Ethel Mairet

One of the earliest books I bought was a little hard backed copy of Ethel Mairet’s A book on Vegetable Dyes. I love this book – her recipes may not be as environmentally friendly as we would like them to be these days, but her depth of knowledge and the effort she put into all her work has my total admiration.

This year Barnstaple is celebrating the life of The Partridge family – Ethel, Fred and Maud, who were all talented artists. Fred and Ethel in particular being members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, living and working in Chipping Campden at the Guild and School of Handicraft. Each had their own particular talents, Fred Partridge was a jeweller and Silversmith, Ethel, textiles. Although Ethel moved around quite a bit in her earlier years, she finally settled in Ditchling, Sussex, at “Gospels” teaching and working from there for many years.

In 2016/17 Ditchling Museum ran a project asking for dyers to re-create recipes from Ethel’s book. They had huge support, with natural dyers from all around the world joining in – my contributions were to dye with Sticklac and Logwood.

I’ve not written much about Ethel’s life and work here, because I have stepped out of my comfort zone and made a video of her life story – I hope you like it!

Links and references

A book from the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft Project

Dyeing Now – Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (

Link to the online copy of Ethel’s Book

A Book on Vegetable Dyes by Ethel Mairet – Free Ebook (

Ethel at Ditchling –

Ethel Mairet – Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (

Barnstaple Museum

The Partridge Family of Barnstaple: Ethel Mairet, Fred Partridge and the Arts and Craft Movement – Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon (

Coates M A Weavers Life: Ethel Mairet 1872 – 1952 1983 Crafts Council.