Catharine Ellis

Updated August 2019


Natural Dyes: A series of FIVE exploratory, focused one-day workshops
Catharine Ellis, USA
Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 14 September 2019
Slow Fiber Studios ANNEX | 1825 8th St. Berkeley, CA

Tuesday, 10 September: A [1 Spot Available]
Wednesday, 11 September: B [SOLD OUT]
Thursday, 12 September: C [2 Spots Available]
Friday, 13 September: D [SOLD OUT]
Saturday, 14 September: E [2 Spots Available]

Workshop fees are based on how many workshops you like to attend. When purchasing the ticket, please answer the questionnaire below to specify which workshops you are signing up for.

1 workshop  $250.00 [A, C, or E]
2 workshops $450.00 [A, C, or E]
3 workshops $650.00 [A, C, and E]
4 workshops $750.00 [sold out]
5 Workshops $850.00 [sold out]

Workshop spots are limited! Please note that all may not be available upon registration. Contact with any questions


Artist Talk, Book signing & Potluck Social
17:30 – 20:00 Thursday, 12 September | Slow Fiber Studios Annex

image by Nick Falduto© Nick Falduto

This comprehensive series of one-day workshops will focus on the importance of informed exploration of natural dyes for textile artists who desire a thorough understanding of their processes. Catharine Ellis, distinguished textiles artist, educator, and natural dye specialist, will guide you through areas of examination in five separate specifications. These include dyeing wool with and without mordants, utilizing ‘classic’ tannins such as gall nut and locally available tannin variants, comparing mordant processes, printing with natural dyes, and simultaneous direct application of assorted natural dyes and mordants onto fabric. You’ll gain fuller knowledge of dye processes to extend tangible results in your own practice.

Workshop A: Tuesday 10 September: Dyeing wool with and without mordants

Cross dye on linen and silk© Catharine Ellis

Each dye plant contains multiple dyes or combinations of dyes, which will react differently when a mordant is present, vs. when there is no mordant. This class will explore several dyes that can be used either with or without an alum mordant, resulting in slightly different colors as different dyes attach to the textile. Students will dye samples of both wool and silk and explore cross dyeing possibilities.


Workshop B [SOLD OUT] : Wednesday 11 September: Exploring tannins for mordanting and dyeing

SFS EV19 Ellis WorkshopB
© Catharine Ellis

Tannin is a key factor in mordanting cellulose textile immersion dyeing. This one-day class will compare the “classic” tannins such as gall nut with some locally available tannins. We will look at how the different tannins might affect the amount of mordant that attaches to the textile and how these tannins can best be used as a source for color. Students will complete samples of various tannins on cotton and are invited to bring their own local tannins for comparison and the final color of dye.

Workshop C: Thursday 12 September: Comparison of mordant processes for cellulose fibers.

SFS EV19 WorkshopC copy
© Catharine Ellis

Do I need tannin? What kind of alum should I use? Do I need bran? Do I need chalk? Is alum as effective as aluminum acetate? These are the questions that many dyers find confusing. There is more than one correct answer to all these questions and we will compare different processes on cotton and linen textiles, with the goal of understanding the mordant process for cellulose and the role of each ingredient.Students will be able to compare the results of different mordanting processes on cellulose after dyeing with madder and weld.  

Workshop D [SOLD OUT] : Friday 13 September: Color Mixing with Natural Dyes – on silk and cotton

ellis workshop C© Catharine Ellis

When making a green, a purple, or a black color with natural dyes, the sequence of dye application can make a difference in the resulting colors. We will compare different sequences of dyes (including indigo) and mordants and explore effective ways to achieve color transitions and shades with natural dyes.Although our work will be on silk fabric, these color mixing principles may be applied to any fiber. Students will complete a collection of mixed color samples.


Workshop E : Saturday 14 September: Printing with Natural Dyes

SFS EV19 Ellis Workshop E© Catharine Ellis

This class will compare two approaches to printing with natural dyes: 1. mordant printing on cellulose, which combines the application of various mordants and uses a single immersion dye bath and 2. direct application of mordant and dye on cellulose or silk, which makes it possible to apply more than one dye color to a single textile. Sampling will be done on fabric but these processes may also be applied to yarns. Students are invited to bring small stamps, silk screens, brushes or other means of applying dye and mordants.


Visiting Artist: Catharine Ellis

EllisCatharine Ellis has been a weaver and dyer for over 40 years. One of the leading textile educators in the United States, Ellis is  founder of the Professional Crafts Fiber program at Haywood Community College in North Carolina. An internationally recognized textile artist for her invention of woven shibori, Catharine is the author of Woven Shibori and the much anticipated book The Art and Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments, and Results that will release in 2019. Ellis continues to share her extensive research and expertise in the craft of natural dyes with the worldwide dye community.



Space is limited. To complete registration to guarantee your place, click both buttons below to make a Payment & fill out the Registration Form.
Also, fill out, sign & return the Participation Agreement, Assumption of Risk Form to or mail back to Slow Fiber Studios.