Wednesday, 30 June 2010


I have spent the last three days experimenting with Indigo.  The recent hot, sunny weather has created just the right environment for dyeing in the garden, one of my favourite occupations!  To be honest with you I have always found all the different published methods and recipes for dyeing with Indigo confusing and this was exacerbated when I was unable to find my stock of Indigo grains and  Hydros.  Unwilling to waste precious dyeing time looking for something that will turn up one day when I am not looking for it, I went in search of more.  My local Arts and Craft shop sells natural dyes and I hoped to find some synthetic there as well.  They had both.  I bought a Natural Indigo Kit put together by the 'Mulberry Dyer' and some synthetic powder and some Spectralite.  The first day I used the Natural Indigo Kit.  I had never used natural indigo before and was not prepared for the results.  The depth of colour is quite different.  The first photograph shows the fabric created with the natural indigo and you will see how different the results are.  I do like the pale blue, but found this a very time consuming exercise as the fabric had many dips to increase the depth of colour and it took me all day to produce 6 fat quarters.!!The rest of the photographs show the fabrics created on the second and third day with the synthetic indigo vat made using a recipe I found on the 'KEMTEX' website.  I have only good things to say about Kemtex and Stuart the owner.  He knows everything there is to know about dyeing and will spend a lot of time listening and providing explanations for unexpected happenings and making suggestions about what to do next time. I am waiting now for more supplies and hope that the good weather continues.  I have another recipe to try with a bigger vat as I would like to have a go at dyeing some yardage to turn into a garment of some sort!  Apart from a couple of the fabrics  - one just scrunched into a ball and bound round and round with thread and the other one with screws tied into it all the others had been folded and pole wrapped.    I am really pleased with them and now of course as everyone who has dyed their own fabric knows - 'what to do with them'??  Can I bear to cut it up??  What if I don't like what I've done with it??  Shall I just fold it up and put it in my stash.??  The idea was to produce a range of indigo dyed fabrics that I would eventually make up into a quilt - perhaps this is what I shall do eventually, in the meantime I am going to go on experimenting with different recipes and chemicals.  This time I used Spectralite instead of Hydros.  Tomorrow the recipe includes mixing the grains with meths, to make a stock solution.  I have used this method before but when someone else had made the vat.  This time I will do my own.  I need a bigger bucket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Linda said...

WOW you've been a busy girl!! all looks totally wonderful to me xx

Pincus Panther said...

Fabulous collection of indigo dying.
How did you make the one that looks like water ripples (intense in colour towards the end)? Absolutely stunning work!

Lizzie said...

That piece was wrapped diagonally around a pole, then the fabric was pushed down tightly together to make the pleats and bound with threads, and then immersed in the dye vat. The tighter the pleating the more distinction in pattern. It is a Shibori technique.

Julie Shackson said...

Thanks for the tips Lizzie, I did some indigo dyeing recently, but in a completely different vein to yours. You've inspired me to have another go; the materials have just arrived. Thankyou!
Julie (alias PincusPanther)