Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Remember when I wrote this post and I was gushing over West Elm’s new hand-blocked quilts and shams? 
This West Elm produced short video of the hand-block printing process in India illustrates this art which has been practiced for centuries.
It’s fascinating to see how intricate patterns are carved in blocks of wood or metal (more prevalent today) and then dipped in vegetable dyes. The blocks are then repeatedly pressed upon cotton or silk fabric.  The result is beautiful fabric usually with a single colour motif on a neutral background.


Of course the great price point and the volume required at West Elm indicates that the quilts aren’t hand-blocked individually – the pattern is a hand-block design but the bedding is factory-produced.
The following U.S. based companies create textiles using  the traditional hand-blocked process. I have only mentioned three but I’m sure there are more.

1)  Companies such as the environmentally conscious Les Indiennes, on the other hand, produce their linens entirely by hand.  You can read about the “kalamkari” process here.  They recently introduced curtains and light summer bedding to their collection.  I have coveted their indigo prints for too long.

You can see the entire flip book here.

2) Sang and Serena import these beautiful 100% hand-stitched and hand-blocked quilts from India.  There are six designs available and I just adore the pink and green one.   And guess what? They ship to Canada!
Serena emailed to let me know that the particular designs shown online are limited in edition but they  are in the midst of working on new designs and will reflect this on their website in the near future. 
They also import handmade, inlaid furniture and accessories which you can see here


3)  A favourite of designers, John Robshaw’s beautiful hand blocked fabrics have graced the pages of shelter magazines for years.  He applies his own updated, vibrant spin to traditional patterns.  He says "I redesign them and mix up the processes in ways no one has ever done before...what emerges is new and fresh, and yet retains that sense of tradition, of the handmade. When I need to hire someone to help, I pick the old printers. Their hands are shaky and their eyesight is poor, so the pattern comes out slightly off. I want to feel that human touch."


Seriously, aren’t these the most beautiful fabrics you have ever seen? (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.)  Robshaw’s Connecticut country home, featured in the October issue of Lonny, showcases some of his fabrics.

Do you have any hand-blocked beauties in your home? Email a photo if you have one – would love to see.

And, as always, if you require decorating advice, please contact me at


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