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2 - 9 October 2019


Bešenovački Prnjavor

The Art of Natural Dyeing 8-Day Course

Three workshops in 8 days, including Shibori Tie-dyeing and Bundle Dyeing (eco-printing) with artist Biljana Karovska.

The Art of Natural Dyeing 8-Day Course
The Art of Natural Dyeing 8-Day Course

Time & Location

2 - 9 October 2019

Bešenovački Prnjavor, Bešenovački Prnjavor, Serbia

About the Event

Learn how to gather and use local and seasonal plants drawing on ancient, eco-friendly extraction and dyeing techniques and create beautiful designs on textiles, including up-cycling items of clothing. Led by Macedonian artist, printmaker and fashion designer, Biljana Karovska, who trained with Irit Dulman (NL). 

Held at our permaculture small-holding in a tiny village in the hills of the forested Fruska Gora National Park in Serbia.

No previous experience necessary and all materials provided.


Early Bird 20% discount (until 16 August): €440 

Full price: €550

All accomodation and food included.

The course consists of 3 workshops:

1. The Art of Natural Dyes

2. Shibori Tie-Dyeing

3. Bundle-Dyeing (Eco-printing)

1. THE ART OF NATURAL DYES using local, seasonal plants 

Do you want to learn more about the current ecological practices for creating beautiful dye colours from readily available plants? You can learn about this ancient practice at The Art of Natural Dyes workshop, where participants will use local and seasonal plants from the European tradition to create beautiful textile designs.

Participants will be able to work in nature and explore the land through gathering wild dye plants as well as finding out more about growing such plants. This knowledge that can later be applied to the natural, non-toxic processes of producing colour. You will be surprised by the abundance of colour-giving plants that thrive in the surrounding environment. 

Obtaining knowledge from this workshop will also make you more aware of the threats and hazards of the polluting chemical dye industry. In contrast, the workshop is demonstrating a small scale DIY alternative to fast fashion as you will be creating textiles that are in harmony with nature.

  1. Why is this ancient knowledge?

No matter which culture on Earth you look at, you’ll find a long history of using herbs for healing or for other purposes such as clothes and textiles. Humans have always been devoted to plants and as we have rushed into the new age of modernity some of this knowledge has been neglected and lost. What happens when we reignite that knowledge is that we access ancient memory, where chemistry becomes alchemy and colours manifest their powerful connection to the planet.

The use of plants for dyes is well-known. By drying, grinding, soaking and heating, plants are transmuted into pigments that are then used for the decoration of fibres, leather, fabric, crafts, and even people’s hair and bodies. More than this, plants possess a variety of curative properties. In a way, the colours obtained from the processing of raw plant materials retain those healing attributes.

As people become more aware and concerned about the effects of toxic chemicals on their health as well as on the planet, in recent years, there has been a significant resurgence in interest in natural fibres and dyes. And another motivating factor to dive deeper in such knowledge has been the very fact that this practice is part of a collective human heritage - a bridging point to the ways of life our ancestors had. 

Working with natural plants and dyes is one way we can immerse ourselves into a meaningful relationship that goes two ways--with ancestry/tradition and with nature. 

Natural dyes made from plants provide an important alternative to petrochemical-based dyes. In comparison to synthetic dyes, natural dyes also have a larger variation in colour tone, and this is due to the quality differences of various provenances of the dye plant. 

Last but not least, creating natural dyes is not only good for the environment and obtaining ancestral knowledge, but the very opportunity to attend a themed workshop in this context is a unique social experience where you get to hang out with cool people (like yourself!) who share similar interests. 

During this workshop you will learn:

- the history, foundation and wisdom of Natural Dyeing

- how to prepare fabrics

- what mordants are and how to use them to fix the colours

- how to extract colours from natural materials 

Each participant will produce: 

* A catalogue of swatches using different natural fibres and fabrics

* Recipes of the colours produced during the workshop

* 1 cotton or silk shawl to dye  

Fabric samples and dyes will be provided, however, participants are asked to bring the following: an apron or working clothes, kitchen gloves, notebook and pen.

During the workshop, you'll learn all the skills needed that will allow you to perform dyeing on your own, later at home. Whether you want to transform a favourite item of clothing or dye a natural baby garment  - you will have the knowledge after attending the workshop. Expect to be amazed by the beautiful results! 

2. SHIBORI TIE-DYEING with local, seasonal plants 

Do you want to learn how you can use contemporary natural dye techniques where you get to apply natural, non-toxic colours and create unique patterns on old pieces of clothes? At our Shibori Tie-Dyeing workshop, which is entirely reliant on local and seasonal plants for the dyeing part, you can access age-old knowledge that will help you transform your wardrobe. You will enjoy a creative and environment-friendly process that will rejuvenate the look of your old favourite garments. 

Shibori is an ancient Japanese inventive art dating back to the 8th-century that besides plant-based material for dyeing, combines a variety of methods such as plucking, pinching, stitching, folding, twisting and pleating of the fabric. The end result of Shibori is a sculptural and three-dimensional type of cloth, that always comes with authentic patterns that cannot be repeated.

Our workshop will use dyes that are made from locally foraged dye plants, freshly harvested and extracted for their colourfast hues prior to the class. While we will have some fabric samples and dyes ready for you, participants are asked to bring an apron/working clothes, kitchen gloves, notebook and pen for the workshop.

You are also welcome to bring a small item of clothing to up-cycle with Shibori dyeing. For example, you can use a vest or a scarf - just make sure your cloth is not too chunky, heavy or fluffy. 


Have you heard of bundle dyeing? This technique, also known as eco printing, is an exciting contemporary natural dye technique that will help you learn how to create unique repeated patterns on cloth, without spending much time on extracting colours. 

Bundle dyeing uses fresh, dried or frozen flowers, or other plant materials such as leaves, seed pods and barks, which are then applied and printed on the fabric.

The plant material uses its own pigments and tannins to produce colour, which as you will notice over the course of our Eco-print workshop, is always different from the original colour of the material. Also, even though the plant material may originate from the same tree, each shape of plant that is going to print, will provide a non-identical, unique shape and pattern. 

The end result is often a cloth design that you can easily describe as psychedelic and ethereal. Each piece is also unique in its nature, therefore you cannot reproduce it.

In our Eco-printing workshop, we will explore how this process works mainly on silk. Eco print brings together the therapeutic energies of plants, their healing properties, their fragrance, as well as the spiritual beauty of memory and place; and fine materials, such as silk, are perfect for that.

The roots of this dyeing technique can be traced to the Ayurvedic tradition, where cloth is dyed with natural dyes in order that the end product carries the therapeutic properties of the plant to the person wearing it.

In the age of modernity, we have gravitated away from the cultural significance of natural colour. We no longer understand the entire spectrum of benefits that plants can have on us and our well being. However, contact print dyeing is one way we can deepen our understanding to this end. Let’s have some fun and meaning while doing something entirely creative and in harmony with nature.

During this workshop you will learn:

• how to choose and prepare plants for printing

• processes for mordanting protein and cellulose fabrics with natural metal salts

• different procedures of constructing and cooking bundles

At the end of the workshop, you will leave with some unique, eco-printed silk scarves and fabrics to use in textile art or sewing projects.  

You are also welcome to bring a small item of clothing to up-cycle with bundle dyeing. (A small vest or scarf would be ideal - nothing too chunky/heavy/fluffy - bring a selection to choose from on the day).

About Biljana:

Biljana Karovska was born in 1981 in Skopje, Macedonia. She graduated printmaking and fashion design at Faculty of Fine Arts, Skopje in 2006. She has exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions, art workshops and collaborated with fashion designers for new collections, original hand painted wedding dresses and special occasions outfits.

Lately, Biljana has been also engaged in connecting ecology and nature projects with art, such as biodiversity conservation.

She is exploring the ancient knowledge of Natural dyes and it's contemporary application known as Eco or Botanical print, learned last year from Irit Dulman in The Netherlands.



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