Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Japanese Indigo (Polygonum tinctorium) 2013

Japanese Indigo is also know as Chinese Indigo, or Dyer's Knotweed.  The Japanese refer to it as "Ai."  For centuries, Japanese Indigo has been widely used in Asia as a source for blue dye.  The leaves of this plant contain indican, a glucose substance, which once reduced (made soluble), results in beautiful shades of blue and aqua on both protein (animal) and cellulose (plant) fibers.

More detailed information about growing Japanese Indigo and how to prepare an indigo dye bath may be found on the Japanese Indigo - 2011 post.  Here I will just share my latest exploits in dyeing with this plant on wool, silk, and linen.  
Japanese Indigo sharing the bed with tomato plants.

After harvesting, the leaves were stuffed tightly into a gallon jar, filled with water, then put on the stove and brought to 160 degrees F.

Dyeing Results:
Deep blue on wool yarn

Silk pillow cases crumpled in net bag before going into the dye bath gives a mottled look.

Silk pillow cases after dry
Linen shirt being stitched for shibori before dyeing
Stitching on shirt pulled tight
Shibori shirt wet out of the dye pot hanging to dry
Here is the shirt after drying:
Shibori shirt (back) dyed with Japanese Indigo
Shibori shirt (front) dyed with Japanese Indigo


  1. Thank you, India. You are such an inspiration! I hope to plant a eucalyptus tree in my yard this spring and begin experimenting with eco-prints on cloth. I have been gathering rusty metal objects for some time! --Pallas

  2. How original! Your content is very knowledgeable. I was trying to find appropriate material and here I got bundle of information On Linen Shirt. This is first rate work.

    1. Justlinen, I appreciate your comments. I began this blog simply as a notebook for myself, a place to store information on how I created my dye baths and what plants yielded which colors. Then others started to find my blog and have shared that it has been very helpful to them as natural dyers to find detailed information on HOW to do it. Your clothing line looks very interesting! --Pallas