Wednesday, April 14, 2010

blue gold

I've been playing around lately with a vat of Indigo dye. 

Dipping in articles of previously drab clothing and drowning them until they emerge reborn in a deep royal blue, then rinsing them till all traces are gone from the water but not from the thread. 

One of my hands looks bruised or as if I may be turning into a smurf because there was a hole in one of my protective gloves.

I have always been drawn to the intensity of this colour more than any other. When I was a teenager my grandmother gave me an antique perfume bottle made from a highly collectible blue glass in exactly the same shade as Indigo. 

It speaks to me of Mediterranean skies and the allure of a blue lagoon. It reminds me of all the exotic textile traditions I have seen abroad and revered. It is escapist and lusty.

Added to that, is the fact that I'm a blue eyed jeans wearing girl (most good dark denims are indigo dyed) All of which means I go seriously woozy for Indigo.

I have read that Indigo is one of the more complex and difficult of all the dyes to master.
I still have some way to go to get the blacker navy versions I'm after and there seems to be lots of tricks one must employ to avoid oxygen getting into the vat. But the process of lifting a yellowy/limey coloured garment from out of the vat and watching it dramatically turn blue as it oxidises in the air is totally fascinating. 

Beware there are poisons involved (reducing agents etc so you wouldn't want to do this with the kids around) 

This author helped with a simple process to get me started. And this is beautiful. And this.

Actually, I tried to tie dye the silk scarf in the pic below, but it ended up looking quite tragic so I dyed over it. One day when I get a darker shade on the go, I hope to look like this. HA!