Indigo Dyeing


I’ve returned to Fujino for two days, trying to get as much indigo dyeing done as I can. I’m leaving Japan on Saturday, so this is the last chance that I’ll have to do it. I’ve prepared a stencil using the traditional persimmon paper and brought it with me. Bryan’s home and workshop is a cozy place to work (above left). He shows us some yarn that he has recently dyed (below left).

I begin by boiling the fabrics that I’ve brought (below right). There is a lot of glue in the heavy canvas that I chose, so it must be boiled with soap and lye. The indigo will adhere to the cloth better if the glue is removed.



After the fabric is clean, I stencil the pattern onto the canvas using rice paste (above). The paste will resist the dye and remain the color of the cloth. The paste must be completely dry before I start dyeing.



The view outside Bryan’s kitchen window looks out onto his vegetable garden (above left). A few students practice Shibori techniques by folding fabric and stitching it together. The stitched fabric dries in the sun (below right). After the dyeing is finished, it’s cut open, revealing the pattern (below left).



I spend several hours dyeing my fabric pieces. Here are a few examples of the final result. My original intention was to have text in the middle of the wreath reading “No Nukes”. I couldn’t get the text to look right, so I must try again, but I’m happy with the wreath image results. I’ve realized that there are a lot of limitations when dyeing fabric. It’s a much different process than painting. I’ll have to build on what I’ve learned in order to develop my motifs.

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