Friday, April 17, 2015

Sky Blue Thinking

We have processed and used indigo from our own farm! 

Safi Crafts had access to many forms of yellow dye from such things as pomegranate and ochre earth and we recently added reds from madder root which grows wild here, but blue was an important missing element. With the financial help of the Drosos Foundation with the guidance of UNESCO we planted an indigo farm and have now a full colour pallet of red, yellow and blue with all of the secondary colours of oranges, greens and purples.

Indigo is chemically tricky to process so we invited dye experts from Oman to teach us. Here Fatme learns how to soak and agitate the indigo leaves in a vat of warm water. 

After the leaves ferment there is some blue dye soluble in the water - but it needs to be concentrated. The next step is to add oxygen by whisking the water. Our agronomist, Dr Mohammad Qinna made our wooden whisk based on palm frond whisks used in Oman.

Whisking creates a green foam and the oxygen makes the indigo become insoluble and precipitate to the bottom of the vat - like fine sand.

Once the indigo settles to the bottom of the vat the water is poured off.


It is then the sludge is poured onto cotton to dry.

Here is the processed indigo ready to use. 

Our first indigo dyed cloth from our own farm!

It's a historic crop here in the Southern Jordan Valley and this is a dye vat at the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth excavated by archeologist Dr Konstantinos Politis- shown here speaking with one of our Omani visitors.

A huge thank you to the three wonderful experts from Oman from the women of Safi Crafts. Here is also our indigo dye teacher Jean Bradbury and UNESCO representative Valentina Gamba.