Detail of indigo dyed cotton batiste.
Part of my work deals with textiles that have been dyed using natural materials. At the present moment I have a few plant bundles brewing in jars, and a several large pieces of cloth wound around rusty objects.
I have wanted to work with other natural dyes for quite a while, Indigo in particular. Looking back through my fiber / textile sketchbook it has been almost ten years since this amazing natural dye has inspired me. The delay in moving forward with this idea was that I really did not want to deal with the prep work to get the indigo ready and working with Lye. Natural Indigo takes a considerable amount of effort to get it into a working dye bath. Since it is not soluble in water, it has to be ground, pasted up, and reduced chemically with Sodium Hydrosulfite and Lye. The process is quite involved and extremely time consuming.
Not anymore, as Jacquard has this amazing product: pre-reduced indigo crystals.
It is amazing! The indigo has been pre-reduced chemically, and then dried, so it dissolves quickly in water. All I needed to add was Thiox (Thiourea Dioxide) and soda ash. It only took a few minutes to prepare the dye bath and, according to my research, it can be refreshed with the addition of more of the crystals and / or chemicals. I can keep this vat going for quite a while.
I tried several different types of fabrics (silk, cotton, and a cotton blend), yarns (cotton, wool, and rayon), and textiles (rust dyed cotton and silk) with a few different resists (rubber bands, carpet warp, hemp twine, binder clips, wood, stones, clothes pins, and rayon thread) to create the patterns. Creating these experimental pieces inspired me to move forward with larger pieces that will take time to design and prepare before my next dyeing session. Until then, the beautiful vat will live under the house.
Author / Artist:
I am the Mom to three, Wife, Mixed-Media Artist, Contemporary Quilter, Art Teacher, and the forever home to Josey and Lucy.