Inspirational Indigo

inspirational burnished indigo damask coat

Heart Space staff went on a jolly last week, to Glastonbury for an antique textile sale. It was held in a beautiful refurbished medieval barn which although toweringly beautiful was ffffffreezing…….

Stall holder Martin Conlan and Sophie Bristol - Heart Space's super-volunteer trying to keep warm

After rootling around, trying on hats, sighing over Edwardian wedding dresses and ball gowns, we eventually ended up buying all kinds of small affordable things. I always try to find either useful fabrics I can work on, got lucky and bought 12 matching linen handkerchiefs for my Make it Through the Night project, or totally Inspirational Objects – which can mean anything at all that just gets me itching to work. We  all eventually gravitated to one particular stall, Slow Loris – an oriental textiles and vegetable dyed clothing stall selling wonderful embroideries and traditional  ethnic indigo fabrics.

traditional Miao pleated and embroidered skirts

Martin Conian is a fascinating and knowledgeable dealer in wonderful things. I have scant knowledge of these textiles except that they come from a group of ethnic Chinese peoples living on the borders of Thailand, Burma, Laos and Vietnam in south East Asia, known as the golden Triangle so I am just showing you what I liked and eventually what I bought for inspiration

hand embroidered braids and purses

Martin has spent many years visiting, collecting, trading and working with the people who still make these costumes, books, fabrics, jewellry and boots…I got particularly interested in the boots.

embroidered silk boots and shoes

as did Sophie, our volunteer organiser who loves everything vintage, especially textiles.

examining the shoes

We were both fascinated by the embroidered boots

embroidered silk boots

But the real delight was when we turned them over and discovered……

Embroidered Soles!

But what I really really wanted to buy – and if I could have found one to fit me I would have gone onto debt for – is a pleated burnished indigo skirt.

pleats please

 What I did eventually feel able to afford on the grounds of Inspirational Object was a metre of beaten indigo cloth; apparently the indigo is mixed with many other active natural additives to get particular effects and colours. I can only recall Martin listing egg white, persimmon, urea, amongst the different lists of ingredients he quoted to make up each different dye.

one metre of burnished indigo cotton

And why did I buy this simple cloth with all the wealth of other desirable things?  Well suddenly I saw a connection with some other things I am wanting to work with – when I get some time- to try to make some type of collaged/appliqued/stitched/ enamelled/ threaded leathers, metals and fabrics that will be combined on such a way that I can develop an entirely new set of work.

Below is a selection of the fabrics and objects that I will now start to think about again – watch this space – but don’t hold your breath!

Inspirational objects - burnished indigo cotton, pewter leather, embroidered enamel with silver leather and vitreous enamel panels.

One thought on “Inspirational Indigo

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