Following in the footsteps of Ethel Mairet

Hosted by Jenny Dean, Dawn Wiley, Jenny Kilbride, Steve Kennet and Donna Steele, 3 - 7 April, £895 

“We owe more to travel, museums, private study and technical books than to intimacy with masters of our work. If we have learnt from books and museums, have studied ancient work and peasant traditions in all parts of the world, let us teach it in all our workshops… nothing imitated, but all influences absorbed, to be brought to a new birth in our own time and place.” Ethel Mairet, 1918

Ethel Mairet (1872 – 1952) was a pioneer of the twentieth century modern craft revival in Britain; visited by Gandhi in 1914, and the first woman Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) in 1939, she was described by Japanese master potter and Living National Treasure Shoji Hamada, as ‘the mother of hand-weaving’.

Join us for a five day workshop in the picturesque town of Ditchling, where Ethel Mairet lived and worked. Learn to spin, weave and dye with our team of experts inlcuding Jenny Dean, Dawn Willey and Steve Kennet.

Day one will be spent with Jenny Dean who will guide you through Ethel Mairet’s dye recipes and take you through the process of dyeing wool and silk skeins to use as the weft in your Ethel Mairet inspired weaving. At the end of the day Jenny will be joined by Dawn and both tutors will talk you through the museum’s archive collection of Ethel Mairet’s weave samples to inspire you for your next four days of weaving.

Drawing inspiration form the Ditchling Museum of Art + Crafts’ extensive archive of Ethel Mairet’s weaving samples and using your dyed yarns, you'll weave under the guidance of Dawn Willey of the Handweavers Studio. Dawn will teach you to warp up an eight shaft, table top loom where you can create some test samples for a final piece. You will be able to choose from a scarf, table runner or fabric for a bag.

Woven into the week will also be a private museum tour by the museum’s Collections Curator Donna Steele, a talk about the Mairet family weaving workshop as well as a guided walk of Ditchling with by weaver and dyer Jenny KilBride. The course will finish with afternoon tea offered with a glass of award-winning, local Ridgeview sparkling wine and a chance to share the work you’ve completed with the rest of the group.

Some weaving experience is required to take part in the class and the maximum number of students is ten. 5 nights accomodation, breakfast and lunch and all workshop materials are included. There are a range of options for dinner in Ditchling or Brighton is ten miles away.

In partnership with 

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lodge Hill Ln, Ditchling, Hassocks BN6 8SP

About the tutors 

Jenny Dean
Jenny has been researching and using natural plant dyes for over forty years. She has written widely on the subject and her books include The Craft of Natural Dyeing, Wild Colour, Colours from Nature and A Heritage of Colour. She was featured in a BBC Radio 4’s programme with Kaffe Fasset and her work has been the focus of several magazine articles. Jenny’s dyed yarns are in collections at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and at the Royal Centre for Cultural Heritage in Brussels.

Dawn Willey has vast experience of teaching weave at many different levels; her personal weaving practice spans the range from rigid heddle to computerised hand jacquard. Coincidentally, Dawn chose to research Ethel Mairet for her course essay when studying weave at Bradford College. She has since established a spinning and weaving group in her native Dorset, spent six years on the editorial team of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners & Dyers and is now enjoying the variety and challenge of owning and directing the Handweavers Studio in London.

Jenny KilBride is a weaver and dyer and was a member of the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic. Her father Valentine KilBride was also a Guild member and worked with Ethel Mairet.

Steve Kennett is the National Chair of the Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and whose God Mother was taught by Ethel Mairet.

Donna Steele Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft’s Curator.




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