I had a great day visiting my indigo plants out on the farm. That’s right. I have some indigo plants out at a farm in Brodhead. I am the luckiest person in the world!
It’s a long story that involves a possible Burning Man Global Arts Grant that was interrupted by the pandemic. N’uff said. I don’t like to dwell on the story because when I tell it, I sound like I’m complaining (because I am) and I don’t like to sound that way.
ANYHOOO! Today I harvested a bucketful and decided to try out the blender and ice method of dyeing.
I cheated in a huuuge way in that I measured nothing. I eyeballed it and it seems to have worked out fine so far.
I took a small bucketful of plants and removed the leaves. Then I filled a blender with ice water and the leaves and blended it all up. It reminded me of the green drinks I used to try to choke down during a very short and ill advised health food jag. I do love the smell of indigo plants, though.
Then I strained the liquid into a bucket. I froze the mush that didn’t go through the strainer to play with later.
I put some silk that I had scoured into water and then threw it into the juice. I don’t know what types of silk I used. A few months ago I bought a grab bag of silks from Dharma Trading Company to play with. It’s a variety pack of off cuts. Awesome for experimenting with.
Anyhoo, I didn’t stir it around. I wanted a cool looking chaotic pattern and that’s what I got. If I had moved the fabric around more the color would have been more solid. I let the fabric sit in the juice for about 30 minutes.
After I pulled it out I gave it a quick rinse.
The color is so vibrant, I’m very happy with it.
I really like this one, it’s soft and the pattern looks ethereal to me.
You don’t really need to be perfect to dye with indigo plants, you can play and have fun sometimes.
Starch Resist. It’s stencil time! You’ll play with rice resist, to make beautiful patterns dyed with indigo on quilting cotton.
Dress to get messy, including your shoes. No fabric dyeing experience is required.
Come and check out the Electric Needle’s dye studio. It is in the basement so you will need to be able to go up and down one flight of stairs. If you have restrictions please call the store to schedule a private class.
Supply List will be sent out 1 week before the class.
Today was a cool fall day but I still got out and made some Shibori and Indigo dyed samples for my upcoming indigo dye classes at The Electric Needle.
Fall is coming again. Dang it. I thought summer would go on and on. For some reason (hope related) I always think summer will never end, not this year. But I was wrong again.
I’ve either sold or quilted many of my arashi samples so I knocked out a few more. I just love arashi shibori. All of these were made by sewing the fabric into a tube that was then put around a PVC pipe and then NOT wrapped with string (ummm…if you’ve never done it before, trust me, that makes more sense when you see the process). I love how organic and watery they look. The wider guys are half yards. One was a tight tube and one was loose, which makes such a dramatic difference!
These skinny dudes are actually called “skinny quarters”. They are 9 inches wide. Each one was sewn into a bias tube and put on a tube. Only one was a tight tube and I’m embarrassed to admit that I can’t remember which is which. They are hanging on the line right now. I’m pretty durn sure that it’s the one with more white.
I also needed some Itajime samples. I met some amazing dye artists last weekend at a Circle of Life Studio event in Eagle River. They were all so inspiring. I followed the lead of Yukako Kadono of Slow Stitch Studio. I moved my blocks around and got these great color changes. I love this picture especially because you can see the green from the color change that indigo goes through on the left side of the star.
I did play a little but with some Katano Shibori. It’s done with a sewing machine and can really look dramatic. I haven’t done this one very much but I really enjoy it and plan to do more.
And finally this big one is a blank from Dharma Trading Company that I wanted to test out. I think this size cloth (about 42 X42) would make awesome wrapping cloths for presents.
I dyed till I ran out of light last night. If you scroll through all the pictures, you can kinda see the progression of the sun going down.
As much as I’m bummed that summer is ending (NOOOOoooooooOOOO!!!), I’m glad to get back into the Electric Needle Studio to teach. We’ve scheduled classes on the first Saturday of every month from October to May (not including January) and it feels like I’m going home again. You can check my events page or just head over to the Electric Needle’s class page to learn more and sign up.
I’ll post more about last weekend in another post. I’m still kinda processing how awesome it was.
Class Description: You deserve fancy undies! Come and make your own beautifully-patterned, blue and white Thunderpants using the fundamentals of Japanese Shibori technique and natural indigo dyeing. No fabric dyeing experience is required for this workshop. Beginners and experienced dyers are welcome.
Before you dye your Thunderpants, we’ll practice a bit by dyeing a set of cotton napkins using different shibori patterns we will teach you.
What you get?:
Sumptuous al fresco Gluten & Vegetarian sensitive lunch, with time to do some shopping at Z Boutique
Workshop kit including 1 set of Thunderpants, Set of 4 cotton napkins, workshop tools, washing instructions & plastic bags to bring home your completed projects
Dye instruction and introduction to shibori techniques
All necessary tools and dye
Chance to dye your own garment or textile item with help
What to Bring: You may also bring along a shirt or other item of your own to dip dye in the vats. Indigo dye only works with natural fiber textiles, so your item must be made of cotton, linen, rayon, or bamboo to be dyed with indigo. If your item has a small percentage of Lycra or another synthetic fiber, it’s still possible to dye it with indigo.
How to Dress: Come to the workshop, dressed in clothes you don’t mind staining blue! Optional: Wear a pair of light colored, cotton canvas shoes to the workshop, and turn them blue while you work!
What is Shibori?: “Shibori” means to fold, clamp, stitch or in some way block off fabric to create patterns when the fabric is dyed. We’ll be experimenting with a variety of shibori techniques to make beautiful patterns. These patterns can be simple or as complex depending on the specific technique. Some of the techniques we will try are Itajime (Block resist), Arashi (Pole Wrap resist), and Kumo (Pleated resist).
What’s So Special About Indigo?: Dyeing with Indigo is like magic! It’s like no other dye. Indigo, which is derived from a plant, is not water soluble, so to make it work as a dye you need to lower the level of oxygen in the vat and raise the pH. There are many recipes to make the vat conditions work. Typically either through fermentation or with the use of chemicals. Once this is done, the liquid in the vat is not blue. The liquid is yellow or brown, depending on the recipe used. The magic happens when you take your piece out of the vat and open it up; once the oxygen hits it, your piece turns blue right before your eyes!
Join me in this beginner class to explore sewing with knit fabric. Make your very own pair of leggings. They are available for sizes xxs – 3xl. Leggings are the new comfy casual at home or running errands.
Supply List will be sent out 1 week before the class.
The students were very interested in trying out new techniques. Lots had experience with dyeing but not with indigo, which was super cool.
Chopsticks were very popular in this class. It’s funny how different patterns will trend in different classes. But the Mandala is always a popular pattern.
You can still see lots of green in this one. The indigo is still oxidizing.
As I always end up doing there, I tied the lines between two cars.
Fortunately, this student’s car not only had a roof rack, but was also the right color.
And that sky!
It was hot and buggy but everyone left happy. I love teaching classes and try to get to Mill House at least once a year. It’s not easy to travel with indigo but the back of the shop is pretty ideal for indigo: breezy and just shady enough in the afternoon.
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