CANAAN — John Robshaw Textiles opened in October, bringing the colors and styles of India’s block printing artists to Connecticut in a store that’s more like an art gallery.

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

The textile shop sells to retail and wholesale customers, and people seeking new designs and looks for their weekend or year-round homes continue to discover Robshaw’s collections at 5 U.S. Route 7, Canaan.

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

Robshaw’s collective of artists include carvers for block print designs and other craftspeople who use traditional methods to design fabrics.

“We design everything here at the studio in New York, and send the artwork over to Jaipur (a city in India). There, the block carvers and printers do our samples. We get input from them, too, when it comes to the designs.

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

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

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

After earning a fine arts degree at 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 the local artisans.

“On one of my first trips over 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 around with the blocks and print. A light went on; I thought, this is amazing, all the things that you can do. I was hooked. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it all, but it’s such an interesting craft.”

His attraction to the artists’ techniques and methods of creating colors and patterns, he said, was because they did everything by hand. Over the years, he has visited villages where artist families are well-known for their work, and learned to make batik fabrics, sarongs and vegetable-dyed ikats, which is a method of tie-dyeing yarns before they are woven into fabric.

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

He said he also found he could add his own “painterly” touch to traditional methods by mixing patterns and overlapping them, in a more formal artistic way.

“These people were making things to sell, and that moved 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 has made connections with families in India that continue, 20 years later.

“I’m still working with some of them to this day,” he said. “I see them a couple of times a year.”

The attraction to Indian prints and textiles appeals to customers for different reasons.

“The whole process of choosing fabric 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 lots of prints in the 1970s and 1980s. Prints come around again and again; people get bored with solids, and they want to change things up.”

When he talks to customers in his Canaan shop, he enjoys hearing their comments as they peruse his collections of bedding and home goods.

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

The sheets and pillows are popular with hand-embroidered edges of the printed fabric, in hues ranging from soft pinks and blues to vibrant reds and whites.

“There’s so many varieties,” Robshaw said.

The textile store is one of a number of new businesses that have settled into the Canaan/Falls Village area, he said, and he feels at home there.

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

Shoppers from Greenwich and Westport and other Fairfield County towns are drawn to the area for designer “finds.”

“It’s interesting to see those people come to shop here, so we thought it was good positioning for us,” Robshaw said.

For people who have older houses in Litchfield County, Robshaw’s textile collections can freshen a room in no time, he said.

“Fairfield County people with a weekend house are looking for things to do with those spaces,” he said. “We’re only open three days a week, but we’re very busy. People come in and buy, and recommend us to their friends; and they come in looking for more stuff 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’re still running a studio for the design company in New York. But it’s a great area up here. I’m happy to spend more time in Connecticut,” he said.

John Robshaw Textiles is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and can be reached by email at theshop@johnrobshaw.com. Or visit johnrobshaw.com/pages/the-shop

Connecticut Media Group