Canaan Welcomes New Textile Shop With Artwork “People Can Sleep Under”

CANAAN – John Robshaw Textiles opened in October, bringing the colors and styles of Indian print artists to the block in Connecticut in a store that looks more like an art gallery.

For more than 20 years, Robshaw, a New York native who now has a home in Sharon, has traveled to India to work with local artists, creating home items with a distinctive Indian touch. The textile shop offers a wide variety of pillows, duvets, sheets and blankets, as well as bath textiles, furniture, artwork and even pajamas.

The textile boutique sells to retail and wholesale customers, and those looking for new designs and looks for their weekend or year-round homes continue to browse Robshaw’s collections at 5 US Route 7, Canaan. .

“We opened in 2021, towards the end of October,” Robshaw said from his New York studio. “We were waiting for the approval of the sign by the city and we finally got it last month. We’re not in the main shopping area in Falls Village so I think the signs help a lot.

The Robshaw Artist Collective includes sculptors for block-printed designs and other artisans who use traditional methods to design fabrics.

“We design everything here at the New York studio and send the artwork to Jaipur (a city in India). There, the block cutters and printers make our samples. We also get feedback from them when it comes to designs.

“I’ve been going there for a long time now so I pretty much know what they can do; it’s a collaboration in the sense that there are limits and we have to understand them together, ”said Robshaw. “It’s like a traditional factory relationship, but with a lot more interaction. “

Most of the artists he works with are in India, but also in nearby Thailand.

“I worked in different places for different projects,” he said. “India can do so much; they have so many great fabrics and processes.

How it started

After graduating in fine arts from Pratt and studying traditional block printing in China, Robshaw said he traveled to India to find natural indigo dye for his paintings. Instead, he fell in love with the fabric-making traditions of local artisans.

“On one of my first trips to India, I went to the famous National Institute of Design, to see what was going on with textiles,” he said. “I met a young block printer near the school and he let me play with the blocks and print. A light has come on; I thought, it’s amazing, all the things you can do. I was addicted. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it all, but it’s such an interesting job.

His attraction to the techniques and methods of artists for creating colors and patterns, he said, was due to the fact that they did everything by hand. Over the years, he has visited villages where artist families are well known for their work and learned how to make vegetation-dyed batik fabrics, sarongs and ikats, a method of dyeing yarns before they did. ‘they are not woven into fabric.

“I used to do everything by hand in art school, and in India they do everything by hand too. So there was that connection to that kind of work for me, ”said Robshaw.

He said he had also discovered that he could add his own “painter” touch to traditional methods by mixing patterns and layering them, in a more formal artistic way.

“These people were making things to sell, and that brought me into the real world, making vernacular art, that people can sleep under,” Robshaw said. “It’s much more rewarding for me than a painting on the wall. I like the idea of ​​use and function.

He forged links with families in India that last 20 years later.

“I still work with some of them to this day,” he said. “I see them several times a year.

Customers discover the store

The attraction to Indian prints and textiles appeals to customers for a number of reasons.

“The whole fabric selection process goes through an ethnic textile world, and it has hit America at different times, in different ways,” Robshaw said. “There’s the Palm Beach, Florida look, and there’s the hippie look… My parents wore a lot of prints in the 1970s and 1980s. Prints keep coming back and forth; people are bored with solids and they want to make a difference.

When speaking to customers at his Canaan store, he enjoys hearing their comments as they browse his bedding and home collections.

“They can have houses in different places, and maybe their daughter is going to boarding school in Kent, and they want to buy for their daughters’ dorm,” he said. “Pillows are like a fashion accessory and they are fun. You can make a change without committing to a big chunk; it’s not such a serious buy, and there are a million styles.

Sheets and pillows are popular with the hand-embroidered edges of the print fabric, in hues ranging from soft pinks and blues to crisp reds and whites.

“There are so many varieties,” Robshaw said.

The textile store is one of many new businesses that have moved to the Canaan / Falls Village area, he said, and he feels right at home there.

“I know Bunnie Williams at 100 Main Street; it opened a few years ago and was doing well, so I thought that would help, ”he said. “She was very nice, recommending people. And there are a lot of designers who have homes here, so it’s kind of a hub.

Buyers from Greenwich and Westport and other towns in Fairfield County are drawn to the area in search of designer “finds”.

“It’s interesting to see these people coming to shop here, so we thought that was a good fit for us,” said Robshaw.

For people with older homes in Litchfield County, Robshaw’s textile collections can refresh a room in no time, he said.

“The people of Fairfield County with a weekend home are looking for things to do with these spaces,” he said. “We’re only open three days a week, but we’re very busy. People come to buy and recommend us to their friends; and they come looking for more things to do.

Robshaw and his wife Rachel, an interior photographer, have a 2 year old daughter. He said the family divides their time between New York and Sharon.

“We still run a studio for the design company in New York. But it’s a great neighborhood here. I’m happy to spend more time in Connecticut, ”he said.

John Robshaw Textiles is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and can be contacted by email at [email protected] Or visit johnrobshaw.com/pages/the-shop

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