Exploring Indigo all over the world (I. Tinctoria I. Arrecta and I. Suffruticosa)

Updated: Jan 18, 2020

Until now, my Indigo has always come from India. In the region of Tamil Nadu, with its' hot and moist conditions, Indigofera Tinctoria and Indigofera Suffruticosa grow fast and abundantly. If you know my work you know I will always try to go straight to the source of everything; my cochineal comes directly from a small farmer, the eri silk fabrics come from a family of weavers I know personally, and so on.

Indigo is notoriously hard to track specifically and even though my Indigo is from excellent quality, I miss the personal aspect of knowing who made it.

Fast forward when it came to my attention that in Indonesia, indigo is being grown on a small scale. There are species of Indigo grown in Indonesia I did not even hear of before; Indigo Arrecta and Indigo Longeracemose.

Indigo Batik

Almost all of the local grown indigo is being used in the production of their own artisanal batik and other dye productions. The production is on site, from seed to powder or paste, another feat to rejoice about. And last but not least; the Indigo I have brought this time has a female artisan in charge, which brought along a lovely and lively sisterhood through WhatsApp.

It must be said that the knowledge of the Indonesian artisans has been a huge joy and inspiration.

This Indigo is a blend of Indigofera Tinctoria, Indigofera Suffruticosa and Indigofera Arrecta, also known as Bengal Indigo. It smells delicious, the colour is more turquoise than the regular Indian indigo. Preparation is like usual indigo, and works very very well in all natural reduction vats. When I order this Indigo the blend gets made fresh for me, trust me it does not get any better than this.

The indigo grows on the hills, after harvesting it gets dried and then put into water to ferment.

The plant material gets held under water until it is completely fermented.

The dye vat now needs to be aerated and for this they use an agricultural pump. This process will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The dye foams up, turns blue and then finally green.

Now the pigment has to settle at the bottom after which it is filtered and what's left is an indigo paste which is then dried to form indigo powder.

To try Indonesian Indigo click here.

For Indian Indigo click here.

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