I have been a long time admirer of anything and everything Indigo. Whether traveling in India or Japan, I have always met with incredible artisans practicing their craft; fascinated by the technique as well as the patience to create such beautiful pieces.
Recently, I became acquainted with the work of an American artist and professor Rowland Ricketts who was trained in the traditional art of Indigo farming, processing and dyeing, but who now lives in the midwest with his wife Chinami!
Ricketts’ large scale installation works are driven by the centuries old dye, Indigo. Indigo is an annual plant, which Ricketts grows, harvests and composts. Once the compost process is complete (the traditional Indigo compost process takes many months!), an Indigo vat can be made to dye material.
Once the material is dipped into the Indigo vat, the color turns to the brilliant signature blue shades once exposure to oxygen. It’s a magical thing to witness, and the shades can vary from a light, bright blue to a dark inky almost black.
The work is stunning, and an amazing feat of time and attention to detail.
The color is decided by how long the dyer leaves the material in the vat, and how long they decide to allow the fabric to oxidize.
But, I think it is even more than that. I think different people dye blues differently. I think the blue that comes from an Indigo vat is very much a signature of the dyer. The differences are subtle, but unique.
Ricketts’ works to elevate and reimagine this amazing natural dye, creating a celebration of color and process.