Japanese Indigo for the Garden

May 7, 2009

Indigo, one of two plant species I know of that can create rich blues, unlike any blues I know, other than those hues I see in the sky and sea. In my garden there is a a 10ft. long mound of rich soil, covered in rice straw, that now houses the Indigo starts.  They’ve made there way to the outside, now that the risk of frost has past.  










This crop should provide several dye vats this summer.  I will likely use a fermentation vat, as I have in the past.  A traditional recipe, that can last for many months of dyeing. Japanese Indigo while native to Japan, seems to be enjoying the misty Spring we are having.  The humidity of recent weather, has sent large leaves into the sky, and a few pink flowers are beginning to emerge.












The organic wool for these skeins, is from West Marin.  The raw wool was dyed in fermentation indigo, and some of it overdyed in the native coyote brush.  The blend that I spun together, reminds me of the changing blues and greens of Tomales Bay.  I call this set of skeins, Natural Sea.  










Indigo applied to animal fibers is exquisite.  Wool and silk, are both accepting takers of the plant dye.  These silk kimono booties, were made with peace silk from India, and then dyed in my fermentation indigo vat.  This silk is created from the cocoons of silk worms that have been allowed to escape.  Traditional silk practice is to boil the cocoon with the worm still alive. These booties are lined with an organic hemp and cotton fleece.


2 Responses to “Japanese Indigo for the Garden”

  1. Hanna Says:

    What gorgeous yarn!

    And I’m so envious to see your Japanese Indigo growing so robustly. I moved to Arizona about a year ago, and I just couldn’t get my indigo to survive here in the heat and dryness, even with plenty of water. Maybe it’s time for me to try woad….

    • ecologicalartist Says:

      I really like your blog! What you did with the native desert plants is wonderful.
      Do you have experience with the desert sweet sumac- (I believe that is the common name)? It creates an almost black color with an iron mordant, I’ve been told.

      I am looking to travel to the south west, to work with a natural dyer who has expertise in gathering and dyeing with the native plants. It would be for a day or two.

      I am researching for a book I was asked to write, the project is a national one, and so I must cover all bioregions. I went down to work at Los Ojos in New Mexico, with their natural dyer, and she mainly used the ancient non-local dyes.

      Would you be interested in collaborating on the desert plants together?

      Thanks for your consideration,

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