More Indigo Woes.

It has been a crazy year with lots of things demanding my focus away from fiber arts. Finally today I had a chance to check on my neglected indigo vat. As I suspected, deep, dark, murky blue. Geesh, Why do I do this to myself? I know when it isn’t attended that this will happen. The indigo was totally out of reduction.

Balancing a neglected vat is like starting over. Here are the things I need to coax this back into a healthy vat. Yes, I do a bastard vat, or in other words, what ever works. ┬áThe most important part of the formula are test strips. The pH has to be right for the vat to be happy and if that vat ain’t happy, mama ain’t happy!

Because my vat is in an opaque container, it is hard to see the color. So the first thing I did was scoop out a gallon of liquid into a jar. I added some magic but nothing was happening. Even though the pH was right, there was no reduction of indigo so no color was going onto the fabric. I heated the gallon of liquid, then added more Rit color remover. Finally, a bit of color change from dark indigo blue to green. There is a little coppery scum on top but no flower yet. It may take a little more tweaking. I know there is plenty of indigo left in the vat so no need to add any more indigo powder.



The big vat is staring to get some copper, no flower, but it is dyeing a healthy green on the first dip. More tweaking but it is starting to sprinkle and Arkansas needs the rain. I will check on my flowers later today to see if there is any change.

A Question about the Outdoor Dyeing Ideas

I had a private question about the set ups I posted for an outdoor dyeing studio. They said they use a trash can for their indigo and wanted to know how these would work. If one person asks, there are usually more who have the same question. Here is my answer .

I use a 5 gallon utility bucket for my indigo vat. I can cover it with the lid when not in use. Since it is plastic and has a lip around the top it will fit into the table the same way the tub is shown. That will save my back bending over the vat. Putting the vat on a milk crate has worked in the past but it isn’t stable. This table, not the shelving piece, solves that problem. I do put another bucket turned upside down under the table to support the weight of the vat.

In workshops at Arrowmont using Rowland Ricketts and Joan M. Morris vat the fiber was soaked at least overnight before dipping. Then in Joan’s method, it is again put into water for the color to develop. This has meant I needed multiple tables or a lot of bending over. I can put a second bucket in the table for water and the third one in the shelving unit next to the hand washing tub.

Thanks for asking. I’m always happy to share. Let me know if I didn’t explain this well. We are still experiencing over 100 heat index after weeks of flooding rainfall.