Saturday, August 10, 2013

Indigo Dye workshop with Tamara

So since learning about Eliza Lucas Pinckney and her critical role in indigo culture in SC, I have wanted to try dyeing with it.  But as it's a little complex I put it off, and so when the Charleston Museum was sponsoring a workshop last month, I had a chance to get to experience and learn about it first. 

I would like to introduce Tamara, our fearless instructor. check her blog out She has recently posted on more indigo dyeing adventures. She also does knitting support!

First, if you try this at home,  I want to state  here...BE CAREFUL!  There are chemicals involved, wear gloves and eyewear and keeping pets and small children away is a MUST!

Some basics about indigo: indigo is not water soluble so for conventional use it is "pre-reduced" and turned into a product with the oxygen removed. This makes it water soluble.  Tamara our instructor used Jacquard Products Indigo Tie Dye kit, which contains indigo that is 60% pre-reduced. There are two options:

1) Setup a dye bath with indigo and water for a one time use bath

2) Setup a dye bath with soda ash and thiox to make a bath that can be used multiple times. These chemicals "maintain" the reduction over time. In this condition the dye is yellow-green on coming out of the vat and when fiber is removed it turns blue as oxygen in the air reacts with the indigo. As the indigo (molecules??) oxidize the dye becomes permanant.  (Shouldn't we have done a chemical equation for this in chemistry class as we were learning about Eliza in history class??!!)

We used option number one and here is a link for the  directions we used (which has both techniques described) , complements of the Earth Guild in Asheville.  The vats were setup for one time use, meaning that they were composed of just water and indigo.  The dyestock was blue in color. Tamara mixed up different amounts of indigo with  water and so some buckets had less amounts of indigo.  Then you could chose how many times you wanted to dip your fiber.  The poster above shows how the strength of the dye and the number of dips changed the hue. There was lots of rinsing between the dips.  

Here are some results

Of course, I wanted mine very very dark blue of my 3 hanks of yarn

I was very happy with the result!

The Charleston Museum also had a small exhibit of indigo dyed textiles  including this

and this

1 comment:

  1. Love it! Now I need you to come document all my classes and workshops :)