William Morris

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

History, is priceless. It gives us people whom we have no way of knowing, its shows us their lives as examples, as inspiration. And if you need comfort from people who have been there done it, it gives you that in all glorious detail. One of histories many gifts is William Morris, who is very close to my heart as he was an artist with many definitions and therefore bound by none. His art went where his passions went and he was an architect, furniture & textile designer, poet and socialist. I have often wondered, envied and looked wistfully at people who found that one passion and all their life went into honing that into perfection. But William Morris is someone who lived a life where there was space and scope to go and develop all the different things he wanted to do. He just did what he wanted :)

"For several years after his marriage Morris was absorbed in two intimately connected occupations: 1, the building and decoration of a house for himself and Jane, and 2, the foundation of a firm of decorators who were also artists, with the view of reinstating decoration, down to its smallest details, as one of the fine arts.

Morris was producing repeating patterns for wallpaper as early as 1862, and some six years later he designed his first pattern specifically for fabric printing. As in so many other areas that interested him, Morris chose to work with the ancient technique of hand woodblock printing in preference to the roller printing which had almost completely replaced it for commercial uses. By 1883, Morris wrote "Almost all the designs we use for surface decoration, wallpapers, textiles, and the like, I design myself. I have had to learn the theory and to some extent the practice of weaving, dyeing and textile printing: all of which I must admit has given me and still gives me a great deal of enjoyment."

"Morris taught himself embroidery, working with wool on a frame custom-built from an old example, and once he had mastered the technique he trained his wife Jane and her sister Bessie Burden and others to execute designs to his specifications."
The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayam, text and decoration by Morris with illustrations by Burne-Jones, 1870s

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