British printmaker Molly Mahon splits her time between the UK and Rajasthan, India, where she works with local craftspeople who carefully craft her pieces using ethical production and sustainable materials.
Her fabrics feature vibrant prints inspired by nature, her travels, and the observations of everyday life, from bold geometric abstractions to vibrant florals that are at once both charmingly eccentric and refreshingly modern. To get a better understanding of her process, we spoke to Molly about inspiration, tools and block printing.
Couverture: What inspired you to begin block printing?
Molly: I love being creative and while I lived in London I would fill my after work hours with a creative course - I tried life drawing, pottery, book illustration amongst others, but it was a block printing course that really caught my attention and excited me. Block to cloth is a very immediate process and is instantly gratifying to lift the block and experience a chosen combo of pattern and colour - I still find it thrilling.
C: Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the prints we currently stock at Couverture?
M: A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, the patterns of Charleston and things I see on my travels to India. I love simplifying florals and pairing them with imperfect stripes. A design really comes alive when it is shown in repeat, that is certainly the case with the Buti design, a little Indian inspired simple flower shape within a trellis-style border, once this element is repeated over and over it takes on an energy and charm that is particularly brought to life by the perfect imperfections from printing it section by section by hand.
C: If you were to choose five items for your home from our selection at Couverture, what would they be?
M: 1 - I am currently really into sewing over my prints and creating wall hangings so I am really taken by the BasShu quilts.
2 - I adore the Wilder products and am never without her facial oil or bath salts so that would be on my list.
3 - I am a sucker for fun candles - I might have to choose the pink flare glass candle holder and some mothers milk twisted candles…divine.
4 - I adore the David Shrigley Life is Fantastic tea towels…that combo of yellow and pink is just so more-ish.
5 - Bramble, my parson terrier could do with a new bed, one of the Baba Tree dog beds please, perhaps with a bespoke made MM cushion inside!
C: We understand that you hand carve all your block prints, making each unique and special. Please could you show us your design process?
M: My designs all originate from pencil drawings and are either carved by myself into lino or by expert carvers of the wooden blocks in Jaipur; it is a process that takes years to perfect. Each block has a life of approx 400m before a replacement block has to be carved. Once the blocks are ready, I then stand with the printers at the long print tables and we play with the blocks, my chosen palette and a variety of base cloths. It's important that I find the right combination of all these things and only if it makes my heart sing do I decide to move forward with it. There are so many elements involved, each one has its own nuance and the final look is a result of so many elements. It's this journey and combination of processes that give the finished cloth a story, a unique feel and that makes the cloth so beautiful.