Friday, September 14, 2012

Dyeing With Homegrown Indigo!


This year in our dye garden, we grew Japanese indigo from seeds. 

At first the little seedlings were very sensitive to light and heat so we had to really baby them along.  Living in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley in California, the spring can turn hot and dry quickly so we really didn't know if they would like it here. We had to move the pots around a few times until the plants told us where they were happiest.  

In the picture above you can see the small pink blossoms we are saving for seeds for next year's batch. 

We harvested 1/3 of the leaves from the lower portion of the plants hoping that there would be another opportunity to harvest and dye later this summer. We'll see.


The leaves went into a double boiler type set up using an old wine bottle filled  with warm water. All that went onto the top portion of the Mexican wood stove. It simmered for over 2 hours.



Chems were then added slowly and carefully.

Then the dye bath was tossed back and forth to add oxygen to the mix. 




The silk scarf and a bit of wool were added to the dye and after the allotted time passed, they were removed and with contact to the air, the soft blue we were looking for finally arrived! 

For our first attempt, we were pleased.  It was obvious from the start that we hadn't planted enough indigo.  For a nice deep blue, we would have needed 1 pound of leaves. That's a lotta leaves!  We had about 4 ounces.  Next pass? Hope so.

The silk scarf came out lovely. I purposely allowed some portions of it to stick up and out of the dye to see what would happen. I got bubbles of white surrounded with gray and pink!

Marcail knit the dyed wool into a beret using Malabrigo wool.  The two pieces will be a part of the Art/Farm auction coming up in October.

All in all, it was fun and we learned a lot so that next time we will be that much more successful!

Thanks for looking.

About Me

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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