Friday, October 2, 2015

Indigo!...The blue that captured the World!

I have made many posts that show finished indigo pieces, and a couple that have explained techniques that I've used and taught.  But it dawned on me that many have no idea how the blue dye  comes to us and how labor intensive is the production.  This year, we have been very fortunate in obtaining seed of Indigofera tinctoria, one of the "Dyer's Indigo" plants.  It takes 120 days for a crop of Indigofera to mature and then the real work of production begins.  I will post three photos now and more later to show the steps of obtaining that lovely blue dye pigment.

Fresh leaves stripped from the plant, ready to begin fermentation..

Water to cover the leaves, then weighted to keep leaves under water

Close up of the beautiful coppery film and the blue indigo pigment stuck to the fermentation bubbles.

I will be adding the next few steps taken to obtain the pigment paste, and to show how it is prepared into Indigo dye.  Stay tuned  for the next exciting chapter.

Take a sample of the extracted  pre-indigo and fill a bottle half full, add a little lime water, hake it and you will see if indigo is present.

After the lime water is added to the tub, you must aerate it by dippping in and out and letting the liquid fall back into the tub.  Do this until the bubbles stop forming.
The bubble are beginning to disappear by themselves, time to filter..
Line a  screen with muslin and begin pouring the liquid from the tub through it.  The indigo will stick to the fabric..
If you have done everything right, all that will flow through the muslin are the flavonoids.

This is a cotton muslin filter cloth, it is not wet but dry, filled with over 60 grams of pure indigo pigment.  The oval is about 13" x 16"

I read online that in 1769 they used cotton flannel instead of cotton muslin as filter cloth.  I tried it and it works great!  I have been able to filter 4 times the amount in one day than was possible with the muslin.  The flannel allowed some indigo through at first, but then settled down and held the pigment while the yellow-brown flavonoids passed through.  It sure made me happy to speed this process up!

No comments:

Post a Comment