This is a story about Siripohn Sansirikul's indigo journey in Thailand and resonates with her life motto "paint your life indigo" at the Studio Chiangdao Blue.
1. Address / Location
All photos were submitted by Siripohn Sansirikul
My name is Siripohn Sansirikul. I’m Thai.
I work with natural dye at Studio Chiangdao Blue located in the Chiangdao, a small town located close to Burma’s border.
I'm in the Chiangdao district, 75 km. away from downtown Chiangmai.
Mt.Chiangdao is the 3rd highest mountain in Thailand and a major landmark of my region. There are also several ethnic groups living in Chiangdao; for example, the Mhong, Lisu, Karen, and Akha hill tribes.
As Chiangdao is one of Thailand’s major watershed forest, local
communities have a high consciousness of preserving nature in our region. Farming is a major source of income for the local people. Lushly green and rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, Chiangdao is famous for several kinds of fruit orchards like oranges, longan, mangos, avocados, plum, strawberry, garlic, and green leaves for salad. This region is also the origin for backstrap weaving among the Karen & Dara Ang people.
I moved here just about 3 years. My studio is located in a small village called Ban Muang Kong, about 5 km. from downtown. I selected this village as my home and workplace because of the panoramic view of Mt.Chiangdao from my studio. This was one of the most important reasons as every day is a direct connection to the mountain... an essential living environment for me. I live here with my 86 year-old-mother, who needs close care as she can’t walk on her own, and my husband. My husband is Japanese and travels between Thailand and Japan. I used to live in Hokkaido, Japan for 13 years after getting married. Spending my life in Japan was a turning point for me in getting involved in the garment business which later on led me to indigo dyeing here in Chiangdao.
I love Chiangdao because it enables me to spend my daily life exactly as I dreamed. I can spend time with my mother, enjoy cooking my own meals, and indigo dyeing. I can explore indigo work as deeply as I wish, starting from seedlings. Planting indigo unexpectedly gives me a chance to explore another new world of soil, water, plants, and the influences of each season. These kinds of things are so new to me and make my heart, brain, and senses excited! It deepens my true gratefulness towards the nature around me. For me, this is truly the original value of living.
2) Indigo Plants & Practice
I grow 2 kinds of indigo, Indigofera tinctoria & Strobilanthes cusia. I will include Japanese indigo as the 3rd one since it also grows quite well here in Chiangmai (my first trial on growing JI last year during the rainy season was good enough to continue).
Last year 90% of my indigo paste came from Indigofera tinctoria while the rest of the 10% was from Strobilanthes cusia. Originally I planted 2 kinds of them in my garden. During the last rainy season until the early dry season, I could make about 80 kg. of indigo paste with 9 batches in total. Therefore my plan for 2021 is to expand the growing land for 3 kinds of indigo plants. Indigofera tinctoria is still my major source of indigo paste making.
My target is to produce about 350 kg. for my own use in 2021. I aim to make a high percentage of blue pigment from my indigo paste since the concentrated paste could offer a desirable blue.
Regarding indigo pigment extraction, I make the indigo paste by fermenting fresh leaves for 2 nights, taking the leaves out, adding lime, and aeration by using a submersible pump. After that, I let it sit overnight and drain the pale yellow liquid out to get the underneath paste.
For the actual dyeing method, I use lime powder to get a pH of around 11 and add tamarind concentrated juice while trying to keep the temperature at around 25-30 degrees. It's not so difficult for a hot country like Thailand. I dye with cotton and linen fabrics.
I use Thai in my daily life and sometimes Japanese. So far, natural
dye, especially natural indigo dye, is not well known in Chiangdao since
almost of people’s income source comes from agriculture. Only the Karen and Dara Ang hill tribes do their backstrap weaving, which is mostly for their own use. I plan to bring awareness to natural indigo dye done in Chiangdao on both a domestic and international scale as I believe a wonderful place like Chiangdao is also great for indigo blue. One of my lifetime dreams regarding indigo is creating blue shades original to Chiangdao. My studio's slogan is "paint your life indigo". I would like to introduce indigo blue in all aspects of daily life, not only articles of clothing.
Location & Address:
Natural dye " Studio Chiangdao Blue ”
290 Moo 3, T. Chiangdao, A.Chiangdao, Chiangmai, 50170 Thailand
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