You can use the instructions below to dye beautiful blues with Mayan indigo, Tamil Nadu indigo and natural indigo dye on a very wide variety of materials. So far I have dyed knitting yarns, fleece for spinning, mother of pearl buttons, feathers, raffia, basket making cane, bone beads, cotton T-shirts, embroidery silk yarns, cotton and linen fabrics (and my fingernails by accident when a pair of rubber gloves developed a hole…). Indigo is also an ideal dye to use for tie dyeing and with shibori techniques.
What you need to start:
- 10 grams indigo dye
- 20 grams soda ash
- 30 grams of Dithionite (Hydros or sodium dithionite or sodium hydrosulfite)
or 15 grams Spectralite (thiourea dioxide or thiox)
- 5 litres water at 45°C
- 1 kg fibre (yarns, fabric, etc)
- 10 litre stainless steel saucepan or stockpot
- electronic balance or scales
- pH paper
- 3-4 jam jars or other glass containers
- stirring spoon
Follow the usual precautions of wearing rubber gloves, and a face mask when handling chemicals. Keep the saucepans, jugs, spoons and any other utensils just for dyeing and do not use them for food preparation. Weigh the indigo, soda ash and Dithionite or Spectralite in labelled jam jars rather than in the bowl of the balance or scales. Make sure your Dithionite is not too old.
See the Safety guidelines.
- Prepare the fibre (next page)
- Prepare the stock solution (next page)
- Prepare the indigo vat (opens a new page)
- Dye the fibre (opens a new page)
- Gallery of indigo-dyed cotton samples
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