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Understanding The Indigo Dyeing Process

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Picture of Understanding The Indigo Dyeing Process
The king of blues and until the early 20 century the only blue, but still the only natural blue that will withstand any considerable amount of time. This dye has been being used dating as far back as 2000 BC, found in mummies tombs in Egypt it was highly prized and used regularly as is today yet many people would not realize there wardrobe contains at least a couple of garments and the process has remained the same since these ancient times.


Materials list

3 plastic 1 litre jugs
1 2 litre jug
1 scoop
1 10 litre bucket
wisk
vapour mask

Ingredients
100g salt
30g soda ash
20 g sodium hydroxide
30 g indigo vat grains
 
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Step 1:

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MEASURE ALL INGREDIENTS IN INDIVIDUAL PLASTIC JUGS TO SPECIFIED WEIGHTS

Step 2:

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FILL 10L BUCKET WITH WARM WATER 3 /4 FULL AND 2L JUG WITH COLD WATER

Step 3:

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GET EVERYTHING IN ORDER IN PREPERATION FOR MIXING

Step 4:

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DILUTE SALT IN HOT WATER AND ADD TO 10L BUCKET OF WARM WATER

DO THE SAME PROCESS WITH THE SODA ASH AND ADD TO 10L

Step 5:

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PLACE MASK OVER NOSE AND MOUTH AND POUR THE HYDROXIDE INTO 2L JUG OF COLD WATER WHILST STIRRING WELL WITH WHISK UNTIL ALL IS MIXED

Step 6:

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SCATTER AS IF MIXING FLOUR INTO CAKE, THE INDIGO VAT GRAINS INTO THE 2L JUG OF WATER/HYDROXIDE

Step 7:

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THE LIQUID SHOULD TURN THE COLOUR OF PEA GREEN SOUP UNDERNEATH THE BLOOM OF INDIGO FROTH.

Step 8:

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ADD THIS TO YOUR 10L BUCKET OF PREMIX, STIRRING UNTIL FULLY MIXED

LEAVE TO SETTLE FOR 20 - 30  MINUTES

Step 9: NEXT STAGE

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SOAK YOUR DESIRED GARMENT/CLOTH IN BUCKET OF WATER TO ALLOW FABRIC TO BE FULLY POUROUS

Step 10:

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READY TO PROCEED WITH DYEING, CLOTH ENTERS VAT AND IS GENTLY MOVED IN THE VAT FOR 2 MINS

Step 11:

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REMOVE AND HANG ON LINE AND WATCH THIS MAGICAL OXIDATION MIRACLE OF NATURE TURN GREEN TO BLUE BEFORE YOUR EYES, THIS WILL TAKE ABOUT 10 - 20 MINS TO FULLY FIX THE INDIGO DYE. REPEATED DIPS WILL DEEPEN THE COLOUR AND THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL PROCESS TO MAKE THE DYE FAST AND LONG LASTING. WE RECOMMEND A MINIMUN OF 5 DIPS,
Can you give a source for the indigo vat grains? Otherwise an absolutely awesome Instructable : ) Thanks!
http://www.alibaba.com has a few supplyers for as low as 1kg minimum order quantities...
hmm purple, if you have no problem smashing snails with a stone and removing the glands why not ;o)
FancyIdeas1 year ago
Wonderful instructions for using the processed indigo vat grains. BUT - how would you go about making a dye from the indigo PLANT? Thanks!
Plant extraction of indigo requires several steps because the dye itself does not actually exist in nature. The chemical found in plant leaves is really indican, a precursor to indigo. The ancient process to extract indican from plant leaves and convert it to indigo has remained unchanged for thousands of years. In this process, a series of tanks are arranged in a step wise fashion. The upper-most tank is a fermentation vessel into which the freshly cut plants are placed. An enzyme known as indimulsin is added to hydrolyze, or break down, the indican into indoxyl and glucose. During this process carbon dioxide is given off and the broth in the tank turns a murky yellow.
After about 14 hours, the resulting liquid is drained into a second tank. Here, the indoxyl-rich mixture is stirred with paddles to mix it with air. This allows the air to oxidize the indoxyl to indigotin, which settles to the bottom of the tank. The upper layer of liquid is siphoned away and the settled pigment is transferred to a third tank where it is heated to stop the fermentation process. The resultant mixture is filtered to remove impurities and dried to form a thick paste.

Historically, the Japanese have used another method which involves extracting indigo from the polygonum plant. In this process the plant is mixed with wheat husk powder, limestone powder, lye ash, and sake. The mixture is allowed to ferment for about one week to form the dye pigment which is called sukumo.

Copy from: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Indigo.html
Lapiz lazuli was mined in India for at least 3000 years. Although it produced a much brighter blue, it was far harder to obtain and use, which is why it wasn't used quite as much way back then.
It was also better at dying silk than indigo was.
Very nice tut.
The only big problem with indigo dyeing is that, the excess of tint remain over the fibers and came out for many many time during the use and the washes, i know that because i have an hakama and a kendogi made with japanese traditional indigo dyeing, in my searches on the net to find a way to fix the color i discovered that traditional metods like vinegar or chemical fixatives won't work.The traditional japanese old way is to use animal urine, cause the bacteria inside litteraly eat the excess colour. Some japanese people smell the dyed fabric for be sure that are made on the very old way.
Try with lemon and salt.
Can you please advise the sources for Indigo Vat Grains here in the US?

Thanks
Lumo the Maker (author)  vintage53rose1 year ago
We are in the UK and the only person we know sells a minimum of kilogram amounts, although due to popularity of this instructable we were going to sell some smaller amounts of 100 grams. We can ship over if you so wish. Email me if your interested. lumolights@gmail.com
Nice article, but Woad is a traditional blue dye used in Asia and Europe until the indigo trade put it out of business, as indigo is a much stronger source of dye. I believe the color is identical to Indigo, but not as intense. Indigo definitely is not the only natural blue!
Lumo the Maker (author)  Steelsmith11 year ago
Yes woad is a natural blue, sorry bit misleading of me. I think what i meant to say is a natural blue that will last. Woad can be known to fade in a couple of years, where as indigo can last thousands.
alaut1 year ago
Really enjoyed seeing how the fabric turned from green to indigo with exposure to air/ oxygen. Wow. Thanks for sharing.
Spokehedz1 year ago
The thing I find most amazing about this process is that ancient civilizations were able to figure this out. Truly amazing.
Exocetid1 year ago
Now try making royal purple ;-)
what kind of reducing agent do you use? And what kind of salt?
I would so love to do this! I understand it has a strong aroma, but still, it would be fun!

Just a note for anyone who is not aware, the sodium hydroxide is lye. If you are trying to locate it and can't, try googling cold process soap making. You should come up with a few places that sell it.
notingkool1 year ago
Wow, Amazing instructable, very detailed, and very cool. Thanks for publish it.
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