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.

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