I've been an avid fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories since my older brother first introduced me to them many years ago. They were probably the reason I became so fascinated with Victorian mystery writers and Victorian England in general. I devoured books by Wilke Collins, Sheridan Le Fanu, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens and of course Edgar Allan Poe (even though he was not British), to mention just a few. Even now I am eager to discover a particularly well written Victorian mystery by a contemporary author such as The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox, Drood by Dan Simmons (a must for any Dickens and Collins fan) or Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield. So when I decided to do a line of textile prints based on literary figures I chose Sherlock Holmes as the first. I had already done a portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle in which I used the smoke from his pipe as a design element. That was the starting point for this print along with his iconic Meerschaum Calabash and Churchwarden pipes. I then added in elements representing some of my favorite stories along with general items that any Sherlock Holmes fan would recognize such as his deerstalker cap, 7% solution of cocaine and the VR (Victoria Regina) made of bullet holes on his wall.
Unfortunately I had a very difficult time sourcing a digital printer who could print on chiffon that is thin enough for the ink to bleed through so that it could be used as a scarf. Spoonflower, who is my go-to printer didn't carry chiffon or voile and their crepe de chine wasn't thin enough. I finally had to give up the idea of the scarves. As disappointed as I was, I didn't want to give up on the idea of the literary prints so my next step was to take the elements of the print and use them in an engineered poster design. I kept the central theme of the pipe smoke and the story elements but put them against a black background to make them stand out and also added in some Victorian fretwork across the top to tie it all together and here is the result:
Ironically, the very day I finished the poster I received an e-blast from Spoonflower that they are now carrying chiffon!! I am so excited that now I'll be able to make up my scarves to sell in the Curious Portraits shop. If the chiffon had been available 2 months ago I would never have been motivated to develop the poster so I'm very grateful to Spoonflower for their timing. I am already working on the next poster in the series which will be Edgar Allan Poe.