I have been thinking about indigo a lot lately.
My forthcoming novel, Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible, is about a biracial girl whose father is an indigo farmer and dyer in Tokushima. The inspiration for this is rooted in an interview I did about ten years ago with indigo farmer/textile artist Rowland Ricketts III, an American who apprenticed with dyers and farmers in Tokushima. At the time of our interview, he was living in Shimane Prefecture, where his Japanese wife, Chinami, studied weaving, and where he continued to grow and dye indigo.
Here is the end of my published article:
Eventually, he hopes to collaborate with Chinami, dyeing fabrics that she has woven herself.
“We want to start with a handful of cotton seeds and indigo seeds and, with the help of nature, transform them into textiles.
Ricketts also has large-scale plans, and is trying to organize an exhibition of indigo in the United States. “I want to explain to Americans what Japanese indigo is, from sukumo, starting with the seeds.”
It’s still in the planning stages,” he says of the exhibition. “Nothing happens quickly – I learned that from farming.”
Now, Ricketts is growing and dyeing and teaching in Indiana. His full scale exhibition has been achieved. Today, my daughter and I took in his indigo installation, the final event in a multi-faceted program – I am Ai, We are Ai. It’s always good to know that with hard work and dedication, dreams do indeed come true.