Guest blog post by Dawn Willey From 3 – 7 April, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft will be hosting a five day workshop, “Following in the Footsteps of Ethel Mairet”. In the picturesque village of Ditchling, students will learn to spin, weave and dye with a team of experts tracing the practice of Ethel Mairet, “the mother of hand-weaving”. In the second of three guest blog posts, expert hand-weaver Dawn Willey explores the potential of hand-weaving that students can look forward to discovering… a9f16ed1d6ae2c8d7e2d629896d5fc5d Today we are so used to seeing innovative textured textiles, that it is almost unthinkable that there was a time when a student’s woven textile featuring carefully hand-worked loops, was brought to the attention of the head of a creative college and the command received to “remove the lumps and bumps”! Where did this student get her inspiration? From her visits to Gospels, Ditchling to the weaving workshop of Ethel Mairet. fullsizeoutput_182f A recent peep into the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s archive of cloth samples produced at Gospels, revealed a treasure trove of rich texture and colour - remarkable when you consider the general views on cloth at the time. Many of the samples were woven in plain weave (the interlacement of warp and weft, where the weft passes over one warp thread, then under the next) however this is where "plain" ceased to apply to this collection. Doing what powered weaving looms could not, Ethel Mairet frequently changed the colour, texture and diameter of her yarns to bring individuality and character to her woven cloth, without sacrificing its functionality - this was a hugely important consideration. ethel-mairet-gospels-sign Weave is endlessly fascinating because the colours of weft and warp constantly intermix. Rather like a pointillist painting, fine yarns make small dots of colour that the eye easily blends to make another colour, whereas big yarns naturally make a bigger splash. The potential for creativity in weave is abundant; shiny yarns can be offset against matt, skinny contrasted with large, smooth juxtaposed with textured... tiny adjustments can make a dramatic difference to the cloth. Change the interlacement of warp and weft, and the adventure can begin all over again! church-1 During the masterclass, we’ll be getting inspired by Ethel Mairet’s fascination with colour, texture and materials to weave our own personal textile… this could be a scarf, table runner, bag fabric; but whatever choice the workshop participants make it will be a unique reflection of a week immersed in her world.   “Following in the Footsteps of Ethel Mairet” 3 – 7 April, £895  Hosted by Jenny Dean, Dawn Wiley, Jenny Kilbride, Steve Kennet and Donna Steele For more informationclick here, and to reserve your place click here Following in the footsteps of Ethel Mairet: natural dyeing, spinning and weaving masterclass at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft

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