Monday, September 17, 2007


Indigo is a highly processed derivative of several plants. At the Textile Museum of Canada, we watched a video about a small rural processing plant in India, where the indigo plants are soaked, the soaking liquid is fermented, and then the valuable cakes of dye finally prepared and dried. We also enjoyed the display of indigo-dyed ethnic clothing and cloth from Japan, India, and several African tribes.

The exhibit, called "The Blues," also included some Blues music, and a number of items, such as quilts, made from blue denim or from fragments of jeans. Natural indigo couldn't possibly be grown and processed in quantities large enough for the billions of pairs of jeans and other blue denim fashions now produced throughout the world. Chemical dyes, invented by BASF, have duplicated the color of natural indigo for over a century. In fact, they were available almost as soon as Levi-Strauss designed the first pair of jeans.

The curators of this exhibit managed to combine beautiful hand-made fabric displays with interesting traditional arts and crafts information, modern technology, and fashion history. It's a small museum but really impressive. The other current exhibits were also appealing.

Textile Museum of Canada
55 Centre Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

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