Creative Sonoma

A “Greener” Indigo with Barbara Shapiro • Saturday, June 3 • 10 to 4

Posted by West County Fiber Arts School ; Posted on 
A “Greener” Indigo with Barbara Shapiro • Saturday, June 3 • 10 to 4



In this workshop, you will:

  • Explore the magic mystery of indigo, one of the oldest and most influential dyes, in a hands-on workshop.
  • Set up an indigo dye bath using a simple ecological formula suitable for studio use.
  • Explore basic indigo dyeing procedures and shibori resist techniques.
  • Prepare cloth for dyeing and experiment with resist dyeing.

Several projects will deepen your understanding while you acquiring the knowledge to go on using this magic dye with a non-toxic, “green” formula suitable for the home studio. The formula can also be thickened and used to paint or print with indigo. Barbara feels it is important to share this safer, non-toxic, fume-free, inexpensive, and easily-disposed-of formula widely used during the 18th century.

Students will dye samples of a variety of cloths provided. In addition we will work with our two vats using shibori techniques on cotton kerchiefs or napkins. There will also be an opportunity to look at and discuss worldwide Indigo textiles from Barbara’s collection.

We will have a potluck lunch, giving everyone time to socialize with the instructor and fellow students.

What is meant by a “greener” indigo: Historically all indigo vats were “green,” if not pleasant to be around, in the sense that they were based on fermentation using a variety of natural ingredients ranging from sake, bran and sugars to urine and worse. In the 18th Century a simple chemical reduction formula variously referred to as the Swedish Vat and the Cold Vat was widely used in Europe and possibly the American Colonies. Michel Garcia revived this formula using natural indigo powder, iron sulfate and slake lime, and Barbara learned about it from Michel at the World Shibori Network conference in France in 2009.

What to bring:

  • Something to share for the potluck lunch
  • Personal beverages and snacks
  • Layered clothing (that you don’t mind getting dirty) for variations in weather
  • Notebook and camera if desired

The instructor:

Barbara Shapiro has been creating textile art for decades. She combines a rich knowledge of historical and ethnic textiles with broad technical experience in weaving, dyeing and basketry. To learn more about her, please visit our Teachers page.

The location: 

West County Fiber Arts is the studio of felt artist Heidi Harris, on a beautiful 1-acre property in rural Sonoma County, California. Classes will take place both indoors and in the garden.

If you are coming from out of town, overnight accommodations are plentiful in the vicinity — from nearby cottages and hotels to camping at the Russian River. See our Food & Lodging page for suggestions.