Monday, August 03, 2009

Indigo Harvest Pics--long post

Fresh Indigo Ready for Harvesting

Rowland Ricketts cuts the indigo close to the ground. New shoots are sprouting up at the base of the plants for the second harvest--or the plant may be allowed to go to seed for next year's planting.

A scythe is used to cut the indigo. The scythe has a serrated blade to cut through the stems.

Volunteers helping with the first Indiana harvest for Rickett's Indigo carry bundles of cut indigo to the area where they will be laid out to dry in the sun.

Rowland spreads out cut indigo to dry in the sun.

The leaves turn dark blue as they begin to dry.

Drying indigo.

Indigo drying in the Indiana sun.
The leaves dry and turn quicker than the thick stems.

The dried indigo is put into a pile for winnowing--separating the stems from the leaves. The winnowing is done by stomping on the indigo pile to crush the leaves off of the stems.

After stomping, the stems are removed from the blue indigo.

The dried indigo is gathered and stored in bags until it can be composted.
To learn more about the process Rowland and Chinami Ricketts follow, please visit their website.
Rowland and Chinami are very generous in sharing their knowledge with others as well as being some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It was really a privilege to visit their farm and help with the indigo harvest. I will post some video clips as soon as I get those edited.

Winnowing the indigo

Winnowing the indigo was actually fun. After the indigo dries in the sun, it is gathered up in a pile and then stomped on--barefoot or shoes. The stomping crumbles the dried leaves off of the stems. The stems are separated from the dried indigo and the dried indigo gets stored in bags. Later the indigo will have to be composted to prepare it for the vat. I got some great pictures and video to post as soon as I get time to do a little editing. The sunlight was pretty bright and I may need to correct for that in my pics.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Indigo burn

No, we did not burn any indigo--I am referring to the hint of sunburn I got during the indigo harvesting today. Rowland gave us a lesson on how to use the scythes to cut the plants, proper height for cutting to allow for the second growth, and how to lay out the indigo to dry in the sun. And Chinami was our charming host for lunch. It was fun to be with other artists from a variety of backgrounds to do something to help a fellow artist. I did get to take some photos and video but need to do some editing due to strong sunlight washing things out a bit. Tomorrow is the winnowing and I will work on getting more details and pics and video posted. I am thinking of doing a small planting bed of indigo to try now. The color range from the natural vat are so much better.