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The Kid Should See This

Block printing William Morris wallpaper

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“A key figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement,” the V&A explains, designer William Morris “championed a principle of handmade production that didn’t chime with the Victorian era‘s focus on industrial ‘progress’.”

Morris’ work, a growing influence from around 1860 to 1920, was inspired by nature and honored craftsmanship. His block-printed wallpaper designs were illustrative and rich with detail, an aesthetic that demanded painstaking patience and attention during the four weeks of printing.

block detail
The V&A video above demonstrates the exacting process required of his 1875 Acanthus wallpaper design.

“This wallpaper was printed for Morris’s company by the London firm Jeffrey & Co., who specialised in high quality ‘Art’ wallpapers. It required thirty wood blocks to print the full repeat, and used fifteen subtly different colours (more than any previous design by Morris). ‘Acanthus’ was issued in two colour combinations – one in shades of green and the other in predominantly reddish-brown tones.”

matching the ink
block printing
Read more about William Morris, his wallpapers, his inspirations, and the Arts and Crafts movement at the V&A and at TheArtStory.org.

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