Wednesday, December 21, 2016
A Visit to an Indigo Fabric Dying Studio in Hungary
You can see the sprocket, lower right, which is adjusted to advance the fabric through the machine in increments exactly the length of the pattern repeat. For most motifs, the fabric advances 4 to 5 inches after each time the print block is applied to the fabric, thus revealing the next short stretch of un-printed cloth.
The cloth is dyed in a vat with the indigo dye-bath at 85 degrees C., then washed to remove the wax and rinsed to remove the excess dye. After rinsing, the cloth is looped over racks to dry outdoors, which completes the dying process. Sadly, he did no dying while we were there, so I don't have pictures or first-hand experience with precisely how it is done to share with you.
However the fabric is not yet ready to use. It must be starched, dried, and then pressed using both steam and steel rollers with heavy pressure, in order to create the traditionally desirable shiny finish on the cloth. Finally, the fabric is folded onto bolts for distribution to shops and end-users.
What a totally delightful experience we had! Mr. and Mrs. Kovács are as friendly and nice as can be! If you ever get to Hungary, you can find their fabrics and finished products in the picturesque town of Szentendre, just a short drive or train ride north of Budapest on the Danube River. Here is a website link.
Like his father, the younger Mr. Kovács has trained his daughters to continue when he retires, although I'm sure he has many more years to go, probably well into his 90s..
My last two photos in this post are a little surprise for you. Before falling in love with beading and quilting, my main passion was Hungarian folk dancing. I danced in a performance group for 10 years (and later became one of the group's choreographers), performing at many events in the Seattle area, including Bumbershoot and the Folklife Festival. We also performed at the World's Fair when it was in Vancouver, British Columbia. I and several of the other dancers in the group made most of our costumes using Hungarian fabrics and original costumes as patterns.
It was folk music and dance that first called my heart and soul into Hungary, where I have since spent a cumulative total of well over a year of my life, spaced over 14 different visits so far.
So you see... Kékfestö and I go back a long way. Next, I'll be quilting with it!
My apologies to Hungarians for not using the correct accent mark for the last letter of the Hungarian word Kékfestö. I spent 4 hours trying to do it, but could not get Blogger to accept anything I tried.