On the Map, 2021: #2 Kokoro Indigo Culture & Craft


KOKORO Indigo Culture: Girona and Bizkaia, Spain.

Our next story is about Marian and Assumpta, co-creators of KOKORO: their indigo plants, Culture, Location and Language.

KOKORO Indigo Culture & Craft is located in Biscay, Spain. a textile studio where we carry out all the processes with the indigo plant that are traditionally carried out separately: from the cultivation of the indigo, the preparation of the tubs, the dyeing, and the design.

You can see more about their indigo journey and traditional processes @kokoroindigoculture


All photos from Kokoro Indigo Culture & Craft


1. Location/Environment

Assumpta lives in Salta in Girona, a city in northern Catalonia, while Marian resides in Sopuerta, a town in the Basque Country/Bizkaia. Girona has a humid subtropical climate, with cool winters and hot summers, perfect for traditional fermentation processes needing ongoing heat. In Bizkaia the climate is oceanic, with high precipitation all year round and moderate temperatures, which allow the lush vegetation to grow. Both artists and farmers are cultivating in the place where they each live with the intention that home where they can have the best production. This year, they have not been able to cultivate as much due to the circumstances brought upon by the pandemic. Having grown about three twenty-foot rows, although this has allowed for more experimentation with the indigo.

2. About Indigo & Practices

They are currently focusing on persicaria tinctoria (polygonum tinctorium/commonly known as Japanese Indigo) and a small quantity of isatis tinctoria (also called woad dyer's woad, or glastum).

“This year I have not been able to cultivate as much as I would have liked due to the circumstances of the virus. I've only grown about three twenty-foot rows. However, this has allowed us to test our indigo. We are not using any chemicals. Starting this month I will be able to start planting green manure to prepare the soil for next spring. I am sending you photos of our indigo, it is persicaria tinctoria. I have also planted some isatis tinctoria, but it is not very important, they are only a few plants with which I intend to do a small extraction of pigment.”

KOKORO's project is centered on the production of Sukumo. Marian and Assumpta, fellow artist/indigo planter, plan to visit Japan to learn the process of Takayaka Isshi. All of the indigo Marian and Assumpta have produced are organic, grown under ecological criteria and no chemicals involvements. They will begin to plant green manure to prepare the soil for this spring.


A Sukumo making process with leaves from polygonum tinctorium


Indigo flower from the Sukumo vat and a sample testing


Woad (isatis tinctoria) vat fermentation principle & crusing dried woad ball


3. Local Language & Culture

Biscay has been inhabited since the Middle Paleolithic era (300,000 to 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age). The Roman presence had little impact in the region as the Basque language and traditions have survived to this day. Spanish is a main language has been commonly used in this region. Their philosophy is focused on inspiring and creating "a culture based on the indigo plant through its history, its science and its art to people of all ages with workshops and other activities." They hope "to build a community of people who learn and contribute to creating an indigo culture and we do research on the sustainable growth and processing of indigo dyeing."


Photos taken during the indigo master David Santandreu's studio visit and sample dyeing.


Original Spanish Version is Here: Una versión original en español

Nosotras somos dos, Assumpta vive en Salta un pueblo de Gerona y yo en un pueblo de Bizkaia en el País Vasco que se llama Sopuerta. En nuestro proyecto conjunto llevamos un año y estamos a medio camino para avanzar. Anteriormente cada una hemos tenido nuestra propia historia con los tintes naturales en general y con el índigo. Ambas estamos cultivando, cada una en el lugar en el que vive, pero con la intención de que sea aquí donde hagamos la máxima producción.

Este año no he podido cultivar tanto como hubiera querido por las circunstancias del virus. Solo he cultivado unas tres filas de siete metros. Sin embargo, esto nos ha permitido poder hacer pruebas con nuestro indigo. Nuestro proyecto se quiere centrar en la producción de sukumo, por eso estamos secando la mayor parte de las hojas, ya que teníamos planeado ir el próximo noviembre a Japón a estudiar el proceso con Takayaka Isshi cuyo contacto nos dió Debra Ketchum. En estos momentos no creo que podamos ir porque Japón tiene cerradas sus fronteras y no podemos viajar. Así que tendremos que posponer el viaje al año que viene. Toda nuestra producción la hemos hecho bajo criterios ecológicos. No estamos usando ningún producto químico. A partir de este mes podré empezar a plantar abono verde para preparar la tierra para la próxima primavera. Te mando fotos de nuestro indigo.Es persicaria tinctoria. También he plantado un poco de isatis tinctoria, pero no es muy importante, solo son unas pocas plantas con las que pretendo hacer una pequeña extracción de pigmento.


Thank you to Marian and Assumpta for contributing to our map! For more information about KOKORO's extraction process please visit their site.


Click here to see Kokoro Indigo Culture & Craft on the Map!

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