Sunday, 9 September 2012

Blue Sky, Blue Dye

What a wonderful day I had yesterday, in the Lincolnshire countryside, in the sunshine, in the indigo vat.  Wow, as soon as I caught the aroma of the vat I was transported right back to Japan, to dipping in the vat with my Indigo Sisters.
I was fortunate to get a last minute place on Angela Daymond's Indigo Blues workshop at her Fenland Textile Studio near Spalding.  Situated in old farm buildings at Unique Cottage Studios it was an inspiring place to be.  Coincidentally, there was an exhibition of student work on during the afternoon and so we were joined by many people, some of whom sneaked a dip in the vat and were inspired to sign up for workshops.
The main focus of Angela's workshop was to enable us to have the confidence to make our own indigo vats, using a very straightforward recipe.  Once the vats were ready we got quite carried away with dyeing cloth, lace, wool and with trying various folding and tying, "shibori" resist techniques (Angela teaches a specific workshop on that).  Our dyeing dried quickly in the September sunshine (it was 27C at lunchtime) and don't they look wonderful against that old brick wall?
We also experimented with dyeing non-fabric items, I was pleased with the success I had with buttons and shells:
At the end of the day we had time to look at the exhibition, a lovely collection of textiles, ceramics and glass.
And can you see that little bowl on the left of the picture above?  I couldn't resist it, it looked quite Japanese to me and being blue and white it was a lovely item to bring home from the day.
I also brought home my very own mini indigo vat -and yes, Angela, it survived the journey home :-)  This was a great idea of Angela's, to send us home with a way to continue indigo dyeing easily and to give us all the information we needed to rejuvenate our vat as required.  It may not be an enormous Japanese indigo vat, in a stunning ceramic jar, or set into the ground, but it does have the same evocative aroma, the same effect and it is rather more manageable in my little cottage in Lincolnshire.
Today I shall sort out and press all the pieces I dyed yesterday and then photograph them and share them with you in a separate post.  In the meantime, have a look at Angela's website and her blog post about yesterday's workshop and make a note that her next Indigo workshop will be on 20th April 2013 - I'd book now if I were you. 


  1. These all look wonderful. I've been cutting my woad leaves and was dying on Friday. This time I dyed my handspun wool, lovely shades of blue. The next lot of leaves I'm going to dye cotton and having read about your day I will pop in some buttons and shells too. Great idea.

  2. Love the look of the shells and buttons and wonderful to get a look at the exhibition. Thank you.

  3. Ah, the smell of indigo, the magic of the change of have me very nostalgic, darling Indigo Sister!


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