Ryukyu Ai Indigo Dyeing

When i walk in the park near one of my art studios, i often pass by an elderly couple walking arm in arm…the elderly man plays the harmonica while his wife sings songs from their homeland in China.  Their music is quite beautiful.  Each and every time time i wander past them, i think of how “it’s the little things” that we experience and do that can bring such pleasure.

I’ve had the pleasure of growing the traditional indigo of Okinawa – Japan, Ryukyu Ai, for the past ten (10) years.  Ryukyu Ai (strobilanthes cusia) thrives in my natural dye garden in Houston, TX USA where the hot and humid summer weather is similar to that in Okinawa.

Harvesting the indigo leaves in my garden takes place twice a year in the Spring and Fall. When the leaves are ready for harvest, their veins are full of purplish blue indican pigment…

Ryukyu Ai
The Purplish Blue Leaf Veins of Ryukyu Ai

Shortly after harvest, i use the leaves in creating a precipitated indigo vat.  This is the same method that my family has used for generations in the Yanbaru Forest of Izumi Village on northern Okinawa Island…

Precipitated Ryukyu Ai Vat_w
A Precipitated Ryukyu Ai Vat

The precipitated vat is an excellent source of indigo colour for my kasuri ikat resist-tied threads which i use in handweaving Ryukyu inspired cloth…

Kasuri Warp Threads_w
Ryukyu Ai Kasuri Warp Threads

The fresh Ryukyu Ai leaves are also the source of the indigo blue hues in my contemporary natural dyework on cloth and paper…

My Indigo_3_w
Indigo Spring

As an artist, working with Ryukyu Ai is one of those “little things” that brings much pleasure…

My Indigo_1_w
Ryukyu Ai






Published by Ryukyu Heritage Textiles

Weaver. Fiber Artist. Photographer. Cook. Independent Traveler. Writer. Knitter. Fiber Spinner. Gardener. Geoscientist. Nature Lover. Angler. Marathoner. Wife. Observer. Taster. Technologist. Did i say Weaver?

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