Work in progress – William Morris Gallery Residency No 6

My indigo finally arrived in January, some of it as dried cakes which are really lovely to look at, although you have to grind them first. I’m using the same indigo William Morris worked with, a tropical indigo, indigofera tinctoria because I love the range of blues it gives. 

I’ve been testing the indigo on a range of natural fibres including banana, bamboo, tussah silk, Blue Faced Leicester wool, sisal, linen, various cottons, Merino wool, paper, jute, leather and the giant Himalayan nettle from Transrural Trust which is wonderful to work with.

 The dye responds very differently to yarn in comparison to woven fabric. It’s much easier to dye yarn but all have to be thoroughly cleaned first, because the natural oils and any sizing interfere with the colour absorption. I’ve been using a cold water vat based on a traditional recipe which William Morris used which contains iron, ferrous sulphate.

I have tried the urine vat in the past , its very effective and you only need two ingredients indigo and urine but it smells really bad and you need a bit of heat so for those of you wanting to try this yourself I recommend waiting until summer unless you want to heat it up in a pot inside your kitchen!

Although my iron recipe doesn’t need heat I noticed that the colour was still patchy until the weather and temperature improved. As soon as March arrived my blues have become deeper and more even. I haven’t been able to fully experiment with some of the protein fibres including some of the silks and getting lighter shades of blue because its still a too cold and wool, especially doesn’t like the cold water vat because the iron damages the fibres.

There are  some fabulous events happening at the gallery over the next few months. I’m looking forward to their WMG after hours event All Blues on 4th June 2015 from 18.30 until 22.30. The gallery is hosting an evening dedicated to the blues, the colour and the music – there will be live blues music and I’ll be there to give you a little taster session in indigo dyeing. Yinka’s exhibition will still be on display and the cafe will be open so it really is well worth making the trip.






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