Monday 25 August 2014

Bank Holiday Blues - Playing With Indigo

 Ignore the jungle  behind ( the plants are meeting together in the middle )  and admire the outcome of my first indigo vat at home! Rather than tackling the garden , I made the most of the good weather forecast for Sunday  (it's currently pouring with rain) Ever since doing CQ Winter school with Janice Gunner and a day last year at Art Van Go  I've been plotting  doing some  dyeing with indigo in our garden . Earlier in the year  I acquired a surplus  chemical drum from work; bought some large trugs for rinsing ( already have a convenient outside tap next to a drain); the relevant chemicals from Kemtex;  a  balcony airer. All set to go just waiting for when time and weather co-incided!
  I had a good system  going  with fabrics at different stages : soaking in warm water; in the vat; oxidising on a tray ; unpacked/unpicked and oxidising on the balcony airer. Ian was fascinated by the process having only seen the results before so  happy to take lots of photos of the alchemy when fabric turns from yellow to green to blue in front of your eyes.

 I was keen to experiment with  dyeing large  sections of the antique cutter quilts I've accumulated - they've produced some lovely 'boro' effects.
The most interesting marks were produced on a piece of  off white quilt wrapped around a piece of vacuum hose (thanks Sue!)  and tied with string . Quite an unwieldy  snake to wrap because of the weight of fabric but that's where quilt husbands come in handy!
All rinsed and washed  just waiting for everything to dry now. Then I'll be sharing some of my favourites! Learnt a lot in the process - it's a very different experience from doing it  in a class. While the  chemical drum worked well,  I would probably just use a bucket another time unless I was sharing with friends. I would definitely dip more than once - the paler blue resulting from just one dip suits the old quilts but was a bit disappointing on some of the other fabrics.  Used colour catchers were amazing , definitely more of that and perhaps some experiments on paper. More preparation in advance (including stitching ) - although I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do (organzas, old quilts and 'mudflat' fabrics,) I was a bit rushed on Saturday afternoon and too involved in the dyeing process on Sunday  to make changes. Doing it earlier in the season and keeping the vat going are definitely on the agenda for next year!  


Texture Trail said...

What fabulous results! It looks like great fun too! Thanks for the inspiration, there is something special about indigo.

Tiggy Rawling said...


reensstitcher said...

You have done much better than me! After doing Janice Gunner's workshop about three years ago I bought a starter kit but it is still sitting in the studio. I realised the weather was right for it a few weeks ago but no longer, I'm afraid. Your looks wonderful, especially the old quilt, and maybe next year I should dedicate the quilt that is no longer on my bed to indigo dyeing.