1 ounce Indigo extract or Indigo chunks 1 cup Soda Ash or Lye (I HIGLY recommend using Soda Ash NOT Lye~!) 2 Tablespoons Thiourea dioxide or Thiox Water
Respirator – you only get one set of lungs! Wear a respirator when handling dye powders, mordants, and dye assists~! Gloves – wear heavy duty kitchen or dyeing gloves when handling the indigo ingredients (See safety Instructions Below) Stock Pot 18 quarts or bigger, can be Stainless Steel or Enamel the indigo vat will react with aluminum so I don’t recommend using aluminum pots for creating the vat. Scale for weighing dyes and chemicals – again studio dedicated! Measuring spoons, measuring cups, wisk for stirring Jar – wide mouth pint jar for making indigo paste Spoon, studio dedicated, for stirring the vat Tongs for retrieving your fabrics, fibers, etc. Lingerie bag for small items you wish to find in the vat again the bag makes them easier to retrieve Water for your vat, rinsing, and for oxidizing Vinegar – helps to restore the pH balance of wool and silk fibers/fabrics pH papers/strips for testing the pH of your vat. Heat source Clothesline for hanging fabrics onto to help fabric oxidize faster.
Natural Indigo Chemical Reduction Mini-Vat Instructions:
1.READ Safety Instructions before Beginning the Indigo Vat! 2. Fill your vat container with water you don’t need to heat the vat at this point. ALLOW TO SIT OVERNIGHT, doing this allows the oxygen to dissipate from the vat.
3. Place 1 ounce Natural Indigo powder (if you are working with hard chunk indigo it will have to be ground down first) into a suitable container.
4. Add just enough hot water until you get a paste – preferably lump free (I use a dedicated wide mouth pint jar for this solution.
5. Add soda ash or lye to the vat water - NEVER add water to your soda ash or lye ALWAYS add the soda ash or lye to the water!!!
6. Slowly add the indigo paste to the vat solution
7. Stir to dissolve NOTE this may take quite a bit of stirring, heating the vat at this point also helps with dissolving the paste faster.
8. Next add thiox to the vat solution stir very little so as to avoid adding Oxygen to the vat.
9. DO NOT BOIL YOUR VAT as this will cause bubble formation and will introduce Oxygen into the vat.
10. REMOVE HEAT after 30 minutes
11. Cover vat and allow to sit until reduction is complete.
12. Reduction is complete when your vat turns a yellow to yellowish pea green color.
13. If your vat is still blue after 24 hours then you have too much Oxygen in your vat add thiox to the vat in small increments, a few grains of thiox at a time, to further reduce the vat.
14. If you reduce the vat too far then gently stir the vat with one or two swirls of the spoon and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
15. You will need to test the pH of the vat to see if the pH is correct
16. pH should be 10.0 – 11.5 · cottons 11.0-11.5 · wool and silk 10.5-11.0 preferably closer to 10.5
17. Adjust pH by adding small amounts, half teaspoon at a time, of soda ash to your vat, even is you created a lye vat do NOT add more lye to the vat at this point.
My 'word' for 2014 is Courage, so I'm going to go out on a limb and share where I'm headed for 2015!!!
In the coming weeks I will be making some
changes to the Natural Surface Academy and blog. To be honest, keeping the Natural Surface
strictly about natural dyeing is not only boring the hell out of me, but it's
also stifling my creativity.
While I do work primarily with natural
dyes, I also work with fabric paints, shiva paintstiks, digital printing, discharge
dyeing (yes you really can discharge dye natural dyed fabrics), and more.
Shiva paintstiks and crayon on indigo dyed cotton fabric.
I will be adding video links (YouTube) to
some of my adventures that are for Academy Members ONLY!
My dream is to license my designs, have my
own fabric lines, etc., so with this in mind I am changing a few things here at
the natural surface and adding in a bit more information, etc., I will be
sharing my adventures in creating digital designs, licensing, etc., with
Academy Members through our Facebook group.
My 2014 Goals List that I made to use as my screen saver, I have to admit putting this, my goals list, out there scares the snot out of me but as some of my friends have told me in the past "go big or go home!"
Stenciling on natural dyed (tea and coffee) fabric using my Black Birds in Tree stencil from StencilGirl Products!!!
I'm using purple and yellow acrylic paints and a stencil brush.
This while waiting for the screen printing supplies to arrive. The bulb in my thermofax machine died and is no longer available, so on the advice of some trusted artist friends I've purchased Jacquards drawing fluid and filler to make silk screen designs. The upside to this is I'll have large screens for screen printing natural dyes onto the cloth.
I do, however, dye,
paint, and print, my fabric with natural dyes.
courtesy of the Main Street Cultural District Ames, Iowa.
I participated in a local art walk last Friday and
after three hours of questions about my natural dyed scarves, artwork, etc., I
am once again reminded as to why I don’t call myself an eco-dyer, for the most
part nobody is interested in the craft of eco-dyeing!
While most people play lip service to protecting the
environment, sustainability, fair trade practices, and all things “green” the
fact of the matter is when most people found out that I was using tree bark,
mushrooms, leaves, bugs, and other stuff to dye my art cloth the response was
an overwhelming “that’s nice” or “that’s really cool”. "That’s nice" is the kiss of death, it's the Mid westerners
version of “so what” or “who cares”!
The whole experience solidified in my mind what I
already knew, while there are some that are truly concerned about the
environment and sustainability, the majority only cares if it saves them a buck
or two. Which leads me back to why I
don’t eco-dye my fabric, fibers, and threads, but in fact dye them with Natural
Dyes, to me it’s about the process and the relationships I form with other
dyer’s, and most importantly with nature that surrounds and inspires me.
Natural dyed silk scarves.
For me the process is not about immediate
gratification, but about discovery, learning, exploring, and most importantly
relationships. Unless a local woodworker
gifts me a bag of wood chips from their dust collection system or from their
lathe turnings, the wood, barks, and roots I use to create my designs are
collected over a period of years, often time’s decades.
My finished artwork was a hit with everyone with
plenty of people telling me they’d love to be able to stitch and sew like I do
and do I teach classes? The evening
wasn't a total bust, I got plenty of hits from women of all ages that are
interested attending a stitching party; the older women of course were very
excited about the wine aspect of said parties. Click here to learn more about eClasses, Workshops, and my newest offering Out of the Box Art Parties!