Sunday, August 25, 2013

Soft ponchos from Japanese indigo

At the two flea markets in Santa Fe, there are vendors from Africa who import all sorts of items. I especially like the textiles, such as the mud cloth from Africa. These same African vendors also sell Japanese indigo (go figure). Several retail stores in Santa Fe also sell indigo and mud cloth, but they buy it from the flea market vendors and mark it up.
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Japanese indigo was devised during the period from 1600-1868. First a design was cut onto tanned Japanese paper that consists of many layers glued together. The pattern was then placed on a sheet of textured cotton cloth. A paste of rice was spread over it and covered the parts of cloth where the patterns were cut out. Once the cloth was dipped in the Japanese indigo dye, the parts not covered with the rice paste were dyed a deep blue. I've seen indigo that's similar in design, but have never seen two exactly the same. Just like mud cloth from Africa, patterns are similar, but no two are exactly the same.

Today I'm creating totes and ponchos. I've already made two tote bags and will probably make two more, once my back recovers. I've also made three ponchos, two from indigo and one from a fabric that came from Guatemala. The pic-of-the-day is one of the ponchos I made out of indigo. It's really soft and cute. I can see wearing it over a long-sleeve t-shirt with jeans or leggings. I fought myself today because I wanted to go get more indigo and make more ponchos to sell. Would they sell?


  1. Beautiful! I love indigo dyed fabric.

  2. Thanks, Laurin. I was able to find a couple more pieces, but this piece is my favorite.