Indigo cold leaf dyeing with salt + carefully calibrated fermented, hot leaf bath
In exchange for space, soil, compost, beds, and overall farm support, kindness, generosity and good cheer, I led a free, public indigo-dyeing workshop on Governors Island on September 8th, 2018. Lots of friends, some of whom helped grow and transplant the indigo, former students and families with children participated.
While I prepared a hot bath with freshly harvested leaves, an activity that took almost 4 hours, students cut indigo, removed leaves from stems, and rubbed salt into the leaves. Using silk I had pre-scoured (boiled gently in soda ash to remove any chemical finishers), students massaged the salt and leaves onto the silk, then hung them to dry, letting oxidation turn the color slightly bluer.
This method produces a blue-green rather than pure blue. It is fast and safe. Massaging the leaves can take as little as 10 minutes or longer, like 30 minutes, depending on the amount of leaves and the amount of pigment you’re hoping to extract.
In some cases, I’ve left fabrics wrapped inside the leaves for several hours, and they’ve eventually turned blue…