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

Updated: Aug 5

KOKORO Indigo Culture: Bizkaia, Spain.

Our next story is about Marian, 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

Marian resides in Sopuerta, a town in the Basque Country/Bizkaia. In Bizkaia, the climate is oceanic, with high precipitation all year round and moderate temperatures, which allow the lush vegetation to grow. This artist and farmer is cultivating indigo in the place where they each live with the intention that home where they can have the best production. This year, she 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

Marian is 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. I am 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, fellow artist/indigo planter, plan to visit Japan to learn the process of Takayuki Ishii. All of the indigo Marian has produced are organic, grown under ecological criteria and no chemicals involvements. She will begin to plant green manure to prepare the soil for this spring. This past 2021, I was able to take an online course with Debra for the production of sukumo following the steps of Takayuki Isshii's book, "The way of Indigo" and this year in 2022 I am doing my first real sukumo experience. Previously I did two that failed, but for me that is interesting, because it allows me to continue growing as a professional. A sukumo master is not one at first.

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

Marian vive en un pueblo de Bizkaia en el País Vasco que se llama Sopuerta. En mi proyecto llevo un año y estamos a medio camino para avanzar.

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 me ha permitido poder hacer pruebas con nuestro indigo. Quiero centrar el proyecto r en la producción de sukumo, por eso estoy secando la mayor parte de las hojas, ya que tenía planeado ir el próximo noviembre a Japón a estudiar el proceso con Takayuki Ishii 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 la producción la he hecho bajo criterios ecológicos. No estoy 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 mi 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.

Este pasado 2021, pude realizar un curso online con Debra para la producción de sukumo siguiendo los pasos del libro de Takayuki Ishii, “ The way of Indigo” y este año en 2022 estoy haciendo mi primera experiencia real de sukumo. Anteriormente hice dos que fracasaron, pero para mi eso es interesante, porque me permite seguir creciendo como profesional. Un maestro de sukumo no lo es a la primera.

Thank you to Marian 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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