Dyeing Now: Ethel Mairet Natural Dye Project

Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft Ethel Mairet Natural Dye Project

About the Project
Dyeing Now: Contemporary Makers Celebrate Ethel Mairet’s Legacy is a joint exhibition and project to mark the centenary of Ethel Mairet’s seminal book Vegetable Dyes, written and printed in Ditchling in 1916. The exhibition combines a live research project which sees us inviting contemporary artists, craftspeople and students from across the country and beyond; the aim is to recreate as many of the natural dyes featured in the book that are safe to use by today’s standards, and display them in our exhibition at the museum.

How to Take Part
If you are familiar with the natural dye process and are interested in taking part in this exciting project, follow the steps below (please note it is essential that you fully read our guidelines by clicking on the link in Step 1, and that you have a look at Ethel Mairet’s online book by clicking on the link in Step 2 before you select which plant or recipe to use.)

  1. First of all, you will need download our Natural Dye Project guidelines. These guidelines include notes on mordants and dye options, as well as links to suppliers and health and safety points.
  2. Have a look at the online copy of Ethel Mairet’s Book of Vegetable Dyes – this is crucial reading before you make your decision.
  3. Once you have looked through the book, you will find that it is not a clearly categorised recipe book. With this in mind, we have given you the option of either following one of Ethel Mairet’s recipes directly (from Chapters VI – X), or using one of the British dye plants mentioned in the book (from Chapter IV) combined with one of your own recipes. Click on one of the links below to take you through to your relevant choice:- I would like to use one of Ethel Mairet’s specific recipes
    I would like to use a British dye plant with one of my own recipes
  4. We will provide you with the fibre you choose to use, you provide your own dye ingredients.

The exhibition runs until 31 May and we are collecting samples up until then. After this it is hoped that the exhibition will then go on tour. The project is not restricted to one recipe or fibre per person, if you would like to have a go at more than one please do!

If you have any queries regarding the project, please drop us a line at lucy@ditchlingmuseumartcraft.org.uk. In the meantime, good luck with your natural dyeing – we look forward to seeing (and sharing) your work!