By Pauline Neville
Liverpool Makers’ Bazaar (LMB) welcomes the opportunity to get to know more about one of our frequent stallholders. Maggie Pearson is a talented local Botanical Eco Printer who exhibits and sells as ‘By Maggie Naturally’.
Born in Hyde, East Manchester Maggie grew up in Stockport. She moved here to undertake a PhD in Medical Geography and Anthropology as Liverpool is home to both the renowned School of Tropical Medicine and an impressive geography department. Her research was on leprosy in the Himalayas (Nepal).
Her course completed, she left Liverpool and after traversing a variety of convoluted plot twists in her personal life and career path she returned to Liverpool in 1985, at this point, intending to remain for 3 years. She never left. She advised that her love of the city stems in part from its innate vibrancy. She loves the people, the diverse cultural opportunities to enjoy music in its many styles and the arts. Increasingly, the wonderful and plentiful green spaces of the city have been providing her with joy and inspiration.
Having left a toxic job in senior management seven years ago, Maggie was happy to be able to help care for her elderly mother and developed breathing space to rediscover a childhood love of textiles.
She recalled how as a child she had made her own clothes from fabrics discovered at Stockport market and throughout her time at university, was often called upon to create costumes for the dramatic society. Her love of textiles proved to be a continuing thread woven through her life that she now had time to indulge and so, she followed a short course in fabric printing.
At LMB we believe that there is a craft for everyone and that when people tell us that they are not creative they have simply not yet found their medium to work in.
Maggie’s lightbulb moment came after walking the dog at Otterspool Promenade one crisp Autumnal day.
“It all began with the elderberries. I had the dog in one hand and a bucket over my arm, collecting elderberries for jam making. But when I arrived home I realised that there were jars and jars of jam already and the entire family had been gifted sufficient quantities to satiate the most ardent fan and so I had to think of an alternative use. Cue google!”
Maggie googled how too make elderberry dye and her journey began.
Over the next 4 years she grew in confidence, experimenting and developing her knowledge of how food waste and wild plants can be used to create environmentally friendly dyes. In creating her own cloth, she used the principles learned from print making but determined to use only natural ingredients.
Maggie advises, “There is dormant colour all around us if we can discover and unlock the potential.….one of our most undervalued resources is onion skin. These produce a lovely golden tan colour.”
Maggie has persuaded a local bistro to collect and save their skins for her on a regular basis.
In fact, Maggie has chosen to be as eco-friendly and ethical as possible in her choice of materials and processes. She uses only natural fabrics for her work. Linen and hemp are grown with less environmental impact than cotton and the weave and nature of the thread prove more effective at taking and retaining the natural dyes. When possible, Maggie sources vintage linen as she enjoys the soft malleable quality if affords. Reclaiming old bedding yields a large portion of her raw materials and she has developed a good network of allies in local charity shops to feed her habit.
When working with silk, Maggie uses only ethically sourced Peace Silk. This silk is made from the abandoned cocoons of worms that have been allowed to munch happily on organic mulberry leaves and transform themselves into moths. These abandoned cocoons are then harvested and in turn, spun into silk.
Inspired by crafters online, Maggie turned her hand to printing on paper, which has resulted in the production of a range of beautiful original artwork made using foraged local leaves.
Social Media has given Maggie much inspiration and afforded many valued friends who freely exchange advice and support. Through such platforms Maggie has been able to raffle off some of her beautiful work, raising £1800 for campaigns helping those in war-torn and earthquake-stricken areas.
Lockdown saw Maggie studying the science of plants to better understand plant pigments and why they react as they do. This gave her the confidence to experiment further and uncover some surprising results. Avocado stones and skins yield a dusky pink, for example. This new knowledge emboldened Maggie to take measured risks and extend her range of creations to include up-cycled clothes. If you have a tired favourite that needs an injection of va-va-voom she’s your woman!
There is a growing and deserved interest in Maggie’s work which sees her delivering workshops and talks to those with a passion for textiles, environmentally sound practices and keen gardening groups. She has recently been invited to teach at a Summer camp in Finland when pressed for details her response was “There’ll be saunas, lakes and some birch, and that’s enough for me!”
Maggie confesses to being on a mission to spread the joy that botanical eco-printing brings and she is doing this in spades! She uses social media, her workshops, talks and of course face to face with customers and colleagues at her favourite market…. you know who we are!
Maggie also issues a weekly email with news concerning sustainability, textiles and eco printing tips. Contact her to be included at email@example.com
Maggie offers workshops on Botanical Eco Printing to beginners and intermediates as individuals or in groups and can be contacted at www.bymaggienaturally.co.uk.
Instagram and Facebook: @bymaggienaturally
Maybe this could be your craft? Why pop along for a chat at our next market at The Old Police Station on Lark Lane on Sunday 16th April. We hope to see you there!