HELLO HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE SUNDAY/MONDAY JOURNAL! We’ve been wanting a space to share more than pretty photos and product details, so we've created an online journal to write about our textiles, travels and inspirations from time to time (and not just on Sundays or Mondays!).
What better topic to launch our journal than Indigofera tinctoria, also known as indigo?
In January 2018, we started working with block printers in Bagru, a region of Rajasthan known for its tradition of block printing using natural dyes, including our favorite one - indigo.
Indigo has a long history in India and even gets its name from the country, so it’s no surprise that the natural process of indigo dyeing is still going strong there. Once you get to know indigo, it’s hard not to fall in love - with the wide range of beautiful hues it produces, its intoxicating earthy smell, and its one of a kind characteristics, like the marbling effect that occurs when printed with resist. It’s not all romantic though. Nowadays the block printers wear gloves when dipping textiles into the vat as the process can be messy, unpredictable, and time consuming. All of it is worth it though to produce our beloved indigo dyed hand block printed textiles, like our Baya bandana and Heron pillow.
What is natural indigo?
True indigo is a natural dye extracted from the plant indigofera tinctoria and it's considered one of oldest natural dyes in the world. Our block printers keep their indigo dye in a 12 feet deep well that requires constant maintenance and upkeep (a DIVA vat you could say).
Block printing with natural indigo
Our indigo block prints are made using dabu, a mud resist made from black clay, lime, and guar gum. Before printing, the fabric is soaked in harda, a natural mordant which allows the indigo dye to bind to the textile.
Once the wooden blocks are hand carved with the designs, the printers stamp the dabu onto the treated cloth. The part of the fabric covered in mud resist print will not take on the indigo color.
After printing with dabu, a layer of fine sawdust is sprinkled over the wet dabu to prevent the fabric from sticking to itself once submerged in the dye vat.
Using a wooden stick, the fabric is slowly dipped into the indigo vat. This process may be repeated several times to achieve the desired shade of indigo. In order to get three separate shades of indigo on fabric, like on our Myna throw, the textile is printed and dyed in two rounds, where each round results in a different hue.
Taking care of indigo textiles
Our textiles come to you pre-washed by professional, organic cleaners in New York, NY, but our indigo textiles may bleed the first few washings at home. We recommend washing separately in cold water. Occasionally, dye transfer may occur with certain indigo dyed fabrics such as linen, so please be careful to avoid rubbing our indigo pillows on white sofas. We've tested our Egret napkins and Baya bandana and haven't experienced any bleeding from washing in a machine or from wearing with a chic white tee.