I have just returned from a two day workshop with Bryan Whitehead on Indigo and Katazome stencilling.

I thought I knew a bit about indigo but listening to Bryan talk about his 20+ year journey through the intricacies of Indigo dyeing I knew I had not touched the surface of knowledge about this incredible plant and how to use it.

Bryan is a true craftsman and dyer and his level of knowledge and patient calm teaching style ensured everyone was entertained and educated.

I had a selection of stencils which I have picked up on my trips to Japan so brought them along to use as well as some leaves and grasses for more freeform pieces.

First we learned about the indigo vat and using indigo crystals rather than the synthetic indigo I was used to.

This was my colour range and was the result of many dips into the vat. I think I left one behind but I got some pretty dark fabrics

Mixing up the paste was done by Bryan and I am still not 100% sure of how to make it. I tried looking up the suppliers and there is a large one in Canada – Maiwa  and although the components were relatively inexpensive (CAD$35) they wanted CAD$95 to mail to Australia. I will have to wait until my next trip to Japan to buy some in Kyoto but I am not sure I can bring it back into the country. I would love to try buying online but their website is not designed for non Japanese speaker. If any of my Japanese reader would like to help me, please let me know.

This paste was coloured with pigment so we could see what we were doing when stencilling

Brian did this stencil as a demo and his registration lining up the stencil for the repeat was perfect.

These are ones I did with natural plants and grasses. I particularly like the seed pods showing up delicately on the first one. They actually stuck to the dried paste and had to be washed off but I like the overall piece. I first printed with leaves placed under a screen for stability and then peeled off the leaves and did the next piece with the other side of the leaves which were still covered in paste.


This was my first attempt with one of my stencils. I really like the design but there are issues with the original stencil which make it very delicate so I think I will turn it into a thermofax screen.

I like this one too

This one was a bit tricker and I smudged it a bit. I would love to do a set of 6 or 8 together in a circle.

I would love to do one of Bryan’s 10 day workshop at his home in Japan. One day it might happen.

If you would like to learn more about my Textile and Food Tour to Japan check out the Opulent Journeys website and join me in January 2018.

Or join one of my workshops to learn the basics of Indigo dyeing and Shibori. We also have Indigo kits on the website for you to try at home.