Saturday, 2 December 2017

Indigo reflections

I have been doing a lot of indigo dyeing now the weather has warmed up, and it has been really satisfying to wake up my three vats, warm them up and attend to their individual needs. These vats are all natural vats mostly using henna as the antioxidant, although one of the vats which I have had for a few years now, got a dose of over-ripe bananas last summer after my indigo workshop at Sturt Summer School.
This year I will be teaching Introduction to Natural Dyes and Mordant Printing, and there is only one place left, so if you are interested, go to the Sturt website and enrol!
Two weekends ago I ran an Indigo intensive Workshop from my home, where I am in the process of planning a purpose built studio. I wanted to test out how everything would work running classes from the downstairs space, and I had 8 eager students as my innaugural students.
Unfortunately our hot summery day disappeared and we had rain for most of the day but that didn't dampen our creativity or good humour! I ran through the process of making up an organic indigo henna vat from scratch (which then gave us the luxury of 4 vats to work from) and some beautiful pieces were made as you can see below.
One thing I stress to students is the attention paid to preparing the fabric before dyeing and also after dyeing in indigo. The finishing process is very crucial to ensure that the indigo is fixed inside the fibres and not just sitting on the outside, where it will quickly crock off. After rinsing in cold water several times after oxidation, and then neutralising in a vinegar rinse, it is important to then place the cotton fabric into very hot soapy water. As Joy Boutrup explained, this serves the dual purpose of getting rid of any excess indigo pigment on the surface of the fabric which has not been trapped inside the fibre, and at the same time swells the indigo molecule that is inside the fibre, ensuring that it is now trapped and cannot escape. In a recent Instagram post Aboubakar Fofana also stresses the importance of correct finishing of the indigo dyed fabric.
I'm off on a short holiday to Singapore and will post something on the textiles while I am there.
Cheers for now!