Lancaster + Cornish

It's no secret and those around me know I have a bit of a crazy obsession when it comes to silk ribbon.  The soft texture, frayed edges making it a little unperfect, and the
way, it lends itself to natural flowing shapes, what isn't to love!?

Today on part 3 of Taylor & Porters 'Cornish Artisan Story' we are interviewing Lancaster & Cornish and her beautiful hand ribbon dyeing process.


Tell us about your business:

Lancaster & Cornish is a Cornwall based company creating beautiful silk products with an ethical heart for weddings and special events. The desire to take forward founder Sian Cornish’s family heritage in textiles is a key driver. Textiles are in her blood. Starting with her Great-Grandparents cotton weaving in the Lancashire Mills of north-west England, the story continues into the 1900’s a three-floor emporium of fabrics from all over the world.

In the pursuit of natural colour, Sian works with natural dyes, foraged and gathered where possible from the beautiful Cornish countryside that surrounds me.  Their palette of colours evolves with and responds to the seasons. Lancaster & Cornish are also, however, pragmatists, keen to see natural dyes embraced more into the mainstream fashion world, so they also use of extracts and ground plant matter in their commercial work, mindful of clients desire for repeatable colours.  

"There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and poverty.” Mahatma Gandhi

What is your workflow process?:

We make and dye our ribbons and textiles by hand in small batches and for individual bespoke orders.  Plant material is gathered, foraged or bought from fair trade sources. Next comes the preparation of the fabric, and making the dye bath. Depending on the colours required, fabrics are sometimes pre and/or post-treated with a mordant (this enables the pigment to enter and stay in the fabric) before immersion the dye bath.

Sian chose to dye with Camellias as they are, for me, all about Cornwall. Victorian plant hunters brought seeds of new species over from the Far East in the early 20th century to Caerhays Castle near where she lives and, aided by the mild climate, these beautiful plants thrive in Cornish gardens today.  The camellia blooms for this project were picked on a cold March morning from a large private garden at the top of a wooded lane above our house.  It was a wonderful moment to return to the studio with a huge trug of deep pink flowers, anticipation growing for the final result.

It was wonderful to dye with freshly foraged blooms, and I carried out a series of tests with the flowers first to ensure the colour palette would work. There were surprises in the process; only the deepest of pink camellia flower yield a shell pink, whilst paler blooms produce a beautiful soft ivory.

Dyeing 20 metres of beautiful organic silk from Claire L. Headdon was nerve-wracking. Working with the largest vat of camellias she has ever used, it was exciting to see the beautiful soft colours emerge, before finding somewhere to dry the fabric naturally (a challenge in the English climate at the best of times). 


What kind of clients do you work with?:

We work with everyone from individual brides, florists and through to international wedding and event planners. Making and dyeing by hand allows them to forge a connection to nature and to the client, creating meaningful pieces that may be passed from generation to generation.

Where do you find inspiration?:

The sea and the remote ancient settled moorlands of Cornwall give the landscape a special quality that isn’t found elsewhere in the UK. Cornwall is full of creative individuals, inspired by the land we live in and the need to create our own path. We are less tied to the high-pressure unsustainable fashion industry down here in the south-west, and that gives us a certain freedom of expression.


What challenges have you set yourself for the next 12 months?:

Lancaster & Cornish is a growing business, and we love working with our clients in the UK and abroad, from Kyoto to Kazakhstan. We are always developing our product range, and this year we will be launching some exciting new wedding accessories – watch this space! 



Styling, Planning and Photography: Taylor & Porter | Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab | Silks & Ribbons: Lancaster & Cornish 

My background is as a wedding & lifestyle photographer, shooting both digital and film to create authentic, soft and natural fine art photographs. Working primarily with natural light to give my work a beautiful, light and airy touch infused with soft tones. 

I have always appreciated and valued the simple things in life and finding the interesting in the ordinary.  Coco Lane was founded as I wanted to create something that is about an experience, the slower pace of life, cosiness and candlelight, cuddling up on the sofa with loved ones, being with the people you love, sharing food with close friends, a feeling of home, nurturing a chosen career, wanderlust travels, savouring the small moments in everyday life and just being you and enjoying a cup of tea.

I'm excited to bring you stories that promote all those moments in life that give us value and meaning; inspiring  us to live beautifully.

"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life.  If you are interested in something, no matter what it is. Go at it full speed.  Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it.  Lukewarm is no good" - Roald Dahl