Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dyeing with Indigo

Blue is a difficult color to obtain from natural dyes, coming only from Woad and Indigo. I've assisted with Woad dye baths before, but never worked with Indigo, so when I found a source for Indigo crystals, I had to get some. The crystals are the result of an intense working, so being able to get the prepared crystals saves several days of work. Here's a photo of the crystals: So, into the gorgeous copper vat (thank you, Sonya) filled with cool water, went the crystals, a color remover and some soda ash. Next, I stirred (carefully!) clockwise for a few minutes, then counter-clockwise for a few more minutes. A "flower" begins to form in the center of the pot. You'll notice the spoon that fell in the pot, too. Oops. Once the pot settles and the flower is fully formed, I skimmed the flower off the top, reserving it to return at the end of today's dye session. There's a little bit to skim after each dip, too. I did learn something unexpected - apparently mosquitoes LOVE Indigo. Yipes! I had to run back inside & douse myself in Bug Off!

When a dyed piece comes out of the dye pot it is actually a bright greenish yellow. As the air comes into contact with it, it shifts quickly to darker green and then to the deep blue. It's very magical to watch. At one point, it seems as though it might stop at the point when it looks like a malachite and lapiz blend. Gorgeous. The photos below are of the shifting colors. The first photo is blurry & I apologize - I was lifting the silk out of the dye pot with my right hand & taking the photo with my left, all while wearing rubber gloves. Finally, the color settles in to the deep indigo blue it will remain.

5 comments:

mimi shapiro said...

very cool! Sarah came right home to se it - cant wait for the fabric to be at Radiance!! xoxoxox mimi

Sarah said...

I'll be bringing it all with me tomorrow Mimi, and spending part of the ironing it all. Come on in!

Dre said...

GORGEOUS!

art spirit said...

Love seeing the indigo dye bath!
I am dyeing with elderberries today and found your blog!

Sarah said...

Art Spirit, I also love dyeing with Elderberries. I do find that the dyed fabric are very sensitive to light, so you might want to be aware of that. The color will fade. Still it's lots of fun on clothing, and the energy of it is wonderful!