Intertidal: Seaweed & Cyanotypes with Josie Iselin Goes to France!
Hosted By Open Workshops
This all-inclusive art and ecology workshop takes place in the Brittany region of France, home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the country and close to 800 different seaweeds – the richest diversity of such species in the world thanks to the rise and fall of up to 10 meters between low and high tide. During this immersive experience San Francisco artist, book designer, and algae aficionado Josie Iselin will share her great knowledge of the curious world of seaweed as you create stunning blue and white cyanotype images, using seaweed as both material and inspiration. Marinoë edible seaweed company founder Marie Plan will be our guide as we explore the local intertidal zone and collect specimens to use as we create frame-worthy images and learn to cook with edible seaweed.

To set the stage, Josie Iselin will introduce us to her work and how she became so entwined with the fascinating world of seaweed. You will be inspired by algae's diverse biology and ecology, learn to identify a variety of green, red, and brown seaweed, and become more aware of the importance of a healthy intertidal zone and how it interconnects with the health of the planet. She'll then teach you to use the power of the sun to create beautiful blue and white cyanotypes with the seaweed you forage from the stunning shores of Brittany as image-making material. Known for its distinctive blueprint-like images, cyanotype is the same simple cameraless photography technique used by pioneering, curious, and innovative botanist and photographer Anna Atkins (British, 1799-1871) to create images for the first book ever to be illustrated with photographic plates, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, published in 1843.

Beyond experiencing the extraordinary beauty of their diverse colors and forms, we'll learn how seaweeds play a critical role in supporting biodiversity, ocean acidification mitigation, coastal erosion, water quality, and more. Also a sustainable source of nutrition, seaweed is remarkably rich in vitamins and minerals. Under the guidance of Marinoë founder Marie Plan, you'll learn how to use an assortment of seaweed in creative dishes that you can make at home.

In the Open Workshop spirit, we may think up other creative ideas to explore independently or collectively during our time together. In between creative projects, stimulating conversations, and learning about the wonder of the intertidal zone, and enjoying delicious meals with new friends, you’ll have time to relax and enjoy the area's natural beauty. Hiking, biking, surfing, and kayaking can be arranged, as you wish!

We’ll be located near Plomeur, a commune in the traditional Bigouden region of Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France, not far from stunning beaches and the Pointe de La Torche - a remarkable natural coastal headland that is a magnet for surfers as well as hikers who are drawn to its fascinating megalithic sites.

This adult workshop is open to everyone, no experience is required and experimentation is encouraged! 

See itinerary overview below. Instruction is in English. All meals included with lodging. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to join us, please do so asap! We must register a minimum of 6 people with lodging by March 31 to green light this workshop. Fear not, if we do not reach the minimum, you will receive a full refund. 
Brittany, France
Date & Time
3 PM, Wednesday June 19 - 3 PM, Sunday, June 23, 2024
Arriving a day early is possible if choosing San Theurnel Lodge.  
Top: Cyanotype by Josie Iselin

Bottom: Marinoë founder Marie Plan gathering edible seaweed
About Josie Iselin
Artist, author, and designer Josie Iselin has been telling seaweed and kelp stories for over a decade. With six books to her credit, her work is an extraordinary expression of both art and science. Her writing and art focusing on seaweed and kelp have put her at the forefront of ocean activism, collaborating with scientists and environmental groups working to preserve the kelp forests of the Pacific Coast. Two of her books, The Curious World of Seaweed (Heyday, 2019), and An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed (2014, reprint 2023), are Tiffany Award winners for algal communications by the Phycological Society of America. She is currently directing content development for the Above/Below campaign to raise awareness of the rapidly disappearing kelp forests and the important role they play in the environmental health of the planet and is the lead author of the campaign’s web story, The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp published in July 2023.

Josie holds a BA in visual and environmental studies from Harvard University and an MFA from San Francisco State University. She lives in San Francisco where she teaches in the School of Design at San Francisco State University. Learn more about her work at
About Marie Plan
Marie and her husband Patrick, two seaweed farming enthusiasts who wanted to work with their feet on the rocks, their hands in the salt water, and their heads in the stars, founded their edible seaweed company, Marinoë in 1992. Their dream: to cultivate algae to make underwater forests, to preserve aquatic fauna and flora and to view the sea as a garden in which algae enriches everyone's daily diet. A tough challenge when they began to confront the realities of an almost non-existent market. Thirty years later, Marinoë is one of Brittany’s prized edible seaweed brands. To preserve quality and out of respect for ecosystems, most algae are harvested by hand. “Each algae has its rhythm of life, which we must respect, and when the sea recedes, we will carefully pick its gifts.”
​​​​Intertidal France Itinerary Overview
Wednesday, June 19
Check-in & Welcome Dinner

Thursday, June 20
Explore the area as you wish.
Stroll the beach, walk the megalithic ruins at Le Pointe de la Torche, or just relax and drink in the coastal air with new friends. Surfing lessons, kayaking tours, and bike rentals can be arranged for an additional fee.

Friday, June 21
Workshop Day 1
Intertidal zone walk and foraging for seaweed with Josie Iselin and Marie Plan + culinary demonstrations with Marie Plan

Saturday, June 22
Workshop Day 2
Cyanotype workshop with Josie Iselin

Sunday, June 23
Good Bye Brunch & Check-out

Seaweed scans by Josie Iselin 
Where we'll be
Brittany, located in northwest France, is a region known for its stunning coastline, rich history, and unique culture. From the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to the charming towns and cities, Brittany offers visitors a glimpse into a world that is distinctly different from the rest of France. A peninsula protruding westward into the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany is the westernmost region of France with the Bay of Biscay to the southwest and the English Channel to the north.

One of the main attractions of Brittany is the beautiful coastline. Stretching for over 2,000 kilometers, it plays a starring role in the region's industry and tourism, offering both sustenance and sport. Brittany is considered the largest seaweed producer in Europe, and here in these protected zones it benefits from remarkable water quality which allows the seaweed to be listed as certified organic. Brittany is also know for its oysters, mussels, scallops and sea bass, all which can be sampled at restaurants and markets throughout the region. Those interested in a more plant-based diet will enjoy the savory buckwheat crepes locally known as galettes.

The region's beaches also offer endless beauty and world class surfing and kite boarding, in fact kitesurfing originated in Finistère. Due to the tides, the wind direction and strength and the swell, every session in Brittany is unique and you’ll always find a spot suitable for your level and the weather conditions.

Steeped in history, Brittany holds the greatest concentration of megalithic sites than anywhere else in the world. A wonderful example can be found at Le Pointe de la Torche, a remarkable natural headland at the south end of the beautiful sandy beach in the Bay d'Audierne, near where we'll be––a beach popular with surfers and kite boarders.

A strong Celtic background distinguishes Brittany from other parts of France. The Celts were the first historically identifiable inhabitants of Brittany, intermingling with the earlier peoples who built the great stone monuments, the menhirs and dolmens that still stand today. Conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BCE, the region became part of the Roman Empire as Armorica, a Romanization of the Celtic words for “seaside.” After the Romans withdrew, Celts from Britain moved into the area to seek refuge from the Anglo-Saxon invaders of the 5th and 6th centuries. It is from this period that Brittany derives its name. The region has its own language, Breton, which is closely related to Welsh and Cornish.

Plomeur, France
We’ll be located west of Plomeur, a commune in the traditional Bigouden region of Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France not far from stunning beaches and the Pointe de La Torche - a remarkable natural headland that is a magnet for surfers and hikers drawn to its megalithic sites.

Getting There: Flight to Paris, then 3 hour 45 minute train (OUI or SNCF) Paris to Quimper. Quimper the closest city and is 20 a minute car ride from Plomeur. Alternative airports are Brest and Nantes.
Enjoy private or shared rooms in one of two renovated stone farmhouses in the coastal countryside.

Click on the photo for the name of the home, room, and type of accommodation. 

San Theurnel Lodge, with sea views close to the beach, has two private rooms with a double bed and en suite bath, and two shared rooms with two twin beds and a shared bath. 
Maison Lézinadou has three private rooms with double beds and a shared bath and is part of a small complex of renovated farmhouses further inland.

Reminder, we must register a minimum of 6 people with lodging by March 31 to green-light this workshop. Fear not, if we do not reach the minimum, you will receive a full refund.  So, register today! 
This workshop is for adults. We will be spending a good deal of time out in the elements. The cyanotype workshop and other creative projects will take place outside. Many meals may be enjoyed outside as well. Lunch is included for those who to choose to join us for the workshop during the day. For those who choose the four night all inclusive option, days begin at 8 am with a healthy breakfast and end with a cocktail hour before a thoughtfully prepared communal dinner. 
What is included in the workshop?
* A welcome surprise
* Professional instruction by knowledgeable artists and experts
* All workshop materials (You are welcome to bring your own seaweed specimens to identify in the workshop and any other flattish shapes you might like to use to make cyanotypes like flowers, leaves, shells, feathers, or any random objects found around the house–paper clips, coins–be creative!)

All inclusive lodging is available
* 4-night accommodation in shared or private rooms with linens and blankets, or a dedicated campsite if you choose to bring your own tent. Bathrooms are shared, unless otherwise noted in the room descriptions. 
* All meals made with locally sourced  produce, eggs, dairy, and shellfish. Please share any allergies or dietary concerns in the sign-up form and let us know if you have a food allergy that could result in hospitalization.
*  An evening cocktail/mocktail and glass of wine with dinner (you are welcome to BYO) 
* Time to rest, reflect, unwind, write, hike, and connect with self, new friends, and the beautiful natural surroundings.

What am I responsible for?
* A curious mindset

* A frame with glass (not plexi) to share and use in making your cyanotypes, any size you wish. 
* Transportation to and from the location
* Warm layers, sun protection, hat, sturdy shoes or boots for gathering seaweed in wet, rocky areas and optional hikes
* Towels for the bath and beach
* Bathing suit
* Personal bath products
* Personal dietary needs 

What's the Refund & Cancellation Policy?
* Individuals wishing to cancel before May 1 will receive a 50% refund. No refunds after May 1. 
* The workshop will be held rain or shine. 
* In the case of extreme environmental concerns, the workshop may be subject to cancellation, in which case reservations will be 100% refunded.

The workshop is limited to 12.  Instruction is in English. 
Join Us! 
We look forward to hosting you!
Have questions? Feel free to reach out to [email protected].

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