21 May 2014


I spent the entirety of last week prepping my installation for Saturday's Kinfolk Dinner (I'm WAY excited to share photos soon), and as a result, spent the entirety of last week with blue nails/hands/wrists/pants/etc. I've spent a significant chunk of time dyeing with all things RIT, but this was my first foray into natural dyes, and I won't be going back. 430 square feet of dyed canvas later (!!!), this HOW DO YOU DO post covers a few things I learned in the process (and a few things that would have been good to know beforehand).

TECHNIQUE + THE GENERAL NEED TO KNOWS: I used this kit and the instructions were great/spot on, and they even included a little visual tutorial on some basic Shibori techniques. Between that and a Pinterest page you'll be set on how to fold, twist, and tie to get gorgeous results. If you are going for a Shibori look, you'll need either wood or heavy cardboard/plastic to sandwich/fold around (and I'd recommend grabbing an additional pack of rubber bands – the thinner set of bands included in the box is pretty bunk), but don't feel like you have to get crazy with specific techniques or patterns. You can get really pretty results WITHOUT folding or otherwise prepping (some of my favorite pieces were the ones I just unceremoniously dunked), and don't sleep on a paintbrush.

One thing I was surprised to find out is that Indigo ISN'T blue in liquid form – it's a dark, yellow-y green that turns blue when it hits the air and starts to oxidize. The more dye, the darker blue the end result will be, and one bucket of indigo will give you a HUGE range of tones. Water it down or rinse your fabric, post-application, for a lighter blue, or dip repeatedly/let it soak to completely saturate it and give it a darker dye. To that end, I found it really helpful to have a few additional water containers on hand: I was going for a more subtle dye effect, and manipulating the fabric in clear water after it came out of the indigo smoothed some of the harsh transitions from un-dyed canvas into color. I also used paper plates, mostly for when I was painting directly onto the fabric – they served as a palette to water down + mix the dye so that I could work with a range of blues.

^^^hanging up at the studio so I could eyeball it – a few more peeks of the finished piece are here, here, and here!
TIPS: You'll DEFINITELY want to wet your fabric before dyeing – it makes for a much softer effect. This might not matter quite as much with a thinner material, but dry-dipping wasn't a pleasant visual on the canvas. You can scratch this if you're using a paint technique – you'll want to use a wet brush on dry fabric so you can get a more precise application. Again, it all depends on what kind of material you're using; I worked with a cotton sheeting directly after wrapping up with the canvas and it was a very different experience. Take the time to test what the dye is going to do – it'll keep for a few days, so there's no rush to the finish line.

Last two things: first, prep your space. It'll stain wood and DEFINITELY will stain fabric, so make sure to move anything that needs to be moved and cover anything that you don't want to be speckled blue. This includes your hands: wear the gloves. You'll probably find yourself taking them on and off throughout, so maybe just grab a box from Home Depot before you get started so you've got a few clean pairs to burn. Second – VENTILATE. Indigo smells ORGANIC, and by ORGANIC I mean like a barn, and by barn I actually mean bathroom. It's one of those smells that you get used to almost immediately (and it won't stick), but still, kinda gross at first. Better to throw open all the windows or just take the project outside.




Blogger by BUN said...

LOL - "...and by ORGANIC I mean like a barn, and by barn I actually mean bathroom."

dddyyyiinnnggg to see photos from the dinner. you textile canopy looks absolutely incredible.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Megan M-R said...

I just want to drape this EVERYWHERE in my home/life

2:18 PM  
Blogger Panda Head said...

thanks so much, ladies!! seriously, the photographers at the event were amazing (www.SweetRootVillage.com) – I'm so stoked to see how they captured everything (and will DEFINITELY share)!

7:54 PM  
Blogger Shoko said...

this is so beautiful! i'm planning on trying indigo dyeing with some friends soon, can't wait :)

9:25 PM  

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