Thomas O'Brien Lee Jofa Nympheus Hand Blocked Pattern

A Nod to Tradition: Celerie Kemble, John Robshaw & Thomas O’Brien Pay Tribute to Block Printing

The ancient tradition of handmade block printing is being revived by three designers—Celerie Kemble, Thomas O’Brien and John Robshaw—in fresh, contemporary ways. Check out the beautiful looks the designers have come up with and the creative process behind them:

Celerie Kemble

Well-known interior designer Celerie Kemble’s line of hand-blocked wallpapers for Schumacher take the technique to a more modern level. Sisal textures in unexpected colors are block printed with metallic paint or rich hues that have small intentional imperfections which give the papers character. “In life as in design, it is not perfection you should be after,” says Celerie. “There’s beauty in the faded and worn, the well loved, and the sentimental” (kembleinteriors.com) Below we see the room she designed for the 2013 Hamptons Designer Show House, where she featured one of the most popular wallpapers from her line, Acanthus Stripe.

Celerie Kemble Head Shot

Celerie Kemble Hamptons Showhouse 2013 Block Print Schumacher

Hampton Designer Showhouse - Celerie Kemble Hand Blocked Schumacher Wallpaper

Schumacher Wallpaper - Acanthus Stripe - Shadow 5006050
Schumacher Wallpaper – Acanthus Stripe – Shadow
Schumacher Wallpaper - Feather Bloom - Dove 5006070
Schumacher Wallpaper – Feather Bloom – Dove
Schumacher Wallpaper - Flame - Waltz 5006081
Schumacher Wallpaper – Flame – Waltz
Schumacher Wallpaper - Cirrus Clouds - Shanghai 5006060
Schumacher Wallpaper – Cirrus Clouds – Shanghai
Schumacher Wallpaper - Ripple - Zebra 5006132
Schumacher Wallpaper – Ripple – Zebra

Thomas O’Brien

Lee Jofa’s history is rich in hand blocking. Many of their original documents and most popular patterns were made using the technique. Recently, Lee Jofa asked designers, including the esteemed Thomas O’Brien, to reinterpret a classic Lee Jofa fabric according to his or her own style. O’Brien chose the iconic, intricate block printed pattern Nympheus, which he recolored using a more muted palette. Below we see Thomas in an office covered with his adapted version of Nympheus.

Thomas O'Brien Lee Jofa Nympheus Hand Blocked Pattern

Lee Jofa Original Blocks for Hand Block Print

Original blocks used to make Lee Jofa’s Pertelote pattern

O'Brien Lee Jofa Room Itnerior Decor

GP&J Baker Fabric - Nympheus - Linen Indigo/Marine/Linen
GP&J Baker Fabric – Nympheus – Linen Indigo/Marine/Linen
GP&J Baker Fabric - Nympheus - Linen/Aqua/Teal R1206-8
GP&J Baker Fabric – Nympheus – Linen/Aqua/Teal

Other Hand-Blocked Patterns from Lee Jofa:

GP&J Baker Fabric - Pertelote - Aqua/Rose/Multi BP10461-4
GP&J Baker Fabric – Pertelote – Aqua/Rose/Multi BP10461-4
Groundworks Fabric - Kasa - Blue  GWF-3002-40
Groundworks Fabric – Kasa – Blue

John Robshaw

John’s passion for travel is what led him to learn the process of handblocking. “It’s so simple and natural,” he says. “You touch a woodblock to wet clay and then to the fabric. After the clay dries, you dip the cloth into the indigo vat…” Since his first experience with the block printing process, John has created several of his own versions for his personal line and patterns with a block-printed look in his collection of fabrics for Duralee.” I was completely fascinated by the dyeing and printing processes, as well as how the finished product is used” (johnrobshaw.com). Below you can see the blocks he uses to create the handmade prints.

John Robshaw Duralee Hand Block Print Fabric

John Robshaw Hand Print Blocks

Block Printing - Handmade Blocks Stones John Robshaw

Duralee Designer John Robshaw Hand Block Print Fabric

Duralee Fabric - 21037-551 Saffron
Duralee Fabric – 21037-551 Saffron
Duralee Fabric - 21040-680 Aqua Cocoa
Duralee Fabric – 21040-680 Aqua Cocoa
Duralee Fabric John Robshaw - 21038-107 Terracotta
Duralee Fabric – 21038-107 Terracotta
Duralee John Robshaw Fabric - 21036-551 Saffron
Duralee Fabric – 21036-551 Saffron
Duralee Fabric John Robshaw - 21035-108 Blue Brown
Duralee Fabric – 21035-108 Blue Brown

Related Articles:

Interview with “Globetrotter” John Robshaw

Repeating History: GP&J Baker Archival Prints

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