Spring Tartan!

The history of tartan connects back through the clans and the story of highland dress is long and complex. The survival of tartan and the dress of the Scottish highlanders into the 21st century is a unique phenomenon. It is fascinating to see how modern designers and artists interpret and invent with this stunning fabric.

The date 1746 is an important one in the history of tartan. Following the defeat of Jacobite forces at Culloden, the wearing of tartan or Highland dress was forbidden by Act of Parliament, until its repeal in 1782. Before 1746 tartan fabric did not represent a particular clan; it seems almost certain that a flower worn in the bonnet fulfilled this function. The shape of traditional Scottish clothing goes back to military style. During these 3 days we will take a whirlwind  journey through the Scottish Highlands, learning a little about the history of its clothing. We will focus on the production of tartan, especially on the islands, including the historical spinning dyeing and weaving processes. We will learn a little about how and why it evolved and go on to develop our own personal interpretations and colour mixes.

Examples of work from the Spring Tartan Masterclass

On this three day Masterclass we will make a plaid or sash to swing across one shoulder. Alternatively you can adapt it further to form a wrap, poncho, waistcoat or throw.

We will learn how to weave silk fabrics and dyed prefelt in the form of samplers. Then it will be time to move on to make the master piece on a big scale!

A number of combinations can be tried out as weaves, and initial sampling allows us to find the right colour combination and acts as a guide in the design process. We will be using silk ponge, silk organza, silk chiffon and coloured prefelt. You can bring your own material or purchase it from the extensive range of colours in the Big Cat store, uniquely available to masterclass participants.