We’re taking a look at sustainable textiles and natural dyeing in this week’s Arty Afternoon, which happen to be two of artist Harriet Bilton’s creative passions. 

To watch and be inspired, please click on the ‘Play’ button below

Harriet lives and works in Salisbury and loves to experiment with mixed media, combining textile processes in her work. She has been an artist for 15 years and gained a Textile Crafts degree from Huddersfield University in 2010, specialising in knitting. This started her love affair for all things material, which continues to inspire her to this very day! 

Moreover, Harriet is also a qualified teacher with a PGCE in Art & Design, Secondary Educationso she has long loved sharing her techniques with budding and experienced artists. She has taught Art, Textiles and Photography in various schools across Wiltshire, Hampshire & Somerset and since settling in Salisbury has also offered Journaling and Zine Making workshops at Fisherton Millalongside joining the Plain Arts Salisbury community. 

Her unique video tells the story of how she came to be a natural dye and textile artist, a tale which began with her Mum’s vegetable patch. Harriet appreciated the vibrance of the many beautiful colours she saw there, opting to use them to give sustainable dyeing a go. Ever since then, she’s been obsessed with seeing how each natural entity becomes a fabulous fabric. 

Being environmentally conscious, Harriet shares in the video that much of her work is about her desire to minimise waste. Amongst the many things she uses to dye her textiles are onion skins, coffee grounds and vinegar, with the recycling of each one not only proving impressive but also immensely inspirational. 

As Harriet’s process is one that many of us are unlikely to be familiar with, her video is simply an immersive experience which will hopefully encourage all of us at home to reconsider how we think of ‘waste’. She illustrates how she creates her dyes and shares that utilising natural materials, whether to make dyes or for other creative pursuits, is all about experimenting. You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen and this is where the intrigue and excitement lies! 

We’re delighted to have received this lovely, thoughtful video from Harriet and hope that it helps you to forage and create your own naturally inspired artwork.