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The Dye Garden Schools Project

October 16, 2023

My project with the local primary schools came to a close today after six sessions working together over the growing season. 

We were looking at how to modify naturally dyed fabric samples using an iron bath in the workshop and the pupils saw how colour can change so drastically with a post treatment of iron bath. They got to decide how dark to make the colour and then worked on creating a sample sheet of pre and post modified samples of bramble leaves, bramble stems, coreopsis and french marigolds.

After this we went outside to harvest the woad they had planted earlier on the season and we did a very simple method of salt extraction to show how the colour from the leaves can be taken onto silk.

Here's a few photos photographer Becky Duncan kindly took to document the workshop:


The P5s arriving at Sculpture house from Glencoats Primary School for our last session.


French Marigolds grown in the dye garden seen here post dye bath, being used as visual prompt for the pupils to remind them of where the colour came from in one of the samples in todays workshop.


Coreopsis dyed cottons.


Asking the pupils to remember the name of all the dye plants we worked with (bramble stems is the answer to what's in this jar).

Concentrating on dipping the dyed fabric into our iron bath whilst the pupils work together to decide how dark they want the colour to go.


Some of the P5s watching on as one of the classmates dips more fabric.


Washing out the fabric after being immersed in the iron bath.


One of the silks, post iron bath, turned a beautiful grey.


We moved outside for the last part of our session to pick the last woad of the season to do some salt extraction with.


This educational project was made possible by the generosity of Creative Scotland funding.


Thanks to all the pupils and staff at Glencoats and St.Fergus primary Schools who have been an absolute pleasure to work and learn with over the last six months.

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