Based on observations of nature, William Morris' prints and patterns are as recognisable now as they were in the late nineteenth century.
With the wallpaper industry booming in Victorian Britain, the newly established William Morris Co. sought to make the most of this opportunity and set about creating wallpaper patterns that could be mass produced yet still retain a sense of craftmanship and refinement.
This week, members of the London studio took part in a wood block printing demonstration at Morris & Co. in London. Morris created his wallpapers using beautiful hand-carved wooden blocks, which were originally dipped in natural mineral-based paints and then pressed with a machine onto rolls of thick paper. Our designers were given the opportunity to create a sample of Morris' "Sunflower" paper using an original wooden block and the traditional methodology. "Sunflower" was designed in 1879 and features a symmetrical, formalised print of a blooming sunflower with grapevines and fruits.
Step 1. Paint your chosen pigment onto the felt-base frame.
Step 2. Gently ease the wood block down onto the felt base and stamp the block up and down to ensure paint is spread evenly across the pattern.
Step 3. Bring the wood block across to the printing station. Line up your block with the edge of the paper.
Step 4. Gently lower the block onto the paper and press down firmly with your hand.
Step 5. Position the stop over the top of the block and, using your foot, press the pedal to force weight down onto the block.
Step 6. Gently lift the block off the paper. If you are repeating your pattern ensure the pins align with the top of your original print to ensure there is no break in the pattern.