Any air remaining in the fibre will oxidize Indigo in the vat, and this must be avoided. The Indigo colour will only wash out and rub off too quickly. It withstands well the many washings that work clothes require. The vat lasts indefinitely. Your Source For The World's Finest Silk & Natural Dyes. Do this squeezing as close to the surface as you can, as dropping liquid will bring air into the vat. The size of the pot is determined by the amount of fobre you need to dye at one time. The amounts are weight ounces, not volume ounces. Always wear rubber gloves. The vat is “renewed” with more Indigo and the other ingredients in proportion, whenever the dye value weakens. Dyeing is begun, with the darkest colour dyed first, then medium, then lights. You don’t want to scare people with blue hands; also the strongly alkaline vat may irritate your skin. It is begun with a certain amount of Indigo, and all other ingredients as given, in proportion. The solution is then beaten to oxidize and precipitate the Indigo. Indigo in some form is used in all traditional cultures, for it is the only clear and fast natural blue. It takes time for the vat to ferment and it does no good to try to rush the process. ground indigo, 1/2 lb ground madder, 1/2 lb ground bran and 3 lbs washing soda in about a 10 gallon plastic tub. Just to be on the safe side, I always double rinse my indigo dyed textiles. The process “reduces” the Indigo, changing it from blue to yellow. As much as twenty percent of the dye may be a violet tone called Indigo Red. wheat bran (buy at any health food store). It is dyed through a living fermentation process that does not require any mordant. It is good meditation. The vat itself lasts a long time. Indigo blue has long been associated with the less than aristocratic classes. Between dyeings the vat must rest overnight or an extra day. A larger vat can be made, for example with: 1 lb. In this state, it dissolves in an alkaline solution. The first time, it takes about a week for the vat to ferment and be ready to dye. The Indigo plants are harvested and brought to a central location. Though the process of turning green leaves into brilliant blue dye through fermentation has been practiced for thousands of years, it still feels magical.Most natural dye colors are derived from bark, berries, or leaves that can be boiled down and dyed with—but the process of making blue dye … However, I advise starting small, till you are comfortable with the process. Use a bit of water to facilitate grinding and keep down the dust. Stir the vat once a day. In this state, it dissolves in an alkaline solution. They are soaked in water and allowed to ferment. The fibre is worked in the solution, or “vat.” When brought out to the air, it is a bright green. Always add these amounts in proportion. This sludge, packed into balls or patties and fully dried, is the Indigo dye of commerce. When the vat is “exhausted”, and will only dye light shades, it is time to renew it. So stir gently. Air is the enemy of a good Indigo vat. For lighter shades, fewer dips are needed. WARMTH: It is necessary to keep the vat warm, but not hot, around 100 – 110° Fahrenheit. The fibre is “dipped” several times to build up a dark colour, with airing between each dip. Now the fibre must be “worked” in the vat, under the surface. Squeeze solution through yarn for best penetration. If more heat is needed, pits for burning charcoal are placed between clusters of the vats. An additional beauty of dark Indigo Blue, is that when ironed or pounded, cloth so dyed takes a coppery sheen – the same sheen we see on the top of the well-reduced Indigo vat. The level of liquid in the pot should just allow room for the yarn dyeing, without spilling. Indigo blue has still the association of “The Working Class”. Indigo dye must be prepared from the fresh plant in an exacting and elaborate process that takes about a month. Vats made of great clay pots set in the ground are commonly used in warmer climates. In southern Mexico, where some of the current Indigo of commerce originates, it is naturalized and grows in fallow fields, so no effort is spent cultivating it. (See illustration, next page.) Indigo dyeing was one of the first speciality professions. To keep it warm, a light bulb in a reflector can be put under the vat, with a blanket over it to keep in the heat. Below is what the indigo vat should look like at the end, when it is ready to use. It takes time to do the dyeing. This separates the dyestuff from the plant. These clothes were originally dyed with indigo. Indigo dyeing is practiced today in Japan, Southern China, Tibet, India, Indonesia, Indo China, Africa, especially Nigeria, Southern Mexico and Guatemala, and it has recently been reintroduced to Turkey. It is an excellent rotational crop for increasing soil fertility. Then let sit a few days to re-ferment. However, many of these cultures now use synthetic Indigo, manufactured from coal tar or petroleum. I use a domed lid, turned upside down. Traditional fermentation methods are used. I have had my current vat over fifteen years. It is the same temperature for raising bread or making yogurt. For greens, dye you fibre Indigo first, then rinse well and overdye with alum mordant and your chosen yellow dye. The fibre should be a bright clear green. Then leave the fibre to air overnight. Repeat the dips up to five times for dark Indigo Blue. In most cultures, Indigo dyeing is or was a specialty. When ready to dye again, warm it up, renew it with the ingredients, and proceed as before. It is relatively easy to grow and dye, and is quite fast. 2 oz. It contains no harsh chemicals nor toxic metals.

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