From sky- to deep sea blues, it is so versatile, over-dye it with madder for lasting purples and weld for greens.. Making an indigo vat can seem like a daunting task, but trust me, once you get it done once, you will be doing it way more often. =).

It might look really dirty so rinsing in cold water will bring out the cleaner, brighter blue. Definitely keep me in the loop with your indigo quest, I may be trying on some alpaca here in a bit. I grew my own indigo this year so I’m working from my plant. Toning down the orange / red / copper tone henna leaves on our hair is one of the main concerns every woman has as soon as she starts using henna and herbal hair dyes. I used dried powder from the henna plant which reacts with the lime to reduce the vat. Pretty and I’ve been trying to get it with other plants…I was just hoping for blues.

Well thank you, that’s so good to know I’m not alone in that struggle and thank you so much for her Instagram account. I’m also a bit obsessed with pottery and have been wanting to combine that and weaving for some time now.

At some point, I was sick of the buckets of failed dye taunting me in the studio and ordered the “Natural Dye Workshop with Michel Garcia” dvd. Photo courtesy: Anu Ravi, Yoshiko stirring the vat in a forceful circular motion. Like you, I got silvery purples.

and to dye an even shade. I’m preparing to dye more Merino wool (knit) scarves. I do have henna now so I’m hoping to give that a go.

My 30 gallon indigo vat. I’ve tested the vat showing 10 which is good for cellulose and definitely protein too, yes? We sell some at our shop.
Rinse out extra indigo into the pot, don’t waste it! Have you had any experience with that? The knots at the edges must be cut very carefully…, It’s exciting to see the pattern emerge as the knots are cut & threads are removed….

For some reason, this vat was also a bust.

You probably get pH11 which is alkaline. Anyway yes I am getting to my comment – thank you for telling me to stir and let sit for a bit. You’re welcome! I’ve actually never tried a vat with chemicals, so no eye rolls here!

Stir gently, add as much water as you need to dip your yarn/whatever. My false sense of indigo-security was evident from my first vat experiment. Boiling removes the excess dye particles from the cloth and strengthens the indigo molecules, further bonding them to the fiber. I’ll try your method it seems more friendly. Start with the cold vat. I ordered new strips arriving tomorrow. I read it needs to be hotter like 90-100 and We’ll I’m not heating that up in my kitchen haha. ( Log Out /  I say the temperature is right ” if you put your finger in it and it’s hot enough that you don’t want to stay there.”. 2- 200gm> Calcium. Thanks for the message. Can this stock be revived or used? When the fabric first comes out of the vat is is a pale green, and as it oxidizes it turns beautifully blue. At that time, Indigo was a very difficult crop to grow, and the extraction process was complex and extremely labor intensive. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. It is absolutely possible to tone down the red from henna using the right herbal hair colors such as katam or indigo… Endless wonderings on my part. Rinse until water is clear. If it’s a cold vat, no need to think about it. I was asked why a henna indigo vat stripped the color from a previously fiber reactive dyed cotton cloth. ( Log Out /  Lime (calcium hydroxide) is the alkaline. With my first attempt at the henna vat came that beautiful green-to-blue oxidation that is so captivating.
I’d give it a little more time before admitting defeat just yet. Whenever you add henna (to lower the pH), always mix it with boiling water to create a henna soup before adding to your vat. Rinse out the extra henna into the pot. Stir.

The eternal blue of indigo, one of the most ancient dyes.

Add a decent amount of water to your dye pot, maybe a gallon or less. Thanks for sharing the above, I’m going to give this recipe a try! Also, when you are done with the vat for the day, do you do anything special before closing it up & when starting again the following day or days later, do you warm up the entire vat again or is that unnecessary & you can dye with a cold vat? I too was having problems in the past but thought I’d give it another go, yes I bought the DVD’s as well, last night set up 4 gallon jars with 4 different ratios. Now from my year + of experience and heartache, here is what I have to share about indigo dyeing: With Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 henna vat recipe, you’ll use 1 part indigo, 2 parts lime, and 3 parts henna. I thought it was a whole other type of vat for that, but I could be wrong! I did 4 dips with 150 grams of wool and 3 dips with an antique linen napkin. I would guess that if the pH is too high, it wouldn’t properly dye the wool. This syrup can be used in lieu of / along with  water that you want to make the vat with. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Let me know how it goes!! Photo Courtesy: Anu Ravi, Natural Dye Workshop with Michel Garcia and Sustainable Dye Practice, Colloquium: The Botany and Chemistry of Natural Dyes, Why I Switched from Synthetic to Natural Dyes, Natural Dyeing with Lichens by Barbara Schey, Colors of America: Cochineal workshop with Yoshiko I. Wada, Natural Color: Fiber and Dye with Catharine Ellis, Maintaining and Troubleshooting an Organic Indigo Vat with Catharine Ellis. Do this by mixing henna with boiling water before adding to your main vat as it must be activated first. Watch out for our next post which will feature the response from renowned woven shibori artist and natural dyer Catherine Ellis. But this morning in 2 jars it looks like brown and tan sludge sitting inside the glass jars. I mainly start the vat off correctly and don’t mess with it too much.

Aw, thanks, Krista. I have been told conflicting information about how long you can keep the 1.2.3. vat sustained, some saying indefinitely as long as you keep reviving & generally keeping the ph happy, etc. I suggest you take a class from her, Elin Noble, Sara Goodman, Ana Lisa Hedstrom , Barbara Shapiro or me who have studied with Michel Garcia and continue to practice it with depth of knowledge required for natural dyeing. It was an amazing experience, and I have since started an organic indigo vat of my own. I had dyed the yarn for my Cosmonaut scarves, which is the reason it’s an indigo hit-and-miss.


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