Indigo & Dyeing:
Living Blue produces its own indigo, with 3000 indigo farmers, in Northern Bangladesh. In addition to indigo, we work with madder, myrobalan fruit, pomegranate shell, eucalyptus leaf, onion skin, banana flower and betel nut.
Our indigo is of the indigofera ticntoria species, and is native to Bangladesh. Living Blue takes pride in producing only the finest True Bengal natural indigo, famously known as the ‘blue gold’.
The technique of dyeing is a nuanced and complicated process, and the Living Blue dyers have honed their skills for over decade.
The preparation of the vats used in our dying process is an art in itself. When a vat is prepared, the dye it contains carries a strong history, and the conditions of the vat directly affect the final product. Every vat is maintained with the utmost care, every day after the day’s work. This maintenance is vital to the health of the vat.
We have 15 dyers at Living Blue, nine women and six men.
The type of quilting in Bangladesh, Kantha, goes back thousands of years. Living Blue is based in northern Bangladesh, which has its own distinct quilting history. Many of these techniques were at risk of getting lost to time, which is where Living Blue stepped in. Our artisans were sent to the National Museum in Dhaka, to view the quilts on display and begin to revive the ancient techniques.
The main technique that we worked to revive is known as ‘lohori’, or the wave. Our quilts are made of three to five layers of cotton, with no padding. Historically this technique comes from a time when the women in the region would quilt together old sarees for protection against the harsh northern winter.
The women in Bangladesh are quilters by birth, learning the art from their mothers and grandmothers. At Living Blue we maintain very sensitive standards in the quilting process. All our quilters go through a training process, to learn and maintain our standards, after which they are given free reign to practice their creativity.
Our artisans create quilt forms inspired by their day to day life in their small villages. They depict what they see, how they feel, and the many aspects of their everyday life. Every stitch has a history, a technique passed down from generations, and the love and care of a true artisan. Our quilts can take up to 24 weeks to make, illustrating the patience and attention our quilters give to their work.
Shibori is a resist stitching technique originally from Japan, that the Living Blue artisans have taken time to study and master. Each piece of fabric goes through vigorously repeated stitching and dyeing, resulting in unique designs.
Shibori is a delicate skill that requires years to master. Our artisans have spent an immense amount of time and patience developing these skills to become perhaps the finest shibori artisans outside of Japan.
There are 35 shibori artisans at Living Blue, with a decade of experience.