For our upcoming exhibit on resist dye techniques, RESIST, we are including a couple of examples of Modrotlac. This technique of printing cotton with a paste resist then dyeing in indigo creates strong contrasting patterns of white on a deep blue ground. While these fabrics can be incorporated into many different pieces of the Slovak traditional dress – apron, skirt, shawl, headcovering – the two pieces that are included in the exhibit are skirts. Here is a detail showing the print on one of the skirts:
The skirts in Slovak costumes are tightly pleated, which makes a beautiful pattern with the finely patterned Modrotlac.
As you can see, the apron is also tightly pleated Modrotlac. The pleats are held securely together with threads, which I suspect would normally have been removed. As it is now the apron does not fan out in the characteristic way of these Slovak pleats:
The hem on the skirt is faced with a band of brilliant red which appears when the skirt is fanned out.
Both the photo and the sketch of the underside of the skirt reveals how deep and penetrating the indigo dyeing was – while the white of the cotton appears on the face where the paste was applied using a printing block, the reverse is completely indigo.
Sara Hume, Curator