Indigo & Hempadmin

hemp_fabric

Hemp

All the hemp we use is grown locally. Hemp comes from the cannabis sativa plant and does not contain THC. It has been cultivated over the world for more than 12,000 years. The Latin name for hemp, sativa, means useful. Hemp can be used as fuel, cloth, paper, food, oil, rope and sail canvas and many other useful things. It is widely regarded as the crop for the future as it has such a low environmental impact. It can be grown and processed without any chemical treatments (herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers) needed for other plant materials and gives three times as much raw fibers as cotton. It also is much stronger than cotton.

The hemp bush is the most common fabric for textiles of the Hmong people. Every Hmong family plants it to make a kind of linen for clothing. The hemp is planted on hillside fields in March and harvested in June. The resulting fabric texture is of the best quality when the plants are mature but not old. The plant requires quite fertile soil and thus soil preparation is painstaking. It must be turned over and weeded and manured before seeding. The seeds must be sown thickly, so that the tree will grow straight and even. Then the threads obtained from its bark will long. At harvest time, the hemp bushes are about two meters high. The harvesters peel off the bark and pound it in a mortar. Then strip off fine fibres and skillfully twist their ends together to make a continuous thread. This work requires skill, dexterity and patience. Hmong women save their time for peeling and joining their hemp threads.

• LINEN THRharvest_hempEAD SPINNING They put the hemp fibres on the spinning wheel and turn the wheel, giving the fibres a twist as the wheel turns.

• FIBRE WINDING Two bamboo sticks are tied together in the form of a cross for winding the thread into a neat bundle of fibres.

• FIBRE BLEACHING The fibre is boiled in coal-ash water for a first time, then covered for one night and next day washed with fresh water. This boiling process is repeated three times in order to get white thread. Then, the thread is boiled with beeswax. After that, the fibre is dried and pressed.

• FIBRE SPINNING This process prepares bundles of fibres for weaving on the loom.


Our hemp is well known recognized for its quality and exported to India – where Anavila Misra a famous designer transforms it into saris.


indigo_handsIndigo

:Indigo dye is a plant that produces an organic compound with a distinctive dark blue color. This plant is native of the tropics and grows in Vietnam. Historically, indigo was used as a natural way of dyeing clothes fabrics in blue but in modern days it is a synthetic form of indigo that is used. The Hmong people still use the natural indigo plant to extract the blue compound. The indigo plants are harvested on neat plots of land on the hillsides, always scattered near the Hmongs’s homes.

There are two crops a year and the plants generally reach 60 cm high.. The dye is contained in the leaves which are then extracted once the leaves have been fermented and then oxidize it will produce a blue powder. A given fabric is then mixed in with the dye for around half an hour then hung up to oxidize into a distinctive blue color.

The more a fabric is mixed with the dye and  worked on, the darker it will be. The black of the Hmong fabrics is achieved by repeating this method, twice a day for a month. This explains the blue hands of many Hmong women that are permanently stained from the dyeing process. As long as this traditional technique is kept, the Hmong women will have these blue hands left from the indigo plant.