NIHONMONODiscovering Japan [Nihon] through authentic craftsmanship [Honmono]

Pursuing the depth of ”ai-zome” – ”Isso”

Pursuing the depth of ”ai-zome” -
”Isso”

What is ”ai wo tateru (making the dye)”?

”Isso” is the ”ai-zome” atelier operated by indigo dyer Tokiko Kajimoto. Tokushima’s natural indigo is used as the dye in the traditional method, by mordanting the lye of wood such as ”kunugi”, oak and cherry.
The colors are not fixed by merely dyeing with the plant pigment. Therefore, mordanting such as lye, alum, copper and iron are used to create a chemical reaction which makes the color stay. The same plant offers completely different colors depending on what mordanting is used. For ”ai-zome”, the color cannot be generated only by using ”sukumo” (fermented indigo), so nutrients from are added such as lye of wood (alkaline fluid), lime and bran. This is the process referred to as ”ai wo tateru (making the dye)”.

Indigo is living

The dye solution includes microorganisms which reduce the indigo, and the lime or bran further enhances fermentation when added. Working with invisible microorganisms is very troublesome. It is often said that ”indigo is living”, and temperature, alkali level and added nutrient causes variations in the fermentation process.
The cloth is then soaked in the prepared dyeing solution, wrung, aired for oxidization, then carefully washed in water. After these processes, a beautiful blue appears. The color becomes deeper with each additional dyeing process, creating a deep dark color that is almost black.

Enjoying various tints

Since the olden days, beautiful names were given to the indigo colors. For example, ”Aishiro” that is almost white, ”Kamenozoki” that is a little bit darker than ”Aishiro”, ”Asagi” that is a yellowish pale indigo color, ”Hanada” that is dark blue, ”Nando” that is blackish ”Hanada”, and ”Koki-hanada” that is a reddish ”Hanada”. The many variations of the color is another attractive point of ”ai-zome”.

Isso’s motto is to create simple items that bring out the best of the indigo color, by maximizing the materials. Even just looking at the gracefully dyed cloths is very intriguing. Nakata also learned how to dye, and the finished product brought a smile of satisfaction to his face.
Why not experience the depth of indigo with something close to your every day life?

ACCESS

Isso
4-20-5 Yoshino Honmachi, Tokushima
URL http://www.awa-ai.com/