Natural Dyeing: Day Three

All the colors we created over the course of
three days. Pretty impressive, huh?
The third day started with an iron bath for 1/3 of the fibers we already dyed. Iron is interesting, it shifts the color without adding dye, but since Chris and I already experienced the color shifting process the day before by changing the pH on our bath it seemed a little less magical. The iron post bath shifted our colors a bit to the rusty brown side which gave a nice depth to our palette.

After the iron post bath it was time to move on to indigo. Indigo was really the most exciting part of the workshop and of the dyes we used, it is the most complicated and thus tricky to go at on your own. There are two ways to prepare the indigo dye. The first and more traditional method is to create a natural ferment vat which takes 3-10 days to develop. The second method and the one we used is the chemical vat which uses lye and thiourea dioxide to get the same result in a shorter time.
Our indigo solution. The top layer is called indigo blue, it has been oxidized and won't dye. The green layer below is the indigo white which is what you use for dyeing.
Once our indigo was mixed and ready to go we added it to the dyepot and started dyeing. Again, indigo is very sensitive to oxygen so when dyeing you have to take extra precaution not to introduce extra oxygen into the vat. This meant we dyed one at a time and had to be very careful as we removed the fiber from the dyepot. When the fibers first come out of the dyepot they tend to be a greener blue which develops into a darker, truer blue as it combines with the oxygen in the air. Also, instead of changing the solution to get darker colors, with indigo you do multiple dips.
Dagmar carefully removing the first dyed indigo fiber from the vat, notice the greenish color as it comes out of the vat.
After a lesson on properly using the indigo vat we were ready to overdye our skeins from the day before which left us with a beautiful range of blues, purples, and greens that our palette was previously lacking.
All the colors created by the iron post bath and the indigo dip hanging out on the line to dry.
 After the indigo dyeing was complete, it was back to the studio to create labels for all of the colors we made  and to separate and distribute the 900 skeins to the group. In the end we each had the 75 planned skeins along with a few unplanned experimental skeins.
All of our dyed skeins tagged, labeled, and arranged buffet-style.

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