Although Pantone nominated Classic Blue (PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue) as the colour of the year 2020, blue remains my least favourite colour. Nevertheless, when I saw that Best Living Japan also offers Indigo dying classes I had to enroll in one of the workshops.

Like last time, I rode there by bike. And also like last time, we were an international group: again 2 women from the Netherlands, one from Brazil, one from somewhere with a Spanish or similar accent and one from the States.

Lauren started by showing us different pieces of dyed fabric and explained the techniques involved to produce those patterns.

Some patterns reminded me of Batik which was a popular technique when I went to school. I had however never done or learnt it.

We then each received an apron and a piece of white linen. First we had to rinse the fabric to get rid of any possible residues in the tissue. Then we were free to start folding, binding or clamping our piece of cloth. I cut my piece into 4 smaller pieces because I wanted to try out different techniques.

Lauren would wander around and help us create envisioned patterns. She also checked that our clamping and binding was strong enough for the soaking. For this next step, she had already prepared two buckets. The dark liquid in it was almost bubbling. She skimmed the bubbles away and explained how to do the soaking. Immediately after soaking the fabric turns green. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay like that.

Indigo needs oxygen to be activated and turn blue and you have to make sure that also folded parts come into contact with air. This can take some time and till it happens you have to hold the fabric up. Quite the work out for your arms… When everything has turned blue, you can dip it again. It turns green again. You hold it up again. And with each repetition, the blue should get darker.

After several cycles of soaking and letting the colour change to blue from green, we rinsed the fabric and removed all the clamps and binding tools. Of course, everyone was curious how the patterns would look. Judging from the aaahhh’s and oohhh’s, we were all happy and satisfied with our first attempts.

Next, the fabric was put outside for drying. Then, soaked in a milky white bath to fix the colour. The still wet fabric was put in a plastic bag and we were ready to go home. At home we first had to let the fabric dry with the fixing solution still on it, then rinse it and let it dry once more. Done!

These are the outcomes of my first attempts of Indigo dying:

I really like the dying process and pattern techniques, I just still don’t like blue. But I’m sure there must be other plant substances for other colours. Maybe beetroot red or kurkuma yellow? Someone said avocado peel would produce a nice pink. We’ll see :-)

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