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.



INDIGO ALCHEMY: Extract Fresh Indigo Pigment from Dried Indigofera Leaves. NEW: Prepare Maya Blue Pigment, Indigo Paper, Indigo Wool Fleece for Felting (Two Saturdays: 10/16 & 10/23)

In Oct’s workshop, you’ll learn Michel’s revolutionary method for preparing fresh indigo paste from dried, powdered Indigofera leaves. Indigofera of the legume family is a very sustainable source of indigo pigment, much more so than the popular Persicaria Tinctoria. Sustainability is a key goal for NDW.

NEW in Oct’s workshop is working with Maya Blue. Ancient MesoAmericans utilized Maya Blue pigment extensively and it remains vivid, durable, and fade-resistant on archeological artifacts even while other pigments have long faded.  Other new indigo applications in Oct’s workshop are: using indigo to color paper pulp and to dye wool fleece for felting.   

Join us!  Invite your artist friends! Together, in community, we will experience new wonders and joys of working w/ indigo. Participants in Michel’s Aug Indigo Alchemy workshop receive a 50% discount.

Registration information at Slow Fiber Studios →


INDIGO: Persicaria Tinctoria, Dried Leaves for Dye Vat, Fresh Leaves Extraction, Compost (sukumo) for Quick Vat

This workshop is for those who love Persicaria tinctoria and for many who grow them. Michel will explore this indigo plant demonstrating a rare method using dried leaves of Persicaria to start a dye vat. In addition, he will cover how to obtain indigo pigment/dye from fresh Persicaria leaves by water extraction method, and how to make a dye vat with a quick method using the compost form (sukumo) of this plant. Based on the time of year of this event and the timing of Persicaria harvesting, Michel will also discuss how woad can be supplemental as it behaves the same way.

Registration information at Slow Fiber Studios →


Natural Indigo Dye Extraction & Using Fresh Dye Paste at Home

This August, SFS together Michel Garcia have developed another course, never been taught before, no introducing this revolutionary new method of extracting indigo pigment from dried leaves of Indigofera plants. You can use this easy method in your home studio. No need for access to a field of indigo plants at their time of harvest. Michel will demonstrate the advantages of this fresh dye paste to expand your art practice. You will receive step-by-step instructions as well as recordings from the class to review and guide your practice at home. Michel will provide a manual covering INDIGO pigment, botanically, chemically, and with historical background. Additionally, he will demonstrate the extraction of  indigo pigment/dye from fresh indigo plants such as Persicaria tinctoria* (Dyer’s Knotweed) and Isatis tinctoria (Woad).

Registration information at Slow Fiber Studios →


Our entire Natural Dye Workshop series I, II, III, & IV are now available streaming to PURCHASE or RENT on Vimeo. Michel Garcia is a rare gem who has devoted his life to the art of the natural dyer through studying centuries old manuscripts, traveling and meeting other dye experts from all over the world. The videos are full of enriching historical content, and most importantly Michel’s own experiments that he continues to perfect whilst still aiming to find least impactful and sustainable methods of natural dyes and colorants. This collection is a MUST in your library for any devoted natural dyer, artisan, artist or historian & goes hand-in-hand to expand your indigo vat knowledge with Michel Garcia’s SFS Hybrid Workshop pedagogy. This series has inspired many artists and artisans, like Catherine Ellis work and recently published book The Art And Science of Natural Dyes: Principles, Experiments and Results with Joy Boutrup (2019) also sold at online SFS SHOP.


By popular demand & SOLD OUT DVD, is the first Natural Dye Workshop I film has now returned in streaming format for purchase or rent. Comes with 6 languages subtitled PDF’s via Vimeo.

Visit Slow Fiber Studios Shop: purchase or rent here!

HYBRID WORKSHOPS with Michel Garcia

NEW: Indigo Lab & Consolation with Michel Garcia
JULY 2021

*Prerequisite: registered students from Natural Indigo Dye at your Home WKSP.

Michel will provide a complete manual on what INDIGO is botanically, chemically with historical background. He will explain how an organic INDIGO vat works and to make it and use it safely at home. You will have step-by-step instruction as well as recordings from the class to guide your practice at home. Please know that the bigger (more dyestuff) your vat is, the easier it is to maintain. In the next series of indigo workshops, Michel will teach how to extract your own indigo dye from dried indigo leaves.

View complete registration information at Slow Fiber Studios →

Student work from Natural Indigo Vat in Your Home Workshop with Michel Garcia (2021)

© Malini Sinha, Veronique Poncet, Sarah Haskell & Catherine Garvey MacMhon

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

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