The end of 2015 had me playing with a few creative projects including monoprinting with indigo (September) and sewing (October). One day the question arose: “I wonder if I could print with indigo onto fabric?” I didn’t mean indigo dyeing. I had seen the fashionable explosion of indigo textiles into the clothing and homewares stores in recent years, and had friends that were loving the creative experience of a dye pot.
No… in my usual Aquarian style… I wanted to do something different!
So what started as a curious question ended up as an R&D obsession. A lot of hours, days, weeks later, and the help of some wonderfully generous master textile artisans from around the world, I was able to discover an ancient Japanese organic process that allows the indigo to bind to the fabric without going through the usual oxygenating process of a dye pot. Yeah!
During my sewing foray in October I had picked up a few metres of various cotton fabrics. I decided to test the process, and to my amazement it worked. That was a happy happy day.
I cut up and hand frayed some fine cotton muslin, monoprinted three summer shawls using rainforest leaves from my garden, and finished them with detail hand stitching. The handmade process is slow, taking up to 30 days to air cure the fabric in warm weather to ensure the indigo pigment permanently binds to the fibres.
It’s slow art making at its best, and I can understand why indigo fabric printing has not become fashionable, unlike it’s big sister, the dye pot. Yet it meets my need to do something different from the crowd; to enter into a slow art practice, which i find ensures a slowing down of the mind while only an awareness of the creating exits; and it has gifted a beautiful ancient organic sustainable art practice into my hands… oh yes… and lots of cups of tea while I’m waiting for the fabric to cure.
ps… if you are interested to see more of these handmade indigo shawls they are now featured in my Etsy store – mbpblue.