Strawberry Thief is another of our licensed William Morris design that was first produced in 1883. It marked a triumph for Morris as it was produced as he perfected the indigo-discharge technique of printing at Merton Abbey. We also have Strawberry Thief Red within our collection.
The design was inspired by William Morris’s observation of the thrushes under the strawberry nets at Kelmscott Manor. May Morris conjured up this scene when speaking of the design, “You can imagine my Father going out in the early morning and watching the rascally thrushes at work on the fruit beds and telling the fanned who growls ‘I’d like to wring their necks!’ that no bird in the garden must be touched. There were certainly more birds than strawberries in spite of attempts at protection. And the walls of the little dining-room are hung with this note of the June garden and the little lords of it.” What a lovely insight into the Morris family life!
Today, we print and manufacture all our products in the United Kingdom. Back when Morris was producing his designs, it was a long process taking three days to prepare. It had to be really accurate.
First the cloth was dyed all over in an indigo vat, for a uniform blue colour to be washed all over the fabric, it was then printed with a bleaching reagent- this would then reduce the colour as much as required to achieve the desired base colour. Mordants are applied onto the bleached parts and the cloth was then completely immersed in madder vat in order to give the proper tint. The excess colour is then cleaned off and, to set the fabric so it won’t run, the colours are set at boiling point by passing the fabric through soap. The cloth was then laid outside with the printed side face up so the white of the design can be purified- as you can tell, a laborious job! Today, as mentioned, we use a modern flat bed printing technique; though like Morris, still print in the United Kingdom.
Our products are both printed and manufactured in the United Kingdom, and are licensed designs by William Morris, printed both size and colour-wise to our own specifications to best suit our products.