no lines lores

Painted base layer of artwork inspired from ironwork, V&A museum, London 2014

I created the first several layers  with watercolor and masking fluid. The fluid acts as a resist to protect colors on layers below. The areas that are white is the color of the paper showing through.

Here is the design broken down into several steps.

Step 1: Apply masking fluid to white paper where the white color is to be preserved.

Step 2: After the fluid dries, paint a layer of watercolor.

Step 3: When the watercolor dries thoroughly, apply more masking fluid where the color just added is to be protected.

Step 4: Add another layer of watercolor on top of the dried masking fluid. Keep going with this process for as many layers as needed.

Step 5: When the painting is complete and dry, peel of the masking fluid to reveal the layers underneath.


masking fluid

*london grille linework lores

pen and ink layer for artwork inspired from ironwork, V&A museum, London 2014

Step 6: I painted a separate layer with pen and ink. Painting directly on to the watercolor is one way of doing this.  I chose to paint the black lines separately so that I would have more editing options.

Step 7: I then scanned both pieces of artwork and combined them in Photoshop. I was able to easily change the black lines to white because it was kept on a separate layer.

ink and pen

pen and ink

Here are some other fun pictures from that trip!

mini lores

Mini Cooper Photo credit: Julian Birnbach

traffic circle

Traffic circle madness


small car lores

I would love to hear comments and questions! The form below is for private messages. For public comments please use the “leave a reply” button at the top of the post.


4 thoughts on “London Calling: inspiration from the V&A

  1. Ken Steinmetz

    Interesting! Looks like the beginning of a book on the subject. After reading your blog I took my dog for a walk and began to see the patterns in my environment differently, through your eyes, in an inspiring way. Thanks for that!



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