In Kyoto last week I went along to Aizen Kobo, a natural indigo dyeing workshop in an old machiya house, located in the Nishijin textile district. Owned by indigo dyer, Kenichi Utsuki, this place was a real pleasure to visit. Ken-san is very passionate about natural indigo dyeing and will patiently talk you through the difference between what he does and chemical indigo dyeing processes. His kobo (workshop) is located in a very large machiya which is pure bliss to explore with Ken as he shows you samples of the fabrics he has dyed and his wife Hisako has designed into finished products.
The white fabrics in the top pic show Japanese style shibori before it has been dyed. Check out those tiny little knots!!!! Underneath those fabrics sit ones which have been dyed a rich indigo blue using the natural dyeing process. I asked Ken how he was able to make the vivid green in the scarf (2nd pic) and to my surprise he said by combining indigo with the dye from gardenia seed.
Check out these vats of indigo dye in the process of fermenting! I won't lie - they did smell a bit as you would expect from a natural fermentation process.And here is the front of the machiya where Ken's kobo is located. He has a lovely shop in the front where you can go crazy looking at all that gorgeous shibori dyed fabric he has on offer. Needless to say I did not leave empty handed.