So, here are eight hand dyed indigo napkins from my iron/calx/indigo vat. It’s odd, but I feel as though I “know” my napkins after the slow cloth session. I think they are beautiful and I love the slight colour variations in them. 9 dips. 9 rinses. 2 complete washings. After discovering that they weren’t quite dark enough at 7 dips I wasn’t really prepared to spend more time.
But they are now gone. It was a commission, but I also learned a lesson. When I make things I usually think of the person I am gifting them to. This time, I didn’t know the person, and it seemed to be huge amount of time to spend on someone I’m not familiar with. I won’t do a commission again, but I will dye again for family and friends.
After texting with the dyer fellow, Graham Keegan, about my colours of indigo becoming greyish and losing the intensity of the blue, he suggested another top up of iron/calx. That seemed to work a bit but what really helped was a little bit of extra iron and some minor addition of oxygen. I think my vat was a bit over-reduced! Who knew that could happen? (Apparently the people over at Dharma Trading Co knew.)
Dani at Maiwa fine-tuned some questions for me and now the iron vat is purring along and producing knock-out blues. Dani and Sophia are a wealth of dyeing knowledge. No more synthetic indigo, for me.
I chose the iron indigo vat because it can work cold, and the others need to stay warm. The iron vat is also good for resist, because the resists can disintegrate in warm vats.
My fav resources are:
Another set of indigo and linen napkins has been completed…two of my
favourite things. The first photo is a napkin which was accordion folded lengthwise, then folded in a series of equilateral triangles and clamped with only one clamp. (“tooth mark”). The finished piece is the second photo in the full shoot photo of all five napkins.
The funky one with squares and “Water lines” is a combo of one half of a large tongue depressor and a few small wooden squares. I like it.
I now have a few lovely quartet sets for gifts and one set for us.
These eight linen napkins were dyed with that gorgeous blue indigo, over a period of 4 days. Love the set. The process was a super labour intensive Japanese shibori technique called itajame.
1. I scoured and boiled the linen for two hours in 1/4 cup washing soda dissolved in a massive stainless steel soup pot filled with water.
2. The fabric was then rinsed, dried and ironed, which took about another 2 hours.
3. I cut 8 pieces 24”x24”.
4. The stripes, photo 1,2,5,6, were ironed in an accordion fold and then bound by tongue depressors, using elastics to secure the wood. Photo 10…two were dyed and dipped without resists and therefore resulted in a rich indigo blue.
5. The circle resisted napkin, photo 3,4, was clamped with small, wooden disks sandwiched over an accordion folded napkin. 2 other napkins were folded into a triangle over an accordion fold and clamped between tongue depressors…photos 8,9,10.
6. Each napkin was individually dyed eight times in a warm, pre-reduced crystal indigo, lye and thiox bath.
7. After every one of the eight, 3 minute dips, I fluffed and ruffled and air dried each napkin for about 10 minutes until all the green colour oxidized to blue.
Each napkin takes at least half an hour of dipping and a total of at least an hour of 10 minute mini-oxidizing sessions. It ended up being close to 2 hours per napkin. Crazy amount of time, but well worth it!