A first dip into natural dyes with Isabella Whitworth

Art textiles

Ref: SWE11501

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About this course

Gain a practical introduction to natural dyes and their rich history. Use weld, madder, cochineal and indigo on silk and wool to create a starter sample library.

Course Description

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.

Timetable

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

Included

  • The course fee includes the cost of dyes, mordant, one silk scarf and silk and wool samples.

What students need to bring

  • An apron or cover-all shirt
  • A pair of kitchen-type gloves
  • A box of dressmakers’ pins
  • A small pair of sharp scissors

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Additional fabric or silk blanks if required
  • Available from tutor:
  • Any additional materials you may purchase from the tutor should be paid to her before the end of the course, by cash or cheque.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.

Tutors

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.

Accommodation

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

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