Indigo at Studio B

It was my turn to drive up, over and down the hills, past long-horned bulls and fields of sage, through small towns, over the river and into Weiser for another visit. In the backseat, cookies, carrot salad, brie and crackers were our fuel we brought for our potluck lunch. Those would give us the energy to spend the day experimenting and playing with indigo dye at Studio B, our friend Linda‘s studio at her house. She is always so generous to share her space and tools with us.

Although Linda and her husband, Don, greeted Kathleen and I upon our arrival, we were also greeted by some new faces. Tiny faces with clear eyes and furry bodies distracted us throughout the day, as there were four new kittens at the house. We had to watch our step, as we moved from studio to the clothesline outside, to make sure the path was clear of kittens. While the kittens had their fun romping around outside, we were busy inside turning fabric indigo blue.


Who can resist kittens,
(even when you are allergic to them)?
Not me.

Using indigo dye requires a different process than the Procion chemical reactive dyes that I normally use. A dye pot is made and the fabric is dipped into the pot. Care must be taken not to add air to the pot as that extinguishes the dye more quickly.

The fabric comes out of the pot a greenish color but then quickly reacts with the oxygen in the air to turn indigo blue.

Here Kathleen is dipping fabric into the dye bath.


Kathleen Probst with indigo dye.

We experimented with different ways of manipulating the fabric and printing with soy wax, before dyeing the fabric, to create different patterns.

This photo shows some pieces drying on the line.



Below are the results of my pieces. The top piece of fabric was pleated and folded before being put into the dye. It was also a heavier piece that had some light dye color on it already. The second piece down was made by wrapping the fabric around some cording, then cinching it down and tying the cord. The same technique was used on the third piece of fabric which was a tan piece of linen and rayon from some pants. The last piece was a light sage green piece of fabric cut from a shirt. It was randomly gathered and tied. It seems like some of the color of the fabric gets bleached out a little.



I had some small scrap fabrics to use up as well. Lots of dots were made by using a wooden stamp dipped in hot soy wax and stamped on the fabric. I did not do a good job of getting nice even dots, so I just went with the randomness on many pieces.

On the left in the photo below, the circles were created using some metal biscuit cutters I had found at a garage sale. They were dipped in the wax and stamped on. The whiter piece at the top was made using the rolling and cinching technique on a smaller scale. The squiggles underneath the circle piece and the lines in the middle were drawn with wax using a tjanting tool.

The two pieces flanking the lines were tiny shibori pieces where I wrapped the fabric around a small piece of PVC pipe. They are only about 4″ wide.



In addition, I had also brought some silk sheer fabrics to try and see what would happen. Below are the results.



It’s always nice to remove the pressure of making an artwork and just have some fun experimenting.  I hope these fabrics make it into some of my work someday.




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