For those who love indigo blue and have started cultivating a patch of Japanese indigo (Persicaria tinctoria), Singing the Blues with John Marshall As Your Guide is a treasure. Renowned textile artist John Marshall is fluent in both indigo and Japanese. And it is our great fortune as his book explains the many methods of dyeing with Japanese indigo. It goes far beyond the simple methods commonly used today. John’s humorous, clearly written and lavishly illustrated book draw from his own techniques and tools as well as translating several Japanese texts that have not been available to the English-speaking natural dyer.
John covers Japanese indigo from cultivation, care and harvest. The dye instructions include simple rubbing and raw-leaf dyeing to more sophisticated methods, including using a combination of cooked and raw leaves, adjusting pH, drying indigo leaves, extracting pigment, making traditional sukumo, and various vats including chemical and fermentation reduction. He also has a section on using indigo for painting, overdyeing and surface patterning using Japanese methods.
The other thing I love about Singing the Blues with John Marshall As Your Guide is a is that it introduces the reader to the Japanese color mindset when it comes to the shade blue. Rather than concentrating on achieving the darkest, blackest blues, John show us how to create delicate robin’s egg and aqua shades. (Those are achievable with fresh leaves.) He clearly differentiates which dye methods will produce different blue shades on various fibers.
Singing the Blues, Soulful Dyeing for All Eternity
St. Titus Press, second edition 2021, 8.5” x 11”, softcover, 90 pages. Covers everything you’ll need to know to get started dyeing with Japanese indigo, Persicaria tinctoria, from printing directly with the fresh, raw leaves to creating your own reduction vats from scratch. The range of projects guide you through each step, peppered with helpful tips and shortcuts.
Programs John Offers Related to This Topic
I also conduct a full range of indigo, natural dye, and katazome paste resist programs via Zoom and in person. Be sure to check out my workshop page or sign up for my newsletter to be the first to find out!