Tag Archives: indigo

If in doubt, re-do, add blue or both

Where did I read “if it isn’t beautiful it isn’t finished”? How many of us have piles if failed experiments or pieces that just don’t make the grade? Well this weekend some of us had a go at solving this little problem and it seems to me that bravery is what is required and perhaps a touch of blue!

We gathered for the last of the six monthly workshops this weekend and despite the rain there were some wonderful results. Claire bought a pile of eco printing experiments which she felt disappointed with or the colours just weren’t right.  They were re- bundled with more leaves for a second steaming and then a dip or two in the indigo bath. What resulted were beautiful pieces of silk and wool.

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Sue brought a eucalyptus wool shawl dyed on a previous month and folded and shibori tied the bundle before getting the indigo treatment. Again the teal colour and string marks added a new dimension to the already lovely piece.

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Lyn brought some of her handwoven cotton and linen pieces and some itajime and indigo brought contrast and depth.

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An old damask table cloth cut and hemmed became beautiful shibori table runners came out of the vat.

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Katie and Mary Ann experimented with iron, leaves, shibori and indigo also produced some exciting pieces and others took away wet bundles to be revealed in a later post.

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Everything is Turning Blue

 I spent the night watching the country turn blue and the day watching my garden turn various shades of the same colour.

The first indigo workshop of the year and blue seemed the general colour of our mood and the work. Wonderful combinations of leaves, mud, shibori and indigo made for a happy ending. Even the rain didn’t dent the creativity

leaaves and mud shadow play

leaaves and mud shadow play

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Eucalyptus and indigo

Eucalyptus and indigo

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Shibori stained glass window

Shibori stained glass window

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leaf prints and window itajime on silk

leaf prints and window itajime on silk

Searching for Natural Indigo in India

The next day and a visit to Dastka Andhra, a project supporting and promoting hand weaving in Andhra Pradesh. We bought some samples of natural dyed fabrics and I purchased some handwoven kora (natural coloured) dupattas (shawls) for workshops next year. They will be good for both the mud resist and shibori.

Dastka samples

Dastka samples

Though hand weaving is their priority they are promoting the use of natural dyes including indigo.  Most of the indigo you come across in India is synthetic though presented as natural. Dastkar’s indigo fabrics are yarn dyed in fermented vats by a master dyer who is 90 and still working. Unfortunately, though he has taught over 300 people, there is no one to take over from him which is very sad.

I was lucky enough to  purchase some of his natural indigo to bring home. A tip I was told to test the quality of your indigo cakes. If you drop it in water they should float.  I can’t wait to experiment with different fermentation vats using this, next year

indigo cakes

Then on to Chennai and monsoon rains where between downpours I managed to buy some hand spun and woven silk before traveling down the coast to Auroville to visit  The Colours of Nature.

The founder of The Colours of Nature, Jesus Ciriza Larraona, went to Kashmir many years ago to produce silk carpets. Disappointed by the polluting dyeing methods he witnessed, he started to collect information from all over India on traditional dyeing techniques.

Eager to put his knowledge into practice he started a Research & Development Unit in Auroville, an international township dedicated to human unity, located in the south of India. The Colours of Nature is one of only few remaining natural dyeing units in the world, who are entirely focused on an environmental friendly, vegetable dyeing process. Their research in natural dyes is ongoing. Their specialisation is developing natural indigo fermentation and his dream is to develop his indigo fermentation on an industrial scale.

As well a his commitment to natural indigo fermentation Jesus has been experimenting with  other natural dyes for twenty years and claims to have a quick and fast alum mordanting process which he is keeping secret for the moment.

 

 

Beautiful blues with Japanese indigo

I’ve spent a weekend immersed in Japanese indigo dyeing. Picking and stripping leaves, fresh dyeing silk wool, hemp silk in a cold bath and then using the used pulp and dye bath to make a more conventional vat for wool. I’ve updated the page on growing and dyeing with Japanese indigo with new instructions and pictures so please have a look.

So many colours from sky blue wool, turquoise silk, jade green and a soft muted blue on wool gauze. I have also bundled some leaves in silk and hemp silk and waiting for the indigo to be released. I had such a lovely result last year and I hoping for a repeat performance.

This is such a great dye plant and for those of you who I gave a plant this year. Hold back from harvesting. Let your plant flower which should be very soon and set seed and you too should have a good harvest from more plants next year.

I plan to run a weekend indigo workshop next year around the middle of August in time for the first harvest. The plan is to harvest my indigo and make different baths using fresh indigo and  perhaps, some different fermentation vats. Let me know if you are interested

More Blues

I’m busy getting ready for the first of the two three day mud resist workshop this weekend and so I’ve had to put my work on hold for a few days. Cotton is being scoured, menus planned, blocks oiled,  dabu ingredients are ready for mixing.

I’m looking forward to this weekend as there will be a couple of familiar faces from previous workshops as well as a few new ones. Though there is a good number for the August bank holiday The September course on the 6th, 7th and 8th still has spaces left, and so please get in touch if you are tempted.

Dan has been busy experimenting with bread recipes, as well as making some new printing blocks which look really promising. We are so lucky to live between Coleshill Organics where we buy the fruit and vegetables we don’t grow and Factory Furniture who very kindly give me offcuts of wood for blocks.

 

Singing the Blues

We are actually having a summer it seems.

The weather was kind again this weekend. The sun shone down on us all, while we folded, tied, clamped, wrapped and stitched fabrics for the indigo vat.

Dan played music, made focaccia and kept us supplied with lemon verbena, tea, coffee and cool home made elderflower. Loved the Richard Hawley and Ry Coode and Taj Mahal

 Fresh stock solution to sharpen last weekends vat. I  find better results when the vat is kept just on the tipping point and a dark green rather than clear yellow green colour which doesn’t seem to build such a deep colour.

Here are some of the pieces of blue that were made by the group.

Inspired, I got down to some blues of my own working over the top of some less than successful samples

You never tire of the blue alchemy.

Even my spattered toenails got the blue treatment thanks to my friend Billyblue nails

Next I will be dyeing with fresh Japanese indigo leaves

Mud Glorious Mud

It’s been a while, and much has been happening in the Stable Yard. I had a most enjoyable time last weekend with lots of indigo, dabu mud resist and five lovely women who ventured from as far away as Cornwall and Monmouthshire.

I love the way that everybody had access to the same blocks, though made very different pieces. Sadly, many of them went away unwashed. Thank you for your enthusiasm and here’s hoping for some pictures of the finished pieces to share.

I think I will let the pictures speak for themselvesdabuMaking dabu

mud printing studioPrinting with blocks

Janet's resist dryingMud resist drying

mud resist and indigo lineFirst dips in indigo

Busy

Busy, busy, busy!

Dan's focacciasDan’s focaccia for lunch

double dabuSecond print and more indigo

drying Indian styleDrying Indian style

Jennie's tableclothJennie’s deep indigo tablecloth

indigo iron and mudBefore washing

indigo and ironIndigo, Iron and a bit of imagination.

Saturday it will be a day of shibori and indigo. Really looking forward to it.