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Studio Visit: Natural Indigo Dyeing

I've been shibori stitching small squares of scrap linen pieces as habit/meditation/boredom.  

My 35 gallon indigo vat is a iron reduction style. The heavy sediment gathers at the bottom, so before you dip anything you have to give it a good stir. If you listen you can hear marbles swirling around. They are used to "hydrate" the indigo during the creation of the vat, but I leave them in the bottom to help unearth that sediment. Plus it sounds wonderful and relaxing.

After the big stir, a flower forms. Before you dip you remove the flower so it doesn't get in the way and leave spots on your fabrics. 

Presoaked fabrics are wrung out to remove excess water, carefully dipped in the vat and messaged for 30sec-5min depending on the life of the vat and desired depth of blue wanted. Each piece is lifted out to avoid splashing, wrung out to remove excess dye in collection pan, then it's washed in cool water to remove the grim. The iron from the vat, if not removed, can makes marks on the piece as it oxidizes. It also shows a more true color that you achieve though being wet, it appears darker than it is. 

To achieve darker shades, you repeat the dipping/rinsing process. These tiny pieces are for a larger patchwork blanket piece. Once I thoroughly message each piece individually and check that the indigo penetrated the pattern I've sewn, I then place in a basket I made from to pasta strainers, and dip a few at a time to save time.  With stitched pieces you don't really want to over massage and lose the detail either. It's tricky to dip to avoid introducing oxygen through bubbles, so it must be dip very slowly and moved cautiously.

Hope you enjoyed and found useful in your own practice! Try out your own small vat at home with my Indigo kits, available in 3 reduction styles using iron, henna, or fructose. 

1 comment

  • Karin, The stitching is so beautiful! It’s lovely how the tying creates those textures within the stitched areas. I’ll have to try another workshop! Thanks for posting.


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