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Indigo Dyeing

July 26, 2009

Indigo dyeing has always been a source of fascination and I have never taken the time to try making a vat myself.   I have a small amount of indigo tucked away in my dye supplies and today I will begin my experiments.   After much reading I have decided to try a simple method using yeast as the reducing agent.  It looks easy, and though slower has fewer ingredients to find.   My camera has decided  to stop working (after six years of thousands of photos so I am not complaining, but why now!)   so I won’t be able to record this unless I can borrow one!

I will also get the loom warped for a shibori sample and dye it with the indigo.
The following recipe is from Earth Guild and is reproduced here with permission.

Recipe #3: INDIGO-YEAST-AMMONIA FERMENTATION METHOD
• 1 tablespoon powdered Yeast (bread yeast)
• 1 cup warm water
• 1 rounded tablespoon Sugar
Combine the above ingredients and let stand in a warm place for about 2 hours. At the same time, dissolve 2 level teaspoons Natural Indigo in ½ cup non-sudsing Ammonia (let sit for about 2 hours).
Add the Indigo and Ammonia to the Yeast-Sugar mix in a half-gallon jar. Fill to the top with warm water, stir once, cover with plastic wrap, using a rubber-band to seal. Don’t use a rigid seal, the fermentation can burst it. Let this jar sit several days in a warm place. The liquid will clarify to an even yellow. The Yeast has removed all the oxygen, enabling the Indigo to dissolve. If your jar stays blue, add more yeast (if this doesn’t do it, add more sugar also). When it goes yellow, immerse some pre-wetted fiber, and leave in over-night. Remove carefully (not dripping into the jar, adding oxygen). Hang in the air for 20-30 minutes. Repeated dips will deepen the color.
The not-very-pleasant smell will disappear from your dyed goods with the final rinse (see Rinsing, Recipe #1). With thanks to the Boston Area Spinners and Dyers, and to Fred and Willi Gerber.
________________________________________
Don’t be surprised with any of these Recipes if your work fails to pick up color in the dyebath. It’s not supposed to. The Indigo color doesn’t bloom until air (atmospheric oxygen) has worked on the Indigo infused fiber. Magical, truly it is.
© Earth Guild (You may reproduce this if it is unaltered and our name stays on it.)

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