The art of hand-blocking fabrics

JEAN MONRO IS ONE OF THE VERY FEW COMPANIES STILL EDITING HAND-BLOCK DESIGNS. This process requires an apprenticeship of seven years, involves often hundreds of different blocks and naturally, takes a long time to produce. The effect achieved is worth the wait, however, as it produces a look that cannot be satisfactorily copied by any other method.

Each colour is put on separately and each will require several blocks - LUCY'S ROSES, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS 180 BLOCKS PER REPEAT! The design details are applied by a combination of methods but all by hand and once printed, minute retouches, using the dye from the tray, are then also done by hand.

Hand-blocks are notoriously difficult to produce to exact colour tolerances as the take-up of the cloth is subject to changes in the atmosphere and differences in drying times as well as different handblockers (who each carry their own recognisable style of printing).

This process is repeated for each pattern repeat and for every colour down the whole length of the 18 meter table until that length is complete which can take up to a week.

As can be seen, this is a very slow and labour-intensive process. The end product however is a fabric of great beauty and subtlety and is truly inimitable. Because of the method of production there are variations within the length of the cloth which add to the charm of the final product.

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