Meet the Artist Series III with Katherine Preston of Wayzgoose
Our Artist series continues this month and it doesn’t fail to disappoint with Katherine Preston, founder of Wayzgoose textiles who took up our knicker dyeing challenge.
Wayzgoose was founded with the aim to support heritage textile techniques. Katherine and her team take a holistic approach to the creation of her textiles, only working with entirely natural processes and materials.
As well as promoting regenerative & sustainable practices, Katherine and her team specialise in natural dyes, natural fibre & traditional printing processes.
Hello Katherine and thank you for being part of our artist series.
I have to ask. Where did the name Wayzgoose come from and why was it your chosen name for the business?
A wayzgoose was at one time an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen each year on or about St Bartholomew's Day. It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight. My husband discovered the word on the Oxford Dictionary ‘word of the day’ – since then, I always knew it would be the name of my studio.
What experience has been the greatest inspiration for what you do now at Wayzgoose?
My husband and I used to live in Myanmar, and during my time there, I ran a textile conservation programme for British NGO, Turquoise Mountain. The focus was to preserve and promote Myanmar’s rich textile heritage while working with weavers across multiple regions, using both backstrap and frame-loom weaving.
On Inle Lake in Shan State, cloth is created from lotus plants. The fibre is drawn from the stem of the lotus plant and spun by hand into yarn. Often the yarn is used in its natural state creating cloth from undyed and untreated fibre. The yarn is woven into cloth on a traditional treadle frame loom. The result: a beautiful textile created entirely from natural materials, made in one location.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do at Wayzgoose and what’s your favourite part of the job?
Returning from Myanmar in 2019 and marrying a farmer, I was interested to explore the possibilities of creating sustainably focused textiles on our farm in Buckinghamshire. Can beautiful yet commercially viable natural textiles be created here in the UK?
Over the last three years we have been trialling a handful of pilot projects on the farm, focusing on plant dyes and natural fibres.
We have grown a pilot crop of flax, which has been processed into linen yarn by Rosie Bristow, then I have dyed the fibre with homegrown Dyers Coreopsis. Later this year the yarn will be woven into a piece of cloth. We are growing flax again this year at a slightly larger scale. We are also experimenting with hemp now we have our licence. Although these fibres are relatively easy to grow, the challenges lie with the harvesting and the processing.
With seeds from Nature’s Rainbow, we have grown a small sample range of British plant dyes. This spring, we are hoping to plant a selection of British plant dyes at field scale.
The farm is a member of the Rare Breed Survival Trust. This we are processing fleece from Teeswaters and Dorset sheep.
Collectively, these projects are helping us to realise our dream of creating a totally natural, traceable cloth. And help us to establish what is commercially viable.
You dyed the GMD organic cotton knickers we gave you a beautiful colour.
Can you tell us the process about how you achieved this?
I dyed the knickers with some Dyers Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), an annual flower dye plant that we grew on the farm last year. Once grown, the flowers can be dried and stored to use later. I used quite a strong dye bath to create this orange colour. I am loving wearing the knickers!
Why do you love working with natural dyes so much? Do you have a favourite?
I first fell in love with natural colour during my textiles degree. As part of our course, we learnt about chemical dyes as well as natural dyes. I was always shocked by the level of damage caused by chemical dyes. In our classes we were given technical sheets marked with capital letters highted in red, with all kinds of warnings: potential damage to our skin, always work with gloves and a mask, make sure you have good airflow, instruction on what to do ever you got a chemical dye in your eye, or if you swallowed it, how to safely dispose of the chemicals. A pretty terrifying list, that put me right off. I decided there and then not to work with synthetic colour. I spent my final year absorbed and experimenting with a technique now commonly called eco-printing.
I think my favourite would have to be Roselle (a Burmese hibiscus plant), but perhaps that is because is because it is my daughter’s middle name!
Bedstraw + Madder is a fashion label, Wayzgoose’s main customer is interiors is that correct?
Yes, we largely work with interior clients. I guess that is because I naturally am more connected to that world.
Thankfully there is now a lot of awareness around fast fashion, however, I think the concept of fast interiors (i.e. cheaply, mass-produced, synthetic fabrics for interiors) is a little behind. I am hoping that will change in the coming years.
We bumped into you at the Regenerative Agriculture fair Groundswell last year where you were on a panel with our co-founder Vanessa. That was a magical event.
What is your dream and vision for both these industries for the future and what part do you think regenerative agriculture plays within it, if at all?
I hope that we can encourage clients to stop and think before purchasing a textile. I want the encourage them to think about the origins of that piece. What fibres is it made from? Where are the fibres from? What journey have they been on before arriving in our home? What impurities do they carry? And what were the social and environmental costs to create them?
As designers today, it’s important to share information about the provenance of our materials and the environmental effects of manufacturing. We must aim to adopt regenerative and sustainable practises rather than using ones that detract from the natural world.
Imagine if we could have textiles in our home that were grown, dyed and woven in the UK.
I am not sure I am qualified to talk about regenerative agriculture!
Thank you, Katherine, we love what you do, keep up the important inspiring work!
You can find Wayzgoose at https://www.wayzgoose.uk
Or on Instagram @wayzgoosetextiles