Summer 2015 – First, we read and discussed everything we could get our hands on.
We chose a method from Jenny Dean’s “Wild Color.”
Dissolve 1 tsp washing soda in 2-4 T boiling water. Let cool slightly. Add 2-3 tsp finely ground Indigo powder. Mix to paste. Let rest 30 min. Meanwhile, heat water. Add Indigo paste. Add 1 oz Rit Color remover and stir gently. Let vat stand for 30-40 min.
Second try – we refined a bit.
Place a lump of Indigo from Oaxaca in a fine mesh bag . Place the bag in a glass jar filled with enough water to cover. Let sit for several days (or weeks). With a gloved hand, crush the indigo to help it dissolve.
Heat 3-4 gallons water to very warm but not boiling. Add contents of Indigo jar, bag included.
- Stir in 1/8 tsp lye (sodium hydroxide), to make the dye bath slightly alkaline.
- Stir in 1 tsp washing soda (sodium carbonate).
- Stir in 2 tsp Rit Color Remover (sodium hydrosulfite, sodium carbonate anhydrous)
- Continue heating gently. Watch for a coppery, slimy, purple, stinky top to form over a greenish yellow dye bath. The Indigo is now reduced.
Don’t Rush the Vat! Let it sit for 30-40 minutes. Drink the wine now.
Notes on our Recipe
By November 2015 we had achieved our best vat to date.We dyed a bit, with varying results, and put the vats away for the winter. When we fired them up again in May 2016 we revived one vat with 1/8 tsp lye and the second vat with color remover –amount not recorded. The second vat worked best when we started dyeing. Here is what we learned:
- Use stainless steel. Aluminum seems to interact with the chemistry in the vat.
- Use the indigo ground to a fine powder. A metate
works better than our little mortar and pestle.
- Go strong with the indigo.
- The color remover is preferred over the lye. Less toxic.
- Short multiple dips on silk yielded our deepest blues.
- Best results come when the dyed fiber comes out of vat looking psychedelic chartreuse; not pale yellow, not light blue, not turquoise.
- Save the vats. They can be revived and fed many times.
- The blue “schmutz” on top of the vat is the “Flower of Indigo”. Collect and keep it! There is indigo there to be reduced. Thank you, Heather.
We have Questions – June 2016
Fructose? Mango Skins? Pineapple?
Diane sent a recipe from Oaxaca! “In case I lose my bag…”
INDIGO RECIPE from Jacobo and Maria Luisa Mendoza-Ruiz:
- 2.2 lb ripe mango and pineapple PEELS (not pulp or juice) and pits. “The sweeter, the better.”
- 5% quicklime
- 4-5 l. h2O, heated to 40 Celsius (20?, heard both)
- Heat 2-3 hours before adding indigo paste (indigo + h2O)
- Alt, if ripe fruit unavailable: fructose from Mexico market-
20% + 5% quicklime
- Misc: windy day is good.
- In smaller vat, OK to drop fiber back in.
Find out more about Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 Indigo Vat Recipe
How does Rowland Ricketts in Indiana do what he does with local Indigo?
How many countries have an Indigo/Blue tradition and what do they name it?
- France Pastelle
- England Woad, Saxon Blue
- Scotland Woad
- Viet Nam Miao
- China Mud Silk?
Ah, so much to learn…….