Crysede made hand block printed textiles in the 1920s and 30s in Cornwall. Designed by Alec Walker and Tom Heron (father of Patrick Heron) the fabrics are brightly coloured and feature motifs inspired by their Cornish surroundings. The textiles were made up into elegant clothes, designed by Kathleen Earle, and printed in St Ives. Many of the workers who made the textiles would sneak home scraps and make them into tea cosys, ties and aprons which are now to be found in the Crysede archives found across Penlee Museum in Penzance, Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and St Ives Museum.
Crysede has a slight legendary, mystical status and the fabrics are highly coverted. It is not certain who holds the copyright for the designs as the company merged into Cresta Silks and was possibly bought by one of the big department stores (rumours include John Lewis and Debenhams). Several companies have tried to buy the rights or copy the style of the fabrics. A major retrospective has been on the cards but finance and difficulties establishing who owns the image rights have put this all on hold.
I visited the Penlee Museum archive and found the most beautiful spot colour palettes, and colourway swatches. Penlee also hold many items of clothing and softfurnishings including a pair of Crysede curtains. Researcher, Jeanie Sinclair, is currently completing her PhD at the University of the Arts, wrote about Crysede when researching at the Royal College of Art. Her interviews with many of the women who printed the fabrics provide a wonderful insight into the world of a high end fashion fabric producer.