William Morris' textile design Strawberry Thief
If you love novels that are set in the English countryside around the turn of the last century, featuring dreamy manor houses with a maze in the garden, and a paneled and book-filled library, sooner or later you will read about the Strawberry Thief textile design by William Morris, Father of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Strawberry Thief is one of William Morris's most popular repeating designs for textiles. Thrushes that Morris found stealing fruit in the kitchen garden of his countryside home, Kelmscott Manor, in Oxfordshire are the subject of this design.
William Morris country home Kelmscott Manor; Photo from OX Magazine
Cross the pond from Oxfordshire, England and fast forward more than a century to the coastal community of Marblehead, MA. Just like William Morris, my dear friend and artist Louise Rothery will tell us that inspiration for designs can come from a variety of sources...
"The Strawberry Thief came to mind this spring, as I watched seagulls stalking a man who was clamming at low tide. They were reaching into his basket to steal a clam – or two. They are shameless and never quit. So it occurred to me to create a design to honor these rascals, who actually were hunted almost to extinction in the early 1900s when their feathers were popular for trimming ladies’ hats. The Clam Thief is a mirrored design, as Morris had done, but a little more contemporary, and quite coastal in nature. I started with black and white.
"Then went to color eliminating the rake - just too cluttered."
Louise and I have been friends for over 40 years and she has been instrumental in many of my career endeavors. Helped me create magic on home staging projects and today is contributing to the Design No. Five fabric and wallpaper collections. Louise's design company Seawordy does custom designs for fabrics, wallpaper, wall tiles, tromp l'oeil and recreations of vintage linens AND yes even cocktail napkins, of which I am the very proud recipient of a stash of Clam Thief napkins.
We'll be sure to update you once the Clam Thief wall tiles are installed.
They are so cunning. Can't wait to share with you all!
For more info on Louise Rothery and Seawordy...