Search results for: "indigo"

DIA165mm, China

This beautiful blue beads are jade beads dyed with a technique which dated back to the Han dynasty.  Unlike today where a lot of  jade are dyed to imitate the perfect shade of green in order to fetch a better price, in the previous dynasties jade are dyed simply for a desired colour.  The material is treated almost the same as a piece of cloth.

According to the book Yu Ji (The Record of Jade) of the Qing dynasty jade can be divided into 9 Se and 13 Cai.
“Se” refers to the intrinsic colour of the jade;  still ocean black, indigo blue, moss green, peacock feather green, steam chestnut yellow, cinnabar red, clot blood purple, ink black, white as snow to lard.

The 13 “Cai” refers to the dye colour;
chestnut yellow from using earth with a darker shade when using rosin,
sky to sapphire blue from indigo,
peach red from lime,
coal black from mercury,
date red from blood,
parrot green from copper,
other dye colours include cinnabar red, chicken blood read, palm fiber purple, aubergine purple, pine cone green, ginkgo green, okra yellow, wine yellow, fish belly white, brown rice white, shrimp roe green, snot green.

Apart from the colour, the book also describe patterns, textures and even fragrant can be achieved.

blue bells


Textile Width 870mm, China

This indigo dye fabric came from Gui Zhou, a place which produces the Blue Grass (Indigofera Tinctoria L) which the indigo dye was extracted from.  Around September to October, the grass will be harvested and soaked in water for 6 days, stirring every 2 days, after which the soaking liquid is poured into a tank with lime.  The mixture is stirred for a couple of hours then left over night to precipitate, by the next day the lime would have extracted the dye, the water covering the lime is carefully taken out.  In Gui Zhou, the Blue Grass is also used for disinfectant.

For the dyeing technique of  please refer to previous post of Indigo Dye Fabric.

W800xH2000mm, China

This is an indigo dyed door curtain with a curtain holder (featured previously).  The fabric door curtain are a common item when air conditioner and heating were not as popular.  In the summer time, breeze can pass through even when the curtain are lowered, the curtain can also be easily drawn.  In the winter time, quilted curtain are hanged, sometimes even over a door, this prevent the cold are entering the room when the door is opened.  Spatially, the layer of fabric defined a space and its privacy. For people outside of the space, the softness of the fabric is a gentler barrier, muttering sounds can still be heard, one can easily lift up the curtain if one wants to.  For people inside of the space, the room is complete.  (You are probably wondering why we have a harsh gate behind the curtain, this is for our dog spike, unfortunately he failed to observe the idea of the soft barrier).  This reminds me of a Chinese saying “dog lifting the door curtain” = “with mouth and no hands (all talks and no action)”

Textile Width 400mm, China

A paper stencil is overlay on a piece of white cotton fabric, then a paste made up of lime and soya bean flour is applied with a blade over the stencil.  The cloth is then put into the indigo dye trough for 20 mins then hang for oxidation for 30 mins (this process is to be repeated for 6-8 times).  After drying the starch paste will be scraped off, under the paste will reveal the original white colour.  For dyeing with a white background, 2 stencils would be used, one for the small pattern and second one for the background itself.  This Chinese indigo fabric uses a handwoven cotton fabric with natural indigo dye.

Curtain with the same dyeing technique.

The Fabric of Life

The word boro means ‘patched together’ and here refers to the indigo-dyed patched-together garments of the Japanese rural population. Expensive cotton fabrics were reserved to the upper classes. As worn-out rags, they found their way cheaply into the hands of the peasants, who patched them together to create impressive garments of great aesthetic charm.

In their minimalist beauty, these recycled textiles stand not only for artistic creativity and the positive affirmation of the transitory nature of all existence, but also for respect for the natural material and the work of the hands.

The precursors of the boro textiles were the kesa, the garments worn by Buddhist monks, which were also patched together as the outward expression of the Buddhist ideal of poverty. Outstanding monks’ garments from the museum’s own collection have been incorporated into the boro exhibition.

By chance, I got to own a piece of boro, a futonji which became a wall hanging at home.  Would have love to go to see this exhibition.  If you are near Cologne please go to see the exhibition!

28 March to 2 August 2015
Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln

dollW130xH220mm, China

A gentle fabric doll dressed in indigo dye costume.

Here is the local designer Furze‘s abstract version.

Textile Width 380mm, China

 This fabric is woven by the Pu Ji tribe, a minority tribe in Gui Zhou.  Weaving is a technique passed down the generation of women, all fabric for the household would have been weaved by the family.  Traditionally, the young girls will be helping their mother and elder sisters and pick up the know how along the way, by the time they are a teenager they will be capable of making the cloth from scratch.

By from scratch, its from the cotton and indigo plant.  Cotton are collected and made into yarns and rolled onto the simple spindle while the strings for the warp are set out according to the design and often with the use of the exterior of the building.  Clothes are placed on the loom and the work begins.

Green lacquerware

DIA200xH150mm, Myanmar


It is almost certain that Burma acquired the technique of lacquer production from China where it has a three-thousand year history. However, the use of lacquerware was not confined to royalty and the monkhood in Burma. Lacquer objects were used daily by commoners. Food, refreshments, clothing, cosmetics and flowers are all put in lacquer receptacles.

The importance of lacquer to the Burmese is probably equivalent to the modern uses of porcelain, glass and plastic combined. Indeed, lacquer has many of the characteristics of modern plastic. It is light, waterproof, easily moulded and dries to a hard state.  It can be applied to virtually any surface: plain or carved wood, bamboo, paper, fabric, even metal and stone.

This fruit bowl is made by coiled bamboo, covered by over 20 layers of lacquer and decorated with the Burmese astrological symbols. Process of producing green lacquer ware is rather time consuming: One part indigo was added to ten parts of orpiment to produce a traditional green color. With age, many such green lacquer wares have come to assume appeasing opaque turquoise hue.

varies sizes, Hong Kong

For the Something Old Something New Exhibition with Soil, our curator and participating artist, Furze Chan, has created for us these Happy Dolls.  They are handmade by Furze with tie dye indigo fabric.

Furze Chan is a design freelancer in Hong Kong. Her works include publication design, web design and illustration. She owns 2 brands – “With Her Animal Poetry” and “Ferse Verse”. She was graduated in visual communications(Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the School of design)(BA) in 2006.

To learn more about Furze, visit her blog @

Discharge technique in fabric is to make the design pattern on dyed fabric by chemical means.  Diluted sulfuric acid agent is painted with a brush directly on the indigo dyed fabric.  Chemical reaction takes place as the acidic agent get in contract with the indigo dye.  The acidic agent will then discharge the indigo pigment, leaving a white pattern.  This method of pattern making allows more freedom in expression.  But most of the time, stencils are used in production because of labour.  The discharge fabric is finally rinsed in an alkaline bath to remove the acidic remains.

Here is a DIY version of the same technique, you can try it at home!

Discharge Dye Fabric are shown at the Mountain Folkcraft shop in our Something New Something Old exhibition with Soil.

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