Under the spotlight: the ancient art of indigo dyeing.
An ancient art form, an old science, using natural indigo pigments to dye fabrics has been practised in many countries, for thousands of years. Out of all of them, India stands as the oldest centre for the craft, with knowledge of their expertise known to even the ancient Egyptians. So when it came to the dyeing of our Persia Blue Jasper pouffe, we knew we were in expert hands.
Mr Rambabu’s stone well is in the front porch of his home where for generations his family has been using this natural dye to create vibrant textiles. Derived from the leaves of the indigo flower, the pigment is put into a liquid state and fermented, in order to get rid of the oxygen content. “This formula,” our artisan dyer explains, “is what allows the colour to penetrate the fibres of the fabric, turning it blue.”
The well is three metres deep and Mr Rambabu dips the dhurrie with the Persia Blue Pattern on it down into the vat. It disappears into dark blue depths, the water bubbles, whirls and then roars as he he brings it back up, dripping, no longer white but a yellow-green hue. He grins at us. “Without oxygen, indigo dye is a green colour. It’s the mixture of oxygen that turns it blue.”
Heavy with water, Mr Rambabu draws on the physical strength he’s built up over years practising this art, in order to move the dhurrie into the sun. Lifting it up, he lays it over the wall of his front porch, where years of dyeing has turned the plaster a tonal blue. It’s a testimony to those walking past – this is the home of an artisan indigo dyer. Before our eyes, the fabric turns blue as the air’s oxygen races toward it, penetrating every fibre.
Prior to dyeing, intricate patterns are imprinted onto the dhurrie’s surfaces, using a special clay mixture. The clay protects the fabric from being coloured in the place the pattern should be. As Mr Rambabu hoses down the dhurrie, stopping to work a flat wooden spade over it, loosening the dry clay, the Persia Blue pattern appears. Small waves of clay-coloured water roll over the fabric – they reveal a vibrant white against the backdrop of a brilliant indigo blue.
Take a closer look at our Persia Blue pouffe collection.