Lessons in designing clothing in Aylesbury Vale

Sara Fordy
Sara Fordy

WHEN Sara Fordy is not travelling the world searching for fabrics, she is running workshops in Tingewick teaching students about indigo – the magical and ancient dye best known for making our jeans blue.

Sara, 47, fell in love with the technique, which uses a deep blue plant dye, three years ago.

Since then she has been developing new techniques and showcasing what she can do with linen, clothing and other textiles.

In her workshops, Sara teaches pupils a variety of design methods – such as screen printing, batik or using wax on garments, a Japanese stitching technique and an African way of painting cloth using boiled cassava root.

Review by Laura Boswell: Along with the antique linens and fine cottons she collects abroad, Sara also collects the many different ways of making patterns with indigo. It’s a dye with a long history of use all over the world and every nation has a unique method of decorating their cloth.

Sara brings all she has learnt back to Buckinghamshire and, along with the more familiar methods of screen printing and wax batik, her work might include a Japanese stitching technique used by kimono makers or a way of painting the cloth with boiled cassava root normally only seen in Africa.

She introduced me to indigo this weekend using batik: hot liquid wax drawn onto the fabric. It’s a technique rather like icing a cake with runny icing. Where the wax goes, the dye won’t, which is simple, or it is if you have the skill to control things.

Sara’s designs are elegant, usually based on natural forms like leaves and birds or beautifully written script.

My attempt had no form, natural or otherwise, but it was a lot of fun. I worked with all the enthusiasm and skill of a three year old who finds mummy’s red lipstick and a stretch of new white wall. I’d happily have scrawled my way through several double duvets.

When I was finally stopped, we dipped the cotton into the indigo. Indigo is magic: the fabric goes in, is submerged gently and briefly and emerges a brilliant acid green.

It is the oxygen in the air that turns the green to blue and all this happens in a matter of moments.

You can attend a workshop with Sara and try this amazing technique for yourself or you may prefer to have Sara make you something to wear.

She will be opening her studio to the public and demonstrating her skills as part of the countywide Bucks Open Studios event which takes place from 9th-24th June 2012. Whatever you choose, I can promise that your encounter with indigo will be a lot more exciting than pulling on your old blue jeans.

Sara is also taking part in Bucks Open Studios in June 2012, where artists open their doors to the public, details at www.bucksopenstudios.org.uk

or to To find out more about the workshops visit www.indigomoose.co.uk