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Jane’s Journal

How to create colour with fresh leaf indigo

dyeing with fresh leaf indigo

This year I have been growing indigo in my garden and in an upcycled polystyrene fish box in the greenhouse.  

Indigo refers to a number of plants and the actual variety that I am growing  is called Persicaria tinctorial or Japanese indigo.  It is a tender perennial and will not survive the frost.  Here in the middle of Scotland we have frosts up until the middle of May so I am growing indigo as a half hardy annual - exactly the same way that I grow amaranthus or cosmos.

I started by sowing seeds in February and March - using a heated mat to germinate them and then growing them on in the greenhouse, covering them with fleece on cold nights.  They went out into the garden in May and I began cropping last week.

The amount of indigo that I am growing is relatively small and a lot of leaves are needed to create pigment, so, rather than make a vat, I have decided to use the fresh leaves, along with salt, to colour fabric.

You can see how I get on and learn more about the technique in this Studio Vlog