Dyeing on Dartmoor

Thanks to funding from The Royal Society, we will be looking at the huge influence the wool trade has had on moorland life and how our ancestors used local plants and minerals to fix and dye their animal skins, yarn or fabrics.

The local Dartmoor sheep are hardy creatures who have provided fleece for clothing, carpets and furnishings for centuries. We will look at what plants could have been foraged from the Moor to dye their wool, how metals were used to improve the take up of dyes and the process of doing natural dyeing. We will also look at how fleece are prepared by washing, carding and spinning, then weaving or knitting.

We will look at colour and how it affects us and how the chemical dyeing of today, in our world of fast fashion, is destroying the health of people, waterways and the planet.

As well as a yearlong exhibition at the museum, we will work with experts and community groups, in all these fields, who will kindly demonstrate their skills at the museum.

Visual foraging walks will be led to discover dye plants and to see the archaeology that shows that sheep have been on Dartmoor for centuries.

There will be a chance to try carding and weaving and fun crafts and trails for children to enjoy.

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