Blue Fingers in Ohio

Teaching the art of dyeing with indigo in Medina, Ohio was just great. I flew home with blue fingers but left behind 16 students who can now dye confidently with pure indigo using a reduction vat.

From the east coast to the mid-west rain had plagued the region for days but Mother Nature gave us lovely weather the entire weekend.
After some introductions and lecture time we started right in making the indigo stock and then adjusting the vats for dyeing.

I brought a board I created using images kindly and graciously shared by Jenny Balfour-Paul, author of Indigo. Whether you are a dyer or merely interested in the history of indigo around the globe this book is a must read.

While the indigo stock reduced (you can see the lovely jars full of blue) we took a lunch break….

Some textiles I brought to share for inspiration (terribly faded photo, sorry!)

a students work ready to dip…

another student, Betsy, brought a stunning woven piece she created which had a supplemental weft that she pulled to create a resist when dyed. It started as this vibrant salmon pink. You can see how tight the bind is as when undone the piece will be about 22 inches wide.

Betsy dipped the entire piece  a few times and the resist started to show….

this was the piece day two, having oxidized overnight. Betsy was done dipping and ready to neutralize, then unbind, wash and rinse the piece. I hope one day to see it in it’s finished state.

Some skeins of yarn a student, Karen, had dyed naturally and brought to overdye in indigo….

and here are a few of the skeins…..

other skeins dyed with indigo, the left are white yarn the right are gray yarn….

indigo stock reducing…

a pretty cloth-covered box I thought would overdye nicely which my lodging host, Jan, found when we were out shopping about before the class…indigo will almost always enhance an otherwise unexciting object! This was after it’s first dip…

some of the students pieces oxidizing as they kept dipping others…

Amanda showing her war paint….

By day two everyone was learning to adjust their own indigo vats with confidence, a fine balance between enough indigo stock added for depth of color plus raised pH and oxygen reduction for lasting color…

more work oxidizing…

 a great tee shirt…

Chris dyed this piece and brought it to show me, using India Flint’s technique of eco-bundling. She layed leaves and plant matter on the scarf. The plants she used are celandine (yellow), sand cherry (blue), cochineal (pink) and there are faint whispers of crimson king maple leaves. She bundled it up, let it do it’s magic and this beautiful piece developed…

here is Chris modeling the scarf….although Chris isn’t able to come to India’s workshop in August at my farm I promised to share the project with India…

more pieces continue to emerge….

even a hydranga blossom found indigo!

a delicate scarf with a resist….

I made a woad mother stock on Saturday night and Sunday started a woad vat for everyone to experience…

this was a skein after one 2 minute dip….beautiful French bleu…

woad versus indigo

more woad yarn….

this was a great group of dyers…so much talent, enthusiasm and cool, calm energy. I was treated to a lovely three days. I flew home knowing I had shared the knowledge of dyeing with indigo to them and that will help keep indigo’s history and prosperity alive.

Long live indigo and the Medina Spinners and Weavers Guild!