Monthly Archives: March 2014

Love: Indigo

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I’ve always loved the inky dark color of natural indigo dye. I’ve only recently had a legitimate reason to pursue the process for my own projects. It’s quite a bit of commitment to make up a batch, you kinda want to have a good amount of things to dye or you might start putting everything into the vat. OK, you’re gonna want to put everything into the indigo no matter what. The process is magical alchemy. This past Sunday I went to an indigo workshop led by a friend KC Cooper Sears. It was great to get my footing with the process before I start making up my own batches and dying some projects I have in the works.

Here are some images from the workshop!

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We had a yard of cotton muslin as well as things we brought from home to try out the various techniques for resist and folding. We started by wrapping the fabric around various found objects. I tied one piece of fabric with a continuous piece of string around bottle caps. I’m looking forward to trying this with rocks or smooth pebbles next time. When you’re all ready to go with your piece of fabric you immerse it slowly into the dye and pull it out slowly. When it first comes out it’s bright acid yellow-green and it slowly deepens and darkens as it’s exposed to oxygen.
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Another piece I clamped between 2 blocks of wood. The indigo dyed the exposed parts and where the blocks of wood are it stayed white. A friend that went with me to the class figured out that some of the mini clamps made a dot-dash type of resist to the indigo so I tried that as well. The above image in the bottom left is a piece of silk wrapped around a tube and tied with string.  The image up top at the beginning of this post is the same tube but as the dye was developing I removed the string to see the contrast.

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Here’s what a few of the pieces looked like a few days later after I waited the requisite time and then I laundered them in the washing machine with a bit of white vinegar.
The top left image above is the dot-dash made with the mini clamps.
The top right was my first try at using wood blocks and clamps to resist the indigo. I decided I wanted to try getting a deeper color result so I went with tinier blocks in the bottom right shot.
and the bottom left image is how the bottle cap piece turned out. I love that one!
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Another thing I did was a bit controversial. I picked up this linen kaftan a few weeks ago at the thrift store. While I liked the cut and the feel of the fabric I’m not so sure I liked the bright orange color. So into the vat it went! After waiting a few days and then washing it out it looks like it turned a nice dark brown blue color. The embroidery thread colors did not change much at all. I’m guessing they have a greater polyester content than the look like they might. I like it better…I think.  Yeah…I think so. I want to add some button holes and buttons to the placket still.  It currently has snaps on the inside.

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The last image is the whole reason I’ve started traveling down this gloriously beautiful indigo path. I’m working on a line of hand fabricated silk scarves. Big, like shawls almost. I wear something around my neck for most of the year- something heavier in the winter usually made out of cashmere and in the summer I still like to stash a scarf or shawl into my bag if I get chilly.  Since it takes a bit of time to have a finished product to share with everyone I figured I would start with something I (and hopefully you!) will wear in the summer.

Hand printed and hopefully hand dyed silk scarves. I’m also going to be making some with white ink on black materials. I’ve been spending some time researching materials that feel and drape nicely at 2+ yards and I’m excited to continue experimenting and figuring out what works. The image above was a quick print of one of my hand drawn patterns printed on 100% silk. After various tests and experiments I’m overjoyed with the way the ink from the printing process penetrates all the way through the textile for a print on both sides of the fabric. Both sides of the fabric!!! That makes me so giddy.

This, in addition to the wool felt projects that I shared last week have made things very fun in my studio as I learn what works and try new things!  Thanks for reading along on this journey.

Posted in Love: Things I Dig - Gotta Share...