Bonfield Block-Printers

'Lost' Bolster Cushions - Bonfield Block-Printers


Bonfield Block Printers have created us an exclusive range of the most romantic, intriguing, beguiling 'Lost' bolster cushions.

All the Bonfield Block-Printers’ cushions are block-printed by the artists, Cameron Short & Janet Tristram, in their workshop. Central to the whole operation is their trusty 1904 proofing press. The process is intensive but there result is something rather special.

Imagery and text, block-printed in black on each, tell the story of a long lost - and lamented - object, be it a thimble, talisman or pipe. All the bolsters come with a simple, hand-stitched two-button opening.

The cushions are made of antique C19th hemp.  

Digory’s rebus-inspired talisman - rebuses are devices that combine the use of illustrated pictures with individual letters to depict words or phrases - is the work of an illiterate or semi-illiterate parent. It reads: ‘FEAR NOT MY SON’ using just two letters, an ‘F’ and an ‘M’, alongside images of an ear, a knot, an eye and a sun. It’s a creative gesture overflowing with not only love, but ingenuity.

Talismans or tokens such as this were often pennies which had been defaced and re-inscribed with personal messages. This particular talisman was created to embolden the young man. But why? Was he to be one of the Cornish diaspora, compelled to seek work far from home? Was he in a hazardous occupation - a tin miner or, perhaps, a fisherman - and needed protection? Was he a victim of impressment (the taking of men and boys into naval service by force)? Given the nature of the imagery, perhaps his fate was altogether a darker one; was he going to the gallows?

Whatever perils awaited young Digory, the beauty and power of this talisman would have given him strength. It is no surprise that he wept at its loss.

We all know thimbles are worn on the fingertip to protect the flesh from a needle wound. However, in and around the 19th Century, they were occasionally worn on the finger for a different purpose. 

An ornamental thimble such as Beulah’s - one decorated with flowers, foliage or scrolls, and made in silver or, from time to time, gold - was often presented by a young man to his sweetheart as a love token. Occasionally, it was given prior to a marriage proposal. In poorer families, when a couple wed, the rim of the thimble was cut off and used as the most sacred of things, the wedding ring itself.

So, given her feelings of sorrow and regret, it is possible that Beulah may not have lost just a thimble. It could well have been a romantic token or, even more poignant, her intended wedding band. 

If this was the case, to lose the thing that was to tie her in holy matrimony would have been inauspicious. For a girl whose name means ‘bride’ or ‘married’, losing a humble thimble could indeed make the heart bleed.

The drover’s life was a hard one, with few if any comforts. Employed by farmers to take livestock to market, this hardy breed of men endured journeys lasting a few days to several months. Toleration of bad weather and treacherous terrain was par for the course, as was sleeping rough and living with the anxiety caused by the threat of robbery.

With aching limbs and sore feet, being sleep-deprived, hungry and suffering the stress caused by hypervigilance, a simple pipe would have been a daily comfort to a man such as Silas Bone. 

Considered by the rich to be objects of single-use, the working man would smoke his pipe until it fell apart or became blocked. In Silas’ time, short-stemmed pipes - sometimes called ‘nose warmers’ - would have been widespread. Their bowls were often shaped to mimic human or animal heads, and flora such as acorns.

Losing something as companionable as a pipe, especially one carved with one’s own initials, would have been heartbreaking. It’s no wonder that for the remainder of the drove, Silas’ lightness deserted him. 

How the cushions are made:
The chosen fabric is washed before printing (to allow for shrinkage and to remove any sizing) and then ironed. Once this is done, it is laid on the bed of the press to await the inked block. Linseed-based relief ink is mixed by hand to the desired colour before being applied to the block (using an artist's hand roller). The inked block is then carefully placed face-down onto the fabric, before the press's heavy cylinder roller is passed over it. The block is gently removed to reveal the design on the fabric.

The printed textile is taken away to cure (dry); it's then whisked up to their sewing room to be cut to size and transformed into the cushions you see here.

Materials: The cushion pad (inside) is 100% cotton and filled with duck feathers.

Dimensions: Width: 22cm x Length: 46cm

We aim to make ordering from us as straightforward as possible.

Once your online transaction has been completed your order will be confirmed by email within 24 hours. If your order is placed on a Friday, or over the weekend, your item will be shipped within 3 days from the Monday.

Using Royal Mail our shipping rates are calculated based on the estimated weight and size of the items. 

You have the option of First Class Delivery (which cannot be tracked), or Tracked delivery ( to enable you to track your package through all stages of the delivery process)


Please allow 3-5 working days for delivery in the UK. In most cases it will be less.


We do ship outside of the UK and are delighted to do so, but we ask you to email,, so we may give you an accurate shipping cost to your destination.

Any customs or import duties are charged once the parcel reaches its destination country. These charges must be paid by the recipient of the parcel. Unfortunately, we have no control over these charges, and cannot tell you what the cost would be, as customs policies and import duties vary widely from country to country.


We recommend contacting your local customs office for current charges before you order, so you are not surprised by charges you were not expecting.

Please be aware that your parcel can be also delayed by customs and subsequent charges can be applied. We have no control over this, and cannot supply any details why or for how long your parcel will be delayed.

If you wish to return a purchase please notify us at

If you are unhappy with our products in any way, they can be returned provided they are in saleable condition.

If you wish to return your item and receive a full refund items need to posted/couriered back to us within 7 days of being received by you.

Please note refunds to Debit/Credit Cards normally clear in 1/2 days after receipt of the returned goods.

Returns received outside the above time frame will not be accepted. For all returns you will be required to arrange and pay for the return of the products to us.

We will only accept returns provided the goods are received by us in the condition they were in when delivered to you.


Please returns items to: 

The Merchant’s Table
10 Church Street
Suffolk IP12 1DH

The Maker

Bonfield Block Printers

Bonfield Block-Printers, is the brilliantly inspired collaboration of block print-based artists Cameron Short & Janet Tristram. Home is a crooked Georgian house, complete with its own shop, in a corner of West Dorset, England.
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In the market town of WOODBRIDGE, SUFFOLK, on CHURCH STREET is a double fronted Georgian shop, fronting a 16th Century merchant’s house. Within this beautiful building, layered with merchant’s tales and trading, we opened The Merchant’s Table.

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