A First Pass at Indigo Dyeing

I love trying out new stuff. Last Saturday the Piedmont Silk Painters got together in Marcia Ferris's studio to do a little indigo dyeing, a process that I haven't done before but have always been curious about.

Indigo is a natural plant dye with that distinctive blue color of your denim jeans. Historically, it was highly prized because of the rarity of blue dyes. Today however, most of the indigo dye produced is synthetic, and that's what we used.

We used various shibori techniques (folding, pole wrapping, clamping, stitching) on silk and cotton before dunking them in a vat of indigo dye. 

Pole-wrapped silk soaking in the vat of indigo dye

Pole-wrapped silk soaking in the vat of indigo dye

The dyed fabric first comes out green, then turns blue as the indigo becomes oxidized in the air.

The dyed fabric first comes out green, then turns blue as the indigo becomes oxidized in the air.

Some finished pieces. Mine is the first silk scarf on the left. It's much too light... I must not have soaked it in the vat for long enough.

The "awwww" award definitely goes to Martha! She stitched the shape of a fish and gathered the stitches before dyeing this adorable onesie for her indigo-eyed grandson.

The "awwww" award definitely goes to Martha! She stitched the shape of a fish and gathered the stitches before dyeing this adorable onesie for her indigo-eyed grandson.

My 2 silk pieces. The one on the bottom had turned out too light, so when I got home re-wrapped and overdyed it with purple and blue silk dyes. It doesn't look anything like its indigo parent but I'm pleased with the result!

My 2 silk pieces. The one on the bottom had turned out too light, so when I got home re-wrapped and overdyed it with purple and blue silk dyes. It doesn't look anything like its indigo parent but I'm pleased with the result!

Indigo dyeing is certainly something I'd like to try again, but I'd have to think twice about bringing yet another set of supplies into my studio!