Summer, detail from The Orchards; The Seasons
I named my reproduction collection that will be in quilt shops soon
A Morris Tapestry.
Prints from A Morris Tapestry in the Damask Black colorway
My inspiration was William Morris's revival of woven tapestry technique in 19th-century England. Morris (1834–1896) looked for a return to handcraft during the industrial age. He viewed printed fabrics as mass-produced alternatives to hand-produced patterning. Impressed by the rediscovery of the wool, silk and gold tapestries of the Middle Ages, Morris and his fellow craftsmen staged a revival of the art of woven pictorials at his Merton Abbey workshop.
The Orchards; The Seasons, about 1890
Designed by William Morris and John Henry Dearle
Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Click here to see more:
Morris's inspiration were the huge pictorial hangings commissioned by European nobility. Above is a 15th century tapesty, a panel from the Unicorn Tapestries woven in the Netherlands. The Unicorn Is Found at the Fountain was made between 1495–1505, and is 12 feet tall. The series was given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1937.
A panel from another medieval woven tapestry featuring unicorns. The Lady and the Unicorn series is now in the French Museum Musée du Moyen Age.
Discovery of the decaying Lady and Unicorn tapestries in a neglected French estate in 1841 contributed to the popular appreciation of the old-fashioned art of loom-woven pattern.
Detail of the Woodpecker Tapestry designed by William Morris.
Click here for more information on the Woodpecker Tapestry
at the Textile Blog, which has numerous posts about Morris tapestries.
Flora and fauna in Morris tapestries echo the medieval designs. Figures are dressed in medieval robes and stand in formal poses derived from traditional iconography.
Detail of Galahad or Holy Grail tapestry,
designed by Edward Bourne-Jones and Morris, woven in the 1890s.
This is one of a six-panel series.
When last heard of, this panel belonged to Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
As in the Middle Ages, the late-19th-century Morris tapestries were group projects. Morris collaborated with painter Edward Bourne-Jones, designer John Henry Dearle, architect Phillip Webb and others in the design. Morris enjoyed weaving and spent hours at his loom, but had many weaving assistants.
Producing labor-intensive tapestries eventually convinced Morris that printed fabrics were a necessity. He adapted several of his tapestry designs to cotton prints. The Strawberry Thief was one of his woven fabrics that became a print.
Detail from the Morris firm's Forest Tapestry (1887) also in the collection of the V&A.
Read more about it here:
Read more about the tapestries from the Morris firm: