back to retreat

modern handmade dolls & natural dyeing
workshop details




Late Afternoon:
We will begin this experience getting settled in, taking a tour of the beautiful Stanford Inn, & taking an optional guided hike along the Mendocino Headlands.

During our appetizer time, Jess will introduce the workshop and share a bit about the history of Jess Brown dolls, how her brand was born and continues to evolve. We have a very special dinner planned this evening, with Sasha leading a Dinner to Dye For. This incredible, fully plant-based experience will shift your thinking, as we see first-hand how we can create color from the by-products of an everyday meal.


We will begin the morning with an optional gentle yoga class as a beautiful way to start the day, followed by a delicious plant-based breakfast. We will spilt the group into two, with half beginning the doll form, sewing the hair and creating a face; and the other half taking the natural dyeing workshop from Sasha.. Following the morning class, we will enjoy a wonderful plant-based lunch.

This afternoon will mirror the morning, flip flopping groups between the doll making and dyeing. The gorgeous dyed textiles will be ready for use in the doll making projects the following day.

Enjoy a free, relaxing evening, exploring the quaint town of Mendocino, and its cute shops and delicious restaurants. If you feel like staying put and being cozy, you’re welcome to soak in the beauty of the Stanford Inn. If you’re interested in spa services, this is the perfect night to indulge.


This day begins with a group hike along the spectacular coastal trails. A decadent plant-based breakfast will await you, as you prepare for an inspired day of making. The morning workshop will be focused on accessorizing your doll, choosing from existing patterns or creating your own under the expert guidance of Jess. A plethora of modern textiles and bits and bobbles will be provided to create to your hearts’ content.

After another delicious plant-based lunch, the work on doll accessories will continue. Students are also invited to create a second doll or even begin a hand-sewn doll quilt.

We will have a few hours before gathering for dinner to relax, pack, or enjoy what the Stanford Inn has to offer. A wonderful, plant-based dinner will be shared on our last night together.

DAY 4 : sunDAY, MAY 5

After our final breakfast, students will have a last workshop session to create more dolls, accessories or hand-sewn doll quilts. We will spend time towards the end of the session photographing everyone’s creations, and sharing and reflecting on the experience we shared. We will send you off with a big hug and a boxed lunch for nourishment on your travels home.

please note: daily schedules and workshop content are subject to small changes to
accommodate our group's pace and progress.

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Jess has always been inspired by beautiful textiles. She began making dolls for her children 16 years ago using cashmere sweaters and antique remnants. She carefully developed a line of signature handmade ragdolls based on her original doll design. Each doll is cut to order in her Northern California studio and always made using the finest materials. Jess also collaborates with several designers, creating limited edition dolls for each season. Although originally created for children, the dolls have a simple sophistication that has moved them into the women and lifestyle markets as well.

As a natural progression, Jess launched Jess Brown Pieces in 2012. A collection of carefully edited timeless pieces inspired by vintage flea market finds that Jess has collected throughout the years and worn threadbare.

Each piece has been redesigned with a modern aesthetic while keeping the integrity of the original design. Jess carefully hand picks natural fiber fabrics, such as khadis from India, cottons from Japan, and classics from Liberty of London to create timeless staples that are intended to build a wardrobe, with new pieces and fabrics introduced each season to compliment. The jess brown women’s collection includes select pieces for home — hand quilted pillow shams and linen throw size quilts with the same level of detail and timeless sophistication.

The ragdolls and women’s collection are available in select shops worldwide. Jess lives in Petaluma, California with her children Stella and Tiger and her husband Erio.


Sasha is an artist and designer who works with plant-based palettes, natural dyes and place-based recipes. She is a professor at the California College of the Arts with a joint appointment in textiles and fine arts where she designs curriculum and teaches courses in the intersection of natural color, slow food, slow fashion and social practice .  Her work has been shown in galleries and museums across the United States and abroad. In 2007, Sasha founded Permacouture Institute to encourage the exploration of regenerative design practices for fashion and textiles. Her extensive work with plant-based palettes and ecological principles through local land-based sources and community has been featured in the New York TimesAmerican Craft MagazineSelvedge, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes (Timber Press/Workman 2011). and NATURAL COLOR (Watson-Guptill/Ten Speed Press August 23rd, 2016). She lives with her husband and children on their urban farm in Oakland, CA.