The indigo vat donation of $100 will purchase 1/4 of a the cost of purchasing and installing a traditional clay vat in an indigo dyer’s studio in rural India.
Natural indigo is the famous blue dye used throughout India. The Maiwa Foundation is building infrastructure to encourage the use of natural indigo (derived from plants) rather than synthetic indigo (synthesized from petrochemicals). We are also encouraging the use of a natural fermentation process in dyeing whenever possible.
Traditional dyeing with natural indigo in is accomplished through a fermentation vat. This process is difficult (if not impossible) to do in a shallow plastic pan or a metal pot. As with other fermentation processes (wine, beer, bread) the enzymes which drive the process are are sensitive to temperature changes and environmental conditions.
Traditionally, clay vessels are used. These may be anywhere from 3 to 10 feet deep. The deeper vessels require more dye to get started, but they can run longer without removing the sediment (which gradually builds up on the bottom of the vat). A deeper vat is also needed to dye lengths of cloth. The vats are buried in packed earth to stabilize the temperature. Sometimes they are packed on the outside with goat dung. The dung breaks down (like compost) and acts like a slow-release heater to keep the vat active during the winter.
The Maiwa Foundations identifies artisans who are enthusiastic to return to traditional methods. Maiwa will purchase and oversee the installation of traditional vats. In addition the Maiwa Foundation provides training in traditional methods as well as trouble shooting and sourcing natural indigo.
Your donation will assist in the purchase of the pot itself, transport, preparation and installation. The Maiwa Foundation hopes to remove barriers to authentic artisan work.
The backstory to this project.
In 2016 while assisting in the organization of the Indigo Sutra conference held in Kolkata India, Maiwa sought to address the loss of skill of an increasing number of artisan dyers who were relying on synthetic indigo prepared using a fast-reduction chemical vat. To address this, Maiwa conducted workshops demonstrating various organic vats to emphasize how easily they could be put into production.
After the conference, Maiwa traveled within Bengal visiting artisans. We followed up the initial workshop with additional training and consultation. During those visits we identified factors that might be holding artisans back. The addition of traditional indigo dye vats was judged to be a valuable addition the infrastructure necessary to maintain traditional skills.
This donation to the Maiwa Foundation will support schoolgirls of the Jawaja leatherworkers and weavers cooperative (AAJ - Artisan's Alliance of Jawaja). A donation of $100 cdn purchases a sturdy, well-built, bicycle for one of the female schoolchildren of the village.
Some of the children of Jawaja artisans have to walk several miles to school. The distance, combined with the time taken and the obligation to do other work in the home can make it difficult for them to attend school (or to have enough time to complete homework). In these rural Indian families boys usually get bikes and girls do not.
The pink bike project was conceived as a way to assist the village schoolgirls. These bike are female "style" and very pink - the boys are not interested in them!
In collaboration with the Artisans Alliance of Jawaja the Maiwa Foundation oversees the purchase of the bikes and the distribution in the village.
The backstory to this project.
Jane Stafford (of Jane Stafford Textiles, JST) a weaver from Salt Spring Island, visited the AAJ weavers in 2014. After that meeting Jane was inspired to assist the group. In her own words:
"Way back in 2014, Handwoven Magazine gave me a little award for $500.00 and JST matched that with another $500.00. We donated $1000.00 to the Maiwa Foundation requesting that the money be used for girls education in the village of Jawaja. During the next tour a lovely lady matched that donation so there was now $2000.00 to go to the girls. In the end it was decided by the Jawaja village that the money go to buy bicycles so the girls could travel the long distances to get to school and they wouldn't have to start and end there day walking in the dark. The bicycles are pink and girls style and extremely sturdy so the boys of the village aren't interested in them :^)"
The first group of bicycles were delivered in January 2016. The project has been such a success that when Jane Stafford next visited the village of Jawaja in 2017 a second round of bicycle purchases was planned. Your donation will go to this project.