Indigo Take One
The amazing blue tones of Indigo have attracted me for years but it was not until a friend taught and encouraged me to start a vat that I finally took the plunge. The process has been quite a learning curve with lots of mistakes but also much excitement and discovery. The picture above shows test strips starting with one dip and ending with ten.
I started with Cheryl Kolander at http://www.aurorasilk.com to buy my first ingredients and her instructions are fantastic.
Here’s the basics of starting my natural fermented indigo vat…
4 oz Indigo
2 oz Madder Root
2 oz Wheat Bran
12 oz Soda Ash
The short of it:
Mix together in a plastic bucket with a lid and distilled water. (Los Angeles tap water has to much chlorine in it).
Wait a week or so while keeping it warm (I use a bucket warmer belt).
And Ta Da! Fermented Indigo Vat…Of course mine took several adjustments, a lot longer and a little hair pulling but everyone has their own journey…Below are test strips that show my cranky vat.
At this stage I’ve had some great success dying vintage garments and fabric but I am constantly adjusting and babying my vat - it’s a work in progress with ongoing learning and research and I love it. I find the process meditative and it demands me to slow down and focus. This ancient technique links me to past cultures and all parts of the world…Japan, India, Europe, Egypt.
It’s an amazing development to watch as the fabric emerges from the vat green and starts to oxidize to the beautiful blue of indigo. The multiple dips it takes to reach dark indigo is labor intensive and takes time and patience. Unlike modern dying that I was used to, having worked in the fashion industry, that is incredibly hard on the environment and done in mass scale with synthetic dyes - Indigo dying is an art form, something I am sure will take me years to master. It teaches you to respect each piece as a unique creation while the process unfolds.
My indigo vat is a little like Goldie Locks…Can’t be too hot or too cold, needs to be fed the ideal porridge and likes to have the perfect rest…but what the fairy tale doesn’t talk about is her generosity in creating and giving beauty. So it’s worth the process of getting it just right.