Thanks to Kathy Hattori from Botanical Colors for sharing the chemicals for three different kinds of organic indigo vats at the Deep Into Indigo Retreat. I attended a workshop day in her studio in the spring and I learned so much. She’s really awesome; generous with her expertise, time and supplies.
For starters, you gotta hydrate that indigo before it goes into the vat. The directions often call for shaking it in a jar with water and marbles but a whisk is just easier and works as well.
We made an iron vat, a henna vat and a fructose vat. Like most things I get into, I made lots of really awesome messes and mistakes.
But that didn’t slow us down at all.
Here’s a dip from the iron vat.
To see if the dye is ready, you check under the flower to see if it’s clear and not at all blue-ish.
We put our fabric in stainless steel baskets to keep it from getting stained by the sludge at the bottom. Also, the liquid was hot and we didn’t want to keep our hands in there.
Oops. Here’s my favorite mistake of the weekend. I made a fructose vat. I tripled the recipe but didn’t triple the container size so it made a pretty awesome mess. Like a kid’s volcano experiment but deeply blue!
I scraped it into the vat and it still worked. Just a little unexpected adventure. And, yes, I did give myself a blue mustache.
There was definitely an “Organic Vat Posse” among the participants. I also had some pre-reduced indigo crystals from Dharma Trading Company for people to dye with but these ladies were super into the organic vats.
The whole process of using organic vats is really enticing. It smells way better too.
You can learn more about it on the Botanical Colors website. Like I said, Kathy is very generous with her knowledge and, along with really high quality dye stuff, her website is chock full of tutorials and advice.
Haley Hundt took all of these gorgeous pictures. She did such a fantastic job!!