I and a friend were lucky enough to take part in an indigo dyeing workshop today, run by the immensely knowledgeable and talented Sara Fordy of Indigo Moose. Not only did we experiment with various resist methods (batik was the one I liked best – wax applied with a hake brush was very satisfying to do, if messy to clean up), but we had a delicious home-cooked lunch on pretty sky blue spotted table cloths – indigo dyed, of course.
The dyeing process is fascinating – indigo is dissolved in an alkaline bath and reduced to a pale yellow-green solution. Cloth is wetted, then dipped into the dyeing vat, and as you withdraw it, it rapidly changes from palest lime green (like new beech leaves), through forest green, until finally oxidising to the deep inky blue traditionally associated with the word. Chemistry in action – it looks like magic!