Victorian Art & Design
William Morris: Printed Textiles 

'Strawberry Thief' 1883

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Morris's printed cottons or chintzes had flowing foliage designs.  He used vegetable dyes to get beautiful colours which would not fade so rapidly as the garish aniline dyes used by others.

Thomas Wardle lent Morris one of his dyehouses for the experiments he needed to rediscover the art of vegetable dyes.  For blue the cloth was 'dipped' in deep vats of indigo.  Then bleach was used on the wooden printing block to obtain the white areas.  Weak bleach was used for pale blue and yellow was used on top of pale blue to make green, as in 'Strawberry Thief', shown on the left.

In 1881, Morris moved Morris and Co's workshops to Merton Abbey in Surrey so that he could print his own cloth and dye the yarn for his woven patterns, his embroideries and his tapestries.