4. Prepareing ash lye

This picture shows the first step in making aku (ash lye); this needs to be done in advance of aidate. Long ago, when hard woods were relatively easy to acquire in the nearby forest, it was easy to make and use fresh ash, but now it must be obtained from distant areas. Ash should be preserved away from humidity.

The ash is mixed with boiled well water; tap water is not suitable for indigo dyeing.

It is stirred well and left overnight.

The following day, the ash has settled, and the ash lye can be skimmed off and transferred to an oblong cistern (see below).

This process can be repeated several times.
How many times? Murata-san says "Only twice ... or as many as six times! It's all up to the condition of the ash."

Before soap was introduced, people washed clothes with ash lye. At Kosoen this ash lye is used in place of detergent to wash away the resists used in the stencil dyeing.

This lye - one of the essential materials for Aizome - is always kept in the studio.