Claire Benn : Breakdown & Beyond - in Italy 2017

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Claire Benn : Breakdown & Beyond - in Italy 2017


The week at the Masseria will provide you with time out in the sunshine to really get to grips with Breakdown Printing, a technique that can produce cloth with a wide variety of ‘styles’, including:

  • Organic, distressed ‘disintegrating’ marks/texture
  • Graphic, bold imagery/marks
  • Letterforms and writing
  • Doodling and sketching

Claire is offering a mentoring sessions who would like them during the week.


3-7 July 2017   Booking Fee: £50

Venue: Puglia, Southern Italy at the Masseria della Zingara

The course is a 5 day course and the fee varies, based on your accommodation, arrival date and departure date. This can be arranged and the deposit paid by contacting Jan at 

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We’ll also be taking a look at how the resulting cloth can be further developed through the use of other surface design techniques, including:

  • Scraping for over-dyeing (the whole cloth, or sections)
  • Line work, sketching or writing with needle nose bottles
  • Mono printing (large and small plates)
  • Screen printing using temporary stencils
  • Resists (masking tape, freezer paper and soya wax)

We’ll work exclusively with Mx dye paints, and Claire will demonstrate different techniques/processes throughout the class.

At the mid-point, there will be a group review to consider work-in-progress and how it might be moved forward, and one-to-one discussions will take place on an on-going basis.

The class is suitable for all levels.  Maximum class size of 10 students.


Teaching will start at 9am and continue until 6pm, with a 1-hour break for lunch.  Thereafter, whilst Claire will be available for consult, she may have had a glass or two of wine and be in a relaxed state!  Participants can choose to start and finish at any time of their choosing – one of the joys of a residential class is the opportunity to come and go in the studio at leisure!


Claire is offering a mentoring service if you are interested, as part of the course.  I suggest you get in touch with her to discuss in advance what you would like from her, and what you need to bring for this part of the course.


To minimise what you need to pack, certain supplies will be made available during the class, and a £25 fee will be payable.  Please bring this is cash ( or the Euro equivalent and give it to Claire) The following supplies and tools will be available:

  • Procion Mx dyes: in paint format
  • Tools; one large silkscreen per person, bristle and foam brushes, needle-nose bottles, rollers, scrapers, mono-printing plates, breakdown printing bits & pieces, found objects and other miscellaneous items.



This is the most important item to bring with you and it must be made from natural fibres: cotton, silk, mixes such as silk-cotton, bamboo, linen or hemp.  Anticipate using between 8 to 10 metres.  When thinking about what type of cloth to bring, consider what you’re going to be using it for.

Please do not bring calico/muslin as whilst it will eventually generate good results, it required a great deal of effort to get there!  Generally speaking, higher quality fabrics will generate faster and better results. Cloth suppliers include Whaleys of Bradford, Art van Go, Fibrecrafts, Zijdelings and PDPM.

It’s important that any un-dyed cloth you bring is pre-washed to remove sizing, as sizing can often prevent the dyes and paints from penetrating the fibres. 

To scour cloth:

  •  Load fabric into washing machine; you will need between 6 and 8 metres in total
  • Add up to 4 tablespoons of pure soda ash/sodium carbonate (4 for a full load, 2 for a smaller load).  Use soda ash, not household soda.  If you don’t have soda ash, visit a swimming pool supply company to buy some or buy it mail order from Art van Go or Fibrecrafts.
  •  Run the machine at 60ºC.
  • Line or tumble dry.

Other Supplies

  • 8 to 10 metres of pre-washed/scoured un-dyed natural cloth of your own (see previous notes).
  • 2.5 metres of cotton drill or something similarly sturdy to use as a drop cloth (not calico as it holds creases).
  • Cloth apron (or wear the equivalent of gardening/decorating clothes – or maybe a swimsuit!).
  • Well fitting rubber gloves (suggest 2 pairs in case you hole one/a pair).
  • If you already own thermofaxes you wish to use, bring up to 5.
  • One silkscreen (you will have access to screens throughout the class, but you’ll also need to bring one of your own)
  •  1 x 9” Speedball squeegee.

Please note :

It is important to wear sturdy, flat, rubber-soled sensible shoes with good support. 


Included in the course:

Collection from airport Bari or Brindisi and return to airport.
(free of charge from designated flight. If we collect you from a different flight or from the train station there will be a charge.)

Breakfast, a light lunch, and dinner including wine, at the Masseria. 
Transport to and from two local visits, leaving you free time to explore!  Dinner is not provided on these two evenings out.
Use of all our facilities, swimming pool, bicycles etc

Not included:

Meals when not at the Masseria
Entry fees to monuments (if any)
Drinks whilst out of the Masseria