Natural Dyes: Developing a Personal Language

June 21 – June 25, 2023
9 am to 5 pm


Learn to paint and print with natural dyes. This workshop will concentrate on the direct application of mordants and natural dyes using various tools and techniques, including mono printing, stamping, and hand painting. Emphasis will be on developing unique color combinations and expressive personal marks.

Prior to dyeing, we will apply mordants using shibori, hand painting, and printing techniques. We will also discharge and over print with mordants in order to build complex patterns and layered surfaces. After that, we will dye a range of colors on the mordanted cloth using direct application and/or dye baths. We will use plant extracts and dried plant material for both the dye baths and dye paint (we will use dried plants from Sanborn Mills dye garden to make dye paint).

Additionally, we will explore mordant-dye paste mixes, which are applied directly to the cloth.

The class will also cover proper fiber preparations prior to dyeing and discuss successful steaming.

All levels of experience welcome.

Skills and Techniques:

Proper fiber preparation prior to dyeing
Mordant bath
Mordant paste (alum, iron, and titanium)
Mordant discharge
Layering of mordants and discharge
Dye paste with extracts and dried plant material
Dye baths with extracts and dried plant material
Mordant-dye paste

Materials Fee: $75-$100 Paid directly to the instructor.

Special Tools or Equipment:

Rubber gloves and a few pair of disposable gloves
Selection of paint brushes – bristle and/or foam – various sizes
Easy to transport tools you use in your studio practice to make marks on cloth
If you have one, bring a small silk screen (with image or open screen) and a squeegee
Apron or cloth you don’t mind getting dye on
Cotton, linen, and silk fabric is included in the material fee, but you are welcome to bring small samples of cloth you typically use in your studio practice to experiment on.

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.