Indigo is an ancient dye derived from the leaves of plants and surrounded by magic, mystery, and folklore. Discover how the leaves ‘make blue’ by learning about the character and chemistry of the natural indigo vat.
The complex chemistry of the indigo vat is fascinating and students will soon appreciate how rituals have grown around the making and using of a successful vat. The unique ‘attaching’ of indigo to fiber means it is particularly suited to resist methods of dying, such as shibori, where portions of cloth are closed off to the dye or where the flow of dye is restricted. Different shades of blue build on the fabric after several dips, exhibiting the beautiful graded hues which are so typical of indigo.
Students will initially learn how an indigo vat is made. A vat will be prepared in the morning and the basic chemistry explained. The natural indigo powder will be used, and the vat will be ‘reduced’ using a commercially available chemical. While the vat develops, students will be shown shibori techniques: a folded and clamped method, and a twisted and tied technique. Students can expect to make several pillow or napkin-sized samples
Beginner and intermediate