Learning Index >> Hand-blockprinted Textiles: Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher

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Phyllis Barron

Barron, as she was always called by her friends, first became interested in textile printing in her teens, inspired by a collection of old French printing blocks, discovered whilst on a sketching holiday with her elder sister Muriel in Normandy at Montreuil-sur-Mer. Their sketching tutor, Fred Mayor, had found the pinned and carved blocks in a junk shop and she persuaded him to let her try printing with them. (No. 1) Deducing that they must have been used to print on material, since the pins in the blocks would tear paper, she set out to discover what dyes could be used.

Even as a student of painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, under Henry Tonks and William Steer, information was difficult to obtain. However, two dye books Barron discovered from searching in the British Library and the library of the Victoria & Albert Museum proved to be particularly useful. These were A practical hand book of dyeing and calico printing by William Crookes published in 1874, and Experimental Researches concerning the Philosophy of Permanent colours and the best means of producing them by dyeing, calico printing etc by Edward Bancroft published in 1794, and which she regarded as compelling and indispensable. (No. 2) In addition, the Patent Office proved a helpful source of information, as before a dye can be patented a full description has to be given of the ingredients and processes.

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