Eve's Eden: Artist Eve Peach an online journal to share art and contemporary crafts

14. October 2010

Kudzu and Japanese Indigo Natural Fiber and Dying Workshop

Filed under: Uncategorized — Eve Peach @ 16:40

Good day! Today I am sharing an experience I had at a natural fiber and dying workshop over the past weekend.  This workshop was lead by the Bellos sisters, Sarah and Ali.  Together they have formed their business ASK Apparel, which provides natural and sustainable dyes for businesses and for their personal use creating naturally-dyed organic apparel.

The workshop was held just northwest of downtown Nashville at Sulphur Creek Farms located at 5188 Old Hickory Blvd. in Nashville.  Here the Bellos sisters grow their dye plots of marigold, Japanese indigo and other plants.

Sarah and Ali taught us so much about harvesting indigo plants and processing those plants in order to dye with. The second part of the workshop was lead by two students from Philadelphia, Elissa Myers and Kiki  Brown. Together they are exploring and studying the many uses of the Kudzu vine and the fiber harvested from it.  Elissa has also founded a new naturally-dyed clothing line out of Philly called BLUEREDYELLOW

So here are some photos of the different processes and hands-on experiments we learned about.


The image above is of one of the large tubs of Japanese indigo plants harvested at the farm, which had been soaking and fermenting in warm water for a few days. You can see the blue green pigment of the water coming out already.  This large vat is being prepared in order to store indigo pigment.


After removing the indigo plants, lime is added to the liquid producing a chemical change in the color of the water from blue green to red brown.  Next oxygen is added by disturbing the water.  After this the indigo pigment then settles to the bottom.  The next step, after letting the water sit, is to extract the top layer of liquid in order to retrieve the indigo dye that has settled to the bottom. 


Indigo pigment!

After preparing the large vats for storage.   We then learned how to prepare a fresh vat to dye with.  This process involved adding soda ash to the dye bath so that fabric will accept the pigment. And then we took oxygen out of the liquid instead of putting oxygen in.  Finally we experimented dying white cotton linen, thread, and other materials.


Fresh dye vat with various linen pieces soaking in it shown above.


Various dye experiments shown above.

Below are two images of my experiment.  I decided to create and Indigo Skyscape. Using thin wooden star shapes to create a resist, I clamped them to the front and back of the linen using thread.  Then I used a wax resist technique and created small wax droplets over the linen creating smaller stars. I also experimenting dipping the linen in partially to create a gradient effect of darker to lighter indigo color. Here is the finished look!



After having so much fun dying we learned how to boil, soak and extract the thread-like fibers from the Kudzu vine.


Of course if you live in TN we all know what the above image is, KUDZU VINES!


Images above are bare boiled vine and soaking vine.

And images below are of us extracting the inner thread-like fibers of the Kudzu vine.



Thread-like fibers extracted from the Kudzu vine that you can now sew or weave with!


Well I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about these two processes.  I had a wonderful weekend full of great women, great energy, and great knowledge!  We had gloriously beautiful weather and it was a much needed weekend filled with creativity and nature that was a long overdue experience I needed to live!

Thanks for stopping by and reading.



1 Comment

  1. This the first time I visit someone’s blog .Everything is fresh .I feel exciting and curious .Your blog is so good .

    Comment by Jen — 29. June 2011 @ 06:30

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