Indigo + Shibori Workshop with Kathryn Davey

Kathryn Davey's Indigo + Shibori workshop was a Saturday of pure fun. I learned plenty and happily took home lots of samples, but the best part was the simple act of getting to dip fabric into dye and watch the color oxidsize into a deep, beautiful indigo. I've been reading about natural dyes for a while, but nothing beats getting your hands dirty.

There seemed to be a lot of necessary tools, but there was also an "anything goes" feeling about the tools. Nothing was hard to find: porcelain tiles, pieces of wood, clamps, rubberbands, 5 gallon buckets. 

Kathryn added materials to the indigo dye vat and discussed various traits of indigo. She detailed several options for oxygen reducers that help the normally-water-insoluable indigo dissolve and then eventually permeate the material you want to dye.

Kathryn regularly dyes outdoors, but the wind was howling on Saturday. I was glad she spread a tarp out to create a space for us to work.

Our first task was to accordian fold fabric to clamp between two tiles. The dye only reached the edges of the fold, creating a grid-like pattern across the fabric.

We also rolled fabric onto rope and compressed it like those hair scrunchies from the 80's that seem to be coming back into style.

The indigo vat and the first glance at fabric that comes out of the vat both have a greenish tint, almost turquoise or aqua-marine blue.

There was a subtle magic in watching the color shift from that greenish tint to a true indigo.

I know indigo doesn't require mordants during the dye process, but I'll treat my class samples in a mix of vinegar and water to set the dye. I'm not sure it's necessary, but there's no harm in taking the extra measure to prevent fading.

After that, I'll hem the edges of these little squares and see how these fare as everyday napkins in our household.

Most importantly, I found some confidence in this workshop. I started some lichen dyes last summer that are waiting for me to get my own dye space set up, and Kathryn "pulled back the curtain" to reveal how a simple set up can yield amazing results. 


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