Artisan Molly Mahon, who lives in a “perfectly imperfect” cottage tucked away in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, is renowned for creating hand-printed textiles, wallpapers and homeware inspired by her visits to India, the Bloomsbury Group, and walks with her children; whose constant curiosity of insects and plants taught her to be more aware of nature.
During her twenties, Molly worked for a successful events firm in London whilst attending several evening block printing classes run by a local shop owner as her creative outlet. “It was the first time I lifted the block, the immediate joy of seeing my printed pattern was an energy and excitement that I have never tired of,” says Molly. Soon after, she became hooked on the process of printing by hand and began to experiment with creating her own blocks, designs and colour schemes, turning her creations into lampshades, wallpaper and other soft furnishings.
It was when Molly was given the chance to decorate a friends’ shepherds hut, using marigold wallpaper and painting the ceiling with yellow and blue stripes, that kick-started her business. She quickly began selling at art fairs, starting with stationery and wallpaper before launching her first collection of designs with the artisanal textiles company Tissus d’Hélène. Now US textile company Schumacher stocks her fabrics, and she has four highly successful collections via her eponymous label MM.
Molly frequently notes the importance of connecting human movement and emotion with craft, which has fueled her ten-year infatuation with block printing as opposed to digitally printing her designs. “The wonderful ‘perfect’ imperfections of hand printed cloth is something that could not be truly felt in a machine printed replica,” she says. “It’s the energy of the human connection from a hand carved block, to the mixing of the colour by eye to the printing of the cloth that I find interesting and special.”
Working with a mix of lino, wood blocks, and potatoes, Molly is a firm believer that the process is just as important as the finished print. Being creative and using your hands has a calming effect, similar to meditation, that enables you to connect with yourself and unwind from a long day.
In 2015, Molly continued her pursuit of learning the art of block print by visiting Jaipur; the heart of block printing. The visit was initially planned and seen by Molly as an introduction to some of India’s traditional block printing practices, however to her joy it became the turning point towards her signature aesthetics. “It was like arriving in a wonderful world of colour, energy, positivity and possibilities. I had seen images and read about India, but nothing prepared me for the actual feeling of being there”. Being able to witness the passion of the craftsmanship first hand, and to become fully immersed in the bright, zingy and earthier colours all around her meant that India would forever be a bountiful source of inspiration for Molly’s work.
Molly’s work and home life have also been greatly impacted by the work of Vanessa Bell and the Bloomsbury Group, a group of artists, writers, and intellectuals who lived in Charleston Farmhouse during the first half of the 20th Century. “They were very confident with how they decorated, I don’t think they worried about what people thought at all…they painted and decorated as they felt fit and as they wanted to. Their creativity was their way of life…and it’s something I bring into my work now. My work is really intertwined with my home and I think that this [Charleston Farmhouse] is such a great example and it fills me with inspiration”.
As you’d expect, Molly’s well-loved family home is filled with cheerful patterned fabrics to create a joyful, welcoming, comfortable, and lived in space for her family.
“Home is the beating heart of our family, an absolute safe haven from all that life throws at us, a place to feel completely at peace with ourselves and one another. It is not over precious in its décor, but full of the things that we love and that make us feel inspired and welcome and happy”.
Having to go through chemotherapy four years ago, Molly recognises the importance of having a comforting and colourful nest to restore harmony. “I find colour rejuvenating… it can make me feel excited, joyful, calm or content”. Her personal favourite colour combination is pink and red – “always, seeing them together just makes me feel full of joy!”.
When starting out on your own journey into colour, print and pattern, Molly recommends that you “Start small. Add a patterned lampshade or a cushion or two and see how it makes you feel and then, if you enjoy it, add some more, feel your way and build from there”.
Learn more about Molly Mahon and how to introduce joyful colour into your home in the link below.
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