How The Indian Block Print Co. came to be
Just like her business origins of pottery painting, which allows anyone to create beautiful ceramic art without prior artistic training, Maggie recognised the capacity of block printing to allow anyone to create something beautiful regardless of background, and in doing so build confidence and wellbeing.
"I was immediately hooked, and I knew others would be too"
The Indian Block Print Co. is truly a family business inside and out. Since leaving her corporate role in the city 20 years ago, Maggie has been dedicated to creating space and support for anyone to create, especially those who feel that perhaps they aren’t ‘arty’. Along the way, she has gathered a loyal team many of whom have been with her for well over a decade including her own daughters Tess and Annabel.
With a thriving local pottery painting café and a successful craft supply business, Maggie will forever be grateful for a chance meeting with a lovely lady selling Indian wood printing blocks at a craft show. This lady had discovered them on a trip to India, and supplied a few to Maggie to offer at a craft show herself, and put her in touch with her contact in India.
Immediately from that first show, Maggie felt the thirst in the craft community for the simplicity, accessibility and beauty of block printing, each one a work of art in its own right. Just like Maggie’s business origins of pottery painting, which allows anyone to create beautiful ceramic art without prior artistic training, she recognised the capacity of block printing to allow anyone to create something beautiful regardless of background, and in doing so build confidence and wellbeing. “I was immediately hooked, and knew others would be too”.
Maggie threw herself in and soon after, took her first trip to India in 2010 to meet her carving contact for the first time and to learn the craft of block printing herself from the masters. Whilst printers in India typically worked with large handled blocks, Maggie saw the potential for smaller hand-held blocks, inspired by her love of Emma Bridgewater ceramics and Mary Quant fabrics, and used this trip to order her very first custom block designs.
Partnering directly with both carvers and middlemen, this trip planted the seeds of dear, trusted working relationships which have only strengthened over the years. The team have been regularly invited to family weddings, receive updates from their families and give back to the industry by supporting the development of a new block carving workshop in rural India.
The team began to grow with her eldest daughter Tess joining post-A-levels after taking a year to travel, and youngest daughter Annabel soon after. Anna had been working with Maggie since soon after the Pottery Place began and brought her partner Travis in to help with shows. His talent for printing and demonstrating shone out, and Anna and Trav soon became our staple show team. The heart of our office team, Anya joined as a work experience girl over 10 years ago and has been here ever since.
On regular trips to India, Maggie and the team not only design new blocks, but also train in as many printing workshops as possible to learn the craft themselves. It was being in this inspiring environment with huge tables, more blocks than you could imagine and masters of technique on hand, that led to the opening of the first workshop studio in Oxfordshire: The Arty Crafty Place. Maggie wanted to take this sense of space and inspiration and create a studio which was a place of creativity, joy and healing back home.
Thus began our teaching journey, taking it from the odd bit of demonstrating at shows, and the occasional village hall to regular teaching outreach to all ages. We started in a small space in Crawley Mill, before moving to Hatch End near Bicester, and finally settling in early 2020 in our forever home in Middle Aston: Lakeside Farm.
Holly joined the family in 2016 straight from designing for Annie Sloan to manage the studio and teaching programme, with Amy and Jess joining the team more recently. We all pinch ourselves that we get to work in a business that not only does good for others, but that we truly love what we do every day as well.