Luna de Greca Flor – Tito Mendoza

Master weaver Erasto (Tito) Mendoza took my Weft Ikat workshop last March at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.
He just sent me this stunning picture of a tapete (rug) he wove using the ikat yarns he dyed in the workshop.
The blue and white background are the weft ikat yarns Tito dyed and incorporated with traditional Zapotec motifs.

Luna de Greca Flor woven by Tito Mendoza

Yukata, indigo dyed summer kimono

The fabric for this beautiful summer kimono was dyed  by my friend Theresa using the all Natural Indigo method. Incorporating a variety of Shibori techniques she dipped the fabric in her indigo pot. When Theresa was done dyeing she removed the resists, rinsed the fabric and once it was dry sewed it into this lovely Yukata.

I can’t wait to see what she does next!

If you would like to try your hand at indigo dyeing you can purchase an  Indigo Kit

Yarns for Indigo demos in Turkmenistan

Yarns for Indigo demos in Turkmenistan

I just finished dyeing sampling skeins for my indigo demos in Turkmenistan. I dyed with Cochineal (reds) and Fustic (yellows). The yarns are (from left) wool, silk, an organic cotton/bamboo blend and a cotton/rayon blend. For the demo they will be over-dyed with indigo for a beautiful range of purples and greens! The undyed skeins will give a range of indigo blues as each substrate will take the indigo differently.
If you would like to try this, these same dyes are featured on The Yarn Tree’s website

Indigo Kit – Questions & Answers

Answers to some questions about the Natural Indigo method

I have received e-mails with some very good questions about the Indigo Kit and thought I would post the questions & answers here.

What is different about this method?

While there are many ways to make an indigo vat the two most widely used are the chemical vat and the natural ferment vat.

The chemical vat requires lye or caustic soda and thioureadioxide (Thiox). Lye is not so easy to obtain, is toxic and must be used with care. Thiox imparts a very strong odor to the indigo vat and requires good ventilation. This type of vat is very PH sensitive and not the most stable. To adjust the PH you would use Soda Ash or lemon juice.

The natural ferment vat takes 7 – 10 days before it is ready to use, requires a dedicated space, must be kept from getting too cold or too hot and care to keep it going. The most basic formula calls for indigo, ground madder root, soda ash, bran and water. The vat requires rest periods between dyeing, it needs to be fed and nurtured. With proper care it can last for years.

With Michel Garcia’s method there is no strong odor, it is ready to use in an hour and is very stable. Like the natural ferment vat this type of vat can be kept indefinitely – it just needs to be woken up when ready to use again. It does not require dangerous chemicals (lye or caustic soda) instead it is made with fructose and lime.

Can I do this at home?

Yes. The process is virtually odorless. You can use your kitchen stove for the heat source. The goods that you dye can be rinsed in your kitchen sink. Any mess can be cleaned up with Clorox- Cleanup.

What do I need?

  • A heat source, your stovetop is fine
  • 16-liter (or larger) enamel or stainless steel pot with a lid
  • Thermometer (a candy thermometer or digital thermometer)
  • White vinegar (for neutralizing the dyed goods)
  • A place to let the goods oxidize, a drying rack with newspaper underneath works well

How long does the vat last?

Indefinitely, as long as you don’t let it freeze or get too hot. The vat should be stored covered until you are ready to use it again. Store it in the cabinet under the sink, in your basement (as long as it can’t freeze), somewhere safely out of the way until you are ready to use it again.

What if I don’t want to store the vat?

In my teaching this method I explain two ways of using the vat.

The first is to use it, then store it and revive or wake up the vat when you are ready to dye again.

The second is to set your self up to do all the dyeing you are going to do until the vat is exhausted of indigo, then dispose of the vat.

How do I dispose of the vat?

Simply put – you can pour the vat in your garden or down the drain. If you have any concerns bring the PH of the vat to neutral by adding white vinegar and then pour it down the sink or in your garden.

How much can I dye with the Indigo Kit?

This is a bit of a tough question – it depends on how many dips you decide to do – at a minimum you should be able to dye one to two pounds of yarn, fabric or fiber. You can easily add more indigo to the vat as it becomes exhausted (used up).

You can purchase the Indigo Kit and additional supplies here: Indigo Kits




San Pedro Cajonos – Indigo Workshop in the Silk Village

The following slideshow is of the indigo workshop held in San Pedro Cajonos over two days in March 2012.

Photo credit: Linda LaBelle, Leslie Fiske Larson and Adriana Sabino Vásquez (MTO)

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Silk Road Connect returns to NYC!

Silk Road Connect in New York City

After piloting our Silk Road Connect arts-integration approach in New York City schools for two years, we are pleased to announce our first two partner schools: JHS 185–Edward Bleeker Junior High School in Queens (whose students are pictured above) and MS 61–Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell Middle School in Brooklyn. Between the two schools, more than 20 teachers and administrators and 300 students—10 classes of sixth-graders—are taking part in Silk Road Connect during the 2011-2012 school year.

To kick off the new school year, tabla player Sandeep Das visited JHS 185 from New Delhi on October 5. Students and educators at both schools will learn to dye with indigo later in October. Textile artist Linda LaBelle will lead classes through this immediately accessibly but infinitely variable process, using traditional methods developed along the Silk Road. (Watch our “Indigo Goes to School” video to learn more about the dyeing process and the study of indigo as a means to connect various subjects.)

Collaboration with teachers and school administrators is central to the Silk Road Connect approach. To keep lines of communication open and provide support to educators, the Silk Road Project employs Fellows who work directly in participating schools.