William Morris Fabrics and Textiles
Carpet Weaving at Merton Abbey
There were jacquard weaving looms at Merton Abbey. Contemporary photographs show large looms framed with heavy timbers. These looms could produce long lengths of woven fabric.
Fabric Printing at Merton Abbey
In another part of the works were the printing sheds. Here, cotton and linen fabrics were hand-blocked with the distinctive designs of the company.
The fabric to be printed was stretched carefully onto a lightly-padded printing table. Wooden blocks, usually made of fine-grained pear wood, were used for printing the design. Each colour of the design required at least one block.
After inking the wood printing block, it was carefully aligned to the rest of the already printed design by the use of copper points in the four corners of the block. Once in position, the printer hit the block with a mallet to make a clean print. Some fabric designs required many blocks to complete a multi-coloured pattern.
William Morris and Morris & Co. produced over 140 designs for fabrics of all types, in numerous variations of colours and materials. Although Morris died in 1896, his direct influence stretched into the 1930’s, influencing other fabric designers in the next generation in their own work.
Even into the 21st century, designers use Morris’ work as an inspiration, adapting his designs and recolouring them for modern tastes.