Beth Markel

I could just dye…

Posted on June 17, 2012 by Beth Markel

So last week SDA (Surface Design Association) did a workshop on indigo.  I have been dying my own fabric for a while, usually with good success, but have now discovered how much I love indigo!  You have no idea how excited my husband was to hear the phrase, “Honey, let’s go to the hardware store so I get in an 8’ pole, about 2” in diameter.”  I’m not entirely sure what he was thinking, but seemed rather chagrinned when I asked him to cut it down into manageable pieces for my vat of indigo.  If you have never tried this type of dye, I would highly recommend it, as you can try as many techniques that you can think of…traditional tie-dye with rubber bands, marbles, folding, stitching in a true shibori technique…you name it.  The results are GLORIOUS!

Dharma Trading sells pre-reduced indigo crystals, which yield lovely results.  Velvet completely soaks up color like a sponge, and you get a deep, true indigo with this fabric.  Cotton and cotton/linen mixes work really well, but note…silk has sort of a “slick” finish, for lack of a better phrase, and it takes multiple to numerous dips in the dye to get silk to look luscious.  I have been reading up on indigo in Africa, and there are places which dip silk up to 60 times to get it to color up…my phrase, as the first couple of silks I did last week were almost completely white in the center of all the folds.  Interesting, but not what I had been looking for.  Folds, clamps, even poker chips clamped between folded layers of fabric, work as resists.  Again, the more layers of fabric, the more dips in the bath.  Finally, when washed and treated, the final indigo shades will be slightly lighter than how they appeared when removed from the vats.

Looks like I’m hooked!



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