Tuesday, September 3, 2013

dyeing with homegrown indigo

    Japanese indigo, Polygonum tinctorium, growing in the Buddha garden.

    8 ounces fresh leaves covered with water.

    Turned to black.

    Turned to yellow. The utensils are holding down the cloth.

    Cloth is ready to be lifted out. See the parts exposed to air.

    First of three batches.


    Silks on the right, cottons on the left.

    Another cloudy cloth.

Yesterday was a good day to dye. I guess I really didn't have a clue. All the articles and blog posts that I've read about indigo couldn't even come close to describing the magic. It's one of those things where you have to be there. During the prep phase, the dye-bath changes from the darkest blue into yellow -- then as the cloth is lifted out of the yellow dye-bath, it transforms into its own perfect blueness right before your eyes. It might be in the miracle category.

This is 8 ounces of fresh leaves with cottons, silks and a felted wool using the directions in the book A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan.

 I love each one -- from the light cloudy blues ~ to the royals ~ to midnight. Day to night. xx


Nanette said...

Beautiful, magical,Peggy... I look forward to seeing these pop up in your stitcheries.

deanna7trees said...

wow...what a grand success. loving all the blues.

Nat Palaskas said...

Woo hoo Peggy! Wow you are tempting me to grow indigo again! The result is fantastic. Magic is the word for it - Hugs Nat

Chris Parmentier said...

Holy indigo, Peggy! Wow. Magic, indeed!

Nancy said...

Awesome!! Now I can go to sleep dreamin' in blues!

Suzanna said...

Beautiful results!

Starr Sonam said...

Oh, oh, oh what magic

Jeannie said...

"That old blue magic has got a spell on me. That old blue magic that you weave so well. Those icy fingers up and down my spine...." My apologies to Johnny Mercer and Ella, but I couldn't resist. :) Of all the dyeing I do, indigo is my favorite. It is so magical.
Your cloth is beautiful! I love the light cloudy cloth and then the darker versions. I need to go talk to my plants and encourage them to grow faster! Have fun!

Kathy -MIQuilter said...

Wow, beautiful results and from your own plants. Sort of "sheep to shaw" dyeing, my favorite kind of dyeing. Next year I'm planting indigo!

Cindy said...

Beautiful. I should have brought you some of my mohair to play with.

Judy said...

ok, I confess, I've gotten waaaay behind on reading your blog (but I do have a note from my Dr.!!). Did you grow the indigo yourself? If so, do you have a source for the seeds? I'm sure I can grow it here in GA, as indigo was such a cash crop in SC back in the day.
I love your results....and it seems fairly safe to do, right?

Thanks for any tips you can give me!


Peggy said...

Thank you, everyone, for your happy comments! This project is definitely a high point of the summer around here.

These plants were seedlings I ordered from Companion Plants in Ohio. They carry 2 varieties of indigo and also this variety of Japanese indigo, Polygonum tinctorium -- both seeds and seedlings. I grew my woad and madder from seed this year but wanted to have a head start with the indigo. Last year I had limited success with indigofera suffruticosa but never got around to dyeing with it because we had a wedding (son) last August that pretty much consumed all my time. These plants must be used fresh, not dried. This Japanese indigo did so much better, I assume it was climate-related, so that's the one I'll plant next year again, maybe trying to start it from seeds I save this autumn. xo

jude said...

great results. i used that book the first time...i didn't grow any this year.