We asked Cynthia of Birch Organic Fabric to tell us a little about the popular Charley Harper collection. Remember our gorgeous Interlock quilt pattern from Kelly Bowser of kelbysews? Interlock features Charley Harper prints (and it’s a great project for the new year!). Learn more about the collection in our interview. The photos below show original Charley Harper illustrations, which were then utilized to create the fabric prints. The photos are from a book by Todd Oldham (one of Charley Harper’s biggest fans), An Illustrated Life from Ammo Publications.

Original Charley Harper illustrations via An Illustrated Life

SMS: Who is Charley Harper (and what’s the big deal?!)
Cynthia: Charley Harper is an iconic illustrator; his life work spans from the early mid-century until he passed in 2007. His unique, graphic style of illustrating has become overwhelming prevalent in current design, which makes his classic works that much more timeless today.

This isn’t your first venture into mid-century-inspired designs, right? Are you a fan?
That’s right! I’m a huge fan! I’ve been following mid-century design for over a decade and have become so smitten with its simplistic style that I largely focus on this time period in almost everything we produce here at Birch, as well as how I decorate and live in my own home!

Tell us about how Birch came to work with some of Charley Harper’s art.
I went to the Dwell on Design trade show in June of 2011 and that is where I noticed the estate was selling his art prints. It was there that I inquired about licensing his designs on fabric. Todd Oldham Studios in NYC handles all of the licensing for the Harper family and estate and had already produced two beautiful books with Ammo Publications. They had other interest in the past from fabric companies, but hadn’t felt it was the right fit until they saw Birch. We took it from there and worked together to produce the Debut Collection that is in stores now.

Birch Ladybugs Print

How did you select the motifs you used?
We spent countless hours going through all of the artwork used in the books An Illustrated Life as well as Animal Kingdom. Between the two books we wanted the first collection to focus on some of Mr. Harper’s most iconic illustrations, such as the Cardinal and the Ladybug. We were able to get PDFs of the entire books, so we were printing and cutting pieces of paper here and there, just watching for repeated colors to make a perfectly balanced collection that would highlight the illustrations best and make the whole collection suitable for quilters.

Most of his illustrations were for books or prints, so what did you have to do to make them appropriate for fabric?
Jason was able to take the high res imagery into Photoshop and work his magic. He put the designs in repeat and we used the imagery to create patterns, such as with Cardinal Stagger and Ladybugs. There was some cleaning up of lines, thickening, etc. to make sure that they all looked sharp in printing on the woven fabric.

What’s the response been like?
Absolutely incredible! In fact we are already sold out of more than half of the collection and will be reprinting for an April/May delivery for the second round.

Original Charley Harper illustration via An Illustrated Life

Charley Harper Cardinal Patch print via Birch

Which print is your personal favorite?
My personal favorite is the Cardinal Patch. I love how it encompasses so many of his iconic designs all in one beautiful cheater print that will make the most adorable gender-neutral quilt for any new baby!

See the prints in action in our Interlock quilt pattern and find the collection in shops everywhere!