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Patchwork Potato: Block Printing with Molly Mahon for Charleston Trust

A few weeks ago, the fabulous fabric and wallpaper designer, Molly Mahon got in touch with us after spotting our Design Threads: Potato Block Printing post on Instagram, commenting “#powertothepotato”. Shortly after, Molly asked us if we would be interested in taking part in ‘The Great Potato Printing Society’ to help raise funds for the Charleston Trust and of course we jumped at the opportunity!

The primary source of inspiration for our artwork was the work of artist Joe Tilson, a firm favourite of ours in the design studio, whose work can be seen across many of our hotels.

Tim Kemp even wears a Joe Tilson Venetian Swatch Watch, designed in 2019 for the Biennale which reflects the characteristic geometric shapes and vibrant colours of Tilson’s work.

Joe Tilson’s work is bold, vibrant and expressive with strong links to mythology and symbolism. We felt his use of simple, yet powerful shapes would make perfect stamps for printing and we are so happy with the finished result.

When it came to designing our potato print artwork, we wanted to create a grid composition. We had lots of fun coming up with our stamp designs, drawing inspiration from the fabrics and textiles surrounding us in our studio. We created stamps inspired by my ‘Ozone’ and ‘One Way’ fabrics, as well as our signature Firmdale mannequin.

The canvas we had to work to was A3, so we scaled down the design, drew our grid and began to map out our composition.

Once we were happy with the overall balance, we started carving our stamps, carefully cutting each shape individually.

We then mixed together our acrylic paint, making sure all the colours felt lively yet balanced and applied the first print with the utmost precision!

It was a team effort, carefully planning, carving, painting and printing the work. We are so pleased with how it’s turned out.

Unfortunately at this stage we are unable to reveal our finished piece but we hope it will be worth the wait! Our artwork will be available to buy at auction in September and we will post again for the big reveal so you don’t miss it.

The Charleston Trust is very close to our hearts, so it is a pleasure to be able to help in any way we can during this difficult time. Charleston was the Sussex home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and a regular meeting place for the Bloomsbury Group, which is our primary source of inspiration for the design of Charlotte Street Hotel.

In the meantime, we’d love to see your potato print creations. Please tag us using #designthreads #thegreatpotatoprintingsociety.

See our Design Threads post for a step by step ‘how to’ or watch one of Molly Mahon’s excellent YouTube tutorials. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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