indigo : a ritual, a history
The practice of dying garments indigo is an integral part of the Homefrocks studio. Every two weeks, a dying session occurs at the workshop, just east of the shop & studio. A froth of iridescent blue covers the dye bath as fermented leaves surround the cloth. Shades of green begin to emerge underwater. Out of the water and into the sun the fabric takes a deep breath, turning a unique blue hue.
The resulting color is often in-between, ever-shifting tones of blue that mirror the beauty of the in-between seasons of new mexico, the place where dark, cool clouds linger between summer & fall. The choice of natural indigo gives more variation & current to the dye, rather than a "purity" more kin to synthetic dyes. Natural indigo's beauty lies in this gradation and variablility, like wearing the changing water itself.
The term "indigo" actually refers to several plants, many adorned with pea-like flowers. The word is taken from the Greek Ινδικον (indikon); the indic (from india). Indigo was key for ancient Mayans, a color to call the rain god Chac Mool, & copal resin adhering indigo to clay. Caesar’s warriors wore indigo on their skin, a war paint turning their bodies a deep blue, meant to scare their enemies & heal their wounds. blue-collar, bleu de travail -- an indigo cloth was crafted for the workers' clothes of France. Italian fisherman mend their nets with indigo string, a fine line of paint woven through time.