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Natural Dye Basics: Fresh Leaf Indigo and Pigment Extraction

July 7 @ 9:00 am - July 9 @ 5:00 pm


Natural Dye Basics: Fresh Leaf Indigo and
Pigment Extraction

Sara Goodman

Thursday, July 7th- Saturday, July 9th 

9:00am – 5:00pm

Workshop Overview

The Natural Dye Basics workshop series at Sanborn Mills Farm is taught by our lead teacher, Sara Goodman. This series of 5 classes are an introduction to the colorful world of natural dyes. Each class stands alone — take one or take them all! Each class will include the basics of proper fiber preparation as well as an orientation to the studio’s procedures and practices.

In this workshop, students will learn to dye with fresh indigo leaves and the water extraction method for extracting indigo pigment from freshly harvested plants. There are several varieties of plants that contain indigotin pigment that are used by traditional cultures all over the world to obtain the color blue. At Sanborn Mills Farm, we grow Persicaria tinctoria, also known as Polygonum or Japanese indigo. For this pigment to be accessible to dyers, it must be extracted from the leaves and then put into an alkaline solution with a reducing agent. This turns the liquid greenish yellow. After the fiber is removed from the vat looking green, the magic happens right before your eyes as it oxidizes.

Students will first work with fresh indigo harvested from the dye garden at Sanborn Mills Farm. Using fresh leaves, ice cubes, and a blender, students will dye silk scarves immediately for a lovely blue. Students can experiment with multiple batches to deepen the color. 

Students will then use the water extraction process to extract pigment from freshly harvested indigo leaves. In this two-day process, students will soak, aerate, precipitate, and filter indigo. Then, students will use this pigment to make an indigo vat for dyeing protein and cellulose.

The essentials of fiber preparation, scouring for different kinds of fibers, and finishing will be covered for best results. Silk scarves and cotton cloth will be used for samples in class. White bandanas, and cotton t-shirts will be available for students to purchase if desired. Students may also bring some used clothing for over-dyeing and up-cycling if they wish to work on them after regular class hours. Students will finish the class with a selection of samples and a notebook of recipes and techniques.



Skills + Techniques

Students will learn:


  • How to use fresh leaf indigo to quickly dye protein fibers
  • How to extract indigo pigment from fresh indigo leaves
  • How to make a vat using the extracted pigment
  • How to properly use and maintain the vat
  • Fiber preparation: scouring cloth for best results
  • Finishing the cloth after dyeing: neutralizing, curing, and washing
  • Over-dyeing other colors to make green, purple, and brown


Sara Goodman

Tools + Materials

Students should bring:

  • All materials will be provided
  • Students may bring 1 or 2 pieces of their own clothing for embellishment, over-dyeing, or up-cycling

Material Fee:

  • $50.00 includes fabric for samples, all dyes and assists, notebook of recipes and instructions paid at time of workshop
  • Also available for purchase at time of workshop are Bandanas for $2.00 and T-shirts for $5.00


  • Please read our COVID-19 Policy prior to registering
  • We are honoring each instructor’s specific COVID-19 safety requests. For this workshop, your instructor reserves the right to require additional safety requirements depending on the state of the pandemic at the time of the workshop

Housing + Meals

Housing and meals will be available on-site in 2022. We will let all registered students know when housing registration is open. Spots will be first-come, first serve. The option to choose meals will be open to all students. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

$300.00 / per student

This Class


7097 Sanborn Road
Loudon, New Hampshire 03307

Call Us

(603) 435-7314


July 7 @ 9:00 am
July 9 @ 5:00 pm
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Sanborn Mills Farm
7097 Sanborn Road
Loudon, NH 03307 United States
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