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Handmade in the factory?

It was a lovely end to the week on Friday when Chris printed my Sompting design for the Virginia White Collection on his Gali machine. Monique and I print next to Chris on our hand-table  – but we have to do everything by hand – whereas he uses a Gali which has a mechanical arm… sometimes when we are printing lengths we try to race each other but naturally Chris always wins.

Mostly Chris prints the most amazing designs that use over 10 screens so this single colour was a doddle for him. He even spotted that the repeat is about 1mm out. Chris is our printing guru (just like his dad Podge) and he looks out for Mon and I spotting any mistakes we’re making before we’ve even made it. Naturally we adore him because he’s such a master craftsman and also because he’s so nice.

 

 

First Chris prints every other repeat, then he goes down the 50m table a second time and fills in the gaps when the first print is dry. Most days he walks over 10km!!

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Here I am looking very pleased at how my little lino cut design has been transformed into a 50m length, something that would take me at least a week to do at home. I remember from when I studied politics, reading an essay by Walter Benjamin called ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction’ – which wasn’t very kind about processes like this which it claimed destroyed the spirit of the original by endlessly reproducing it…. reproduction does change the original but not necessarily into something less, it can also distill essential parts and help to simplify it as well.

Anyway, as a designer, it’s something very beautiful to watch when your idea becomes reality and you see it being produced and going into peoples homes. I also remember something I think Liubov Popova, the friend of the constructivist designer Vavara Rodchenko and a wonderful painter and designer herself said – how she would far prefer for an ordinary woman to buy 1m of her fabric in a department store than her painting to be hung in a famous gallery and just seen by just a few.

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