Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

Courses and talks

West Dean College (nr Chichester, Sussex)

Handpainted Silk Scarves: Developing Design, Building Technique: for more experienced students
20th – 23rd July 2017

The course will offer students opportunities to build on their existing technical skills for handpainting silk scarves and fabrics and will encourage a measured approach to making scarves to students’ original designs. There will be several techniques demonstrated, such as how to select an effective colour palette; calculating and recording dilutions and mixtures of dyes; the importance of well planned backgrounds and how to apply flat and shaded grounds. Some alternative resist fluids to wax (such as gutta and water-based resists) will be available. Students can also experiment with thickened dyes for painting and printing.

In terms of originating design, students should bring some sketches, images or ideas to develop into working designs for handpainted scarves or fabric. This is not a computer-based design course and techniques for interpreting designs and themes will be explored through drawing, collage, images and photos. Students can build up a sketchbook or folder of ideas and designs and make samples and/or scarves as time allows. Steam-fixed dyes will be used.

The course is suitable for intermediate to advanced students with general silk painting experience and familiarity with the use of wax resist. It is therefore ideal for those who have studied with Isabella before.

For bookings and more information contact West Dean Collegeh

West Dean Summer School: August 5th – 11th 2017
The course will offer beginners an introduction to creative dye processes for silk scarves and fabric. Those with more experience are welcome to develop skills in new directions. Processes taught include wax resist, and several shibori techniques. The course will use steam-fixed dyes and, separately, a natural indigo vat: using natural and synthetic dyes offers a historical and practical link between processes.

Presentations will include discussion of Isabella’s sketchbooks, textile collection, and samples from her research into natural dyes and trade history. They will also explore aspects of fibres, fabrics, dyes and dyestuffs and trace a timeline of dye history linking techniques and materials on the course.

For bookings and more information contact West Dean College

Ardington School of Crafts (near Wantage, Oxfordshire)  2017 courses


August 17th 2017: Japanese Shibori Dyeing

Students will learn classic methods for producing several shibori-dyed silk scarves using steam fixed silk dyes

August 18th 2017: Dyeing with Wax Resist: Colourful Scarves

Students will learn basics by making wax-resist samples which can later be used for other ‘making’ projects, such as embroidery, cards, bags etc. They will also complete a simple wax-resist scarf on silk.

September 2nd 2017: The Vibrant World of Natural Dyes 

A natural dye ‘taster’ day to introduce natural dyes. Students will learn a little about using weld, madder, cochineal and indigo and discover fascinating history from a colourful past. Students can dye silk samples and/or purchase a pre-mordanted silk scarf to dye during the day.

September 3rd 2017: Shibori with natural indigo details as above

Students will learn about making an indigo vat, and some techniques for producing shibori (tied, folded and clamped) designs on silk and / or cotton. This course will be a follow-on to the one-day Vibrant World of Natural Dyes but can also be studied separately.

Please contact Ardington School of Crafts  for bookings for these and their other courses



5 thoughts on “Courses and talks

  1. Please advise if you offer any classes in the frozen North?? Scotland or north of England.
    I just love your work!
    With thanks. Therese

  2. Hi Isabella, Where is your course 20-23 July? It is not listed on the West Dean website.

    • I will check for you today. There is certainly a course scheduled for then!

    • I just called West Dean to clarify the situation. They do not release all courses for booking at once. Summer School can now be booked and also short courses up to the end of June. My course in July will be available for booking after Christmas: if you want to check the exact date may I suggest you call them to check? Very best Christmas and season’s greetings!

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