Papers of Esme Davis

Scope and Content

Papers of Esme Davis: 8 display cards created by Esme Davis, about gauze weaving, spindles and spun yarns, some bearing samples of weaving by Ethel Mairet; photocopies of further display cards; Manuscript article about hand-woven rugs; Photographs by Esme Davis of Ethel Mairet spinning with a spindle, 1944; Letters and postcards from Ethel Mairet to Esme Davis, 1943-1952; copies of 3 of Ethel Mairet's 'Weaving Pamphlets for Schools'; autobiographical marterial about Esme Davis and examples of her paper-making and other projects; writings by and about Esme Davis; and Newspaper article advertising the 1983 exhibition A Weaver's Life .

Administrative / Biographical History

Esme Davis was born in October 1910 in Fontenay-sous-Bois, Paris, to British parents, but was not registered as a British subject and had to register herself. She was brought up in London and adopted the name 'Esme Grace' by deed poll.. She studied at St Martin's School of Art for five years and went on to the Royal College of Art for three years' study in the Design School where she was a student in Edward Johnston's calligraphy classes.
She worked for eight years as designer and colourist at the wallpaper firm John Line & Sons Ltd. in Tottenham Court Road, London, after which she attended Ethel Mairet's workshop, Gospels, for half a day a week 1941-1944 while teaching at Worthing School of Art. In 1942 she married a Canadian serviceman, Howard Davis.
She was Mairet's assistant for six months, 1944-1945. She was particularly involved with spindle spinning and assembled a number of sample cards of hand-piled, wheel- and machine-spun yarns.
She emigrated to Canada in August 1945 to join her husband in British Columbia. She had her own weaving workshop, 'Seaborne Studio' on Galiano Island 1946-1949. From 1949 they lived in Victoria, where ED continued to weave and also undertook 'fancy spinning' and basketry, which she taught to members of the Victoria Weavers' Guild. In the 1970s and 1980s she ran workshops on creative papermaking.


  • ESD/1 Display cards about gauze weaving, created by Esme Davis. [1940s]
  • ESD/2 Display cards about spindles, created by Esme Davis [1940s]
  • ESD/3 Display cards of spun yarns (spun by Esme Davis) [1940s]
  • ESD/4 Manuscript article about hand-woven rugs [1940s?]
  • ESD/5 Montages of photographs of Ethel Mairet spinning with a spindle, taken in 1944
  • ESD/6 Letters and postcards from Ethel Mairet to Esme Davis, 1943-1952
  • ESD/7 Weaving pamphlets by Ethel Mairet [1930s?]
  • ESD/8 Autobiographical material about Esme Davis, 1978-1982
  • ESD/9 Correspondence about the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall, 1956
  • BLE/9 Drawings of a shuttle made for Ethel Mairet by Jim Partridge, 1981
  • ESD/10 Colour photocopies of display cards [1982]
  • ESD/11 Writings by and about Esme Davis, 1949 and 1950s
  • ESD/12 The Chilkat Dancing Blanket colouring book, 1982
  • ESD/13 Samples of hand-made paper [1982]
  • ESD/14 Newspaper article advertising the exhibition 'A Weaver's Life' [1983]
The postcards and letters (ESD/6) have been sorted into chronological order. A copy of a poster advertising the 1983 exhibition 'A Weaver's Life' and photocopies of pamphlet ESD/7/2 were not retained.

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Archivist at the Crafts Study Centre, 2020.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite. A pdf version is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.

Related Material


Selected bibliography

Coatts, Margot, A Weaver's Life, Ethel Mairet , 1872-1952, Crafts Council, 1983