A Cleaner Blue

We’re changing our ways. After a global uprising over the murder of George Floyd right in our backyard and the devastation of a pandemic, Kim and I figured it was time to perfect Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 vat. It was utterly the least we could do.

For those interested, visit Botanical Colors, a generous Seattle-based resource for natural dyes. It abounds with information on 1-2-3 vats using henna, fructose or iron. It also sells what you need to get started (though grinding indigo briquettes from Oaxaca on a stone metate is therapeutic).

So on a Sunday in June, after a year of dyeing abstinence for caution’s sake, we built a vat from indigo, lime and henna. This time, we measured our ingredients by weight, in the correct ratios and added them in the right order. Guess what? It bloomed.

That coppery scum you see there is called an indigo “flower.” It’s the sign that indigo in the pot is released and active. With gentle stirring and time, it will yield the mesmerizing blue we crave.

After a few dips in our totally nontoxic, no-lye vat, here’s what we accomplished. The maple discs, courtesy of Dan Z., are now indigo coasters.

May your creative exploits yield greater health, beauty, peace and camaraderie.

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