Blue printed textiles, indigo and the dye houses

(Blåtryck, indigo och blåerier)

A project supported by The National Swedish Handicraft Council (Nämnden för Hemslöjdsfrågor)

About the dye houses and the cultural heritage that they carry:

There are five active dye houses operating currently in Hungary (2023), where blue dyeing is a tradition. I will be visiting them (my hope is that I can visit all five) and the Museum of Blue Dyeing this summer. The idea is to create a smaller set up of a dye house and bring the craft back to Sweden. I´ve been growing woad and japanese indigo ( indigo blue pigment bearing plants) since 2016 and local sustainable production is very important to me. Old crafts, like blue dyeing is very close to my heart as I feel even that it became part of the UNESCO cultural heritage in 2018 it´s still a dieing art. As traditional methods have been replaced with machines and their fast production endangers them. I feel it´s important to be able spread the knowledge and through that safeguard it for future generations.

“Reversed” blue-printing.

Traditionally blue printing is an application of a resist to the fabrics then dyeing in an indigo vat. Here I´m replicating the mechanism of a vat during printing/painting.

Here you can see the development of a pattern, the indigo oxidizing and the blue colour is developing.

Block print with indigo. The blocks are hand carved from pear wood and represent the garden at Kronetorps mölla, which is a windmill from the 1600s in Arlöv.

Discharge printing. This is closer to the blue printing, but here the fabric gets dyed first and then with chemicals the colour gets removed. This is synthetic dyed fabric straight from the shop and printed with printing blocks I made.