When I am visiting London, I nearly always either end up in the fabrics department of Liberty's department store in Regent Street and/or in the Victoria & Albert Museum. For obvious reasons: remnants of the Arts and Crafts movement. Such good places to see high quality designs that can easily inspire my embroideries. Indeed, the daughter of William Morris, May Morris, was an accomplished embroideress.
Many of us textile lovers are familiar with the arts and crafts designs by William Morris (1834-1896). However, the arts and crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th century was more than a decorative arts style. It was also a highly political movement. With advocates idealising the medieval craftsmen and criticising the mechanical production process of their own times. The idea was that no labour division took place and that the designer also executed the designed object. Good design would lead to happy crafts people and happy consumers. This would lead to better people and they make eventually a better society. Well, I certainly think I am a much better person as long as I keep stitching :)!
Unknown to me, my former colleague Phil Harding from Wessex Archaeology and one of the leading members of Time Team once dug up the silk printing factory of Arthur Liberty, the founder of the Liberty Department store. He even tries his hand at block printing silk with the original 19th century blocks and original dye recipes. If you have a spare minute, do watch the below Time Team video of the dig. Apart from the obvious digging, it is packed full with back ground information on the Liberty silks printing factory.
After more than two years of absence, I'll be visiting London in a few weeks' time. Can't wait to stock up on good quality silks and embroidery threads. I am also looking forward to visiting my former town of residence Salisbury and meet up with old friends. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog to read all about it!
Jessica M. Grimm
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