Dyer’s Takeover: Susan D’souza

What is your favourite dye?

It’s so hard to choose just one! I love both dyer’s coreopsis and dahlia flowers, which give a beautiful range of warm golden yellow colours

What do you enjoy about natural dyeing?

I enjoy seeing the whole process from gathering flower heads and drying them through to dyeing to extract colour.  The dried flower heads can be simmered in a dye pot for about 45 minutes to extract the colour or placed in a glass solar dye pot with warm water to make use of the energy from the sun. Solar dyeing is a simple, relaxing and slow method of seeing the colour develop before your eyes over a week or two.  I usually pre-mordant my materials with potash alum solution to ensure improved fastness and pre- wet materials and scour cotton and linen for even dyeing.

How does Ethel Mairet inspire you?

I am really inspired by the way that Ethel Mairet kept on learning throughout her life, acquiring new skills in dyeing, spinning, hand weaving, travelling, interacting with new artistic communities and passing on knowledge to others through her teaching.

My own art textile practice and teaching has been greatly influenced by the teaching and knowledge of Jenny Dean and learning with her group of natural dyers on the one year course at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.  I am currently inspired by the work of Alice Fox and Wendy Kirkwood who both create extraordinary textiles using simple natural materials and techniques.