Module I: Groundwork

fibres, preparation, mordants, modifiers, assists

there are no short cuts…

Beautiful, lasting natural dye results require understanding your fibres and preparing them properly. Some people starting out with natural dyes want instant gratification. But this is a slow, deliberate craft. Great results require skill, and skill comes from knowledge and practice, and knowledge and practice take effort and time.


what you’ll learn


In this Module, you will learn historic and contemporary practices that lay the groundwork for successful natural dye results. You will learn to discern between the vast misinformation currently found on the internet (and, sadly, in many books) and natural dye materials and techniques proven to be reliable through the historic record, modern dye masters, and contemporary science.

  • proper dye studio safety practices

  • fibre types and how to prepare different kinds

    • both plant kingdom (cellulose) fibres, and animal kingdom (protein) fibres are addressed

    • how to identify/test fibre types

    • how to prepare different fibre types for mordanting

  • what mordants are, historic and contemporary types, and how to use them

    • historic, and contemporary, mordant approaches are addressed, with a focus on safety and ecological protection

    • drawing from innovative historic practices, and contemporary scientific validation, this Module includes several highly effective mordant approaches that are entirely free of traditional metal salts, however metal salt mordants are also addressed due to their effectiveness, relative safety, and historic track record

    • mordants you can grow or forage or make

  • what modifiers are, and how to use them to expand your dye palette

  • what assists are, and to how to use them to protect your fibres, deepen colour, make insoluble pigments soluble in your dye bath/vat, and other applications

  • proper documentation/records to aid in troubleshooting &/or reproducing results

It is perfectly fine to finish after Module I, and to use the samples created to engage in natural dyeing independently. However, please note that during Module I, the large range of samples created, mordanted using a number of different methods, are designed to maximize learnings in Module II: Colour.

what you’ll receive

Each module begins with downloadable instructions that cover the following.

  • a list of materials and equipment you will need to acquire in advance of the Module

  • calendar of the topics and assignment for each week

  • links to relevant background reading (course material prepared by the instructor, as well as links to recommended online resources)

  • links to instructional videos (generally one per week) on each week’s topic

  • links to the online forum for weekly discussions of the results of that week’s assignment

    • each student has the opportunity for a weekly, up to one hour, 1:1 session with the instructor via Skype or WhatsApp, for dedicated feedback and discussion on the results of that week’s assignment - i.e. not for general discussion (optional, not mandatory)

    • 2 days per week are set aside by the instructor for these sessions to accommodate various time zones, students’ schedules, etc.