I am an "idea person". There are usually several things running around on my little hamster wheel at any given time. Quite some time ago I had the idea that I would like very much to make the Alexander McQueen jacket offered on the showstudio site in a crisp but heavy silk done in arashi shibori with indigo and black walnut or some type of tannin-producing dye in order to create a subtle vertical striation on the jacket. The other day I remembered that I had planned to do this, and at that point it was getting warm enough to bother running some trials.
Yay project planning! The joy of my OCD-riddled existence!!
First I had to throw La Retardado off of my dyeing coat (I made that when I were in hippyland so you can guess which one it is).
I have a little vat I created in 04 or 05-I can't remember which, but I know it definitely sat all of last year. I figured I would probably have to dump it due to it's age and multiple freezings and begin again. But hey, I'll see what it's doing first. I was more than a little surprised to see the vat begin to turn after a shot of thiourea dioxide-when I dunked a little corner of fabric in I did get colour. It still looked peaked so I decided to keep the vat and add some more indigo to it.
This is the test cloth after dipping.
I am going to get an aquarium heater for the vat, as I think it will be much more successful if I can control the temperature. That water is freezing frickin cold right now.
I use the recipe from prochem for the lye-thiourea dioxide vat. And I have my lye locked away in the Ugly Metal Thing-so don't even think about it meth-heads of the world. BTW you all suck for making lye so difficult to get.
I find this type of vat easiest, and there are measurements there for a small vat. Mama would probably never allow a fermentation vat, as we have a large enough ecosystem to deal with under the house already.
And before you ask, No I do not use urine.
Here is the stock I made. Look at the the lovely blossoms on the spoon-Mem, this is what you would paint yourself with-if you are tough enough to do so that is...See how it is becoming an ugly green underneath the surface-which is what you want, as it means the oxygen has been stripped. I have never gotten the perfectly clear yellow that indigo white is meant to be, but it works well enough.
I didn't think it would reduce properly at all, as I dunked the jar in some hot water, thinking it would hold up like the canning jars (I'm not too sure where the actual gem jar that I usually have used is). When I heard *crack* I did about the stupidest thing anyone with SFB would have known not to-I picked it up. Half-reduced indigo went all over the deepfreeze (or all-purpose workstation for all the Moores and Moore-like peeps out there). Okay, I thought as I surveyed the damage, not too bad at least it didn't really go everywhere...went in to get some paper towel, came back and looked at the floor:
Look at all the precious indigo-wasted! And it was getting to be quite a light green as it flew everywhere too-I think that is why it didn't seem so bad at first. Reduced for naught!! Wahahahaaaa....
My docs no longer have their famous yellow stitching at the toe either, they now have an odd sort of grey-green stitching. And I tracked it through the house. Thanks be to God that it had oxidized already at that point. Heh.
Mom saw it and said "ah well at least you didn't have it in the house (this of course was after I hurriedly wiped up all the blue doc ska sole marks on the floor). Double Heh.
It's not the worst I've ever done. I used to spill india ink fairly regularly until my parents banned me from using it until I should reach the age of majority.
Well the rest of it did reduce alright and went into the vat, which is now a nice green. Here is how the vat looked after adding the new indigo. Still as cold as Cocytus though.
I think the indigo on the top of a vat is just about the most beautiful colour. It is rather metallic, kind of coppery but purple...or blue or...something...I wish there was a way that it could be used, and keep the sheen of it. Ephemeral beauty is the most irritating!
I lost the first piece of fabric somewhere so I got a new one to test how well that took. I will never cease to be fascinated by the process of oxidation on a piece of fabric that has just been pulled out of the vat. It's just beyond cool to watch it change colour slowly from ugly snot to beautiful blue! Such a metaphor for life...okay I am not the kind of person who can resist rolling their eyes when such metaphors are made. Here is my fabric oxidizing.
Right about this time mama came around the corner and said "why the hell are you taking pictures of it?" To which I replied " I will post this to my blog-it's for the new PROJECT!" Then she left, muttering something to the effect of "yeah the project, whatever. You're going to wreak that camera." She is always that supportive of the projects.
While I was out there I took a picture of the lilac bushes, they look pretty nice right now-obviously the town has not sprayed their yearly hit of roundup so that the entire east end of town can look like a nice little nuclear waste zone. Usually the lilacs protect the rest of our yard, but they sacrifice themselves along the way. anyway I can't believe that this quarter of our yard only looks kind of crappy as opposed to utter crapaciousness. I planted grass, I hope it can defeat the weeds out there and manage to live. That is mama's superpowerbarbeque under the tarp in the corner there, and of course the picnic table/other all purpose work station.
Here is my fabric after the second dip, I added the elastics before doing that. Again you can see the process of oxidation when I fanned the fabric apart to let the air hit the folds. This is why indigo has proven to be such a fast (and therefore desirable) dye. Once it oxidizes, it is insoluble in water. Hence the need for reduction, stripping away of the oxygen from the dye molecule, or fermentation. Such is the nature of vat dyes.