Pop-up shop now open!

The 2014 edition of the Language of Cloth Pop-up Shop is now open. There are many new finds this year, and prices are still very reasonable.

Open every day except Monday, from 10am to 7pm.

December 2nd through 24th

 

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Artists who use indigo: Rowland and Chinami Ricketts

Recently I visited Rowland and Chinami Ricketts in their studio in Bloomington, Indiana , where Rowland is an assistant professor on the textiles faculty in the School of Fine Arts.

“Rowland and Chinami Ricketts use natural materials and traditional processes to create contemporary textiles. Chinami hand-weaves narrow width yardage for kimono and obi. Rowland hand-dyes textiles that span art and design. Together we grow all the indigo that colors our cloth, investing ourselves and our time in our textiles because we believe this way of working to be an essential part of the material’s integrity and authenticity.”http://www.rickettsindigo.com/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are both very personable and kind, generous with the knowledge they have gained through their years of training and apprenticeship with masters in Japan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey maintain two stainless steel vats, about 4 feet deep, one freshly made, and the other already used.  They start by dyeing the cloth in the older vat to begin building up the color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChinami is a weaver, creating cloth from hand dyed yarns in the traditional way, in widths suitable for making kimonos. She and Rowland have designed a line of table runners ,wall hangings, and room dividers that recently were awarded by The Martha Stuart American Made craft competition:http://www.marthastewart.com/americanmade/nominee/93030/crafts/ricketts-indigo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPreparing the lye water for a new vat. They get ash from the hardwood burned by a local wood-fired pizza restaurant to use for making it.

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Sample swaths. Rowland emphasized the importance of testing the variables, recording details, and being consistent in the process.

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The vat is alive.

Coloring batik, naturally

I’ve looked at many batik colored with natural dyes, and often the results are somewhat dull and flat. When I saw this one by my colleague, Mas Solikhin Ahmad of Pekalongan on the north coast of Java, I jumped for joy at the liveliness of the color, all derived from natural sources, including indigo. The colors are unusually defined and distinct, not muddied at all, which is quite a feat.  What also makes this batik outstanding is the composition. Although I am  getting a bit bored with the butterfly fixation many batikers have right now, the color and overall design of this one makes it truly outstanding. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Handwriting stamped batik scarf

Instead of applying the wax by hand with the canting, the wax resist is applied with a stamp made of copper, called a cap (tchap). The dye is indigo.

Love scarf, indigo on silk

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Making a “Love” cap

I tried my hand at using the canting to write with wax  but it is a long and difficult process. My friend Asif suggested that I ask his friend who is a skilled tukang cap to make a “Love”stamp. I was skeptical that it could be done. Having never seen how a stamp, called a cap (pronounced tchap), is made,  I was amazed at the skill and craftsmanship that goes into it. Here are some photos of the process.

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The women of Kebon Indah

What a joy to visit these lovely artisans in Kebon, Klaten, Central Java. Their work is beautiful and their spirit spirit is inspiring. They are a collective (kelompok) of 169 women from a group of small villages who have joined together, pooling their resources to make batik using only natural ingredients gathered locally to color their creations.

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Batik Indigo, deeper and darker in Pekalongan

My friend and colleague, Solikhin , has been working very hard over the past three years since I saw him last. Still focused on indigo, never finding an easy solution by way of chemical dye, Solikhin has come a long way toward opening up the richness and versatility of indigo.

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This is an example of the colors he derives by overdyeing with other natural vegetable dyes on a cloth that is first dyed with indigo.

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Solikhin creates his own designs and does his own coloring. He does however rely on some very skilled artisans to apply the wax to the cloth.

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This cloth is colored with indigo and overdyed with jelawe the fruit of a certain tree.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis batik is colored purely with indigo.

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Celup, celup, celup

The darkest indigo batik I have ever seen is from the workshop of Hanafi natural dyer in Pekalongan Central Java. This is a clip from his workshop.

A batik of the deepest blue may need more than 100 celup (dips) and take many weeks to produce.

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