Hand block-printing with natural dyes with Sarah Burns

Ref: S3D31971

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About this course

Create your own printed fabrics drawing on the tutor's passion for slow, local production. Learn how to mordant fabric, design repeat patterns, cut lino blocks and make print pastes with natural dyes, which are kind to the environment.

Course Description

This course will enable you to explore the world of hand block-printing with natural dyes. During the course, you will learn how to mordant fabric, design repeat patterns, cut lino blocks, make print pastes with natural dyes and print fabrics.

You will explore the different properties of a range of natural dyes, including madder, cutch and iron. You will learn how to make them, apply them using printing blocks, print them on mordanted cloth and ensure they are fast. Whilst doing this, you will be able to keep detailed notes on these processes to refer to throughout the course. You will experience printing on a variety of fabrics, such as: cotton, calico and linen, and you will leave with a range of printed samples and a longer length of fabric of up to two metres.

The tutor is passionate about slow, local production that creates beautiful fabric. This approach is kinder to our environment and this course will explore these values.


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 until 9pm, 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


  • Four metres of calico, all mordanting materials, natural dyes, dye pastes, lino and chemicals for processing will be provided.

What students need to bring

  • A pencil and notebook
  • Rubber/Marigold gloves
  • Any material/fabric you would like to experiment with - cotton, calico and linen are ideal
  • A small plastic container or jam jar for taking away metopex to wash out your fabric at home
  • Plastic bags or plastic sheeting for you to take home any wet prints
  • Some plastic containers with lids, if you wish to take away any leftover dye paste
  • Please wear an apron, old clothes and non-slip, covered footwear.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Cotton lawn and calico, by the metre

Additional information

Please note that some of the dye materials and equipment used on this course may have come into contact with various nuts, so will not be suitable for those with nut allergies or sensitivity to plants used for dyes Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


Sarah Burns in the factory

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a pattern-maker and textile printer. She studied politics at Jesus College, Cambridge, and Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art. She teaches natural dyeing and printing in her West Sussex studio as well as at Ditchling Museum. Her designs can be seen at the Guy Goodfellow Collection in Chelsea, at Dartington Hall, and as part of the Virginia White Collection. 


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

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.