04 November, 2009

"The Crafts of Art . . . "

Stephen Elrod, VP and Creative Director for Lee Jofa

"Tree of Life" textile -from Lee Jofa
source - Veranda 2007
I have always thought it is so important to keep up with all of the latest technology and the newest trends in interior design and business management - BUT, it's also incredibly important to have a thorough understanding of the age-old crafts that create the furnishings and the textiles that inhabit our homes. And today, it's the time honored craft of textiles that has me tightly in its spell . . .
The Lee Jofa Showroom in San Francisco

I recently had a chance to attend an amazing lecture on the "Art of Hand Blocked Fabrics" from Stephen Elrod, of Lee Jofa, and to hear the entire process described. Lee Jofa carries one of the most spectacular collections of hand blocked fabric I've ever seen - and I've always been fascinated by how they are created . . .
So, as the radiant Julie Andrews once said, 'let's start at the very beginning . . . .' and see how the amazing "tree of life" fabric is created.
to begin - the greige goods (the name for unprinted textiles) is placed on the printing table and affixed so that it will not move during the lengthy printing process.
Each individual print block is checked, cleaned, and prepared to have the ink applied.
And then, each colour, one by one, is applied to the textile. There are a staggering total of 316 individual blocks used to create the pattern.
The process is clearly a work of art in and of itself.
Each new block and colour layered to create the pattern.
After all of the 316 individual blocks are printed, the entire length of fabric (with a 99 inch repeat) is reviewed.
The original pattern was created by Henry Wearne, an English textile designer who specialized in creating fabrics for the American market.
After the ink has dried, it is rolled onto the bolt, the table is scrubbed clean of the ink which bleeds through during the printing process . . . and a new length of fabric is affixed to the table to be printed.
Just a sample of the numerous hand blocks needed for the process.
and the almost shocking variety in sizes for the various colours in the design. And, yes, those tiny, tiny, tiny wood blocks are part of the process as well.
So have a look around the house, or maybe next time you're out looking at textiles (or maybe the next time you see a Lee Jofa showroom) - have a close look at some of these amazing textiles.
Now I'm starring at my needlepoint rug too . . . I wonder how these are made,
ps. I've been searching around for a project featuring the Lee Jofa "Tree of Life" textile - if you have one, please send it to me. I would love to feature it.


La Maison Fou said...

Thank you for sharing. What an interesting process, very tedious!

Unknown said...

Great post, I love processes and learning the different languages to create. Textiles are still such a wonder aren't they? I'm working on a small scale project of fabric printing myself.
Because I've done rubber stamping on card stock and made christmas cards for years. Designed clothing, restyled clothing and just love all the processes for years and now being an interior designer it's great to see how simple it is in concept, and how exact, precise, and time consuming it is to excute.

Enjoying the fruit of the tree upon completion is priceless such is life!


The-Countrypolitan said...

Your post certainly makes one stop and reflect on what it takes to create these beautiful textiles... that we often just take for granted.

katiedid said...

Wow! Such a meticulous process. So interesting to see how it's done. Thanks!

Ashfield Hansen Design Inc. said...

Thanks for posting!
I will be sure to pull this out the next time a client asks why a fabric costs so much...This certainly spells it out.

Sorry to miss your event, but will look for you at DBD Table Hop & Taste!

David @ Ashfield Hansen Design

Unknown said...

Holy cow! Thanks for this post. When I was in design school we went on a field trip to the bradbury paper factory, and learned silk screening. I had no idea the process a hand made silk screen paper went through from start to finish. This is very similar. To know and understand what it takes to get such a beautiful end product is so important for the consumer to see. Without this info it is be severely under appreciated

Unknown said...

What a great article! Hand blocking is a really fascinating and meticulous process that has absolutely stunning results. Thanks so much for sharing what you learned!

Renée Finberg said...

i adore lee jofa.
this was a fabulous post for me.
i loved every picture and word of it.


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