Anne Maile: The Old Alchemist

Anne Maile was born in Anstey and studied Drawing and Industrial Design at Leicester College of Art and Crafts. For three years she worked as a knitwear designer at a factory in Leicester. In 1934 Anne married, she moved to London and had children. It wasn’t until these children were old enough to go to school that Anne found she had the time to attend Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts to study Fabric Design in 1950 where she studied Fabric Printing. Here, she was introduced to Tie-Dying by her lecturer and soon she was experimenting with different shapes, patterns and dyes in her own kitchen, innovating her own techniques as she went along. At this point, very little was known or written about Tie Dye, as her interest in the process grew, Anne visited museums and researched tie-dye techniques from around the world. After some time Anne became more methodical in her approach, and began to keep books of her samples and experiments with the technique and her work began to create some interest among fellow students at Camberwell. Eventually Anne was invited to give a talk on Tie and Dye at a Summer Short Course for teachers from training colleges, it was evident interest was catching on as Anne began to be invited to give more and more lectures on the technique. As a result of this growing interest Anne decided to write her first book on the subject ‘Tie and Dye as a present day craft’ which was published in 1963 which has since been reprinted several times and translated into various languages. Anne would go on to publish two further books, ‘Tie and Dye Made Easy’ in 1971 and ‘Tie-Dyed Paper’ in 1975. In 1964 Anne had an exhibition of her work at Foyles Art Gallery, and another at Foyles in 1967. She also had her work exhibited in a touring collection.

Anne also collaborated with Dylon on a pamphlet entitled “Tie and Dye with Dylon” and articles on Tie and Dye which were featured in most women’s magazines. By 1971, owing to illness Anne had to give up most of her schedule giving talks on Tie and Dye at institutions and galleries, but she continued to experiment with the technique at home and published two further books during this period. In 1973 the BBC invited Ann to take part in the Serendipity series on Arts and Crafts. Anne was also a fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen and a member of the British Crafts Centre.

Unfortunately Anne passed away in 1975 at the height of interest in Tie and Dye, at the time she was exploring the possibilities of paper Tie Dye and had published her final book on this subject.

© Eleanor Foden, all rights reserved