On my most recent visit to India we arrived early one morning outside the gates of the celebrated Calico Museum. A line had formed and little did we know that my group, as well as several students and couples from all around the world, would not be touring the museum that day.The museum, known worldwide for its collection of Indian textiles, was closed to welcome a special government faction. 'Tis India. Throughout my travels in that beautiful country, I ran in to similar obstructions, lights would go out in storefronts due to frequent electrical outages, roads became impassable because of the rains. Taking care of business takes on a new meaning here. But I was enamored of the people; kind, gentle and rich in history.
Calico fabric holds a special place in my memory as my mother used the print when she could in lieu of expensive fabrics or made miniature barbie doll clothes out of the scraps. It is an especially benign print, unlike gingham which suggests a touch of waspiness or buffalo checks, an earthy lumberjack mentality although a favorite print of mine. It's only offense may be a suggestion of country decor; think Little House on the Prairie,
Lately I've been noticing a resurgence in small prints as these patterns are extremely easy to use. What could be more cozy than a wall covered in a small print wall covering as Lisa Fine has done in this photo from House Beautiful. This picture is divine. Not everone I realize is ready and willing to enrobe their spaces in small prints like this but I think you will agree the size and scale of medium to small prints is one of the most versatile patterns out there.
A bout a year ago I revisited Chintz, riffing on this most feminine of fabrics. Chintz is a close cousin to Calico and also originated in India. It's most distinguishing characteristic is a larger floral scale and it can be quite painterly. My white Chintz patterned lamp below is husband-friendly in a palette of greys and green.
What if I scaled my Chintz pattern down and made a companion pattern? Ginghams, dots and solids are also perfectly compatible with this blowzy design but I am liking this new unexpected mix. "Calico", available soon, is a tribute to simpler times when a humble print was all the rage on the American Prairie as well as European courts.
I also like it in blue: