I’ve had indigo on my mind (oh, and on my fingers, too!). I’d been planning a summer indigo dyeing day with a bunch of locals–and there are folk at the Guild who want to try indigo too. I was keen to try the fructose vat again. My last experiment with the fructose indigo vat involved some errors on my part… so I decided on treating it (and all other indigo vats) as a learning experience and trying again. I love the idea of being able to run an indigo vat without using sodium hydrosulphite, and I also love the idea of being able to use local fruit and even the leftovers from jam or other uses of fruit to prepare a vat, thus wasting nothing. This is what the fructose vat has to offer… So, I took up Maiwa’s instruction sheet for Michel Garcia’s fructose vat, and began. I am just so delighted to have access to Michel Garcia’s wisdom on this subject. You can see the instructions as a blog post here or a downloadable pdf here.
I decided to make a starter: beginning with a concentrated solution first and adding it into the larger vat later. The instructions on hydrating the indigo with marbles in a plastic jar are just such genius… so I started there. I also decided to start the day before I planned dyeing with my group of friends–this was one part of the instructions I missed last time. Soon my strong solution was ready. Freshly mixed:
And then… the magic started!
I mixed the starter into the larger vat and then contrived a very sophisticated system for overnight: a very big bucket with a towel and my two woollen dye blankets inside for insulation, then the vat. Wrapped for the night!
Next morning… it all looked rather fabulous!
In the meantime, I’d been plying my needle during various festive gatherings.
Can you see the half-circles in the half-light?
I read Vivien Prideaux’s A Handbook of Indigo Dyeing and tried out some of her ideas in a rather less precise manner than she proposes. Essentialy, I decided that anything I could prepare to dye in advance was a bonus and precision was the least of my concerns. her ideas were very helpful.
I had so much calico from my most recent inheritance I really just stitched whenever I could find time and interest…
And piled up a little stack of fabric in preparation.