Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fresh Indigo and PTA

Our PTA group met at the Folk Art Center this month to play with fresh Indigo. Connie Brown put this all together, brought a ton of supplies along with her expertise in using this plant. It was  wonderful fun and I learned so much. Connie brought several pots to show us the Indigo plant...
 and then it was time to get to work
 We tried 3 different methods of working with fresh Indigo, first was to strip the leaves off the stalks.
 Leaves and stalks were separated as the stalks were brought home to root and
the leaves were put in the blender with water and ice cubes. This process worked well with silk. I brought China silk and Kate brought noil for all of us to try so 2 very different types of silk - one heavy and one very light weight was good to have.
 Connie strained the leaves through a fine gauze material, probably something they use for jelly making as it was very fine.
 The solution was green and quickly turned our fabrics green when sloshed around.....
and green when removed; the oxygen in the air will turn them blue. They were then rinsed in water and put out to dry.
 Next we tried the direct application of the leaf to fabric. We rubbed it, used heavy objects such as this old bowling bowl which Connie brought...
 also mallets..
and good old fingers which worked very well. We used boards or trays underneath, some of which had great texture and transferred to fabric.
 We then washed our fabric with bars of soap so the soap made direct contact with the fabric - a hard scrubbing as opposed to a swishing through some soapy water.
 Last technique involved using younger Indigo which was clipped off the plant but enough left for it to thrive and grow. This was put in a pot of boiling water along with Rit dye remover which I believe contains Thiox and something else, think it was baking soda. I should have been more diligent in writing things down, but just having too much fun. We let the fabric boil in that solution for a while,
pulled it out with tongs and watched our treasures turn from yellow-green to a beautiful pale blue green. This was by far my favorite technique in working with fresh Indigo. I love watching the fabric turn and this technique was the most dramatic for me.
 Our beautiful fabric set out to dry. The very blue one at the top is just a rag but everything else was done with Indigo. You can see the variety of intensities using the different techniques and also the different fabrics.
 Here are some of my fabrics which have more color in person. They actually match the color of a room I recently painted so I might wind up using them there.
 Kate gave me a beautiful old hankie; we both love old linens, especially those with holes in them.
 This piece seemed to take the color better, more blue and we don't know if it was because it was older, more worn and used but it turned out beautiful. You can see the wonderful texture.
I do work with Indigo using a big 5 gallon pail with cover. I used the pre-reduced as it allows you to avoid the use of lye. It still forms the blossom on top and needs to be kept covered so oxygen doesn't get into the solution. It has to be fed from time to time to keep it alive and going, but the results are beautiful. One of the pieces I did (on left) is next to the fresh Indigo on right. Both are beautiful and very different and I can see places to use both. It was great fun learning how to work with fresh Indigo. I brought home many stalks and they are making roots which I'll transfer to a pot. If nothing else, it will be a beautiful plant. A huge thank you to Connie who organized this wonderful day....all we had to do was walk in and play.

1 comment:

  1. How very cool to see all the different textures and shades. I love working with indigo but have used only the pre-reduced crystals, which have quite the odor... Worth it, though, when I see the finished blues!