Welcome to Angel's cottage, nestled deep in the lush and dreamy countryside in Dormansland, Surrey.
It was here where I did my very first block printing workshop and met my dear friend Kate, who would become my printing partner and Indian travelling buddy.
We've returned to Angel's on several occasions to print with her or just to drop by and have a chat over a pot of tea and a slice of homemade cake.
When Angel isn't in her printing studio, she can be found at her shop - Tobias and the Angel in Barnes. Angel’s shop sells everything from lamps, candles, linens, and vast piles of thoughtfully displayed textiles, including cushions and napkins which have been hand block printed by Angel and her team.
It was during a visit to her shop that a block printed cushion with a difference caught my eye and interest!
Angel explained that it had been 'discharged printed', which is essentially the same as block printing, but rather than printing with colour, a chemical removes the colour from the fabric.
I was intrigued and it was something that I was eager to try for myself.
Having bought a pair of velvet curtains, dismantled, washed and dried them, we headed over to Angel's cottage on a hot day in June. Thankfully there was breeze, so plenty of ventilation was blowing through the workshop area.
The key component is the discharge paste; Formasol, a clear thick paste which I found to be quite unpleasant with a strong pungent smell.
Although we wore masks, by the end of day I felt quite 'heady' and had sadly decided it was probably going to be the first and last time I'd be discharge printing, which is quite unfortunate, as the results really are rewarding and stunning.
The paste is applied exactly the same method as conventional printing. Once dried it is then ironed on a high setting until the active ingredient (sodium hydrosulphite) has 'bleached' the colour from the velvet, revealing the block design.
For my velvet I chose an intricate design called the Spanish Twist.
Once the velvet was given a thorough wash and dried, it was ready to made into a number of cushions.
Filled with feather inserts and trimmed with a rather special striped grosgrain, which I bought at VV Rouleaux haberdashery store in London.