Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Slow Day

Class was slow and simple today. My new student Misako is weaving for the first time. Warp of undyed hemp and weft of indigo dyed spun silk floss. It will become the back cushion for her own back strap loom. Ogata san freed up some wooden thread frames for me with the patience of a saint.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Indigo First Steps

This will be my 17th year growing my own indigo and processing it into indigo dye. I grew three varieties of Polygonum tinctorum last year. Round leaf. Pink flower and White flower. Pink flower has the longest growing season and the most pigment content. The round leaf flowers in mid-August making a third harvest impossible.

Ogata san Mari san and I separated the seeds from the chaff yesterday and today I planted 5 seeds in each compartment of these seed trays. The indigo field is a good 15 minutes away from the house by car. Being out of eyesight it never gets the love it deserves and it is easier for me to use the long black plastic sheets with small holes to grow the indigo. The set up is more work than directly planting but I don't need to worry as much about weeds and watering. It is a little easier to harvest as well. I bought a few huge industrial rolls ten years back and promise the 'natural guy' deep inside me that I'll go back to free planting style when it runs out.

Separating the chaff and the seeds:

Indigo seeds:

A few months later It will look like this:

Pictured below is the indigo grown in Laos and commonly known as Tree Indigo or Indigofera tinctoria. I've tried growing it in Japan a few times without success. The actual pigment content is much higher than the native Japanese variety making it easy to process in a settlement tank.

Masato used a plow for the first time. He considered himself a pro after an hour! I plowed in a lot of cow manure this year as the soil seemed a little tired last year.

Here is indigo drying up on my third floor eaves with a good view of my tea field in the background.

And the fermented indigo balls I make each winter.

And me dying some shibori: