design techniques

My techniques for lighting and furniture include decoupage, photography, hand painting, wood block and lino printing, tea and water colour washes, and embroidery. 
Decoupage comes from the word 'decouper,' to cut, and refers to a craft popular in the eighteenth century, in particular at the court of marie antoinette. Paper motifs were cut and pasted on to wooden furniture, then varnished repeatedly to imitate japanese lacquer work furniture.
When i taught crafts, i thought of decoupage as a rather useless and time consuming technique, because the prescribed motifs were usually old greeting cards or wrapping paper. I shied away from teaching until coaxed by my group of students. In the process  I discovered the possibilities, which developed to include using black and white photocopies which i alter with tea or water colour washes, and the use of small lino blocks to add detail or interest. I eventually began to use these on my custom lamps.
Much later, i began to use my own photographs. I continue to use these in various ways: sometimes in the form of a single image, while others are composed into various layouts using photoshop; friezes of  repeated motifs which make up interesting patterns, birds, or flowers: whatever takes my fancy. since childhood i have been fascinated by jigsaw puzzles. although i never made many, partly because they weren't often available in pakistan at that time, the concept of picking out sets of diverse motifs, and putting them together, remains with me. 

small decoupage projects include lamps (bases and sometimes shades), mirror frames, medium sized boxes and trays, and tile inserts on table tops; large ones include full table tops, chests of drawers, boxes, and chairs. depending on the project i will use an existing piece of furniture, or have a new piece made to order; in some cases, when the item is to be entirely covered with decoupage and the wood is not designed to show through, the piece will be made of MDF.

My work for Pak Turk enterprises revolves around designing and making lampshades. I use a variety of techniques with a restricted colour palette on natural, preferably unbleached cotton, so that the lamps can be used with most colour schemes. Techniques include block printing and embroidery. Block printed shades may utilise one block, and sometimes a combination of three or four, to make interesting variations such as floral motifs juxtaposed against stripes; in some designs I print the background with a filigree motif in a off white/beige, then overprint in dark brown or black. In others, I print a border and fold-dye the cotton using tea, which produces beautiful variations of colour, from beige to rich ochre. This is my preferred dye, and is used to colour the embroidered shades. The latter utilise running stitch and french knots, and range from my signature flowing/straight lines interspersed with leaves or floral motifs, to traditional Mughal floral motifs, to birds and the tree of life. i intend to add a set of screen prints, using the olive tree and floral motifs such as the lotus.  

In all my work, I believe in layering colours and motifs, whether this be in the form of transparent washes of colour, double printing, printing on wash backgrounds, or multiple decoupage motifs which give a raised effect. Because layering gives the impression of depth.