Nature informs much of what textiles maker, designer and artist, Ellen Mae Williams creates, specifically, the Oxfordshire landscape in which she grew up.
A BA in textiles prompted an exploration of natural dyeing and colours that she could whip up in her kitchen. Ellen discovered that avocado skins and stones produced a beautiful muted pink shade and experimented with kitchen waste such as onion skins and coffee granules.
During her MA at the Royal College of Art she researched plant dyes such as madder root extract and logwood which produces a purple colour.
"My way of making textiles is circular, creating dyes from natural materials that can go directly back into the environment without harming it. I use sustainable and traditional methods but add a contemporary aesthetic to the fabrics, bringing natural dyeing into the 21st Century."
"I use linen, it's a natural fibre with a great texture, that also takes the dye well, resulting in a luxurious feeling fabric."
Natural dyeing is a very lengthy process, around 3 days: “first I will scour the linen in soda ash which cleans it thoroughly because any fabric you buy has a residue of oil from the manufacturing process. Then I mordant it.” Madder root or whatever Ellen is using is boiled for an hour before the linen is submerged into the dye pot and left until the desired colour takes hold.
“I like nothing more than spending the day experimenting with new dyes in the studio - the anticipation of a new colour.”
“It’s using the knowledge from the past and at the same time not ruining our planet”Ellen Williams