Assam - Day Three

by - Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today we dye with indigo. As usual it is a magical and transforming experience. And as usual everything that can be put into a dyevat is usually blue by the end of the day. This is the moment when the students who may have been hanging back come forward and get fully involved. There is no resisting the pull of the blue pot. This is our last dye and when the last hanks are overdyed with indigo our palette is complete.

When overdyeing the yarns are only rinsed. But now, after the final colour they receive a thorough cleaning. As with washing in Morocco there is some hesitation at this stage. There is a real fear that the colour they have worked so hard to get will all go down the drain.

The finished yarns are divided into sets so that each student can leave with a full set of sample yarns. This is very important. If they are to be able to match colours they will need these samples so that they have a clear visual indicator - both of what has been done and what can be done.

There are certificates to handed out to the students. They are signed by Charllotte, Chandan, and Dr. Dipali Devi. Dr. Devi, a sericulturalist with IASST (the Institute of Advanced Scientific Study and Technology, Guwahati) assisted in the organization of this workshop and showed a keen interest in natural dye techniques. We are hopeful that as a representative of such a prestigious institution she can continue the necessary work of disseminating information to artisans.

As the students check the recipes against the sample yarns the questions begin. Now is the time when we find out how much they have understood. Tricky concepts like weight of fiber (or WOF an essential measure of dye concentration based on a percentage of the weight of material to be dyed) are repeated. The students are very happy, and feel very satisfied with their new knowledge. They have accomplished a great amount in three short days and we are proud of them and to be working in Assam.

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