With Aboubakar Fofana teaching at the Threads of Life studio in Bali, this 4-day workshop brings together the practices of West Africa and Southeast Asia. The mud dyeing traditions of Mali and Indonesia differ in their expressions but are rooted in the same interaction with the biosphere: collect iron-rich mud, feed organic matter to the mud’s bacteria so that they can convert the iron into the right form, soak yarn or cloth in tannins, and apply the mud so that the iron and tannin combine to generate the black dye in the fibres. In Mali, surface designs are created by tannin dyeing a whole cloth and then applying the mud only where you want the cloth to be black. Across Indonesia, ikat patterns tied into warp yarns prior to weaving resist the tannins and the mud to create motifs.
In this 4-day workshop at the Threads of Life studio in Bali, Aboubakar Fofana and Threads of Life’s studio dyers will take you on a journey into mud, combining African and Asian practices to teach you all the steps from dirt to dye, so that you can explore the mud dye potentials of the soils and plants of your home neighbourhood. Most of the workshop time will focus on creative projects and Aboubakar will bring his artistry and calligraphic background to mentoring your explorations.
Aboubakar Fofana was born in Mali and raised in France, and is a calligrapher, textile designer, artist and master dyer. His work is motivated by a love for the natural world and its cycles and rhythms, a deep concern for the environment, and a vision to share the luxury and beauty of goods produced using indigenous materials and techniques whilst helping to reinvigorate and sustain important traditions. His atelier is in Bamako, Mali, and he regularly travels the world giving workshops and lectures, and meeting others who work with natural dyes and textiles.
At the Threads of Life dye studio and dye garden in Ubud, Bali, we teach and produce with dye recipes we have learned from across the Indonesian archipelago, collaborating as peers with the master dyers we work with in the field. Aboubakar and Threads of Life share an approach to natural dyeing that seeks plant-sourced dyes by plant-sourced processes and avoids synthetic additives or mordents. And where Aboubakar finds the root of this approach in his West African animistic heritage, our staff dyers find their inspiration in the animistic practices articulated through Indonesia’s indigenous textile traditions. Bringing these two traditions together promises to be a vibrant and exciting experience.
• Morning and evening transfers to and from the workshop location at the Threads of Life dye studio (Umajati Retreat).
• Workshop time from 10:00-1:00 and 2:00-5:00 each day, dye materials, fabric and yarn for workshop exercises.
• Lunch from 1:00-2:00 at the studio. Free flow drinking water, tea and coffee throughout the day.
• International airfares are not included.
• Accommodations in Ubud are not included, and we recommend that participants find a place to stay along the route of the morning and evening shuttle between Ubud and the workshop location at Umajati Retreat. The shuttle route is marked in red on the location map below.
• Limited to 15 participants.
• Minimum of 10 participants. Participants will be informed once minimum participation is achieved and are advised not to book airfares until the workshop is confirmed. If minimum participation is not reached by 30 October 2022 the workshop may be cancelled and all workshop fees returned.
17 March 2023: Day 1
• Set up fermentation using muds from the Niger River in Mali and rice fields in Bali.
• Prepare tannin vats using African and Indonesian tannin-bearing species.
• Practice tannin dyeing and mud application to create surface design on fabrics.
18-20 March 2023: Day 2-4
• Explore your creative process through personal projects.