The Making Of The Budd Paisley

We have a long history of sourcing and stocking beautiful hand printed madder silks at Budd, which we regularly work into our gowns, scarves, ties and squares. Who doesn’t love its wonderful soft, velvety finish and washed look and the sense of heritage that it imbues?

2018 sees Budd turns thing on their head and bring out our inner extroverts, with the release of our new, special edition paisley silk in a heady mix of cobalt blue, forest green, scarlet and claret. The bright design was conceived to cut through the Winter blues and bring a joyous pop of colour to an outfit.

Creative Director, Fanny Ward thought it was high time that Budd had a paisley design of its very own. Working in collaboration with Andrew and Christopher in the shop and the enormous archive of our silk printer, Adamley, she set upon the perfect paisley for the company, combining both our history and tradition as purveyors of wonderful, vintage effect silks and the company’s fresh, dynamic profile of today. Narrowing down the selection was a lengthy process, with over a century of paisley samples and colourways providing a mind-boggling scope for ideas.

Macclesfield in Cheshire has been at the heart of silk production in the UK since the 1700s. It draws enormous advantage from its position on the edge of the Peak District national park where the damp climate and wet conditions are perfect for keeping silk flexible and strong during processing. Whilst almost all of the mills have now disappeared from the region, Adamley stands in a bucolic location on the outskirts of the town, in the picturesque village of Langley.

The Victorian mill sits within the grounds of Langley Hall, skirting a mill pond which once powered a waterwheel, but which today provides the water used during the on-site dyeing and washing process. Draining down from the Peak District national park, the water is crystal clear with a perfect pH balance, an essential and importantly, ecological component in securing rich, clear colours during dyeing.

A visit to Adamley is quite simply spellbinding. It is steeped in history, from its brick foundations through to its mesmerizing archive of silks dating back over a century. Original print screens and printing tables are indelibly marked with the experience and knowledge that only comes with time. Walls display original wooden printing blocks, hand carved, heavy and intricate. Whilst incredible works of art, each one a testament to the skills of those that carved them, the margin for error and consistency was both sizeable and costly. Wooden panels have today been replaced with nylon screens, prepared uniquely for each design, a separate plate for each colour and position, but far quicker to produce and prepare.

Adamley is an incredible hot bed of knowledge. Many of its staff have followed their ancestors into the trade and even the mill itself, at times representing the third and even fourth generation, their experience within the field unsurpassed. Many of the techniques that they use have remained unchanged, tradition maintained in a bid to uphold the distinctive look and authenticity of this Macclesfield hand printed silk.

At a time where digital technology is ever more present and convenient within the printing industry, many are tempted to eschew the risks and time involved in hand printing in favour of the efficiency, precision and cost of computer led projects. Whilst Adamley also offers this service and its benefits are clear to be seen, we at Budd remain true romantics and will opt for traditional techniques powered by the human heart and hand wherever we can.

Nothing compares to the sight of the mill’s printing room, where tacky tables (to stop the silk from slipping) dedicated to hand printing stretch out over 20 metres in length, separated by gallies strewn from end to end with drying silks. At the helm of the room are Tim Corbishley and Mick Graves; two gentlemen who followed their family into the company at a young age and who have been printing and laying for the company for over 40 years each. The precision of their work is mesmerizing; calm hands ensuring that each panel/block adds another layer of colour, its spread consistent and lines sharp. When creating a paisley, the team can work with up to seven colourways, gradually working their way down the length of silk and subsequently hanging it to dry, before beginning the entire process again.

Once printed, the silk passes to the finishing department where its colours are fixed with steam and the material pressed. This is when the true tonality of the design comes through. Hand printing is not an exacting science. Experience bring the ultimate results, but there may be surprises along the way in terms of response and precise colour hues; factors which add to the unique, artisanal qualities of traditional Macclesfield silks and put the craftsmen behind them today at the highest level.

Come and take a look at our new exclusive silk for yourself, or perhaps invest in some online. Let it bring smile to your face on these dark Winter days and add a shot of colour to your earthly knits, navy overcoat or black dinner suit.


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