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Indigo questions with Kerstin Neumüller



Hi Kersin, can you introduce yourself, who’re you and what are you doing?


Hi! I’m a woman in my 30’s living in the bottom floor of an old factory in rural Sweden, where I have an apartment with a big studio next door. I write craft books, teach classes related to their subjects, and have a small production of hand-made weaving tools that I sell in my webshop along with tools and my books.


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


In 2018 you made together with Douglas Luhanko the book Indigo – A handbook about Indigo’. Can you share in a nutshelf where the book is about and why you made this book?


The Indigo book is basically a cookbook for indigo dyers, and Douglas and I filled it with all the knowledge we wished we had before starting to dye ourselves. As any good cookbook, it contains background history as well as “serving ideas”, in our case in the form of crafty projects to do with the fabric of yarn that you have dyed with indigo.


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


What does indigo means for yourself? What are you doing with indigo next to making a book dedicated to this subject?


Indigo is one of the most beautiful and versatile colors I know, and I am sure any denim lover would agree! The color is often a given choice when I start up a new project, and it doesn’t matter if I am making a decoration for a burial or weaving a band for my own hair. Indigo is always a good choice!


What is the beauty of indigo in your opinion? What makes it so special?


I have thought about this a lot and I think it is the way Indigo catches the light. In fact, indigo does not only contain blue pigments but also a small amount of red ones and also an even smaller amount of green ones. These additional colors aren’t always visible to the eye but I believe they are there as a kind of visual vibration, gently tickling the nerves of the eye and brain, bringing a depth that is so much more that just the input of one colour.


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


Are you mainly working with natural indigo or synthectic indigo, and why?


I have mostly worked with natural indigo, because honestly I am a sucker for anything natural. I wish I could say that I have compared both natural and synthetic indigo and found the natural better, but I dont see the point when I know I would rather work with something that grew in the ground than something that was made in a lab. I dare you to call me a romantic, but there it is!


What are people learning about indigo when reading your book?


I’m hoping that they will learn that this is not a five minute craft, but that it is highly rewarding once you get dyeing. Also it was our aim as writers to help the reader understand the basic principles of indigo dyeing and to dare to try out their own recipes or techniques.


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


Are you growing your own Indigofera plants yourself? And is it difficult to grow them?


I hope to grow some Persicaria Tinctoria this summer! It is such a rewarding experience to grow indigo. There are many different species of plants to choose from if you want to grow indigo, and some are hard to cultivate but others are not. I’ve had woad thrive with no care at all but I wouldn't plant it without being able to monitor it because it spreads -a lot-. Persicaria is fine to grow in a garden here in Sweden, but it might need a regular supply of water.


There’re a lot of different indigo plants, but which one is your favorite and why?


They all have they pros and cons! I think the most fun to grow is Indigofera Tinctoria, because it yields the highest amount of indigo pigment per plant, and I love woad because it is so hardy… Don’t make me choose!


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


Is indigo something you work with as it comes to workshops or lectures? I can imagine that people are interested to learn it from an expert as its quite difficult to learn and to how to make your own indigo-dye vat for example.


I did back when I ran the store Second Sunrise together with Douglas! We’d give classes in the store about once a month which was really fun. But since I stepped away from the store it has been a tough thing to prioritize, mainly due to me not having any studio to host classes in until recently. Now I’m thinking that maybe I’ll be able to do it again this summer, but I haven’t worked out all the details yet.


picture by Fredrik Ottosson


Can we expect a follow-up on this book like a volume 2?


Well, I have no plans for that at the moment but it would be really fun to dive into the world of natural fermentation and maybe more resist dye techniques? At the moment I’m focused on my latest book which is about weaving, but I have an idea about a new book project that would include making clothes from scratch and dyeing them with various dyestuffs, including Indigo. But I’ll have to keep that one a secret for a bit longer :)

Also good to know, the Indigo book is available in four different languages: Swedish, English, German and French.