Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Natural Jeans......................

I don't usually subscribe to these magazines, but I have a couple
of subscriptions so I can send the paper version to my 96 yr. old
mother, who doesn't have much entertainment but
watching television and reading magazines.

I thumbed through the issues and this one peeked my interest--
what?  someone is bringing  indigo back to farmers.  As a person who
worked as Education Curator on an Louisiana indigo plantation, this
article came to life for me.  
Indigo is different from all other natural dyes (apart from shellfish purple)in that it needs no mordant (a substance used to set dyes on fabrics); it is insoluble and is deposited on the fibers as microscopic particles without needing to form a chemical bond with them. The chemical properties of indigo dye remained baffling well into the 19th century. It was so mysterious and challenging to work with that, in many cultures, folklore arose around the dyeing process. In Bhutan, pregnant women were not allowed near the vat in case the unborn baby stole the blues, and women in Morocco believed the only way to deal with a particularly challenging vat was to start telling outrageous lies. All this trouble was worth the final result. Once dyed, indigo is so colorfast that it can last for centuries or even millennia.

The process from turning the leaf form into this powdery blue magical dye was laborious.
Slaves spent their time walking through the blue sludge every day turning their hands, feet and
every body part that touched the plant, blue.  Even today when you work with indigo,
you will come away with blue hands.  It is always like a magic act when you
use indigo vat to dye--
But, this is the only natural dye that will give you BLUE!
Here we have an industrious company bringing farmers together for
this venture.
They even sell their dyes to independent dyers like me.  
You like that pair of jeans you wear, then you can thank
an indigo vat!


  1. Have you seen the latest post by Catherine Ellis? She got some great blues from a sweet potato/indigo vat and is eyeing her zucchini crop this spring!

  2. Check out the blue color people are getting on wool yarn by dyeing with water that black beans have been soaked in.