One of the fun things about doing a vat dye is watching the transformation through its many stages. With indigo, even more so–because of the magical qualities of the dye–yellow while in solution in the vat but turning blue as soon as the fibre enters the air and oxygen reaches it, paired with the process involving multiple dips to build up depth of shade. Given my friend’s generosity with the camera, here are a few efforts to follow specific items through the process.
Cotton t-shirt with rubber band and loom band resist: before…
Lacy shirt rolled around a bottle and tied:
Pair of pants wrapped around a piece of garden hose and tied:
Screws tied into calico:
Really tightly tied!
There was a spectacular effect when they were untied–but it was temporary–the binding was so tight that air hadn’t reached the inside pleats despite rinsing and time on the line!
Marbles and rubber bands in a yellow t shirt:
So, given that all indigo vats are going to be learning experiences for me, possibly for the rest of my life… what did I notice and what did I learn? Preparation of the fructose vat a day earlier worked well and this experience gave me confidence to try this process again and keep experimenting.
This time, I tried to hold onto what I learned from the last one: to trust my judgment about when to stop. I am a beginner at this process. But, limited as it is, my judgment is what I currently have, and judgment is there to be developed. In my experience as a teacher, judgment is one of the most difficult, yet most important, things to acquire–but at least in dyeing the repercussions of poor judgment are more limited than in an operating theatre or a court! This time, no evidence of crocking.
Some things were pale blue even after several dips. All of the calico items that went into the fructose vat, for instance. I like the colour, but had not expected this. I noticed that most of the items that only went into the fructose vat remained pale shades. Some went from there to the colour run remover process when the fructose vat needed a rest–they were deeper.
This might have been because the natural indigo in the fructose vat gave a different outcome to the synthetic indigo in the colour run remover vats. It might have been due to the difference in processes or some failure of my understanding of the fructose process resulting in the oxygen not being sufficiently removed from the vat–though the colour of the vat was good. It now occurs to me that I could have tested this by adding hydrosulphite to the exhaust of the fructose vat when I really couldn’t get much colour from it two days later. Next time?
It might have meant the calico had a treatment that resisted dyeing–but other fabrics also came out pale. We did dye a LOT of materials–and perhaps the fructose vat ran low on indigo. It was in a bigger container so may have received more fabric (and more oxygen). But I had an exhaust vat extravaganza two days later and the colour run remover vats still gave colour–one in particular dyed quite a quantity of wool (after adjustment of the Ph to a level more suitable for protein fibres).
Mmm… the indigo vat curiosity and the love continue… here, the fructose vat gets a cuddle as it warmly rests.