Natural Dyeing: A Heritage of Colour

Short course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Discover the beauty of nature’s palette in this five-day natural dyeing textiles course.

This fabric course uncovers the history of natural dyeing in the V&A’s collections, giving you behind-the-scenes gallery tours with V&A textile curators and exclusive object-handling sessions – bringing the history of natural dyeing to life through hands-on learning experiences.

Each day you’ll be guided through a practical workshop led by natural dye experts ModernEccentrics. The course will cover all the classical traditional dyes: madder, weld, cochineal and indigo as well as the use of modifiers to extend your palette and to shift tone. You will learn how to prepare fibres for dyeing and develop your own sample book of fabrics and threads.

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course photo
Portrait of Course Facilitators Modern Eccentrics

Course Facilitators
Modern Eccentrics

ModernEccentrics is a creative collaboration between artists Jonathan Dredge and Ross Belton. Their practice is based around nature in an urban environment, utilising and repurposing found, recycled and redundant materials.

The course was quite literally the best textile course I have ever participated in. I had not appreciated in advance just how complex the information was but Ross and Jonny broke it down at every stage into manageable chunks. Previous Course Student

Course overview

Day One: Introduction and Preperation: On day one you'll be given a short history of natural dyeing, begin to identify the dye groups, prepare, scour and mordant fibres, dye and modify three un-mordanted sample sets with buckthorn, pomegranite and oak galls.

Day Two: Substantive dyes: Mordant Fibres using Alum Sulphate, Alum Acetate, Tannin & Iron. Dye and modify two un-mordanted sample set (Rhubarb root, Ivy). You will also be given a private gallery tour with V&A curator Susan North looking at pre-1800 fashion & textiles in the collection.

Day Three: Adjective Dyes: Natural dye sampling, dye and modify four mordanted sample sets (Sappanwood, Weld, Logwood & Madder) Demonstrate lake pigments from exhaust dyes.

Day Four: Vat Dyes: Introduction to indigo dyeing including the 1,2,3 vat. Indigo / Woad / fresh Japanese Indigo. You will also have a talk on India’s natural dyes and their impact on global fashion with V&A curator Avalon Fotheringham.

Day Five: Print, Pigments and Samples. On day five you will learn contact printing and the Art of the Bundle.


Booking Information

Membership Priority Booking opens at 10.00 GMT on Wednesday 31 January. General Booking opens at 10.00 GMT on Monday 12 February.

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Short course: Natural Dyeing: A Heritage of Colour

22 July 2024 - 26 July 2024


Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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Header image: Modern Eccentrics