Maker: Dyed and True

Indigo artisans do their work the time-honored (and time-consuming) way.

July 2016Add a comment

Rowland and Chinami Ricketts
Rowland and Chinami Ricketts

Each bluish hue of Rowland Ricketts’s textiles and wife Chinami’s fabric represents two spans of time: several centuries of indigo-dyeing tradition, and the previous year of the couple’s life.

Rowland, an artist, and Chinami, a weaver of yardage for kimonos and Japanese sashes called obi, color their cloth with indigo they grow on their Bloomington farm. Planting, harvesting, drying, composting, and making the dye takes nearly 12 months. The couple learned time-honored, sustainable techniques in Chinami’s native country of Japan, where Rowland was teaching English when he developed his indigo interest. Their vibrant works earned them a Martha Stewart American Made award in 2014.

Dyeing fabricOf course, there are cheaper, easier ways to dye. (Your blue jeans are made with a synthetic, petroleum-based product.) But to Rowland—an associate professor of textiles at Indiana University who has exhibited his art throughout the world—the process is more important than the finished product. Color is intangible, and dyed cloth is more fleeting than, say, ceramics, but the method connects him to his environment and his predecessors’ knowledge. Besides, the pointlessness is part of the point: “There’s something beautifully human about the fact that we still do this,” he says.

 

BUY IT

Indigo-dyed linen towel and set of four felt coasters, $48 each at rickettsindigo.com.

Four felt coastersLinen towel

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