Surface Pattern Design Guide: Bessie Smith Moulton

There are 100 portfolios presented in the Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd edition (published in the current issue #32). They were selected from 744 submissions from readers worldwide who represent a variety of styles and levels of experience—from students to seasoned professionals. Though there are plenty of digitally-created patterns, there are also artists who use more hands-on methods like linocut, mono-printing or textile manipulations.

Bessie Smith Moulton of Babayaga Exquisites is a multimedia artist who has concentrated on the book arts for the past two decades, although her love of design extends to all materials. The last few years she has explored textiles and surface design. Her fabric designs are derived from naturally dyed plant material or various printing techniques, sometimes enhanced with embroidery or by collaging fabric patterns.

Bessie tells us more about her work and amazing studio on stilts:

I retired from my work as a graphic designer a decade ago and finally have been doing the artwork I have always wanted to do, making artist's books. Also, by combining my living situation with that of my longtime partner, I was able to build a studio of my dreams. Previously, I did my art and design work in nooks and crannies, on the dining room table, or in spare rooms. 

Click on the image to enlarge. Photo by Dana Hutchins.

Artists can work wherever they are, under any conditions. My studio is a bonus. It's large enough to hold workshops or studio visits. It is like a bird's nest built on stilts, over a pond, surrounded by trees and nature. There is a small Japanese garden below. I have named it Baba Yaga after the witch in the Russian fairytale who lives in a chicken coop, which moves around on chicken legs. 

Click on the image to enlarge. Photo by Dana Hutchins.

It is a place where I can go to be contemplative, study, or find inspiration. It is a comfortable place with all the materials at hand to do textile work, monoprinting, collage or multimedia that go into making artist’s books. 

Bessie in her basement studio.

Bessie in her basement studio.

I have an area in the basement of the house where I do printmaking, make paper, prepare cyanotypes and other crafts such as pottery, metal and glass work. 

Joseph Campbell said it best, ”To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity…a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be… a place of creative incubation.” 

For 99 other profiles of Surface Pattern Designers, pick up the current issue of UPPERCASE magazine.