Kiki Brown and I traveled down to Nashville to visit the ladies I interned with last year, they were known as
ASK Apparel, but are starting to become strictly an eco-dye service called Artisan Natural Dyeworks. Kiki
and I had worked on a project together in which we learned the process of turning the invasive plant Kudzu
into a fiber while eradicating it without the use of herbicides. Ali and Sarah of ASK Apparel and Kiki and I
decided to lead a workshop in Nashville showing the process of Kudzu processing and indigo processing. The
indigo processing was particularly important for me to witness and learn as I have not made indigo into a stored
pigment before. It was a well worth experience and everyone involved in the workshop was wonderful to work with!!
We began by harvesting the plant. The variety of indigo that Ali and Sarah grew was mostly Japanese Indigo.
We soaked the plant and then added pickling lime to extract the blue pigment.
The pigment begins to settle at the bottom of the container, while the liquid on top can be disposed of.
Throughout the workshop we did many indigo dye experiments including wrapping, tying, and pounding leaves.
We were able to dye thread. The thread on the right side is kudzu thread.
The thread comes from the vine of the Kudzu plant. The kudzu leaves can be eaten and are 24% protein.
There are numerous recipes for the leaf and also for making a medicine or starch with the root. For eradicating
the plant (as it can grow up to a foot a day) Kiki and I described the crown removal process in which you dig
and cut the roots/vines of the plant from the crown. This is a much more environmentally friendly way of getting
rid of the plant than to spray it with herbicides. It is a bit more labor intensive on its own, but if one uses the vine
to make something out of it while cutting out the root crown, it is possible that it could be efficient.
The process is fairly simple. The fresh vine is boiled and then set under a tarp. Basically the thread is the
length of the vine and just pulls away along down the vine.
Kiki is in purple peeling the kudzu thread. Below, we experimented dyeing the thread. It was a green/blue color.
Here’s the group. We had a fun time, the workshop was a full two days but went by so fast!!!