Friday, July 5, 2013

Adventures with Indigo

Like many others, I have always been drawn to the colour indigo. It reminds me of my favourite pair of bell-bottomed blue jeans from back in the sixties and the overalls I dressed my children in when they were little. Then there are the Japanese and African fabrics I've found and admired in more recent years. Who knows, but there's undeniably something quite magic about this blue. The urge to work with indigo fabric I've made myself has become quite strong of late, so for the last two days, under the able instruction of Margaret (who has had a little more experience than Joan or Pamala or I), my backyared has become an indigo dye studio. Margaret began 
by showing us how the fabric can be folded or tied or pleated to create different patterns. We admired some of her own work, then prepared our own "indigo vat" using a starter kit I'd purchased from Maiwa. I think the first time I saw an indigo vat was in Morocco in 1974, having no notion at that time that this was something I might like to do one day. Amazing! While the vat fermented, gradually turning from a dark blue to a clear greeny-yellow colour, we prepared our fabrics. And then the dyeing and dipping began. When pieces emerged from the vat, they were a yucky green colour, but as they reacted with oxygen in the air, they deepened to a glorious dark blue. In no time at all, the grass was covered with our first pieces. Some proved too light, and needed a second dipping. Some didn't turn out quite as we'd imagined, in fact every piece was a surprise when we opened it up, but we were thrilled with it
all. And there was enough left in the vat at the end to try over-dyeing some black and white fabric, and to include an old flannel sheet that has been in my husband's family for eons, and a white cotton coverlet that I'd recently found at the Free Store on Hornby. The whole experience was very earthy, satisfying some deep longing in me to work directly with this amazing colour. I'm already looking forward to trying out new ways of manipulating the fabric to produce new textures on the fabric, and wondering if it's possible to thicken indigo and print with it. Time to do a little more research. Until next time, may you enjoy this summer however you choose to spend your creative energy.