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the Organic Indigo Vat; including resists, indigo discharge and indigo printing w Catharine Ellis

Feb 19-23, 2019


Join us for a magical week with Catharine Ellis building and maintaining an organic indigo vat,learning about resist dyeing, indigo discharge, and printing applications.

Catharine Ellis has been making and using organic indigo vats since 2011, when she first learned about them from Michel Garcia. This is the same vat that he introduced in the DVD, Colors of Provence.

The maintenance of an organic indigo vat is a blend of art and science.  As the user gains familiarity with the process, this becomes more intuitive.  A key part of ensuring acceptable results from the vat is making sure that it stays in strong “reduction” and this can only be accomplished by observing the vat’s color and surface as an indication of it’s health and reacting appropriately when action is required.  Keeping records of the status of the vat and the changes that you make will help in building a “history” that will create comfort and expertise with the organic indigo process.

During this workshop the class will build and maintain 4 different types of Organic Indigo Vats.

Indigo is most commonly used as an immersion dye — but it can also be used for direct printing on cotton fabrics. Permanent shades from pale to deep blue are possible.

In this week-long workshop, students will be led through the process of making an alkaline indigo paste and preparing fabrics for printing and discharge. Students will learn how to print with indigo on cellulose fabrics using silk screens or wooden blocks. With this process, reduction takes place in the textile, resulting in a true indigo dye.

Indigo printing can be combined with other printing techniques to achieve a full palette of color. In addition, indigo printing can discharge other mordant dyes or itself be discharged using a mineral immersion. When treated with reducing sugars, distinct mineral brown colors will result. Shibori and paste resist will be used to create fabrics of blue/white and blue/brown combinations.

The class will complete many tests and experiments with the goal of developing a body of knowledge that students can ultimately apply to their own personal work. Each student will assemble a notebook of samples and reference materials.