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Old Market Manor, Barton Manor
Bristol, BS2 0RL

Artisan natural dye studio, using locally foraged and organically grown natural dyes, bio-regionally sourced cloth and paper and low impact traditional and contemporary printmaking techniques. Offering limited edition gifts, bespoke services and a range of workshops to help creatives transition to using non-toxic practices and connecting communities with Nature using creativity as a medium.


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Aboubakar Fofana: 10 Day Intensive 6th-17th June- Fermented Indigo, Powdered Indigo, Mud and Mordanted Dyes. Somerset


This is a very intensive 10-day-long workshop which will serve as a comprehensive introduction to dyeing with natural dyes, but is also suitable for people with dyeing experience to extend their repertoire and techniques.  Its main focus is Aboubakar's speciality, the fermented West African indigo dye-vat, made using the whole indigo leaves and fermented over a week to produce a dye of unmatchable colour and fastness. But whilst participants wait for the fermented dye-vat to reach maturity, they will be shown other dyes, including powdered fructose (quick vat) indigo, mineral mud-dye, and a selection from a host of other colours; Possiblities are madder, cochineal, weld, walnut, cutch and others. 

This workshop will be held in the dye studio of Botanical Inks owner, Babs Behan, which is part of rural farmhouse community, in the beautiful natural setting of the Yeo Valley, North Somerset, in the foothills of the Mendip Hills, with views across to Wales from the surrounding hills. The studio is 30 minutes drive from Bristol and 10 minutes drive from Bristol airport. There are lots of accommodation options nearby and regular transport links from Bristol to the airport.

Participants will learn how to set up both kinds of indigo dye-vats, the fermented and the fructose vats, and how to care for them and prolong their lives.  They will then explore the very different process of mineral mud-dyes, before moving on to the traditional set of natural dyes and learning how to extract the dyes from the dyestuff and how to get the best results.  There will be comprehensive explanations of how to prepare textiles for the different types of dyes we will be using, with a bit of chemistry thrown in. Mordants and assists will be explained and demonstrated. Participants will make sample sets for the dyes used, and begin to learn about over-dyeing to create different shades and colours, and simple shibori and resist techniques. By the beginning of the second week, participants will begin to work on a project.  Aboubakar will be on hand at all times to assist and answer questions, and to help participants realise their project. Finally, coming full circle, the fermented indigo vat will be ready to use and we will complete the final stage of the course, tying everything in together and hopefully creating some beautiful and very colourful final projects.

By the end of this workshop, participants should have enough knowledge and confidence to begin working with many of the dyes and the techniques used in this workshop.  The technique of fermented indigo however is one that takes years to master, and currently, the leaves are not readily available, so this part of the workshop should be treated as an exploration of fermented indigo rather than a definitive class.  The fructose indigo vat however works on similar principles and is very easily put together at home. Participants will come away with an understanding of the differing techniques between the two types of indigo vat. Participants will also have several sets of samples, and finally, a larger completed project which should showcase many of the dyes and the techniques studied in the course. 

Each day starts at 10 and finishes at 5.  We will run from Monday to Friday and take the weekend off. There will be a maximum of 9 participants in this workshop. 

Please note also that workshop spaces are non-refundable unless the workshop is full and we can fill your space (we usually can).  We have a required minimum of 6 participants - if we cannot reach this minimum we reserve the right to cancel the workshop and refund your fee. 

A 50% payment option can be offered with the balance due by May 20th. 

To see images of Aboubakar's previous workshops, please have a look at his instagram feed @aboubakarfofana

For enquiries regarding this workshop, please email: