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Sunday I was finally able to do some indigo dyeing.  This was my second vat at home using pre-reduced indigo I bought at last year’s Quilt Festival in Houston from Pro Chemical and Dye.  I was able to take a shibori class at the Festival from Glennis Dolce which was my initiation into the world of indigo.  There is much for me to learn.  I try not to become paralyzed by the fear of failure since I can’t really learn anything if I don’t put my hand to it and give it a go.  There is a chemistry to indigo.  It may actually be simpler than I imagine it to be, but it is magical and mysterious to me.  I hope to one day keep a fermentation indigo vat but the purist in me wishes to actually grow the indigo first, this is not happening for me yet.  Here are a few pictures.


Drawing up the threads on a thrifted linen shirt


Dyed Shirt Front


Mokume Shibori Detail


Shirt Back


Center Back Detail

I love how soft this shirt is and how the indigo already has a weathered look.

Ok, so things I think I learned this time:

  1. Taking more care when dipping and removing cloth from the vat did reduce the amount of oxygen introduced into the dye which cut down the “foam” considerably.  I only had to skim the flower once and there wasn’t that much to remove.
  2. Next time on heavily stitch resist items take a bit more time with each dip to make sure the dye reaches into the folds closest to the gathered areas.  Take more time exposing those gathered places to oxygen after each dip to ensure even oxidization.  Hopefully this will reduce the ghosted areas and sharpen the contrast.
  3. There was quite a bit of fading on some of the cotton pieces.  I need to find out what I did wrong.

Constellation Experiment

I was inspired by Jude at Spirit Cloth to add one more item to my shibori play, a shibori constellation.  A little Sun Moon Stars fun!  It was a last minute impulse and it turned out better than I expected.  I lost one leg of stitches in the process though, this was done on flour-sack toweling which has a rather loose weave and it appears my knot pulled through between two “stars”.


Constellation Detail

Since several items I dyed were gifts I ran everything through a wash in Synthrapol.  I don’t want the recipients having a problem with the indigo crocking!

Indigo is still beautiful and mysterious to me.  I love how it wears with the cloth, showing how the thing was lived with, giving it a sense of time.  I hope I never tire of this magical blue.