Wild indigo grows at Kealia Farm

KEALIA — Amber Tallent, known affectionately as the Lilikoi Lady at the market at Kealia Farm, found a new addition to her offerings based on lilikoi butter — wild indigo.

“She just started doing this,” said Elv rine Chow of Heavenly Haku, Monday. “Just look for the indigo.”

Indigo fabric and “Hana Hou” clothing fill the booth space, overpowering its Wild Kealia Indigo signage and encroaching on the lilikoi tarts and butters.

“This is something I used to do before lilikoi,” Tallent said. “I used to dye fabric, and only got into lilikoi after the hurricane.”

Tallent said Adam Asquith worked with her in developing the indigo dye using the plants that are growing around the farm. Indigo plants are found in most parts of the island and considered weeds by farmers and gardeners.

“Indigo is a canoe plant,” Tallent said. “It was probably brought over by the Japanese immigrants, and used to dye their work clothes. This is why a lot of the plantation workers’ clothing were indigo.”

Working with Asquith, Tallent went back to her roots of fabric dying while growing up in Denmark to perfect the dye to create the indigo fabric and clothing pieces she gets from the Kauai Humane Society thrift shop. Her technique is centered around the Japanese shibori style.

“They had a different name for it in Denmark,” Tallent said.

“But it involved binding and clamps which is what shibori is. The technique comes up with unique results and is different from tie-dying.”

The indigo clothing is distributed through what she describes as the Hana Hou section.

“The clothing get new life,” Tallent said. “And, because they came from the thrift shop, they are inexpensive.”

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