Mordant Dyes on Cloth

May 4 – May 7, 2023
9 am to 5 pm


In this four-day workshops students will learn proper fiber preparation on both plant and animal fibers. Students will receive a comprehensive overview of two types of mordants, alum and iron. These mordants can be applied in a hot immersion bath. It can also be used cold. In addition, it can be thickened and used for printing. Also, the mordant can be discharged with a citric acid solution for interesting effects. All of these methods will be explored. For dyeing, there will be plenty of dried flowers from the previous summer’s harvest, and many different concentrated extracts. We will use these dyes in immersion baths and as thickened pastes for printing and painting. We can modify the colors by altering the ph. An indigo vat will be available for over-dyeing. Finishing techniques for steaming and cleaning will end the class. All dyes and sample fabrics will be provided. Additional undyed blanks (shawls and scarves) will be available for purchase. Students are welcome to bring 1 or 2 pieces of natural fiber clothing that they want to overdye.

Skills and Techniques:

• Fiber preparation: scouring for cellulose and protein
• Mordanting hot and cold with alum and iron
• Printing on cloth with thickened mordants
• Discharging mordants
• Using concentrated dye extracts in immersion baths and as thickened paints
• Using dried plant materials from the garden and the forest
• modifying colors with soda ash, citric acid and iron
• Making samples of dye colors on different fibers for record keeping

Materials Fee: $50 — includes fabric for samples, all dyes and assists, notebook of recipes and instructions. Paid at the time of workshop
Special Tools or Equipment: None
Instructors COVID preference: Your instructor reserves the right to require safety requirements depending on the state of the pandemic at the time of the workshop.

Workshop Policies

Please be sure to read our policies before you register for a workshop.

Age Requirements

The minimum age to attend a regularly scheduled workshop is 16 years. We have set this age to ensure a safe, productive, and community-building experience for all of our students. There are no exceptions.

Accessibility & Accommodations

If you have questions about accessibility or would like to request reasonable accommodations, please contact our main office at 603-435-7314.

Student Cancellations

Cancellations must be made at least 30 days prior to the start date of a workshop in order to receive a refund. Registration and material costs will be refunded, minus a non-refundable $25.00 registration fee. A full refund will be made for any amount paid for overnight housing.

Sanborn Mills Farm Cancellations

Each workshop must have a minimum number of students to be held. If Sanborn Mills Farm finds it necessary to cancel a workshop, we will notify students two weeks prior to the scheduled workshop start date. A full refund will be provided to registered students. Refunds for a workshop purchased as a gift will be made to the purchaser only. Sanborn Mills Farm cannot be held responsible for any refunds for travel expenses or for off-site housing expenses incurred as the result of a cancellation of any kind.

Housing & Meals

Please refer to our housing page for more information.


Each workshop has its own safety procedures. Your instructor will review the specific safety requirements at the start of your workshop and throughout your class. Sanborn Mills Farm is a rural setting. If you are allergic to insect bites, please alert your instructor of your allergy and bring an epipen with you. For draft animal workshops or courses requiring time in the woods, be sure to review tick safety procedures from Tick Free NH. We advise students to wear comfortable clothing, comfortable and secure shoes, and consider your personal needs for a day or extended stay.