Natural Dye Workshop with Michel Garcia

Colors of Provence using sustainable methods

Dyers and textile artists will be delighted with the recent Yoshiko Wada and Michel Garcia instructional DVD collaboration. In this three hour presentation, master dyer, botanist and chemist Garcia provides viewers with step-by-step instruction in making their own dyes with plants.

Filming was completed over a one-week span at the exquisite Château de Lauris located in the Provencal village of Lauris, France where Garcia led a studio workshop. Outdoor instruction was filmed at a dye plant garden with additional footage in the local areas of the region. Working with Garcia were ten textile artists and dyers from the United States, New Zealand, Japan, and Hong Kong. They shared their experiences on exploring natural dyes, offering personal accounts and takeaway points learned during these sessions.

Disc one of the DVD, opens with an overview of the Château’s expansive gardens and its multiple plant varieties that make indigo and other dyes. Wada and Garcia at first appear self-conscious in front of the camera and Wada’s questions are forced, but Garcia shines when he explains the region’s dye and textile-making history. After this brief introduction, the fun begins with Garcia collecting woad leaves and in the first of several workshops that demonstrates how to make an infusion to make indigo.

Dye novices will jump with excitement in the second of these work shops, Garcia illustrates the process of making what he calls Indigo Vat 1-2-3! The concoction consists of pulverized oyster-shell lime, powdered indigo, and fructose sugar (or henna). Once the dye is made, Garcia dyes pieces of cloth swatches (silk, linen, and velvet) and three different types of wool (coarse, smooth, and one with natural dark color) to show the different hues of indigo. For deep blues, time is the essence. Taking a vat that has become more concentrated in consistency and color, Garcia takes another set of undyed fabrics and wool and the results are rich and inky blues.

The first DVD concludes with steps on how to make resist paste or as Garcia calls Resist 1-2-3 made with magnesium salt, arabic gum and clay (the rations are 10, 20, 30 grams, respectively) for 100 milliliters of water. Once the magnesium salt and arabic gum have dissolved in the water, the clay is introduced in the solution.

With the paste resist, Garcia paints a design on a large piece of white fabric, allowing it to dry. Once dried, the fabric is dipped in the indigo vat for about a minute and then rinsed for another minute. Garcia demonstrates how the resist process can be used repeatedly to create more designs on the cloth with varying shades of blue.

For dyers who want use other colors within their designs, the second DVD focuses on the use of mordants. In the first mordant workshop, Garcia uses in a cold-process ferrous sulfate, lime, and white vinegar that will ultimately renders ferrous acetate. He dilutes the mordant five times with the vinegar to create different shades of an orangey-brown color. Garcia adds guar gum to thicken the mordant so it can affix to the cloth. The mixture turns syrupy and then he proceeds to paint a design on a piece of cloth. Garcia proceed to fixes the fabric in a solution of warm water and wheat bran, ideal because of its high content of natural phosphates. While the design soaks, Garcia prepares a dye buff of hot water and ground guar nut, once the fabric is dipped the designs oxidize and now they appear in various shades of a brown-gray.

This second DVD also includes brush techniques and block printing; creating yellow dye with artichoke leaves and summary of the endless dye possibilities made from a variety of garden plants and logwood extracts.
Natural Dye Workshop is an exemplary teaching tool for anyone interested in creating natural dyes. There are no skipped steps in any of the workshops and Garcia takes the time to explain the process carefully and why certain ingredients are used. The DVDs are a great substitution for anyone who can’t attend the various international workshops that are hosted by Wada and Garcia.

The three hour, two-disc set was produced by Produced by Yoshiko I. Wada and Slow Fiber Studios, a program of the World Shibori Network Directed and Filmed by Andrew Galli of Studio Galli Productions. To order a copy of the DVDS, please visit



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