Japan Art Tour – Indigo Dye Studio

Mr. Mori and his indigo threads - reducedWhat a fascinating experience to see the dye complex of Mr. Mori and his son in the town of Konko in the Shige Prefecture. Their family has been in business for several hundred years. Like all of the other artists we visited, they showed immense pride in their work and a love for their processes, many of which have gone unchanged for hundreds of years. Mr. Mori has the only company where the entire process of indigo dyeing is done by him and his son from the growing of the tada indigo plants to the dyeing of the threads. Mrs. Mori also uses the dyed threads to weave her own fabric and scarves. Here is Mr. Mori showing us his dyed threads.

Vats of Indigo Dye - reducedMr Mori gets the silk threads from the Guma Prefecture. He then “degums” the threads using the ash from burned camelia trees.

The leaves of the indigo plant are composted in the basement of a 150 year old house. This fermentation process gets to 120 degrees and is processed for 3 months through the winter. The fermented soil is made into blocks for easier storage. Then the dye and water are put in large vats in the ground. These vats are heated with charcoal that is put directly into the vats. Variation in value is made by changing the number of times the threads are put in the dye bath. The darkest indigo dyes are dipped up to 30 times and dried in between each dip in the dye bath. Here are some of his vats of indigo.

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