Monday, 12 August 2013

Studio Series: Indigo dyeing

Indigo dyed fabric © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Many moons ago I attempted to prepare an indigo vat and it didn't work. Not one bit. I didn't know how to correct it, so I dumped the whole thing, and that was that. Last year I took a vat dyeing workshop with Roisin Fagan, which reignited a desire to start my own vat. 
Indigo dyed fabric © Karen Thiessen, 2013
I ordered an indigo kit from Maiwa and got the party started. I went with a chemical vat because I wanted something idiot-proof. It worked from the get go, and then, because I dyed a whack of fabric, it stopped working. The Maiwa instructions were good for getting the vat started, but not for trouble-shooting my vat. The internet filled some of my knowledge gaps and after a few tries, I got my vat working again. Naturally, I dyed another big whack of fabric and now it needs some TLC, possibly more indigo and thiox. My success with my indigo vat has been so rewarding and exciting that I've been dreaming about it. Next summer I'll prepare a natural indigo vat.
Maiwa synthetic indigo kit; Photo credit: Karen Thiessen, 2013
This summer I have radically switched up my studio practice. I'm taking a break from the studio space and have been feeding my sketchbook at the dining room table for a change of scenery. A tower of art books sits on the dining room table, and day by day I've been going through them, refilling my inspiration well. I cleaned out the garage and set up an indigo vat. Now I'd like to do some natural dyeing with onion skins and avocado skins in rain water while the weather is still warm. Once in a while, I'll sacrifice a studio day to spend tending the garden. Before I wouldn't consider this, but my friend Lorraine Roy once talked about working with the seasons. Her comment sunk in, so this year I've decided to take full advantage of our few months of warm weather. Already I'm feeling restored.


Judy Martin said...

very inspiring, these ideas.
I love the sketch book in the dining room with the tower of art books. I love doing that, and have not done it for so long....
and gardening - I gardened so much in June preparing our yard for Grace's wedding, ...but have not done anything since except walk around it and admire - It does feed in so many ways, growth.

Be well.

Karen said...

Judy, now that you've completed so many significant projects, maybe you'll surround yourself with your own tower of art books when the time is right. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me!