Art textiles

Silk scarves – brilliant with pattern with Isabella Whitworth

Ref: S4D09059


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1 place available

About this course

Use vibrant steam-fixed dyes to develop brilliant silk painted patterns. Inspiration for original pattern-making is discussed and techniques used include wax resist, shibori, direct application or a combination.

Course Description

We all love pattern, it represents order and structure. In terms of items that we create or decorate, pattern can be mathematically ordered - or loose and unstructured. Many textile patterns derive from nature and a close study of the natural world is rewarding when creating patterns and designs for hand painted items.

The tutor will discuss some of the elements of pattern-making and shows how to make sketches and studies to identify and use pattern elements from nature. You then experiment with original patterns of your own on paper and fabric as you learn how to create effective patterned designs for painted silk scarves.

The course is suitable for those of you starting out in the medium of wax resist on silk or those with a little experience wanting to widen their knowledge. Those who don't feel confident about drawing, planning and creative design are especially welcome!

Working with vibrant steam-fixed dyes on silk scarf blanks, you can expect to produce 3-4 scarves, as well as samples, through which you explore various ways of approaching and creating pattern. Wax resist, clamped-technique shibori and direct application of dyes, are all explored, used separately or in combination and on different silk weights and types. Although on the course you will work on scarves, all skills are transferable to fabric painting.

Trial pieces may be made on smaller frames, wax will be applied using brushes and traditional tjantings; stamps and found objects. Complex patterns will be produced by layering the wax and dye. The wax-out and steaming processes will be demonstrated and explained.

All students are invited to bring any image, item or textile which they find inspiring in its use of pattern.

Work that is completed late on in the course can be steamed by the tutor in her studio. She will return it to students by post for the cost of postage and packing, payable direct to her.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Use of pins, tapes, dyes, wax and general accessories required during the course.

What students need to bring

  • If you have already done some silk-painting or wax-resist work you are warmly invited to bring samples or images. You can also bring favourite brushes, tjantings etc. and oblong silk scarf blanks to paint.
  • You are also invited to bring any image, item or textile which you find inspiring in its use of pattern.

Available to buy

  • A sketchbook or pad at least A4 in size (generally stocked by the shop)
  • A glue stick and some scissors for cutting paper (generally stocked by the shop)
  • You can purchase hemmed scarf blanks for final projects from the tutor, or the shop. Scarf blanks of various types and weights are available, as is silk on the roll. Alternatively, you are welcome to bring your own scarf blanks, preferably oblong in shape.

Please note: West Dean supplies oblong frames for students which will take scarves (or fabric) up to a maximum 45 cm wide and 2 metres long. Smaller scarves can also be stretched on these frames. You are welcome to bring your own scarves but if you wish to work to a larger size than mentioned above, or a different proportion to theframes, pleasecontact the tutor to discuss requirements and check this is viable by email: While every effort will be made to accommodate such requests, allocation of space for all students needs to be considered


Isabella Whitworth

Isabella trained as a graphic designer and worked in industry before 'discovering' textiles during extended travels in Asia. She specialises in resist-dyeing, enjoying an international following as artist and tutor. Isabella is also known for historical research into natural dyes, and is a member of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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