Natural textile dyeing: the aesthetics and practices of slow making (Making Slow Colour)


There is growing interest in natural dyeing and its potential contribution to a less environmentally destructive textile industry. Making Slow Colour aims to understand how involvement in natural textile dyeing and other forms of slow, creative practice may develop new relationships with plants, environments and places. ‘Natural’ dyeing requires time-consuming, immersive processes of making. It promises to create new intimacies with living and found materials (plants, fungi, lichen, food waste, soils, rust, microorganisms), and to highlight the biodiversity of local places and the polluting risks of conventional fabric production.

Carried out slowly, on a part-time basis over six years, the study uses a multi-method approach combining collaborative making with participatory, ethnographic and creative methods. It aims to understand the significance of natural dyeing for facilitating social connection, individual wellbeing and environmental care in North West England and beyond.

Working closely with practitioners, this research asks: What makes these forms of slow making meaningful, from the perspective of makers, artists and growers working with natural dyes? In doing so, it aims to: 1) investigate the role of slow, creative practice in stimulating new thinking about how we care for environments and ourselves; 2) identify colour as an important topic of investigation; 3) explore how collaborative social science methodologies can enable understanding of everyday environmental relations; and 4) generate insight on ‘slow’ academic scholarship and practice.
Short titleMaking Slow Colour
Effective start/end date1/10/2130/09/27