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Friday, August 28, 2015

Tangled up in blue: Naturally dyed indigo in Chiang Mai

The other day me and Nikhil jumped in his car and drove to Chiang Mai. We are very spontaneous like that. It just took weeks of thinking and asking each other if we should do it until finally we said, "What the hell, YOLO, let's go."

See how we live in the moment?

Our purpose was this: discover interesting sustainable fabrics made of natural fibers, hand woven, naturally dyed, organic or any of the above. Nikhil has Nama Denim to think of and I have... my fashion pipe dreams.

If I could only wear one color the rest of my life, this just might be it. 

The lovely crew at Studio Naenna treated us to some up close indigo inspection. Our trip didn't coincide with one of their indigo workshops, but lucky for us they were making the dye and dyeing cotton thread for their own products as we arrived.

They took us through the steps, from growing the plants (in another location) to harvesting the leaves and processing them to maintain the integrity of their indigo vats. 

Indigo is a living thing which needs special care.

A vat of natural indigo that is well cared for can last decades, even a century. Just add more indigo to it year after year. I've even heard some people add drops of their favorite alcohol to appease the indigo. 

Unlike synthetic dyes, natural indigo isn't bad for you and can even have healing properties.

It produces threads and fabrics that have a real personal touch and a deep connection with the land. Traditionally farmers in the Northern and Isaan regions of Thailand would produce indigo, weave and dye clothes in their off-season. Now, production is year-round in many places but remains small scale because of the time and effort that goes into making each garment. Which makes it even more special.

As we drove away from the studio, clutching some indigo seeds in our hands, Nikhil asked me "So where should we plant these?"

I don't know, let's be spontaneous!


Some other great Chiang Mai indigo resources, info and inspiration:

The Kindcraft

Slowstich Studio

Vanilla Walk (Thai language blog)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wow what a great post! looking at the practice of how die is made in Thailand is so cool.

I have nominated you for The Liebster Award; you can check out your nomination at the link below! Keep up the amazing work!