Colors of Morocco: Desert Fabric Dyeing Retreat with Anna Joyce
September 28 – October 12, 2020
Morocco: a country bursting with colors that inspire and delight the artist’s eye.
Saturated shades of blue and green abound in glazed zellij tiles, hand painted pottery, and palm oasis. Fresh pink hues are found in fragrant roses that grow throughout the city and float in Riad fountains, and in the the walls in ancient “red city” of Marrakech. Luscious yellow and orange shades radiate from fresh produce in the local vegetable markets and the vibrant pigments in the spice and dyers souk. Soft ochre shades in the shapes and shadows of sand dunes in the Sahara desert glow from the sun in brilliant blue sky.
Marrakech: a city of creativity, filled with artisans that celebrate every delicious color of the rainbow, along with the natural beauty and shades of the mountains, casbah-filled valleys and desert landscapes, make Morocco the perfect place to explore and experience the magical properties of pigments and how they can be used to enhance and adorn ourselves and our surroundings through fabric dyeing.
Come and EXPERIENCE IT ALL with us as we welcome Anna Joyce for to an exclusive Morocco Fabric Dyeing Workshop and Retreat that combines color, culture, and creativity in the artistically inspiring country of Morocco. We’ll explore indigo and fiber reactive dyes and learn a variety of techniques for creating patterns and organic color, including ice dying. You’ll be dyeing our own gorgeous caftans and assorted silk and cotton fabrics for cushions, tassels, woven home goods and more.
Our adventures will take us from the bustle, excitement, and increasingly European flavor of Marrakech to an inspiring cultural immersion into the “real” Morocco. We will experience and share the warmth and hospitality of native artisans in villages, ancient Kasbahs, and desert tents where we will spend a night nestled in the dunes under a heavenly star-filled sky.
OUR TEACHER Anna Joyce is a Portland-based print artist and textile designer best known for her vibrant hand-dyed clothing and housewares collections. She draws deep inspiration from the colors in nature, and her hand-dyed pieces are sold around the world. Anna’s first book STAMP STENCIL PAINT: Making Extraordinary Patterned Projects by Hand, is a guide to hand printing and painting patterns. Her latest book HAND DYED: A Modern Guide to Dyeing in Brilliant Color for You and Your Home is and invaluable resource for fabric dyeing artists of all levels, and you will receive a signed copy from Anna as a guest on this exclusive retreat!
As an added bonus, we will be providing the space, time, encouragement, and supplies for your to work on your own Retreat Journal throughout our adventure together. It’s a great way to create an artistic and personal memory of this life changing trip!
Hand Dyed by Anna Joyce/Published by Abrams/Photos by Dane Tashima
Day 1 – Monday Sept 28
a warm welcome to Marrakech…
Plan your arrival to Marrakech for late morning/midday for complimentary Airport Transfer to Maison 28. You will be welcomed with Atay (Moroccan Mint Tea) and pastries. Relax and enjoy a light buffet lunch on the terrace. Lat afternoon we’ll introduce you to the artisan souks of the Medina. And at sunset will will host a Welcome Dinner with wine on the roof terrace of gorgeous Le Foundouk restaurant. *wine included
Day 2 – Tuesday Sept 29
get to know Marrakech…
Wake up for a Maison 28 breakfast. Then we’ll head out for a guided tour of historic architectural sights, a traditional Moroccan lunch and some souk shopping. In the evening, sip our signature Maison 28 cocktails, while you enjoy getting your hands adorned by our talented henna artist. We’ll end the day with a delicious 3-course, home-cooked Moroccan dinner at Maison 28. *cocktails included
Day 3 – Wednesday Sept 30
exploring indigo blues…
Maison 28 breakfast is followed by our first workshop class with Anna-exploring binding and patterning techniques with magically mysterious indigo dyes. In the later afternoon we will wander to a beautiful showroom that features both traditional and modern Moroccan design. Then, toast the sunset during a group dinner at a rooftop Medina restaurant.
Day 4 – Thursday Oct 1
our desert journey begins…
We will depart early to cross the famed Tizi n Tichka mountain pass, stopping for a proper “Berber breakfast” before continuing on to scenic and storied Kasbah Telouet, former home of the Pasha Glaoui who ruled the “silk road” from Timbuktu to Marrakech. After lunch we will visit another fabled stop-the Ksar Ait Ben Haddou-a Unesco Heritage site and frequent movie backdrop. We’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay nearby.
Day 5 – Friday Oct 2
back to nature with traditional wool dyeing…
After breakfast we will pay a special visit to a local women’s carpet cooperative, where they will share their traditional processes for preparing the wool of their sheep for dyeing. Then using only natural materials, they will demonstrate how they use saffron, henna, and other plants and herbs to create the beautiful, natural dyes they utilize in their carpet wool. After lunch, we will continue south through the “valley of 1,000 kasbahs” to our home on the wild edge of the Sahara where a delicious welcome dinner awaits us at Kasbah Aitisfoul.
Day 6 – Saturday Oct 3
color and culture…
Ice, ice baby! Today is a full day in the studio at Aitisfoul. From breakfast until dinner, with a break for lunch of course, we will be taking a deep dive into the Ice Dyeing. This process is a little bit science and a LOT of magic, and Anna will guide you through it all as you create beautiful, organically dyed kimono robes and sample fabrics, along with other small fabric items that you bring from home. A special ending to the day will be a private concert with local “desert blues” band Daraa Tribes.
Day 7 – Sunday Oct 4
seize the day! it’s yours…
After a morning visit to the local pottery village of Tamagroute the day is yours to explore and enjoy as you wish, whether it’s a walk through the dunes to the local village, lounging or laps at the pool, or time spend in the studio continuing on your ice dyeing journey or catching up on your personal art journal. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will all be served with love at Aitisfoul by Chef Mohamed-the resident creative, culinary master.
Day 8 – Monday Oct 5
your camel is waiting…
We will depart early to head to our luxury camp deep in the Erg Chegaga dunes of the Sahara desert via 4×4 vehicles. We will stop for a picnic lunch and visit a desert “Nomad” camp along the way. On arrival, we will check into out private tents and relax before our camels arrive to deliver us to the base of the dunes we will climb to watch a magical desert sunset together. Music is the beat of the desert and after dinner we will enjoy drumming around a fire under a brilliant blanket of twinkling stars.
Day 9 – Tuesday Oct 6
a step back in time…
Departing after an early breakfast, we will head back north with a stop for lunch in Zagora and visit with the silver artisans at the ancient Jewish Kasbah Amezrou. You can also shop here for authentic vintage Berber jewelry and more. After lunch we continue up along the Palm Oasis of the Draa Valley to our stop for the the night at Kasbah des Caids. Located in a fortified village or Ksar, this 16th century Kasbah was the home of the local chief (Caid) and has been beautifully restored by his ancestor Hassan. Hassan will share a tour of the Kasbah and history, and we will enjoy his famous hospitality in the evening with a delicious meal and music. *Note that accommodations this night will be very authentic, as in a bit more rustic! 😉
Day 10 – Wednesday Oct
go and explore some more…
After breakfast we will tour the ancient local village and palm oasis with Hassan and learn more about the history and local life, and possibly plan a workshop with local artisans. Afterwards we will continue on our journey back with a stop for lunch at a scenic auberge along the way, before we continue back over the mountain pass to Marrakech. On our return to Maison 28 we will relax with a casual dinner of pizza and salad.
Day 11- Thursday Oct 8
more colorful studio adventures…
After a late Maison 28 breakfast we will be back in the studio with Anna to explore vibrant acid dyes on luxurious velvet and silk fabric, we will use later for an introduction to weaving project. After a light lunch on the terrace your afternoon and evening are free. You may choose to book a “self care” afternoon of hammam and massage at a local spa, shop or sightwee, or spend some time in the studio working on your retreat journals.
Day 12- Friday Oct 9
boucharouite inspirations and creations…
After breakfast we will tour the nearby Boucharouite Museum, dedicated to the art and practice of creating Morocco’s shaggy, colorful “rag rugs” from strips of fabric and old family clothing. After lunch at Maison 28 we will put some of our dyed luxury silk and velvet fabrics to use with an introductory hands-on weaving class that will show you how to create Boucharouite-inspired pillows or wall hangings for your home. The rest of the day is free to work on your retreat journals or shop and dine as you like.
Day 13- Saturday Oct 10
optional Add-on: Atlas Mountains getaway day…
For you last full day in Marrakech you are free to plan your own Medina day or “chill time”. For those who want a planned adventure-we have you covered! You can chose to add on this Atlas Mountains day trip that includes a tour of the Berber Ecolodge Museum followed by lunch at the gorgeous Kasbah Bab Ourika. On the way back we will stop for a visit at the inspiring art and sculpture-themed Anima Gardens, along with hitting some rural artisan shops along the way. This one-day excursion is optional and requires an additional payment of $65 at registration. Regardless how you spend your day, we will end it with the sunset on the terrace while enjoying wine and tapas together on our last night.
Day 14- Sunday Oct 11
Bislama! Time to go with your lovely new fabric creations and special memories…
Enjoy your last Maison 28 breakfast before your airport transfer for departure. Please schedule your flight to leave between mid-morning to early afternoon for complimentary airport transfer. Note that if you plans have you staying on in Morocco after this morning you airport transfer it not included.
Payment and Terms
$4395 private queen room
$3595 shared twin room
(all rooms have ensuite private baths)
A non-refundable deposit* is required to reserve your space.
The remaining balance will be due over 2 additional equal payments on the dates indicated on our check out page.
*All payments become final upon receipt
By registering for this trip with your deposit, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Cancellation Policy and to purchase Mandatory Trip Insurance
The Atlas Mountain Getaway Day on October 10 is an optional $65 add-on item on the Registration Page.
• Exclusive 4 fabric dyeing workshops with Anna Joyce
• All workshop supplies for dyeing, including practice fabrics, stand velvet ribbon, and your choice of a rayon caftan or kimono robe for ice dyeing
• Daily breakfast
• 12 group lunches
• 11 group dinners
• Cocktails/Henna party
• Private transportation throughout including airport pickup/dropoff
• Enrance to museums and historical sites
• Morning with Afous Ghafous Women’s Cooperative
• Private “desert blues” concert with Daraa Tribes
• Artisan experience in Draa Valley
• Sahara Desert sunset camel ride
• ALL GRATUITIES
• Planning assistance for your free time (spa, dinners, etc)
• Airfare to and from Marrakech Menara Airport in Morocco
• Mandatory Travel Insurance (must provide proof)
• Dinners, activities, and tours taken during your “free” time
• All shopping and costs of shipping, if applicable
• Alcohol outside of where listed on itinerary (available for purchase or BYOB from Duty Free)
• Book for art journaling
• Additional small clothing and fabric items you bring for dyeing
• October 10 Atlas Mountains Getaway Day. This event is an optional add-on for $65 at registration
Good To Know
Travelers from the US only are required to have a valid US Passport – but it must NOT be due to expire within 6 months of your return flight.
Your flight destination will be Marrakech Menara International Airport (RAK). Royal Air Maroc is the only airline that has direct flights from the US to Morocco, from both JFK and Washington Dulles.
You can also book flights traveling through major European airports, as there are many connecting flights to Marrakech through economy airlines such as Ryan Air, Easyjet, Iberia, etc. We’ve found that it is easier to find good connecting flights on the way to Marrakech than on the return, but you can take the opportunity to end your trip with a day or two stop in Spain, France, Portugal, England….
Immunizations are not required or necessary but check here for CDC recommendations.
Weather is predictably unpredictable so be sure to check on the estimated conditions the week before you travel. Even though Marrakech can be quite warm by day, it is usually quite cooler at night so pack light clothes that you can layer. We recommend cotton pants, long skirts, wraps or large scarves over tank and tee shirts, and a sweater or light jacket for chilly nights.
Your most important fashion asset: comfortable shoes for traversing the Medina on sightseeing and shopping adventures!
Morocco is a Muslim country and women generally dress more modestly than in the US or Europe. Maison 28 is located in a more conservative, residential area in the old Medina. Like elsewhere, dress codes are gradually becoming more lax and there is a lot of tolerance for tourists, but wearing clothing that covers your best “assets”, and that your grandmother would approve of, shows cultural respect, good taste, and common sense.
The currency here is the Moroccan Dirham, and the exchange rate usually hovers these days around 10 Dirhams/1 Dollar. You CANNOT exchange for Dirhams outside of Morocco, but there are several currency exchange booths in the airport when you exit Passport Control and also located all around the Medina. Larger stores and restaurants may take Euros, but it’s really best to have dirhams.
If you bring large bills ($100) to exchange be sure that they are newer bills with holograms. Otherwise they will slide them back to you with a shake of their head.
Another good option for padding your wallet with dirhams is to use the ATM machines which are located around the medina. The exchange rate is a little better, especially if your bank or credit card doesn’t add foreign transaction fees (some homework for you). Be sure to notify your bank of your foreign travel destination so they don’t flag you for fraud. I also recommend that you bring 2 or 3 cards-just in case you still get flagged (happens!) and find too many things you just can’t live without.
Maison 28 offers:
- Free Wifi access in all rooms and common areas
- Bedside Mineral Water
- Hair Dryers
- One-time complimentary laundry service for retreat weeks
Extra items you should pack:
- European Plug adapters
- Electricity Converter for hair appliances (cellphones and computers generally have built-in converters)
- Ear Plugs – especially if you’re a light sleeper. Maison 28 is in a quiet neighborhood but there is local “wildlife”, i.e. Medina cats and a neighborhood rooster who sometimes like to make themselves heard. Also, the first call to prayer from the surrounding Mosques occurs about an hour before dawn.