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Ethel Mairetīs Workshop

Mairet's work from the 1920s comprised hand-spun wool, imported eri silk and cotton - all vegetable dyed and woven, generally, in plain weave weft stripes or checks for dress or furnishing. Some floor rugs and cushions were also made and a little pattern weaving produced. In the early 1930s a new influx of English and Continental weavers brought fresh ideas for cloth construction; Joyce Griffiths, Margery Kendon and Marianne Straub all played their parts in exploiting the high quality, colour and variety of the yarns available for use 'Gospels'. By the middle of the decade, a more textured and sophisticated cloth had evolved.

In 1934 Ethel Mairet opened a dress shop in East Street, Brighton, where cloth could be purchased for making up; it closed in 1951. In 1935 she was taken ill and Margery Kendon ran 'Gospels'; in 1936 she travelled to Finland and in 1937 to Paris, both trips with Marianne Straub. In 1938 she was elected Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) by the Royal Society of Arts.

Through her second book Hand-weaving Today (1939), based on her European experience, Mairet developed links with teacher training colleges, taking their students on short courses in her workshop, throughout the war years (1939-45) and later. She also loaned her Library of Textile Portfolios (samples with texts) to these colleges for a modest fee. Her work was exhibited widely and she was also well known through the Red Rose Guild and the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (founded in 1931) on whose summer schools she taught.

The workshop recovered some of its old energy after the war, with Barbara Sawyer, Mary Barker, Dorothy Ablett and Peter Collingwood all having an input. Mairet's last work was included in the 'Exhibition of Pottery and Textiles', with its important conference, organised by Peter Cox of Dartington Hall and held there (touring to Birmingham and London) in 1952. She died the same year.

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