2014 November 16
Indigo dye is an organic compound with a distinctive blue color. The primary use for indigo is as a dye for cotton yarn, which is mainly for the production of denim cloth. Historically, indigo is a natural dye extracted from plants, but nearly all indigo dye produced today is synthetic. At this GET TOGETHER Maaike Gottschal from Textielfabrique introduced us into the intriguing world of natural INDIGO. Her story brought us from Indigofera tinctoria to the challenging dyeing process, continuing with a short introduction into the traditional Japanese techniques Shibori, Sashiko and Sakiori.
Shibori is a Japanese tie-dying technique. The fabric is folded, binded, stitched, twisted, or compressed as to keep certain parts of the material unreachable for the dye. The result is a blue white decorative pattern depending on the characteristics of the cloth.
Sashiko is a form of decorative reinforcement stitching from Japan. Traditionally used to reinforce points of wear, or to repair worn places or tears with patches. The white cotton thread on the traditional indigo blue cloth gives sashiko its distinctive appearance.
Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing around the globe. Many Asian countries, have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for centuries. Indigo was the foundation of centuries-old textile traditions throughout West Africa where clothes dyed with indigo signified wealth. In Japan, indigo became especially important in the Edo period, when it was forbidden to use silk, so the Japanese began to import and plant cotton. It was difficult to dye the cotton fiber except with indigo.
The Romans used indigo as paint pigment, it remained a luxury and rare product to the Middle Ages. At the end of the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route to India, indigo was readily available in Western Europe and also in the Netherlands by the VOC. Europeans began even to lay out indigo plantations.
Until the end of the 19th century all indigo dyes were produced from plant sources. Largely due to advances in organic chemistry, at the end of 1913 the production by natural sources was almost entirely replaced by synthetic dyes.
With the disappearance of the natural attention for dyeing fabrics our appreciation for natural colors and dyes disappeared as well. It is amazing to see the difference between a synthetic and a natural dyed cloth. It is regrettable to see we forget to value real colors in our achromatic point of view …
Thank you Maaike, to guide us into your field, it was amazing.
Maaike Gottschal, Textielfabrique
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