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.
silk starting green
jade green and sky blue on wool
beautiful colours on silk and wool
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.
last years experiment
Persicaria leaf print on silk
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
Yesterday, I planted out my Persicaria tinctoria seedlings in the ground. Unsettled weather is forecast, which will, hopefully, reduce the need for endless trips with watering cans.
Last year I grew most of my Persicaria in pots for convenience. The plants that grew in the ground, however, were bushier and seemed to produce more indigo and so this year I decided to plant the majority in the vegetable patch. Following Rowland Ricketts method of planting, I put groups of seedlings deep in the earth up to their necks. Persicaria is a noded plant and will root from the nodes on the stem so burying them helps the plant put down more roots. Also harsh sunlight when the plants are young could kill them. They are hungry and thirsty plants and so you have keep an eye on them in warm weather and don’t let them wilt.
It is hard to believe that in six weeks they will be ready to give up their first harvest of magical blue. I sent my students from Botanical Alchemy off with some seedlings to grow in pots and to get seed for next year. Hopefully there will soon be many more growers of this wonderful plant. I would love to think that something along the lines of Rowland’s IndiGrowing blue community indigo vat could be possible here.
We are bracing ourselves for the storm due to hit tonight and have been gathering the last of the dye plant seeds from the garden.
I’m very pleased with my crop of Japanese indigo (Persicari tinctoria) this year of which 3 plants were encouraged to go to seed. The last of the flower heads are now hanging and drying to add to the harvest. I have a very good supply of seed this year and hope to sell some to anyone wanting to grow and dye with this wonderful plant. You have to use fresh seed as it isn’t viable for long. The good thing is that it is easy to grow and will layer easily. Look at my Indigo page for more information.
I have dried both my first and second harvest and hope to ferment it as they do in Japan. I don’t have enough to create a pile as Roland Ricketts is doing in Indiana. However, I have been looking at Bryan Whiteheads blog and he ferments smaller quantities using another traditional method which I might try this year or wait until I have another harvest next year. It would be wonderful to make a natural fermentation vat using indigo that I have grown from seed.