BEHIND THE CRAFT " NEELA
NEELA - FERMENTED INDIGO VAT
PROCESS - I KEEP IT TRADTIONAL
Indigo is a material with a rich history in dyeing and printing. It has been used by cultures worldwide for thousands of years. To keep the traditional method alive, I named my three-year-old fermented vat of indigo "Neela."
While I consider myself more of a farmer than a dyer, I must focus on the agricultural land that grows the primary material to obtain the blue colour. Although I have a small plot of indigo growing in my backyard, it is not enough to set up a vat. I need a kilo of dried leaves or powdered indigo to begin the process, which I must supervise for months until the bacteria in them draw out the pigment and reduce the vat for dyeing. The maintenance of the bacteria is a daily practice.
My vats use whole indigo leaves, pigment form (sourced in organic farming from France and India), lye (ash-water), a fermenting agent (such as tamarind pulp, crushed date powder, or cereal bran), and nothing else! For every dye project, I combine the indigo vat with locally sourced alkaline water. The results of indigo vat education in how to make and use indigo are lingering. I had complete Khalsa hands. Blue is the colour of the warrior and of protection in Sikhism. This is who I am! A Pure Sikh from the heart!
The key to my natural indigo dyeing vat is lye. Natural lye is an alkaline supernatant liquid made by immersing wood ash in water. Using ash from a thorny tree like oak is necessary to ensure the alkali's ability to dissolve the pigment. Therefore, I use high-quality oak wood chips from trees grown in Cognac-la-Forêt Limoges, France, to make my tannin-rich, alkaline lye. I recycle the oak wood chips.
Indigo dyeing has been a labour-intensive process; my vats can't dye large amounts of fibre quickly. After a few hours, the vat must rest to avoid failure due to bacteria depletion. Like a human, it needs a rest to restart!
Indigo dye is a sustainable gift from nature that requires intricate scientific, biological, and spiritual practices. As a passionate advocate for fair trade and handcrafted techniques, As a true advocate of fair trade and handcrafted techniques, I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with indigo farmers in both France and India. Our aim is to promote sustainable production practices and cultural heritage. By incorporating indigo-dyed fabrics, and hand-painted and block-printed goods, I aim to create a viable market for this age-old craft. The end result is a stunning array of fabrics that are both sustainable and timeless, supporting artisans and positively impacting the world.
The end result is a stunning range of sustainable and timeless fabrics that support artisans and have a positive impact on the world. It's a constructive way to make a difference!