This course offers a hands-on introduction to the world of natural dyes and their rich and ancient history. Weld, madder, cochineal and indigo will be used, which all of these derive from plant material except cochineal, an insect dye. You can expect to use raw dyestuff as well as natural dyes available in extract form, and learn vital essentials of preparing materials before dyeing. There will be a practical session on mordanting with alum and cream of tartar, and other mordants will be explained. The tutor will also introduce the basics of making a natural indigo vat and two indigo vats, at different strengths, will be available.
Some simple dye chemistry will be outlined to enable you to prepare dyestuffs and dyes effectively and learn how to make and calculate stock solutions. You will dye a selection of reference samples on silk and cotton fabrics and wool yarn, using the four dyestuffs. Overdyeing, and the use of different mordants and dye concentrations, will result in a wide range of colours. The historical aspects of natural dyes will be presented in short talks and during practical work.
You will have the additional option of producing a natural-dyed silk scarf or small individual samples, and simple resist and dip-dye techniques will be demonstrated.
Please note that some of the dye materials and equipment used on this course will have come into contact with various nuts, so may not be suitable for those with nut allergies or sensitivity to dye plants.
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.
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.
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)
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.