Welcome to Indigo: The Perfect Pigment

Indigo plant (Indigofera tinctoria L.): flowering stem with separate flower and fruit segments, Colored engraving, J.J. or J.E. Haid, 1750, after G.G. Ehret, Wellcome Collection.

This project is a continuation of last summer’s project Cochineal: The Perfect Pigment and the exploration of natural red dyes. Indigo: The Perfect Pigment looks into the history of indigo in addition to its global trade routes, crop production, harvesting practices, and dye processes. Our research also delves deeper into the material’s medicinal and artistic uses and highlights the importance of natural dyes and pigments, specifically focusing on the monetary, symbolic, and historical value of indigo. In addition, we explored the modern uses and controversies, both past and present, associated with indigo. Specifically, its economic importance to the early development of the Carolina’s, the slave trade, and the modern revival of the indigo crop and current production and uses. We supported our research with hands-on experiments with various types of indigo dyeing processes, one example being shibori, a Japanese tie-dyeing technique that commonly uses indigo dye.