New! One Day Woad Workshop Now Worth .3 CEUs!
Woad is an ancient blue dye, made from a plant that once grew wild throughout Europe. It’s one of the oldest blues dyes in existence, used as far back as the Stone Age. For centuries woad was cultivated and worked by specialists, especially in the southwest of France, centered in the Toulouse/Albi/Carcassonne region. The DT team first discovered this remarkable color when researching our Provence trip and connected with world-renowned French woad expert Denise Siméon-Lambert.
Denise explained how woad fell out of use once easier-to-use indigo exports from India became available starting in the 17th century. Eventually the plant stopped being cultivated at all, so when she began researching woad in 1994, she had to go to the French national archives in order to understand the traditional process of creating the dye from the woad plant. Then she needed to find seeds in the country’s agricultural research center in order to once again get a crop started.
Through patient testing, Denise developed a modern version of the traditional woad vat dyeing and this luminous, ancient blue has since caught the eye of fashion houses such as Dior and Chanel, designers in Japan, museum conservators, and others who admire the blue as being distinctly different from indigo. “It’s a capricious color—the mineral content of the water, the make-up of the mother vat and many other variables contribute to the final result,” she explains.
“But it always a blue unlike any other—permanent and magical.”
Denise’s day-long woad workshops have been a feature of every Provence tour. “Every time we’ve worked with Denise has been a fantastic experience for our Decor Tour groups,” says Deb. “People end up running back to their rooms looking for more things to dye and it is always one of the highlights of our Provence trip. We wanted to give people who can’t make it to Provence with us a chance to see for themselves the alchemy that happens—the items come out of the dye vat green and transform into blue in the light. It’s amazing and beautiful and honestly, a lot of fun.”
Working with two alumni of the Provence Decor Tours, Deb and Susan will act as local hosts in four U.S. cities this July, providing space for Denise to set up a dyeing workshop in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
“We’re thrilled to bring Denise to the U.S. and showcase this ancient French dye process. There is history and heritage to this color that makes the process even more remarkable,” says Barrett.
Each workshop on this Woad Trip will be limited to 12 people, to allow for multiple pieces per person without crowding the dye vats. The day-long events will start with an overview on the history of woad, some specific natural fiber and textile information and examples of specialty dyeing techniques. Denise will then give a presentation on how to introduce and remove materials from the woad bath for optimal coverage, work with each guest on their technique, assist with specialty pieces, explain probable outcomes, etc. Then the rest of the day will be spent dyeing the various items guests have brough. Lunch, beverages and snacks will be provided.
In order to give everyone enough time at the vats to dye multiple items, each workshop is limited to 12 people. If your preferred date/city is sold out, we have started a waiting list, in case someone drops out or there’s enough people to fill another day.
Workshop fee is $395 and includes lunch, beverage, snacks and some special surprises.