Tuesday 6 April 2010

Sample Books of Thomas Wardle, The Manchester Indian

For every artifact we admire whether in museum, gallery or shop, there will have been at least 10 and sometime perhaps a hundred versions or trials which now have a permanent resting place in a landfill. Indeed, for every Needleprint book page you see, there have been several earlier versions which were deselected before the final version went to press. The cost of articles includes labour and materials which you will never or perhaps only rarely see. That is why any good craftsperson will keep samplers of trials, to avoid as much as possible these hidden costs. Here you can see some excerpts from the copious sample books of Thomas Wardle. This first example, Hadleigh, with its stepped outlines simulates counted thread stitching.Thomas Wardle whose lovely silk work we have seen before lived from 1831-1909 was a fabric designer and sometime collaborator with William Morris. His fabric print and dye works was based in Leek, Cheshire, where he was known as the Manchester Indian since he worked hard re-establish the silk industry in that country - visiting in 1855-56 - and many of his designs display Indian influence such as this monochrome design for velvet which incorporates pomegranates and other motifs.

His works can be seen until summer 2010 at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. If you would like to browse his sample books then just click here - they are fascinating and lovely!


  1. C'est vraiment georgeous! Couson

  2. Excellent images and article. Thanks for sharing. How I would love to have the books in my library!