Tuesday, October 28

Indigo adventure at Ambatalia

Here at Ambatalia we have built a fermented indigo vat made from the Japanese indigo plant called Polygonum Tictorium. This plant was grown and composted for 100 days here in northern California by Rebecca Burgess founder of Fibershed. Without her work and many volunteers I wouldn't have this opportunity to build this kind of vat.

I built this vat myself with guidance from Rolland Rickets techniques. Using composted indigo
( sukomo), hand made lye form hard wood ash, lime stone and bran. Every day I care for this vat by stirring twice a day and testing fabrics, smelling and feeling the vat between my fingers. Learning each day what it needs.

The history and magic of this natural permanent blue dye from the indigo plant ( many species) goes back 4000 years through out many countries of the world including  India, Japan, China, El Salvador, Africa, Indonesia and U. S. A just to name a few.

In south Carolina a million pounds where grown by slaves and shipped to England from 1740- 1776. In Bengal India from 1777 to 1859 Indigo was grown by peasants under brutal treatment by the planters instead of food. They finally refused to sow a single seedling of indigo with the support of Bengal called the indigo revolt in 1859, a fore runner of the non- violent passive resistance later successfully adopted by Gandhi.

Since the 1850's when synthetic dye was invented by English chemist Perkins and synthetic indigo indigo tine also used in food coloring today was invented by German chemist Boeyer, indigo dye from plants were used less and less. In 1897, 19,000 tons were produces by the plant, dropping to 1,000 tons by 1914.

In the last hundred years there have been a handful of master dyers around the world that have kept this tradition alive. Only in the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest and more and more artist that are now wanting to experience this ancient magical craft of dying with plant. Even though the Japanese vat is rare and more complex many are able to use the pre-reduced indigo purchased.

I have been inspired a long the way by many and from carrying beautiful indigo textiles in the old Ambatlia fabrics from Nike davies and Yasuo Nakajima to plenty of vintage indigo from all over the world. I feel fortunate to help build a compost floor with Rebecca Burgess guided by Rowland Ricketts and did a little indigo stomp.  I have followed many masters via internet for years like Aboubaker Fofana and Hiroyuki Shindo to national treasures like Ayano Chiba.

          Gratitude goes to the master dyers around the world that kept this magical
           Color of the ocean and sky alive for us to enjoy for the last few centuries.

sifting the hard wood ash

gorgeous husband building the vat space

creating the lye from the wood ash

stirring the lye from wood ash

creating the space

sukomo and 1st batch of lye

stirring the first steps

adding the bran

inviting the indigo spirit

there is hope

Thursday, March 6

Ambatalia brick and mortar shop at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard

Welcome friends,
Come visit us at our new retail- studio space at the Mill Valley Lumber Yard. 
Located at 129 Miller ave, Mill Valley, Ca 94941
winter hours: everyday 11-5
You will find wonderful goods to support a non-disposable life.

Wednesday, October 23


Eat your fruits and veggies! And join a CSA program!

Danielle with our first week's share from CSA. Modeling an Ambatalia kitchen furoshiki.
A few weeks ago my roommate Jen and I were shopping at the local Logan Square Farmers Market on a lazy Sunday. Montalbano Farms CSA sign caught our eye. We saw happy customers leaving with giant bags of fresh produce, so we decided we must learn more. 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is a program that has been in practice for over 25 years. Basically what happens is that a farmers offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. When you purchase a share you, in return you receive a box of seasonal produce throughout the farming season. CSA programs vary from farm to farm, but Montalbano Farms offers three options for their CSA program. You can either receive a vegetable and fruit share, a vegetable share, or a fruit share. And then you also get to decide if you want the box every week, or every other week.

This means that since we are signed up for the biweekly fruit and vegetable share, every other week we get to pick up a bounteous box of fresh produce with a wonderful mix of fruits and veggies. And a few days prior to pick up Montalbano Farms emails Jen and I a newsletter detailing what we can expect in the share that week, fun recipes to use the week's offerings, and updates on events at the farm. This week our menu looked like this:

Harvest season is upon us. Summer crops like tomatoes and peppers are finished while cool season plants are thriving.
  In the Vegetable share this week,
Chioggia beets
Bok choy

And in the fruit share:
Mix of Empire and Jonathan Apples from Earth First Farms
Let these persimmons get a little soft and enjoy them chilled. They make great sorbet and they dry well too!
What is so great about the CSA program is that all the vegetables, herbs, and fruits arrive within days of being harvested. This means that it is as fresh as can be! Also it allows you to make a connection with your farmers, since Jen and I go to pick up the box every other week the farmers become familiar faces. I also love the fact that the CSA program is a great way to support local farms, but also receive quality produce at a reasonable price. 

Jen and I are both eating healthier and happier! Definitely check out the CSA options in your area. A great resource to find more information for a program to fit your needs is at your local farmers market. 

And don't forget to eat your fruits and veggies! Til next week! -Bridget 

Friday, October 18


Happy Friday everyone! This week is going to be a little different. Not only am I posting today, but I will also be doing a post this coming Wednesday! So stay tuned...

Today, I wanted to share with you some Ambatalia posters we made for NY Now. Feel free to download the images and print them out! And enjoy the weekend...