Hi, I’m Charlotte Raffo and I established The Monkey Puzzle Tree in 2017, finding a new way to harness creative ideas to produce one-of-a-kind design. I collaborate with select Yorkshire artists to create unique textiles and wallcoverings, and pay a 20% royalty for their contribution to the design.
As part of our mission to celebrate the best of the North of England’s creativity, eccentricity and innovation, all designs are manufactured within 100 miles of our Leeds studio, supporting traditional industries and maintaining high environmental standards.
Metamorphosis is part of a collection inspired by the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement which sought to unify mass production with individual artistic vision. We worked with the values of simplicity, honesty and the use of natural materials sought to create something new.
I worked closely in collaboration with artist Kirsty Greenwood to create Metamorphosis, a fantastical large scale design on a natural undyed and unbleached linen union fabric. On a natural ground of unbleached linen union fabric, 'Metamorphosis' invites you to imagine a fantasy world, featuring metallic gold comets and mysterious faces amidst green tendrils, cobwebs, claws and unicorn horns.
The fabric creates a real statement and complements both neutral schemes and rooms using dark colours. Kirsty is inspired by pareidolia - the tendency to see faces and animals in patterns and objects.
Using a piece of hand marbling as a starting point we created an unusual enlarged repeat pattern together which formed the basis of the design. Kirsty then created layers of line drawings on tracing paper, building up the tendrils, faces and creatures you can see in the design.
We chose a heavy unbleached linen union as a base for the design. The fabric, which is woven in Scotland, is a characterful blend of linen and cotton retaining the natural colour of the yarn, and showing occasional slubs and imperfections which add to the natural charm of the fabric.
Linen is a very sustainable fibre, which can be grown on poor quality soils, using around a quarter of the water to grow in comparision with cotton. In the linen union blend the fabric has the best of both qualities, with the cotton giving a softer hand feel and some crease resistance to the cloth, and the linen providing strength and texture.
We chose not to dye the cloth so that its natural colour could be appreciated and to reduce the quantity of chemicals used to produce the fabric.
To maintain the authenticity of the design we wanted to screen print it rather than using a digital method. Budget constraints mean that we needed to create the design using only four colours and be clever with the way we used these to create texture and depth. A half tone screen was used to create the marble effect for the background giving subtle shading in tone with the natural colour of the fabric.
The printing took place in a mill in Cumbria which was established in the early 19th Century. Several attempts were needed to create the effect on the day of production and it took 5 hours of experimentation to achieve the right colour balance.
The water based inks were sourced from a local Yorkshire based manufacturer. A matt ink was used for the dark grey outlines, and contrasting gloss ink used for the green tendrils and metallic comets to create the most depth and interest.
The resulting fabric can be used for curtains and blinds as well as upholstery and is also suitable for commercial use. The large scale design gives a quirky twist to warm neutral schemes and pairs beautifully with dark inky blues and greens.