On the Farm, in the Blue: Traditional Indigo Dye

On the Farm, in the Blue: Traditional Indigo Dye

Ricketts Indigo 1

Indigo is an annual, so in the fall, the Ricketts let their plants go to seed. Here, sheltered spring seedlings are prepared for transplant.

Rowland Ricketts

In our April/May issue, we profile fiber artists Rowland and Chinami Ricketts, who grow and process all of the indigo dye they use in their work. Production is lengthy and labor-intensive – the composting stage alone spans 100 days – but the Indiana couple, who met while apprenticing at an indigo dyeing studio in Japan, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The blue itself is not just a color, but the knowledge that is embodied with the entire process,” Rowland told us. “Seeds, raising plants, harvest, drying, composting, all the way through to dyeing are so much more profound and meaningful than simply mixing the dye.”

Follow along with the couple’s farming and dye-making process in the slideshow above; visit their website for even more images of their textiles and indigo dye process; and don’t miss their American Craft profile.