Aboubakar Fofana Artist-in-Residence


Botanical Colors is pleased to announce that we are hosting Aboubakar Fofana for a month-long 2022 artist-in-residency here in Seattle! Aboubakar will be teaching classes of West African traditional dyeing and stitching techniques as well as hosting a community indigo dip, farm talk and a public trunk show of his goods.

"Born in Mali and raised in France, Aboubakar Fofana is a multidisciplinary artist and designer whose working mediums include calligraphy, textiles and natural dyes. He is known for his work in reinvigorating and redefining West African indigo dyeing techniques, and much of his focus is devoted to the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional West African textile and natural dyeing techniques and materials...

Fofana is currently deeply involved in creating a farm in conjunction with the local community in the district of Siby, Mali, in which the two types of indigenous West African indigo will be the centrepiece for a permaculture model based around local food, medicine and dye plants. This project hopes to contribute to the rebirth of fermented indigo dyeing in Mali and beyond, and represents his life's greatest project to date."

Biography from aboubakarfofana.com

Sign up for a workshop with Aboubakar

SCHOLARSHIPS  We are offering partial scholarships for the indigo, stitching and mineral mud workshops. We encourage applicants to submit an application as we are actively fundraising to provide as many scholarships as we can. Please see the individual class listings below for more details.

Aboubakar Finimugu Vintage Stripe 4

The Japanese kimono is a deceptively simple and graceful design that lends itself to infinite variations. Inspired by his time studying calligraphy in Kyoto, Aboubakar designed a rustic kimono style using handwoven finimugu (stripcloth). In this Master Class with Aboubakar Fofana, he will work with you to create a kimono from traditional traditional Malian finimugu (stripcloth) to create a custom-fit, hand stitched short kimono or haori.

The kimono is an elegant, flattering unisex design. The pattern is comfortably fit through the shoulders and bust/chest with a drop shoulder and mid-length sleeves and hangs open in the front. Each participant will learn how to measure and create a simple pattern, then cut and join the panels to make the kimono.  We will learn the specific stitches for joining and hemming the garment.

This is a rare opportunity for an in-depth exploration using traditional finimugu (Malian cotton strip cloth) for individual creative expression. All the raw materials are plant-based, undyed and organically sourced.

Sign up now! 

Aboubakar Hands (2)

The 3-Day Indigo Workshop with Aboubakar Fofana is our most popular indigo workshop – ever. In this workshop, Aboubakar Fofana focuses on powdered indigo and setting up a fructose vat. He will teach you to use environmentally (and skin!) friendly techniques and how careful preparation results in a deep beautiful vat, ready for dipping.  The fructose vat is also relatively straightforward to put together and to use. This workshop will explain the unique chemistry of indigo and principles of setting up and caring for a fructose vat. Our class will create three large indigo vats of different strengths for communal dipping. These vats will be used by all subsequent workshops during Aboubakar’s monthlong residence.

Over three days, Aboubakar shows participants how to prepare powdered indigo and how to set up the dye vat. They will then dye a set of color gradation samples with Aboubakar’s assistance. We will also experiment with the traditional Malian woven stripcloth, finimugu. Participants will come away with the knowledge to create and maintain their own vats and start working with indigo. They will learn how to achieve the best results with this ancient and singular dye-stuff.

Sign up now! 

photo by Francois Goudier

Aboubakar Fofana spent years practicing resist stitch techniques that are the hallmark of the West African textile tradition. Drawing from traditional stitches of the Dogon, nature and cultural inspiration, Aboubakar created his own pattern language using indigenous cotton stripcloth and ingenious stitching to create intricately patterned constructions: shawls, bed covers, cushions and wearables. In Stitched Resist Techniques from Mali with Aboubakar Fofana, he’ll share them with us.

We are offering a special opportunity to learn these stitch techniques from Aboubakar this summer in Seattle. Working with traditional Malian stripcloth (finimugu), Aboubakar will guide you through stripcloth construction and stitched resist techniques to create a panel suitable for a wall hanging or large table mat. These stitches are specific to finimugu fabric and produce intricate, beautiful effects.  Each pattern is named after objects that are significant in Malian culture.  Once the cloth is stitched and bound, we will dye the pieces in an organic indigo vat and then open the pieces to reveal the patterns.

Sign up now! 

mud dye 1

This year we are thrilled to be able to offer an in-person 3-Day Fermented Mineral Mud-Dyeing Workshop with Aboubakar Fofana in Seattle. The workshop will focus on traditional fermented Malian mud as the medium and your own creativity as the path to working with this amazing substance. Aboubakar will guide us through the use of several tannins including the traditional dried leaf tannin (n’galama) to prepare the fabric. After that, we will grind and mix the mud to create our textile medium. Each participant will work on small samples and then complete a larger project during the 3-day class.

Sign up now! 

Community indigo dip and trunk show dates will be announced in the future. Keep an eye on our social media for more details!