Experimenting with the natural dyeing of Hanji paper, with traditional herbs.
The next part of our journey took us to Jeong Hyun Ja’s Natural Indigo dyeing factory in Yeongcheong district. Hyun Ja was a very welcoming lady who opened up her premises for the filming of this documentary and was very happy to share her techniques for dyeing. She started her business called I.N.D.T (Indigo Natural Dyeing Therapy) around 19 years ago and is hoping to pass it on to her only son, who was ably assisting her on the day.
Jeong Hyun Ja is reportedly the first person in South Korea to discover the benefits of environmentally - friendly Indigo Natural dyeing products and has been an ambassador for the natural dyeing of fabrics in her country and overseas.
She’s been widely quoted in the local and international media on the subject and talks extensively about POSTECH, the ergonomics Design and Technology laboratories as well as Kyunhee University where the experimentation of her products take place.
The claims are that some of the benefits of using naturally dyed fabrics are:
1. Increases energy in your body
2. Prevents cell damage and the development of cancerous cells
3. Improves circulation in your hands and feet
4. A detox diet for the body
5. Strengthen and improves sexual function
6. Prevents diseases
7. Improves skin condition
8. Prevents brain disease
They’re certainly very bold health claims and ones, which I’m not qualified to dispute. I can only say that I had cold hands when I visited and she put some indigo fabric wristbands on me and within a short length of time, my hands had warmed up.
|Beautifully dyed bolts of fabric|
|Fabric hanging from the ceiling|
My interest was in the dyeing processes for hanji so we arrived early in the morning to her beautiful home and huge factory, showroom and classrooms and the crew soon set up for the filming and we were ready to go. During my time with her I learnt such a lot about the types of plants to use and the boiling of the plants to get them to a certain temperature to achieve the maximum benefit from the dyes.
|Her classroom space|
There are many plants that produce a huge variety of colours but we chose to work with these:
‘chija’ - gardenia flowers - yellow
‘hwang yeon’ – no English translation – roots – coptis chinensis franch – deep mustard yellow
The Hanji papers soon soaked up the beautiful natural colours and they took on a transformative glow as the sheets turned into the shades of autumn that I planned to use in a special piece of Hanji art that I was to complete at the end of my journey around Korea.
We left the sheets to dry.
After the filming and during takes, I spent a lot of my time looking at the beautiful clothes, linen ware, curtains and handbags that had been made out of the naturally dyed fabrics. The subtle colours were stunning and the handwork was exquisite.
|Dyed fabric used in a handbag with delicate embroidery|
|A jacket out of linen which has been dyed with indigo|
|A leaf coaster dyed with persimmon and indigo|
|Beautiful details on a jacket|
|A collection of products|
She was an extremely talented lady who is highly respected for her work in this field. I had so many questions I'd have liked to have asked her but time was of the essense and we were on a mission and needed to stay focused on our goal of finishing the documentary in a set length of time.
I felt honoured to have met her and I hope we can meet again sometime in the future.