Ground in Pattern

A weekend dhabu textile-printing workshop using mud and indigo dye


Friday 5 – Sunday 7 May 2023


Sarah Burns


Dartington Trust, South Devon


Unless otherwise stated, our Short Courses are for adults 18+ years


Includes all lunches, suppers, field trips, materials and all teaching from supper on the day of your arrival through until the lunchtime before your departure.



All the perks included in your course fee, PLUS breakfast and accommodation from the day your course starts to check-out on the morning of the day the course ends. (More info about accommodation can be found below.)


About this course

In this workshop we will explore our own version of the ancient textile art of ‘dhabu’ – using iron-rich water from the River Dart, mud from the fields and ponds of the Dartington Estate, fruits from the trees, soil from the fields and woad from the Schumacher Craft Dye garden.

Mud resist ‘dhabu’ is an ancient printing technique still practised in Rajasthan in India. We will start the weekend with an illustrative talk on the history and technique, followed by demonstrations and hands-on workshops. You will be guided through every step of the process and all raw materials will be provided.

Mud resist printing traditionally uses wood blocks, which you can choose from Sarah’s own collection, to create your print design. You will also be using recycled materials to print with and you are welcome to bring anything suitable from home.

We will experiment with this unique process which is completed in three steps: printing with mud and then dipping in indigo and finally washing off the mud to reveal the printed design on the textile.

We will experiment with the different properties of this resist – how to apply it by pouring, scraping & splattering – a highly tactile and sensual process that connects us directly with the ground beneath our feet. After drying, our mud resist patterns will be dyed with indigo – another magical process that you will explore and learn to master. You will learn how to make them, apply them using printing blocks, print them on mordanted cloth and ensure they are fast.

Tutor Sarah Burns is passionate about slow, local production that creates beautiful fabric. This approach is kinder to our environment and this course will explore these values.

Sarah says: I’ve always loved working in negative – that’s the printer in me. When you cut a lino block you remove the parts you don’t want to keep so that the final image is the result of all the marks you didn’t make.

on this course you will

  • Learn about the heritage of this fascinating printing technique.
  • Explore the art of mud resist as well as the natural environment of the Dartington Estate.
  • Tune in to nature and be creatively inspired by it.
  • Design, process and take home a printed textile.
  • Learn a new skill that you can practise and hone on your own.
  • Engage in discussion around slow, local production and sustainable art practices.

what participants said about this course

This course responds to the natural patterns that surround us in nature and will help us to get in tune with the natural rhythm of nature, to a place where you feel safe. Printmaking really holds you, you are mindful of the block you are cutting, you look back at your designs and forward to your finished fabric. You don’t race ahead.

typical schedule for short courses

  • Check-in to the room is between 3-3.45pm on the day of arrival. Check-out is 11am on the day of departure, although if travelling by public transport, luggage can be left at the Welcome Centre until the course has completed.
  • Teaching generally begins at 4pm on the first day and ends at 2pm Fridays or 4pm Sunday (whichever is the last day of the course).
  • The daily timetable can start at 9.30am and end around 9.15pm, with free time available at set times throughout the day.
  • For residential participants breakfast is included, followed by a morning gathering and community work groups on weekdays, which are open to all participants and the college community. Non-residential participants can pay extra if they wish to have breakfast on one or more of the days.
  • Lunch for all participants is between 1-2pm and supper is 6.30-7.30pm (both meals are included in the residential and non-residential course fee).

If you have any questions about your course schedule please contact

what to bring

  • An apron
  • Welly boots
  • Good stout shoes
  • Gloves and
  • A notebook
  • All materials are provided, but please bring any objects you would like to print and experiment with 


Our courses are part of the wider Learning programme at Dartington, and you will join a community of students on site studying at Schumacher College and Dartington Arts School as well as other short course participants, volunteers and visitors.

While you are here we invite you to take part in our learning community life by attending morning meetings, taking part in activities such as meal preparation and clearing, and evening social events. This is entirely voluntary, but participants tell us that taking part adds to their experience at Dartington.

short course community lunch


Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a pattern-maker and textile printer. She studied politics at Jesus College, Cambridge and Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art. She teaches natural dying and printing in her West Sussex studio as well at Ditchling Museum and Hand Printed in Bognor Regis. Her designs can be seen at the Guy Goodfellow Collection in Chelsea, at Dartington Hall and as part of the Virginia White Collection.

Read More


We recommend that if possible, you stay on-site during your course. All our courses are best experienced holistically: through studying, relaxing, eating and staying with other course participants, volunteers, staff and tutors.

When you book your course with accommodation this includes one of our hostel-style single rooms with shared facilities and easy access to your main learning space. They are the perfect base to rest your head, relax and recharge. You can find out more about the rooms here.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included throughout the duration of the course, each made with fresh, locally-sourced produce by our award-winning team.

Accommodation is available at a discounted rate for course attendees, and on a first come, first served basis only. Choose this option by selecting ‘Course Fee Plus Accommodation’ at checkout.

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optional: upgrade to a courtyard room

It is also possible, subject to availability, to upgrade your accommodation to a single or double en-suite bedroom in our beautiful and historic courtyard. An upgrade to a single room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £27.25 per night and a double room with en-suite bathroom is an additional £43.60 per night.

If you would like to upgrade, please first book with residential option included, and then contact our Guest Services team on 01803 847150 or email to check availability. Our Guest Services department is open daily, 8am–8pm.

Should you decide to upgrade to our en-suite accommodation, please be aware that this is 20 min walk, or 3 min drive, to the Old Postern site, where some of our courses are held. There is car parking available near to all venues on the estate.


You may like to stay on our beautiful and relaxing campsite, amidst the stunning rolling hills and ancient woodlands of Dartington. Find out more about the campsite here.

Should you decide to stay on the campsite, please be aware that this is 10 min walk, to either Schumacher College or Dartington Hall, where our courses are held. There is car parking available near to all venues on the estate.

Book now

Begin your online booking below. You will receive an e-ticket for this event. You are welcome to email us at with any queries you have. Full Short Course T&Cs can be found here >

If you place a deposit, you will be contacted by us four weeks before the course start date to pay the outstanding balance. You will also be contacted with full details about the course before you arrive.

Please note that in most cases bookings for all our Short Courses close at midday on the Thursday before the course begins. This enables us to give you the best possible course experience and ensures all bookers receive the relevant course materials before they arrive.

Offer: Special rate for Dartington Members

Dartington Members will receive a 10% discount, applied when they log in during the checkout process. For more information about Membership, click here (opens in new tab).

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