Natural Dye Workshop with Michel Garcia and Sustainable Dye Practice

A film series and discussion forum dedicated to the science and practice of natural dyes and pigments using sustainable methods.

A project of World Shibori Network, affiliated with Slow Fiber Studios.


City Real Estate (1)

Michel Garcia, a world-renowned dyer, phyto-chemist, and botanist, and Yoshiko ​I. ​Wada, Slow Fiber Studios founder and producer of the Natural Dye Workshop film series, introduce sust​a​inable dye methods without conventional mordants, and unique direct application of natural dyes inspired by ancient traditions.

Filmed in Brittany ​by Studio Galli Films, the workshop shows simple extraction and vat methods using different types and forms of indigo plants including dried leaves and sukumo (compost), and how to sustain the vat and use it.


The Year of Ethnobotany: North American Indigo Projects
Michel Garcia + Sarah Bellos + Rowland Ricketts + Rebecca Burgess and sukumo makers from Northern California
Sunday, 31 March 2019 | 9:00-13:00 (9-13:30) | UC Botanical Garden

2 Half-Day Workshop by Michel Garcia “Beyond Mordants”: Thursday – Friday, 28 – 29 March 2019 | 9:30-13:00UC Botanical Garden

Register above events @ UC Berkeley Botanical Garden Calendar

Rowland Ricketts: artist talk and indigo dyeing: Friday, 29 March | 18:00-21:00 | San Francisco Museum of Craft & Design in conjunction with the exhibition “Material Domestication”


2nd France Program: Natural Dyes + Historical Tapestries + Paleolithic Sites
Paris → Loire Valley → Brittany
June – July 2019 (2 Groups)

Demonstrations by Michel Garcia
Led by Yoshiko I. Wada


Natural Dye Demonstrations + European Dye Traditions + Medieval Tapestries + History of Trade from East to West + Modern Organic Chemistry

Led by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, founder of Slow Fiber Studios and producer of the Natural Dye Workshop film series, the 2nd France Program will explore Paris and the cultural regions of the Loire Valley and Brittany, inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic Period.

Focus on some of the most precious textile works in history, including the Apocalypse Tapestry, a 600 year–old naturally dyed masterpiece spanning 140m. Gain a deeper understanding of European textile manufacturing, from medieval dyeing processes to the rise of industrial cotton mills and global trade, to Michel Garcia’s insights into modern organic chemistry. Join him at his new studio in Brittany as he continues his research and experimentation to unlock the mysteries of natural colors.

View complete registration information at Slow Fiber Studios →


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This organic indigo vat method was originally introduced by botanist and chemist Michel Garcia. Natural, organic indigo (i.e. from an indigo plant) is not toxic. However, many dyers use harsh chemicals such as sodium hydrosulphite or thiourea dioxide to quickly prepare their vats. In addition, they may use synthetic indigo. Michel’s sustainable method yields a vat which is just as effective using organic ingredients.

Download the recipe here.
Organic Indigo Powder is available on Slow Fiber Studios Shop.


Commonly known as “Lacquered Silk” or “Mud Cloth”, Gambiered Silk is a traditional fabric used by Hakka people in Guangdong, China. This fabric is light, transparent, waterproof as well as enduring. It is naturally-dyed and gets softer as time goes by.

Black Gambiered Silk (also called chou zai, liang sha in south China, or bamboo sha in Beijing) is now universally called xiang yun sha throughout China. The technique of dyeing xiang yun sha  in Shun De was added to Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2009.


A vintage vest made from Black Gambiered Silk on the cover of Ming Pao Weekly

Ming Pao Weekly featured a cover story titled “Xiang Yun Sha – The Path of Textile Dyeing Technique Development in South China”. This article outlines the gambiered silk’s history, the process and the contemporary application today in Fo Shan and Shun De, China. Included with the article are beautiful photographs and illustrations highlighting the few studios and workshops which still produce the deep brown xiang yun sha (香云纱) featuring interviews with makers, designers, and students.


Natural dyeing of Gambiered Silk in progress at Shun De, Ming Pao Weekly

Download the English translation of the article < here>. The Ming Pao magazine ( including actual Gambiered Silk swatches ) can be purchased < here >.


The 9th International Shibori Symposium held in China, 2014 featured a Gambiered Silk Fashion Design Exhibition. Each invited artist was given 10 meters of various types of the traditional natural dyed gambiered silk, in order to create a unique and contemporary apparel design application. These designs display effective results of manipulating the function of the silk and challenge everyday structure and form. Some of the work is featured below.



Mendocino Arts Center presents: NATURAL DYE SHOWCASE

Suzy Farre

Suzy Farren

Exhibition dates: August 3, 2015 through August 28, 2015,

Gallery Times: 10 am – 5 pm daily

Gallery Talk: Saturday, August 8th, 4 pm – 5 pm

Opening Reception: Saturday, August 8th, 5 pm – 8 pm

The Natural Dye Showcase is a national, juried exhibition highlighting excellence in contemporary use of natural dyes. The  juror, Yoshiko I. Wada chose 47 works by 35 fiber artists for their merit as works of art and for the artists’ skillful knowledge of the chemistry of natural dyes. The Main Gallery will be devoted to this exhibition, with an opening reception on Second Saturday, August 8, 5 pm to 8 pm, preceded by a gallery talk by Yoshiko I. Wada at 4 pm.

All the works selected use fibers treated with natural dyes – indigo is used in many pieces, along with two dozen other dyes derived from plant, mineral, and insect sources. The works have been realized with a range of fiber techniques, such as tapestry and other weaving methods, shibori, sashiko, basketry, and embroidery. The finished pieces include wearable art as well as wall hangings, sculptural pieces, and book art. There are 18 California artists represented, along with fiber artists from 13 other states, including WSN members Catharine Ellis and Barbara Shapiro.



Juror: Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada is an artist, author, exhibition curator, textile researcher, and film producer and has long been an exponent of traditional and sustainable practices in fashion and textile production. She travels throughout the world giving lectures and workshops, and participates in conferences to build greater insight into the world of fiber and textiles. She is president of the World Shibori Network and founder of Slow Fiber Studios.

More information on showcase:

Image Courtesy : Mendocino Art Centre

NDW3 Front Cover only


The third film of the series,”Organic Dyes to Pigments: Foundations for the Colors of Europe” Order here.

Trailer – Natural Dye Workshop 3: Colors of Europe from Slow Fiber Studios on Vimeo.

Botanist-chemist Michel Garcia takes us on a wondrous journey, sharing his keen insight as one of the leading natural dye experts of the world. Michel’s approachable instruction demystifies the natural dyeing process; he offers a rare glimpse into what makes plants tick. Learn updated versions of traditional dye methods – once laborious and polluting – now revised into simpler, safer modern recipes sensitive to issues of sustainability.

A worthwhile film no matter your area of interest or level of skill — appealing to dyers, textile enthusiasts, and really anyone interested in how things work in the natural world. Viewers learn how to use natural raw materials wisely and artistically.

Click Here To Order DVDs


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