Indigo dyeing is something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. I took a class at Quiltcon in February on natural dying with Maura Ambrose and it got me all jacked up to try some at home. I bought The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar for some recipes and inspiration. Kristine also has a class on Creativebug about Indigo. I will not presume here to tell you all the steps to successful indigo dye, but I’ll give you a preview of what you’re in for.
I bought pre-reduced indigo crystals because it was a bit less involved and I didn’t have to use lye which is necessary if you’re working from scratch. You just need the crystals, soda ash, and Thiox if you do it this way. You will need a bunch of other supplies too such as…
- a scale
- rubber gloves
- PH test strips
- a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, and another bucket or large pot for rinsing
- measuring cups and spoons (best to have a separate set just for dyeing)
- wax paper (optional)
- clothespins, wood blocks, clamps, binder clips, string, rubber bands… anything you can think of to make a design with!
- A long stir stick (I bought a dowel at the hardware store)
- A large slotted spoon
- Synthrapol detergent
Dying with indigo is like science mixed with magic! It’s crazy how green it is when you take it out of the vat! The magic happens as the color oxidizes and begins to turn blue.
It’s such a fun discovery moment when you remove your block/clothespins/etc to reveal the design!
In this photo you can see several stages of the oxidation process. All three of those designs were done with wood squares put on the folded fabric pieces at different angles.
The print on the left was created with clothespins.
You can also revitalize old clothing. This formerly ivory dress had gotten a red wine stain on the front. I put it the vat for a minute or two and voila! A new dress! I ended up throwing in a few yellowed t-shirts for the husband as well.
Of course, you can always BUY some great Shibori/Indigo items if you don’t want to get messy or invest in all the gear.
Here are a few of my faves.
Have you tried indigo dyeing or bought any awesome indigo products? Please share!