Meet John Robshaw
'I-Caught-the-Asia-Bug' Robshaw journeyed to India to find natural indigo dye for his
paintings. Instead, he fell in love with the fabric-making traditions of the local artisans.
John Robshaw has persisted through the years finding the most skilled artisans to work
with to maintain his commitment to producing unique and hand crafted creations. His sharp
eye for beauty and originality helped John come upon just the right block carvers, dye masters,
printers as well as quilters, weavers and seamstresses to bring his designs to life.
Some scholars believe block printing originated in India as early as 3000 BCE and believe it was in India where the practice of printing fabrics was perfected, as early as the twelfth century, and it was Indian craftsmen who elevated it to the world-renowned art form it became.
Pichwaii are Indian religious paintings done in a variety of styles and used to tell stories, including the loose watercolor and the highly refined miniature styles of animals pictured here. On my pillows, you can really see the amazing painted details - a bird's smallest feather and an elephant's ankle bracelet-that sometimes are too small to see in the traditional miniatures.
Patient seamstresses hand stitch everything from the edges of sheets and blankets, to the intricate details of pillows and the painstaking patterns on quilts. Hand stitching is of course a tradition in India, passed down from generation to generation.
I make an incredibly durable quilt. I use the finest cotton voile available, and hand stitch instead of machine stitch, resulting in super-soft quilts that float over your body. You will know your wrapped up in an Indian stitched quilt when you don’t even notice there are any stitches.
Much of our bedding and pillow inserts are filled with mother nature’s greatest insulators, feathers and down. Feathers are stiffer and provide protection as well as warmth. Down is the smaller fluff found under the outer feathers. The soft warmth of down makes for extra comfy quilts. The slightly stiffer quills of feathers give pillows the perfect plump.
Working in India and Asia over the years, I have thought along the way about Karma - and not just when I was dodging traffic in Jaipur! The idea of Karma - your actions coming back to haunt or reward you in your next life - courses through Indian culture and through every Indian religion, so I couldn't avoid thinking about it even if I wanted to. And I wanted to think about it. As an artist working in textiles for these many years, I have come across opportunities to help individuals, children, artisan groups, and others whom I thought could use a leg up for many different reasons.