Indigo dyeing in a jar

As you might have guessed from my recent flood of posts on shibori dyeing with indigo, I’ve become a bit obsessed. With classes over for the summer I couldn’t bear to go for two months without getting an indigo fix.

So on Monday I ordered some indigo and hydro from Kemtex, which arrived extremely promptly on Tuesday. The instructions that came with it gave quantities for making up 500ml or 10 litres. At Morley College we use what looks like a small dustbin, but as this was my first go at home, I thought I’d start on a small scale and opted for 500ml (about a pint). I wondered whether this would be enough to cover the fabric but figured that once the stitching is pulled tight you end up with quite small samples.

So I mixed 1.5g of indigo with 400ml of warm water in a Kilner jar, then added 60g of washing soda dissolved in about 50ml of cold water. Then I added 1g of the hydro and another 50ml of water, stirred it with a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks, sealed the jar and put it in a bowl of hot water for an hour. A scrap of calico left for 10 minutes produced a nice dark blue – so I was off!

The first two samples were quite small. The one on the right in the photo above was just a piece of cloth scrunched into a net (the type that vegetables come in) and fastened tight with wire. The one on the left was pleated and then tied with cotton. It was my latest attempt at tesuji shibori but didn’t really turn out how I wanted.  (I think I will have to write a whole separate post about my efforts with tesuji shibori another time.)

For the piece in the middle I stuck torn strips of masking tape on both sides and then stitched with running stitch and zigzag stitch in between (more detailed pic below). As you can see, this was a bit bigger than the other pieces of fabric, but once all the stitches were pulled tight, it fitted in the Kilner jar with no problem. However, I think this is probably about the limit in terms of size!

After dyeing, the masking tape that I pulled off this sample was rather attractively patterned in blue with white spots (below). I wonder if there’s anything I can do with it!


4 thoughts on “Indigo dyeing in a jar”

  1. Hi Kim
    do flat weaving the masking tape and then fuse between plastic as you did your eyeglass-cases …… make a bit bigger ,,make-up-bags,, …..
    it may work, you can always try …??!!!
    fix a few stripes side by side l l l l l l l l l
    and then 1 on top, 1 under – – – – – – –
    I am useless in fusing plastic…..tried it last year with the iron…. it was a mess and I gave up !!
    good luck

  2. Hi Silvia,

    Not sure about the weaving, as the masking tape is still quite sticky, despite having been stuck on the calico, dipped in dye and pulled off again. So it would be difficult to weave it without the strips constantly getting stuck everywhere. Also, they’re not of even width, so there would be holes everywhere.

    But I might try sticking them in rows to something else. And I never thought of combining them with plastic – could be an interesting experiment!

    The thing about fusing plastic with an iron is you must do it between sheets of baking parchment so it doesn’t stick. And in a well-ventilated space to avoid dangerous fumes!


  3. Hi Kim
    ….well I am looking forward to what you will do with the interesting masking tapes!!
    I did iron between baking-parchment and went upstairs on ,,June and Rays ,, balcony ….it did not work because plastic was of different thickness …some shrunk immediately and pulled everything together…..this i have learned from your blog (11 Jan.2011 plastic and heat)!!!! so I learned at least the reason !!! thank you !!! still gave up !!
    have a nice week
    Silvia …. no need to say, still hot here !!

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