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Live online course with craft box – Hand block-printing with natural dyes with Sarah Burns

Ref: SCW11000


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About this course

Create your own printed fabrics drawing on the tutor's passion for slow, local production. Learn how to mordant fabric, use and design repeat patterns, cut lino blocks and make print pastes with natural dyes which are kind to the environment.

Delivered in a live session via Zoom on the dates shown.

Course Description

Explore the world of hand block-printing with natural dyes. You will learn how to mordant fabric, design repeat patterns, cut lino blocks, make print pastes with natural dyes and print fabrics that are fast.

You will explore the different properties of a range of natural dyes, including madder, cutch and iron.

You will learn how to make them, apply them using printing blocks, print them on mordanted cloth and ensure they are fast. Whilst doing this, you will be able to keep detailed notes on these processes to refer to and continue working with natural dyes after the course. You will print primarily on calico, with an option to experiment with fabric of your own if you wish. By the end of the course you will have a range of printed samples as well as comprehensive recipe sheets and a materials list.

Sarah is passionate about slow, local production that creates beautiful fabric. This approach is kinder to our environment and this course will explore these values.

09.15 – 09.30 All students to join via Zoom
09.30 – 10.45 Introductions, health and safety, teaching and demonstrations, Q+A followed by independent work with tutor support
10.45 – 11.00 Break
11.00 – 12.45 Teaching, Q+A followed by independent work with tutor support
12.45 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 – 15.45 Teaching, Q+A, independent work with tutor support
15.45 – 16.00 Break
16.00 – 17.00 Plenary and next steps

Course Materials


The course includes a materials kit which will be mailed to you before the course.  This will include:
Two metres of calico and other materials including mordanting materials/natural dyes/dye pastes (Urea, Manutex, Madder extract, Cutch, Iron, Oak galls), 2 small lino blocks, some lino cutting tools and black textile printing ink and chemicals for processing (please see additional information section below) These can only be mailed to addresses in the UK mainland.

What you need

Please read and familiarise yourself with the Zoom joining instructions emailed to you with your course confirmation before the course starts. Be ready to start at 9am on the day with your computer set up and ready as detailed in the guidance notes emailed to you with your booking confirmation.

To enable you to share your work effectively during the course, we recommend that you either 
1. Use your smartphone, ipad/tablet or a digital camera to take images of your work during the course, to download these to your computer’s desktop, so that you can easily use the Share screen option in Zoom, to show your work when necessary. 
2. Alternatively, join the course via the Zoom link from a secondary device to assist sharing your work in progress during the day (e.g. a smartphone with in-built camera or ipad/tablet, though please ensure the sound is turned off on this device to avoid sound interference). 

You will also need to have: 
The materials kit mailed to you (and ensure you are conversant with the safety information relating to these products prior to the course commencing – also see additional information)
Any additional material/fabric you would like to experiment with – natural fabrics of different weights are ideal (optional). In addition to the calico sent to you in the materials kit. Please ensure all fabric, including the calico sent to you in your materials kit, is washed before the course.
200g Soda Ash (suggested supplier George Weil)
A pencil, notebook, scissors and measuring tape
Rubber/Marigold gloves, eye protection, an apron 
Old blankets/towels and sheets to make up your printing table 
Newspaper/rags for cleaning
Old cups, several large bowls, spoons, stirrers for mixing
Measuring jug and scales
Hand whisk – manual or electric for mixing dye paste
1 bowl/container large enough to make up 4 litre bath
1 pot big enough to heat 4 litres gall nut mordant and which can be put on the heat
1 small pot for warming madder
Source of heat
Potatoes and penknife for making potato prints
Sugar paper/rough paper for printing patterns
Coarse sanding paper
Poster paint or acrylic for printing 
Tray for inking up
Old sponge for applying ink to potato
Larger sponge (like car washing sponge) for printing your lino
Small household paint roller (the kind for painting behind radiators) if possible
Pins, masking tape for securing fabric to printing table
Plastic bags for covering print when it is drying

Please note:  As there are some hazards identified with materials used on this course, including those in the materials kit, you must ensure you read the labels and safety data sheets for these items prior to the course commencing.  If there are any references to irritants the appropriate PPE must be worn.

Please do not use equipment (e.g. bowls, whisk or spoons) used for food preparation.

Some of the dye materials and equipment used on this course may have come into contact with various nuts, so will not be suitable for those with nut allergies or sensitivity to dye plants

If you have any concerns, you must contact us before going ahead with the course.


What skill level do I need to take a course?
Our online courses are each given a level of study to ensure you pick the right course for you;
Beginners - Suitable for those with little or no experience of the subject
Intermediate – If you have taken a related course or have existing skills
Suitable for all - With content that can be engaged with on different levels.

What format does the course take?
Our online live-streamed courses run each day from 9am-5pm.

After admitting all students to Zoom between 9am-9.15am, the tutor will introduce the course at 9.15am promptly and give a demonstration or warm-up exercise with a chance to ask questions before independent study with tutor support.  This pattern is followed throughout the day as additional tasks are introduced, concluding in the final session with a round up and discussion on next steps.

Is the course taught live?
Yes, the course is taught live via Zoom.

Will the course be recorded?
No, the course will not be recorded.

How many people will be on the course?
There are a maximum of 10-12 places for most courses, depending on the subject. Some lecture courses may take more students.

How do I sign up for a course?
Follow the online booking process to sign up for a course.

Can I use a College gift voucher for online courses?
Yes, simply enter the gift voucher code at the online checkout.

How do I access my course?
You will receive a link and password to access the course email, typically within two working days.

What do I need to set up or prepare before the course starts:
Find yourself a quiet place to work, away from background noise and distractions during the core teaching times. Prepare a workstation, ideally with a good sized work-surface or table, adjacent to your computer, and with enough space to layout your assembled materials and tools ready for the start of the day. Also assemble any materials listed on the course details which will not be supplied in any materials kit sent to you, if included in the course. (If your course includes materials, this will be clearly stated in the course materials section above).

Ensure you read and familiarise yourself with the Zoom joining instructions emailed to you with your course confirmation before the course starts. We recommend doing this several days in advance to avoid technical issues on the day.

What computer set-up will I need to take a course?
You can join a zoom meeting on a computer or laptop – Mac, PC – with Internet connection, a webcam, microphone and speakers (usually in-built). You need high speed Wi-Fi with full bars signal that doesn’t drop out Internet connection and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below).

You will need an email account to sign up for a course and an up-to-date web browser.

To join the course simply click on the link in your confirmation email and follow the instructions on the screen. You can access Zoom via the web browser or app. For help joining a meeting see Zoom support here

It is also useful to have the following close to hand - a secondary device to join via the Zoom link is recommended if possible to assist sharing your work in progress during the day (eg a smartphone with in-built camera or ipad/tablet), if possible.

Some of the course resources may be presented as PDF files, which will require a PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader.

What web browser do you recommend?
PC users – Chrome 30+, Firefox 27+, Edge 12+, Internet Explorer 11+ are supported.
Mac users – Chrome 30+, Firefox 27+, Safari 7+ are supported.

Please be sure to keep your browser updated. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer's website and download the most recent version.

Phones and tablets – download the Zoom mobile app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android).

What do I do if I experience technical issues?
Support setting up Zoom, including helpful videos can be accessed on their website here and support centre here.

We recommend setting up and testing Zoom a few days in advance of your course to ensure you do not have problems on the day. If you have checked the technical requirements above and are using a suitable browser but the problem persists, email (Monday-Friday, and for courses held on Saturday or Sunday, 8.45-9.15am only) with the details of your problem (including a screenshot if useful) for advice.

I’ve lost my login details, what do I do?
If you have deleted your login information please contact (Monday-Friday, and for courses held on Saturday or Sunday, 8.45-9.15am only).

I’ve changed my mind and no longer want to do this course, what can I do?
Please contact immediately if you have changed your mind, within 14 days of booking. Please also refer to our Terms and Conditions when booking. If your course includes multiple units, by booking you are committing to attend all unit dates listed in the course description, no alternative dates or refund can be offered for any that you are unable to attend. For any other queries about online courses please contact

For courses that included a posted materials pack: (this will be stated clearly in the course materials list above). Please only book this course online if you live on the UK mainland.  The costs included in the course fee do not cover areas outside of the UK mainland.  See note below.

Can I do this course if I live overseas?
If you live overseas (including Northern Ireland, Scottish Highlands and Islands, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight and Isle of Man), please email the Bookings Office with your address and contact details, do not book the course online.  Our team will then ascertain whether we are able to post the materials to you and, if so, the additional cost.  We will then let you know and you can decide whether or not to go ahead with the booking.  Please note that delivery of the materials box to an overseas address may also take longer.

What is included in the materials pack?
Included materials are listed in the ‘Course materials’ section above.

When should I expect to receive my materials pack?
Your pack will be posted to arrive 1-2 days before your course starts. It will be delivered by courier. Boxes are usually larger than letterbox size and the courier may contact you via email with delivery information. Currently, these can only be posted to mainland UK addresses - please see note above if you live overseas.

Who do I contact if I haven’t received my materials pack or it is missing an item?
Please contact (Monday-Friday) within two days of the course start date. If the original delivery is failed or refused and returned to the College, you will be responsible for paying any additional charges for re-delivery. 


Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a pattern-maker and textile printer. She teaches natural dying and printing in her West Sussex studio as well at Ditchling Museum and Hand Printed in Bognor Regis. Her designs can be seen at the Guy Goodfellow Collection in Chelsea, at Dartington Hall and as part of the Virginia White Collection. 

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