Natural Dyeing Course 2024 

Led by Jacqui Symons & Jenny Dean

The Ditchling Natural Dyeing Course consists of 12 sessions over six months from April – September 2024, with six in-person whole day sessions at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft on a Saturday and six two-hour Zoom sessions on Saturday mornings.

There will also be an opportunity for regular personal contact each week via Pumble (which is a free online team messaging and file sharing app similar to Slack) to ask questions and receive advice as required.

Course aims and description

The aim of this comprehensive course is to teach participants how to prepare and use natural dyes to dye both animal and vegetable fibres such as wool, silk, linen and cotton. You will learn how to follow best practices to produce a full spectrum of consistent, reliable colours and we will cover a wide range of mordanting and dyeing techniques and the use of colour modifiers.

The dyes used will include the classic traditional dyes, such as madder, weld and indigo alongside other useful natural dyes such as rhubarb, walnut and buckthorn.  Participants will learn how to prepare and use plants for dyeing, using some dried dye stuffs and some dye stuffs from the museum’s dye garden as a resource.

The course will be taught primarily by Jacqui (@studioslowlane) with additional input from Jenny Dean. Jenny will probably be able to attend most Zoom sessions but for health reasons her attendance/contribution at in-person sessions can’t be guaranteed.

The course will also feature tuition in contact printing techniques from creative textile artist Ross Belton (@spottedhyenas).

This will be a hands-on course and the emphasis throughout will be on reliable, safe, sustainable methods. All materials required for the taught components of the course will be provided, including some for personal experiments and homework between sessions. Participants will also be able to bring some of their own materials for small samples.

Students will be expected to attend every session and asked to complete each month’s homework before the following in-person session. The course consists of 39 hours of face-to-face taught sessions, 10-12 hours of online sessions, 24 hours of personal study time/homework and regular contact via Pumble as necessary.

There will be places for nine students on the course.

Course fee

There is a two-tier fee for the course.

  1. Two places at £375 – to be paid in advance. This place is for people setting up their own practice and/or on a low income or benefits.  If you think you may be eligible for one of these places, please indicate this on your application form and give reasons.
  2. Seven places at £675 – to be paid in advance.

These fees include materials. There is an extra £10 fee for the book ‘Colours from Nature’ by Jenny Dean 2nd revised edition, if you don’t already have a copy (this edition has a spiral binding and will lie flat for ease of use).

Please bring a packed lunch to each session. Hot drinks and biscuits are supplied.


The Saturday in-person sessions at the museum will run from 10am – 4.30pm

The online sessions will run for around 1 to 2 hours on Saturday mornings from 10am.

13th April – online
27th April – museum
11th May – online
25th May – museum
15th June – online
29th June – museum
13th July – online
27th July – museum
17th August – online
31st August – museum
14th September – online
28th September – museum

Each student will be asked to:

Pass on their new skills in the form of being involved in the running of a free workshop at the museum or as an outreach event. This will involve one day of your time, most likely at the weekend. Students are also asked to:

  • Allow the museum and tutors to use your credited photos and written descriptions for course promotion and chronicling of work completed.
  • Potentially take part in an exhibition at the end of the course.
Application deadline: January 31 2024

To apply please complete the application form below and send it as a MS Word doc or a PDF no larger than 5mb to:

Attached documents should be saved as: lastname_firstname_2024

If applicable, please attach up to five images of your work.

If you have any questions please email call 01273 844744 option 2.

Course Description and Application 2024