Aizome (藍染) Indigo Dyeing Part Three

Welcome to the third and last post in this series on aizome (indigo dyeing).

For the first post in this series, on the process of creating the dye, check here.

For the second post in this series, on the aizome museum near my home, check here.

The entrance to Ai No Yakata.

The entrance to Ai No Yakata.

When you first enter the museum Ai No Yakata (藍の館), you have the option of buying something to dye. They have a range of products starting from handkerchiefs at 500 yen to scarves at 3000 yen. After that, you enter the museum and find the building that houses the dyeing facilities. If you’re not sure which building it is, just follow your nose. Aizome dye has a distinct, fermented odor that is very, very, strong.

When you go in, you put on an apron and gloves, choose your design, and away you go!

There are eight different designs that you can choose from.  The staff will help you to create your design.  I choose number five.

There are eight different designs that you can choose from. The staff will help you to create your design. I choose number five.

Here's my handkerchief being prepared for the dyeing.  I had to wrap it around a stick and secure it with a rubber band.

Here’s my handkerchief being prepared for the dyeing. I had to wrap it around a stick and secure it with a rubber band.

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

The first dip.  each dip took one minute.

The first dip. each dip took one minute.

My handkerchief just after the first dip.  It looks green right now, but it eventually turns blue when it gets oxidized in the air.  I had to squeeze out all the extra liquid and wait for one minute before dipping it back in.

My handkerchief just after the first dip. It looks green right now, but it will eventually turn blue when it gets oxidized in the air. I had to squeeze out all the extra liquid and wait for one minute before dipping it back in.

This is after the third and final dip in the dye.  It's a lot darker than it started and definitely looks more blue than green.

This is after the third and final dip in the dye. It’s a lot darker than it started and definitely looks more blue than green.

The next step is to rinse the handkerchief under running water to get rid of the extra dye.  When the water runs clear, you know you're finished.

The next step is to rinse the handkerchief under running water to get rid of the extra dye. When the water runs clear, you know you’re finished.

A little modern technology here in the form of a spin dryer to help get all the extra water out.

A little modern technology here in the form of a spin dryer to help get all the extra water out.

While my handkerchief was spinning, I spotted this picture of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako doing their own aizome.

While my handkerchief was spinning, I spotted this picture of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako doing their own aizome.

The final step is ironing.

The final step is ironing.

The final product!

The final product!

Textiles that have been dyed with aizome have a lot of characteristics attributed to them. At the moment, I have no idea which ones have been proven scientifically and which ones are just folk knowledge. According to Mark Wisniewski in his book Dyeing To Dance, the benefits of aizome include…

  • Aizome can prevent skin irritations, athlete’s foot, and infertility (I’m pretty sure that last one is an old wives tale).
  • Aizome can protect against insect infestations and the bite of a mamushi (a poisonous snake).
  • Aizome has antiseptic and disinfectant properties that make it good for preventing colds (just the seeds), treating poisoning by blow-fish, or using indigo dyed cloth as a run of the mill bandage. It’s also effective in the treatment of insect bites.
  • Aizome can act as a sedative so it is a popular dye for futon and bedding material.

I’d be really intrigued to see how much truth there is in each of these claims.

 

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff!  But if you’re interested, check out my facebook, twitter, and instagram for the small, spur of the moment ideas, articles, and activities that I find and do related to kimono!

http://www.facebook.com/readysetkimono
http://www.twitter.com/Readysetkimono

http://www.instagram.com/readysetkimono

 

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4 thoughts on “Aizome (藍染) Indigo Dyeing Part Three

  1. Pingback: Aizome (藍染) Indigo Dyeing Part One | Ready, Set, Kimono!

  2. Pingback: Aizome (藍染) Indigo Dyeing Part Two | Ready, Set, Kimono!

  3. The 2nd and 3rd claim make some sense. Other people using indigo al lot (f.e. Touaregs) have same similar kind of claims.
    Thanks for the series. Liked it. Hope you don’t mind I linked it to ImmortalGeishagroup on FB.

    Like

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