indigo scarves shibori silk: meet the makers

indigo shibori silk scarves bangladesh_fairtrade

Indigo, for centuries the only pigment able to dye textiles blue. The blue from jeans and Japanese kimonos. Bengal was one of the biggest indigo producing areas, until the indigo revolt in 1859. Farmers rebelled against exploitation and the invention of synthetic indigo around 1890 led to a sharp decline in the use and cultivation of natural indigo.

The Living Blue cooperative brought the indigo tradition back to life and creates much needed economic activities in the poor Northwest of Bangladesh. Everyone working in the cooperative owns a share and shares in the profits.

This collection of silk indigo scarves from Tulsi Crafts is made by Living Blue. They made products of an amazingly high quality by using a very refined shibori technique.

fair trade indigo from bangladesh

Indigofera tinctoria, the plant where the natural dye is extracted from. The plants are also grown by the cooperative.

fair trade indigo ethical

After fermenting the pigment is dried and ground to a fine powder.

indigo scarves dyeing bangladesh fair trade

With the powder a dye vat can be made.

shibori technique fair trade bangladesh

The scarves are stitched, pleated and bound using the shibori technique.

shibori scarf dyeing with indigo

They are dipped into the vat.

shibori scarf dyeing with indigo fair trade

After dyeing the stitches are removed.

shibori scarf dyeing with indigo fairtrade bangladesh

In some spots the dye hasn’t penetrated, creating these white and blue patterns.

shibori scarf dyeing with indigo bangladesh

The process of shibori, dyeing and finishing takes around five days. Twelve people work on an indigo scarf, each with their own specialty. The time and knowledge they invest in making these indigo scarves definitely shows in the end result.

shibori scarf dyeing with indigo ethical

indigo shibori silk scarf arrow_fairtrade bangladeshindigo shibori silk scarf stripe_fairtrade bangladesh

indigo shibori scarf silk | arrow & indigo shibori scarf silk | stripe

indigo shibori silk scarf triangle_fairtrade bangladeshindigo shibori silk scarf zigzag_fairtrade bangladesh

indigo shibori scarf silk | triangle & indigo shibori scarf silk | zigzag

photos of the dyeing process: living blue
product photos: tulsi crafts

2 thoughts on “indigo scarves shibori silk: meet the makers

  1. Great initiative to keep the craft alive and give livelihood to so many artisans. If any natural dye workshop is conducted in Delhi I would love to learn Indigo Dyeing.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amrit. I don’t know of any indigo dyeing workshops in Delhi unfortunately.

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