We are delighted to announce the line up of our 2024 Natural Dye Symposium on 24th February. Ticket information is here


Sophie Holt – 10am

Sophie set up PIGMENT Organic Dyes CIC in order to grow and supply UK-grown, organic dyes on a commercial scale, as well as to support adults with learning disabilities into training and work.
PIGMENT grows a mix of annual, biennial and perennial plants in South Devon, which are then harvested and dried ready for sale, predominantly online. PIGMENT has also just begun selling kits and dyed fabrics. Small scale commissions are also accepted.
Sophie works with South West England Fibreshed and local small businesses in order to increase accessibility to natural colour and is passionate about making it grow much bigger in the UK.
The business also has a strong social commitment by working with adults with additional needs in various settings across Shropshire and Devon. Her social passion is to offer a therapeutic environment, support, work experience and training in a productive and commercial space, to people that are often excluded from standard workplaces. PIGMENT considers its trainees to be within the fabric of the business, which supplies artists, dyers and the wider textile industry.

Malú Colorín – 11.30am

Malú Colorín is a Mexican natural dyer and designer living in West Wicklow, Ireland. Her work draws inspiration from the traditional garments of her native Mexico, while embracing the rich heritage of Irish textiles. By working slowly and mindfully, she aims to build an intimate connection with each of her dye sources, as well as the Land where they grow.
She’s the founder of Talú, a natural dye house and educational hub helping slow fashion lovers keep their clothes in play for longer & reconnect to the Land. Talú offers workshops, naturally-dyed textile goods and natural dye services.
Malú is also the co-founder of Fibreshed Ireland, a community-supported social enterprise building networks to craft a regenerative Irish textile system based on local fibre, local dyes & local labour. Fibreshed Ireland is an independent affiliate of the global Fibershed movement.
During her presentation at the Natural Dye Symposium, Malú will talk about the serendipitous encounter with a book that changed the course of her career, from frustrated graphic designer to passionate natural dyer and eventually community organiser. She’ll elaborate on the ups and downs of developing and running a natural dyeing business and where the journey has taken her.

Sue Day – 1.30pm

For the third talk of the day, Sue Day will share her knowledge of the different types of dyes and dyers that were present in Rome during the Roman Empire. She will discuss the possible importation of dyes, plants or dyed goods into the United Kingdom and where they were found.
This talk will also highlight the different colours used, their meanings, what and where the colours were used and by whom.
Those of us in The Loom Shed will have the chance to handle the samples of dyed yarns, silks and linens, those online will be able to enjoy them through the screen.
Sue was taught natural dyeing by her Mother in the late 1960’s, although many things have changed with natural dyeing since then. Since then she has developed an interest in history and joined a living history group, where she found herself at a Roman Villa in the Cotswolds. While in this role, dressed as a dyer, she did her best to remember what she learnt in childhood. Happily, it all soon came flooding back.
Sue is an active member of the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, having achieved a Distinction in Natural Dyeing for the Certificate of Achievement in 2021. Recently she was  invited to join a world-wide group to study the Leiden and Stockholm papyrus, which is a Romano Egyptian Papyrus of various chemicals and dyes dating from the 4th Century CE.
Sue’s love of natural dyes is ongoing and she loves to explore the different elements that create a wide palette of tones and hues. She is currently exploring the affect different waters have on dye colour and has opened a spa well so that she can use the only alkaline saline water in the country.

Susan Dye – 3pm 

Foraging for Colour

Collecting materials from the wild for natural dyeing has become increasingly popular. A new generation of people are being drawn to the craft, and some are working with species not commonly considered important for dyeing. Debbie Bamford, Jane Deane, Isabella Whitworth, Susan Dye and Ashley Walker came together in Summer 2022 to consider how sustainable it is to forage for dyeplants in the UK. Little did we realise how complex and nuanced this topic would turn out to be.

Susan will explain what the group has learned during the course of this exploration, including insights gained from the generous input of fellow dyers, an ethnobotanist and a social anthropologist of food foraging.  

The group has published a snapshot of their learning in an article for the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, and is currently developing a list of species suitable for dye foraging in the UK.

Foraging for Colour (2023) by Debbie Bamford, Jane Deane, Susan Dye, Ashley Walker and Isabella Whitworth, Pages 8 – 12 Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, #288 Winter 2023


Susan maintains a small but productive dye garden in Hitchin, 30 miles north of London, with her husband Ashley. For about 17 years, they have been growing and using the classic northern European ‘grand teint’ dyeplants of woad, weld and madder, plus important plants from other dye traditions. They believe that using natural dyes profoundly changes your relationship to textiles and goes a little way towards changing consumption habits for the better.

They maintain a website on dye plant horticulture, which has brought them many wonderful connections with people around the globe.  In 2020, Susan started to experiment with botanical printing, which has led her to seek out plant material beyond the dye garden.

Susan left traditional work about 20 years ago. Ashley soon followed, becoming a horticultural therapist – using gardening to promote healing and wellbeing. This prompted them to learn about dyeing and spinning. Susan and Ashley now help people create attractive dye gardens, which give great colours in the dyepot whilst also enhancing wildlife. 

It would be lovely to spend the day with you either online or inperson – Tickets can be found here.