IMPRESSIONS DU SUD / BLOCK PRINTING WORKSHOP
Recently, we've been hosting our first run of Look Up workshops with Josie Molloy and her Screen Grab pop-up printmaking studio. It's great seeing people make prints for the first time – feeling inspired, falling under the printmaking spell... We know what it feels like too, because we've been there; quite recently. Back in January, we spent a fantastic afternoon block printing textiles with Impressions du Sud in Provence...
First of all, we highly recommend getting the train all the way from London to Marseille. Hop on the Eurostar at St Pancras, arrive at Gare du Nord, hop across to Gare du Lyon (two stops on the Metro) and three and a half hours later you're rolling into Marseille – a vibrant, multicultural port city with an edgy, creative vibe. It's a great city, with some fantastic galleries – both large and small (including the fantastic Tchikebe) – but the highlight of our trip was an AirBnB Experience in Sausset-les-Pins, a small fishing village to the west of the city.
Printing table at Impressions du Sud
Secrets d'atelier is an afternoon of block printing in the workshop of Nancy, who creates patterned textiles as Impressions du Sud. Many of her blocks are hand–carved in Jaipur, northern India, where local craftsmen create blocks to her designs using age-old traditional methods. Nancy fell under the block printing spell a few years back, having visited Jaipur. To find out more, we had a chat with Nancy...
Lots of hand-carved blocks to choose from
Look Up How did you get into block printing on textiles?
Nancy I’ve always had a passion for textiles and prints. About twelve years ago I went to India and spent a month travelling around Rajasthan, meeting artisans and visiting factories, and I developed a serious crush on the block printing process.
Nancy gets us started with some inks
LU Am I right in thinking that you use a combination of blocks: some that you find and buy, and others that you design and have carved by traditional craftsmen?
N That’s right. I draw my own designs and send them to Sanganer (a small town on the southern fringe of Jaipur in northern India, known for its traditional Bagru textile prints and handmade papers) where they’re hand–carved by a family of block makers. I choose the others in India. I lived in Cameroon for a while, and some of designs are carved over there by a talented woodcarver. I’ve also sourced hand-carved blocks from other countries, such as Afghanistan.
Things are about to get inked up!
LU What are you looking for in a block design?
N For me, it’s about telling stories. I want to tell stories about the south, where I live – southern heritage and traditions; the blend of cultures. I like to tell travel stories too. I love mixing the pure lines and patterns of art deco with the richness of ethnic and tribal patterns. In my work, I’m always searching for a balance between those two worlds.
Sponging ink on to the block
LU What kind of inks do you use?
N Block printing inks, screen printing inks and textile printing pastes that I make myself – I use those when when I want my textiles to be more organic.
An experimental debut from Steven
N It’s more a question about block printing on textiles. I particularly like the effect of this technique more than screen printing, for instance, because it reveals the soul of the fabric, the hand of man, the perfection and imperfection. The piece of fabric is more alive – emotional and meaningful.
Getting started on a border
LU Please can you tell me about the work you do as Impressions du Sud?
N I’m based in the south of France, with my studio and atelier near Marseille. I create and design a collection for home and accessories, here in France, and once a year I go to India and work with a partner. I've sold to retail businesses in France and Spain, developing collections with the block printing process, as well as one-off and limited edition items for private clients. The atmosphere of the collection is bohème – travel-spirited with a touch of exoticism. My aim is to develop my brand, but there’s more to it than just the business side. I’m also eager to work with women and young adults, training them up on the creative process – which is such a useful key for education in general.
N Thank you. it was so interesting to share our professional experiences – despite the rain, which is so unfamiliar here in the south... I have a few workshops booked with Airbnb: the next one’s coming up on June 28th...
We love your work Rachel...
If you'd like to book a place on the next secrets d'atelier workshop, click the link below. We highly recommend a visit to Nancy's atelier – it's such a great excuse to travel south for the summer...
Impressions du Sud Airbnb Experience