Monday, April 20, 2009

More on Indigo Dyeing

I love working with Indigo; it's a fascinating process. To get good color, the Indigo bath must rid itself of oxygen, making it soluble. I've heard of natural Indigo having a "flower" on top and this is an indication that the Indigo is soluble.
It's important to keep the solution as "oxygen free" as possible. To this end, the soaked fabric should be wrung out tightly before dipping as water contains oxygen. The vat should also be kept covered to prevent oxygen from entering. The fabric is dipped quickly and then hung to air dry. Oxidation occurs at this point turning the fabric from a yellow-green to Indigo. Each time you dip, the color deepens. One of the most fun parts is to fold, wrap etc. your fabric before dipping to  create a pattern. I wrapped the piece below with green beads.
I also used a gimp thread (to the left). It's 100% cotton and a good candidate for dyeing. I kept the thread continuous rather than cut small pieces for each bead. I knew I would have some interesting thread to use for stitching when done. Having 1 long piece made it easier to "undo". The beads are inexpensive plastic beads but any small shape would work such as dried beans and buttons.
Below is the wonderful thread I wound up with.
In this workshop, we also talked about rice bags. Original rice bags are patched and sewn together using a very coarse thread. They are used to collect rice in the fields and also to make Saki-rice wine. I have one - a treasure I picked up in Japan years ago. I've been waiting for the perfect time to use it. I dyed a small part with Indigo and the rest left natural. It will work into some kind of wall hanging.
We also used resists; this fabric was clamped with C clamps and plexiglass squares.

A wonderful process.

1 comment:

  1. I loved spending the day with you Judy. I would love to get to that indigo vat again!