Indigo Dye Workshop

To prepare for the workshop, we screen-printed cotton bandanas using a clay resist paste. Traditionally, this method would be done by hand-painting the clay onto the fabric through a stencil.

The clay creates an interesting puckering effect when dry.

This clay-resist technique can only be used with indigo dyeing because the vat is cold and submersion is quick, which prevents the clay from washing off in the vat. Most natural dyeing involves heat and prolonged immersion, so the clay resist would immediately wash off.

The bandana is slowly dipped in the vat for several seconds, working in a gentle manner so as not to disturb the vat and oxygenate it.

Next, we rinse the bandana in cold water, which washes off the clay resist. You can see the bandana on the left is greener than on the right. This is because indigo dye changes from green to blue as it oxygenates

The clay resist allows some color to permeate the fabric from the back side (bottom row) which creates an interesting effect.

We also worked with itajime techniques at the workshop using cotton and wool fabric. On the left are two participants tackling a complex folding technique. Itajime requires folding in an accordion fashion, then tightly binding the fabric with clamps or blocks. On the right are swatches after one dip in the vat (we dipped twice). You can see that some are greener, some are bluer. This is again due to the different stages of oxygenization.

The reveal of the itajime swatches are always so exciting and surprising.