The Indigo Vat
When working with indigo first pre-wash the goods you would like to dye, also known as scouring, to remove any excess dirt, wax, or starch. Unlike other natural dyes, goods you plan to indigo dye do not need to be mordanted.
In order to create indigo-dyed cloth, the indigo must be made water-soluble. In order to accomplish this, two things must take place to prepare the indigo vat for dyeing.
1. The vat must be a pH of 10-11.
These are ingredients which raise the pH of the indigo vat:
- soda ash
2. All of the oxygen must be taken out of the indigo vat (known as the reduction process).
These are ingredients which aid in the reduction process:
- sodium hydrosulphite
- ferrous sulfate (iron)
To learn how to use scour, and to learn how to create an indigo vat, with very detailed instructions, pick up a copy of our book, The Modern Natural Dyer.
If using the recipes in The Modern Natural Dyer, you will need:
one packet of lye
one packet of sodium hydrosulphite
** this recipe will dye approximately 500g of goods a medium to dark shade.
-- OR --
100g lime (calcium hydroxide)
** this recipe will dye approximately 250g of goods a medium to dark shade.
Kristine also has a video on Creativebug on indigo dyeing! It's a fun resource to help you set up your indigo vat and learn a few techniques for creating designs on cotton bandanas! You can tune in to the class here.
CAUTION: You must use proper precautions when working with lye. Please read before proceeding.
- Always wear gloves and protective eyewear.
- Do not let lye touch your skin, as it is caustic and can burn. If lye touches your skin, rinse immediately.
- Only add lye to water; never add water to lye.
- Use only cool water when working with lye.
- Never add lye to boiling water, It can explode.
Shipping notes: If purchasing lye, it will ship via UPS Ground. Please provide a physical mailing address (no PO Boxes). We are currently not able to ship lye outside of the continental United States.
To purchase scour, click here.
To purchase natural dyes, click here.
Use the drop down menu to see all ingredients available to create an indigo vat.
If you would prefer an all inclusive indigo kit you can purchase our Waves Bandana Kit, click here.