Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Indigo Dyeing

My friend Tracy came over yesterday bearing indigo stock solution and we proceeded to dye all day. It's hard to believe that I have been using natural dyes off and on for years because it involves things like math and chemistry. To give you an example, I know there is a process called oxidation that happens after you pull the fiber/fabric out of the indigo vat. The fabric is initially this chartreuse green and right before your eyes it turns blue. This is caused by oxidation, but I call it magic.

We used a chemical indigo vat where we substitute things like lye and thiourea dioxide for the oatmeal, rice, rhubarb leaves, and other natural plant fibers used to create a natural dye bath. The dye bath has to be ph'd properly and chemicals measured and checked often so here's math and chemistry. I think my chemist friend, Janet, would be both proud of me and also laugh at me .

In this picture you see some of the dyed pieces hanging to dry. The darker shade of color you want the more dips in the dye pot. The piece must stay in the pot for at least 30 seconds and up to a minute. Then you wait 20 minutes before you dip it again.

I shibori dyed some dupioni silk but I don't think I dipped enough times in the dye pot and I'm afraid most of the color is going to wash out. With indigo you always have to dip more times so the fabric looks darker than you want it because it is the nature of the dye to wash out a lot. It helps to "cure" it longer by letting it set. You should let all indigo dyed pieces air dry for at least 24 hours. I'm going to let this piece set longer and see if I can retain some color.

Here are some more pieces of lace and crochet I dyed along with some shibori dyed silk ribbons. I'll post pictures of these again after I wash and iron them.


Anonymous said...

In reference to the first picture ....have you become the neighbor our parents warned us about? :)
Love these pieces - particularly the embroidered sheer?/net? piece, the green and blue ribbon and the last doily. Sounds like fun!


Karen Owen said...

I enjoyed seeing and reading about your process, and I love the results. What beautiful shades of blue! I'll be interested to see again after washing.

Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I just want to scoop up the ribbons and laces and run my hands over them. The range of blues is lovely (and, thanks to your explanation, I have an idea of how you get that range). It sounds like an awful lot of work, but the results are spectacular. I hope the shibori silk keeps its color because it's beautiful.

Aileen said...

Gorgeous Lorri! I enjoyed reading and seeing the end result, thanks for sharing!

Fran S said...

This is absolutely awesome! I had no idea how much chemistry went into dyeing fabric. I look forward to seeing what else you come up with!

Kathy McElroy said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I wish I could have joined you.