September 2nd, 2012 / posted by paularath


Chatting around the vat. That's Darius on the right.



I am fortunate to be part of a small cadre of passionate indigo lovers. We meet on occasional Sundays in the home of Darius Homay, a prominent Honolulu textile artist who painstakingly cares for an indigo vat in his backyard.

Trust me, keeping up an indigo vat is not an easy thing to do, especially in Hawaii, where humidity, bugs and other tropical terrors can cause an indigo vat to go bad in a heartbeat.

We so appreciate having access to the rich, vibrant source of indigo. We all agree that there is something kinda magical about indigo. It’s addictive. There’s pleasure in the entire process of dyeing. I love prepping the silks (my favorites), cottons and linens. While I enjoy a number of different shibori techniques, over the years I have learned to like itajime (clamp dyeing) the best. I lvoe the organic qualities achieved with itajime. I deliberately clamp the fabrics unevenly so I can create my beloved “moons.” These indigo moons have become an important element in some of my art.

Cheryl, left, and Ghislaine, do the "double, double, toil and trouble" routine. Ghislaine, a brilliant weaver, dyes many of her handwoven pieces with indigo.

There are many uses for indigo fabrics. They are beautiful for clothing, accessories and tabletop. Ghislaine Chock, an avid hand weaver, dyes many of her pieces with indigo. She also comes up with innovative ideas for making comoon household items more exciting, such as dyeing pillow cases:

These were plain white pillow cases before.

Here are some results of my recent foray into the indigo vat, hanging on our deck. I’m lucky to have a place where it’s safe to drip indigo on the floor.

This effect is created with a shibori technique of wrapping the silk around a pole. You can see how different fibers take the dye differently. On the left is silk charmeuse, on the right, silk organza. Both were dyed in thesame vat on the same day.

All from a day's work. See the "moons" in the middle? They are on hand woven cotton. They will find a way into my paintings.


One of my "Sand and Sea" series, made entirely of fabrics I dyed with indigo and/or rust."Indigo Moon" is fabric, paint and handmade paper all collaged together. The moon is an indigo dyed piece of silk.

"Indigo Moon," hand dyed fabrics and papers on canvas. (Sold.)

Darius Homay teaches an indigo class at The Honolulu Museum of Art School most semesters. I highly recommend it! That’s how I got started on my indigo pathway.

– Paula Rath

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Ghislaine Chock
September 9th, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Paula, fun shots… and good expose on Indigo that we love so dearly…the handwoven piece dyed that day got Juror’s Choice Award at the 45th Hawaii Craftsmen Exhibition! Thanks for your wonderful blog. I truly enjoy it each time.

September 10th, 2012 at 2:54 am

Wow! Congratulations! I thought it was really spectacular. The colors worked together so well.

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