Monday, 22 August 2016

Indigo in the Russian Ethnography Museum

I have been back in Japan for a while. There are so many great pictures of textiles in Russia that no one will see unless I blog them. There are a few more blogs to come.

There is a lot going on at the house. I had a genki group of students here for ten days. The weather was pretty hot but they were all good sports.

Johanna, Tina, Shawn, Gloria, Shannah, Claire and Ann. We needed a time stop machine for a few extra weeks.  We still see you sitting in your own territories around the house and yard. Whiteboots is checking you all out. I hope you all made it home safely. Many thanks and hugs from Hiro and me.

Thread is being dyed by the ton to be made into indigo t-shirts. We are reeling  and spinning this springs silk cocoons day by day.....and indigo.........Was it that smart of an idea to plant three new indigo fields this year? The second harvest is finished and we start the third soon. A ton of indigo. How on earth is it going to be used???? it is so much work to produce. The projects to be dyed have to be worthy of the indigo.
There is plenty of textile excitement going on.

Whiteboots loves to help with the chores....indigo harvesting etc.

Back to Russia......
The Russian Museum of Ethnography in St Petersburg houses a collection of 500 000 items relating to the ethnography, or cultural anthropology, of peoples of the former Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. The museum was set up in 1902. Tsar Nicholas had opened the state coffers to fund it.

The museums first exhibits were the gifts received by the Russian Tsars from peoples of Imperial Russia. These were supplemented by regular expeditions to various parts of the Russian Empire which began in 1901. 

I had a tummy ache the entire time I was there...I was so excited. How could you not get a tummy ache when you find an indigo dyeing studio from the Caucasus circa 1900 transported 'as is' to the museum???

(Anna and I were practically dancing in front of it. We kept our clothes on but it was a Doukhobor  moment.)

Madder and Indigo.....speechless.

We were looking for clothing in the museum that held some elements that could be worked into contemporary design from a denim/madder standpoint. There was no shortage of them. Shaman clothes....perfect. 

Villagers processing linen.

This linen loom was remarkable in its design. 

The shuttles were folksy and friendly.

There is no place like home. And home was extra beautiful when I arrived home to find the lotus blooming at the front door.

And mountains lilles outside my bedroom.


  1. That looks great, Bryan. I've never thought about going to Russia but that museum looks like it might be so interesting. What a beautiful red--I always get an orangy red from madder.

  2. Hi Tobie, It is the kind of madder. They are not all the same. I was only getting oranges for 15 years using European madder. I started getting the Indian madder form Tanaka Nao and I finally started getting blood reds. The madder I are was on the red side once I threw away the yellow liquid that seeped out after a few days in cold water before boiling. There are more than one kind of pigment in the roots. Tobie...GO to Russia and spend time in St Petersburg. The museums are the best.

  3. What stunning photos and what inspiration! So much packed into your visit to Russia. So much to look forward to in your return visits.

    1. iPhone photos judi..I fried my electric razor, camera battery charger and ultimately the iPhone on wicked electricity. (You can stick your finger in a Japanese light socket for fun..) .....I had to get new ones.....

    2. At least you didn't fry your photos. That would have been disastrous and a huge loss to all.

  4. Love the linen loom and the photos, but I'm 'madder' for the border outside your bedroom. That must be Hiro's work and that must surely be hakonechloa macro aureola in the front. What a display!
    I have some in a black pot on the tea house verandah and more in the ground but it is so slow to bulk up. Small increases every year. And I would have thought yours would get too much sun just there. What a border with the lilies etc- a masterpiece of colour and design. Have to laugh at the electricity, I recall taking my turbo hairdryer there and only getting a faint breeze out of it.

  5. Claudia..yes yes.. you recognized my hakone grass! I was biting my nails whether it would come up this spring. I spoil it with hand waterings! It is slow to bulk up. That is why it is expensive even here and close to Hakone! It's coming along. It is the first time in 20 years I am happy with it. Thank you for noticing! I need some mid-size red leaf grass as a center height. The yellow iris have nice leaves but they are invasive and the flowers are sort of boring. They might have to be reduced. The surrounding mountains are wild so ti si a challenge to get a structure and a border that defines the space but isn't too contrived and restaurant entrance. I will come and check out your beautiful garden next year. Bryan

  6. Not restaurant entrance at all! Just beautiful form and colour. Here we are wary of hanging baskets- too English pub! See you next year!

  7. the madder indigo textiles from the museum!!!

    whoa! need to see that border in person.
    the view with the dyed yarns, be still my heart.

  8. Neck, crazy but I finally got that knitting machine working flawlessly. Five years and 100 litres of stomach acid. Ahhhh. The thread dyeing production is taking priority over all right now.