Dye lab experiments done with French flair........

Dye lab experiments done with French flair........

It has been a head spinning last few months. I cannot seem to keep up with the amount of work and opportunities that I have before me. As usual it is a lot of work and little time for self.

I would like to thank everyone who is actually reading my blog!! I know that I am putting these words out into the world web but it still feels as if I am writing and sending it out on a paper airplane. Thank you for your encouragement.

I wanted to dedicate this post to all the time I spent in France and at the Couleur Garance doing experiments in the lab, sitting in on workshops, and doing demonstrations.

When I arrived in Lauris I had to take a week to absorb my surroundings before I could even think about creating. I did work in the garden right away for the first 4 days. And it was nice to get my hands dirty. One of my projects was to prune the madder patch and clear the paths of unwanted weeds. I discovered that the madder is sticky like little blades and there was blood shed.

My whole visit was such a dream that I felt suspended and anything I made was only done in an instinctual manner. I mean I always work from my heart and that usually has a lot to do with my instincts but this was more like a moment in time that everything was in harmony. I really am lost when I feel happy and have so much newness surrounding me. So in this state of bliss there was no dark passion to pull from. I was very focused on finding a way to funnel this bliss into the photos I would be taking for my collection “The Pearl of France”.

I was invited to help promote the opening of the Garden at the ‘fete le Printemps’ in the Chateau Val Joanis vineyard. On a warm Sunday morning Dominique picked me up and we set off to give a demo on using Safflower to dye pink and ultimately create a braided bracelet. I was prepped for this laborious process days before the event and of course was nervous because I did not speak the language. So I worked in silence as Dominique interpreted the process in French. It was fun to work this way and there was a few visitors who spoke English. A lot of curious people stopped by but the children seemed to be the most interested.

That following week I sat in on a 5 day workshop that was in French and I did a lot of google translate to understand what they were talking about. For the most part there was little English spoken and my French was so bad that I felt excluded from most conversation. I did kind of find it less stressful in many ways. And luckily I already know the basics so I could easily follow along. A student of Michel Garcia taught this workshop. Her name was Lise Camoin. We went over the basics of preparing cloth to dye with mordants and created 8 dyes produced with natural extracts that were harvested in various places including the Couleur Garance. We also made thickened mordants such as alum, iron, and citric acid (color remover). All of this was immersed in the dye baths and various color shades resulted. One of the days we made paste dye for painting or printing with 6 different natural extracts and flowers. The process for printing is different than the above mentioned in that the mordants were mixed directly into the paste dyes and then when everything is dry it is steamed to set the colors. Lots of steps for sure! On the last few days we had free time to create our own projects from the techniques we learned.

Cotinus – Smoke Tree – related to Sumac

Printing samples……

My attempt at painting


This was one of my personal projects. Madder with citric acid resist paste and shibori -Kanoko-

My next encounter was with Michel Garcia. This was the reason why I came to Lauris and I was so happy to finally have a conversation with him and shadow his moves. In the next post I will share my experiences with Michel and tell you about the rest of my dye lab adventures! But in the meantime here is a prelude to his indigo magic ways.


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