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.



Natural dyes: A series of FIVE exploratory, focused one-day workshops
Catharine Ellis
Tuesday – Saturday, 10 – 14 September 2019   | Slow Fiber Studios Annex
$10 Materials Cost / Workshop

image by Nick Falduto

Past Events


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”


INDIGO from PLANTS, or PETROLEUM?: Transparency, Traceability, and Farm-to-Trade

Slow Fiber Studios and UC Botanical Garden will collaborate in presenting the North American Indigo Projects with guest speakers, including world-renowned natural dye expert Michel Garcia of Brittany, France, and Sarah Bellos of Stony Creek Colors. In light of the growing awareness of ecological responsibility—the need to  preserve the health of people and the environment, as well as the traceability of production processes—artists, designers, and industries are reviving the use of natural indigo. We will explore models of using indigo dye in artistic pursuits, community engagement, education, as we learn about revolutionary changes in the industry.

This leading-edge initiative will offer diverse learning platforms of lectures, workshops, and social gatherings. Programs will be led by Michel Garcia, whose vast knowledge is showcased in the  Natural Dye Workshop DVD series. Michel is joined by Sarah Bellos, founder of Stony Creek Colors (SCC), who developed a natural indigo farm to help lead the sustainability transformation within the textile dyeing and fashion industries. SCC indigo powder can be purchased at

Please join us for this upcoming event in the spring of 2019, where we will integrate and reflect upon historical practices, chemistry, and farm-to-trade as means to evolve ethical indigo dye practices for the 21st century. Further details of these events are coming soon.


Indigo Intensive Workshops: Dried Leaves, Compost (sukumo), Powder, and Paste.
Yoshiko I. Wada
Saturday, 30 March 2019 |  Slow Fiber Studios Annex



Natural Dye Workshop: [subject to be announced later]
Michel Garcia
Monday – Wednesday, April 1-3, 2019  | Slow Fiber Studios Annex 


Maker:0x4c,Date:2017-12-15,Ver:4,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar01,E-YPhoto courtesy of Yoshiko Wada

2nd France Study Tour: 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 Study Tour 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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Michel Garcia is a world-renowned botanist, chemist, naturalist, and natural dye expert. He is the founder of Couleur Garance (1998) in Lauris, France, and established Le Jardin Conservatoire de Plantes Tinctoriales (Botanical Garden of Dye Plants) in 2000 as a horticultural resource for chemists, natural dye researchers, and botanists. He has been instrumental in revitalizing the natural dye practice in France and abroad.

See the Natural Dye Workshop DVD series by Michel, produced by Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada and Slow Fiber Studios. For more information visit


Tannins Intensive
September 1-2, 2017


Commonly found in leaves, barks, roots, and fruits of trees, tannins are used to produce wine, leather, and ink. Dyers can use these naturally occurring compounds to produce colors from beige and grey to warm red to dark brown and black, in addition to widening the color palettes for other natural dyes. Take advantage of their unique characteristics to improve colorfastness, bond colors to fibers without using inorganic mineral mordants, and apply photosensitive effects and polymerizing qualities by gaining a deeper understanding of tannins and their diverse applications.


Subject: Indigo
September 3, 2017

Potluck Social
 4:30pm – 6pm
Presentation 6pm – 8pm


Indigo Intensive

September 5-7, 2017

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An enduring color throughout human history, indigo blue crosses cultures, from ancient body painting in the British Isles to the saturated robes of Tuareg men in the Sahara. Michel will share his knowledge of botany and chemistry to unlock the mysteries of this widespread dye. This workshop will cover several different reduction vat methods, including fructose, henna, and ferrous vats, as well as applications using fresh leaf indigo grown in Berkeley. In addition Michel will address ethnic indigo traditions including dyeing with multiple types of indigo, such as combining Indigofera tinctoria with Justicia spicigera for a deeper blue, and making Azul Maya (Maya Blue) pigment, a “pre-Columbian nanotechnology” manufactured by ancient Mesoamericans.


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Slow Fiber Studios has partnered with the University of California Botanical Garden (UCBG) to extend Michel’s visit with an enriched focus on botanical science. The 34-acre garden hosts over 10,000 types of plants with a mission to develop and maintain a diverse living collection, support teaching and worldwide research in plant biology, further the conservation of plant diversity, and promote public understanding and appreciation of plants and the natural environment.


The Botany and Chemistry of Natural Dyes
Michel Garcia + Dr. Vanessa Handley + Dr. Margareta Sequin

September 8, 2017 | UC Botanical Garden

Morning coffee will be served at 9:00am. Bring a brown bag lunch and stay for a picnic and informal discussion in the Botanical Garden following the program. 

Join Michel Garcia, UCBG Director of Collections and Research Dr. Vanessa Handley, and SFSU Chemistry and Biochemistry professor emeritus Dr. Margareta Séquin for a deep dive into the subject of natural dyes focusing on botanical taxonomy and phytochemistry.


Fundamentals of Sustainable Natural Dyes
August 28-31, 2017 | UC Botanical Garden

Learn the fundamentals of sustainable natural dyeing including fiber preparation, plant mordants, plant selection, using less dye for greater effect, surface design techniques, and various applications of natural dyes.


UCBG Tannin Walk
August 31, 2017 | UC Botanical Garden 

Commonly found in leaves, barks, roots, and fruits of trees, tannins are used to produce wine, leather, and ink and can greatly enhance a natural dyer’s practice. Join Michel Garcia for a walk through the University of California Botanical Garden to learn about tannins and their many applications in situ.