Victorian Art & Design
Morris Woven Textiles
In 1876 Morris registered his first design for a woven textile at the Patent Office. It was Tulip and Rose. (This is illustrated, with Bird, in Ann S. Dean's Burne-Jones and William Morris). Morris had to ask another firm to weave it for him. They used jacquard looms driven by steam engines. Morris could not afford the steam engines so he wanted to use a hand-operated jacquard loom. Jacquard looms had punched cards above the loom to create the pattern. Morris imported a jacquard loom from Lyons. He also got a Frenchman, M. Bazin, to work it. After some problems Morris&Co. were able to weave their own designs. Below is a detail from Peacock and Dragon.
Morris's woven textiles were used to cover upholstered chairs and also as curtains. Sometimes they were used on walls, either in loose folds, which Morris preferred, or stretched flat, like the Diagonal Trail and Dove and Rose, both hung at Wightwick Manor in 1893.
Bird was his most popular popular woven design. Morris chose it to hang on the walls of his London home, Kelmscott House in Hammersmith. Morris designed Bird in 1878 The foliage is arranged in a net pattern with two pairs of birds added to the design. Morris said that most designs were made of net or branch patterns. Bird was also made in a second colour way in red and pink, but the blue version was far more popular. It was used for curtains, to upholster chairs and for altar frontals in churches.