Last Updated on August 5, 2023
With its rich history dating back thousands of years, indigo dye has captivated cultures across the globe, leaving its mark on textiles, fashion, and art. Today, we embark on a creative journey, exploring the three enchanting methods to dye with fresh indigo leaves and witnessing the magical transformation of fibers into vibrant shades of blue.
Can You Dye with fresh indigo leaves?
Yes! You can dye fabric with fresh indigo leaves. So, What part of the indigo plant is used for dye? The part of the indigo plant used for dyeing is the leaves. Indigo powder, which is the famous blue dye, is extracted from the leaves of the indigo plant. The leaves are harvested, dried, and ground into a fine powder, which can be used for dyeing fabrics and other materials.
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How to Dye with fresh indigo leaves?
Today, we will explore the fresh leaf method of dyeing with indigo. This technique uses fresh indigo leaves and salt to create beautiful shades of blue on various fibers. We’ll also try some experiments to achieve different colors along the way. So, let’s dive in and get creative!
- Fresh indigo leaves (harvested from indigo plants)
- Protein fibers (e.g., silk, wool) and optionally treated cellulose fibers (e.g., bamboo, linen, cotton)
- Fructose (optional, for the fructose vat method)
- Calcium hydroxide (also known as pickling lime, for the fructose vat method)
- Cooking pot or container for dyeing
- Thermometer (for the fructose vat method)
- A warm place with sunlight (for fermenting the indigo vat)
- pH-neutral soap (for washing dyed fibers)
Method 1: Fresh Leaf Salt Extraction
Step 1: Harvest and Prepare Fresh Indigo Leaves
Gather fresh indigo leaves from your indigo plant. Separate the leaves from the stems, as the stems do not contain much of the blue color.
Step 2: Prepare Fiber
Pre-treat the protein fibers (e.g., silk, wool) with soy milk for better color absorption. Soak the fibers in water and soy milk for several hours or as recommended for your chosen fiber.
Step 3: Massage the Leaves with Salt
Combine the fresh leaves in a large bowl or container with a generous amount of salt. Massage the leaves and salt together to release the blue pigment (indoxyl) from the leaves.
Step 4: Dye the Fiber
Submerge the pre-treated fibers into the container with the indigo leaf-salt mixture. Knead and massage the fibers gently to ensure even color absorption. The color will develop over time.
Step 5: Allow to Ferment
Leave the fibers and the indigo leaf-salt mixture in a warm spot with sunlight for 24 hours. This will allow the indigo to ferment and develop the desired blue color.
Step 6: Wash and Dry
After fermenting, wash the fibers with cool water and pH-neutral soap to remove excess dye. Hang the dyed fibers to dry.
Method 2: Indigo and Heat (Indie Rubin)
Step 1: Prepare the Fresh Leaf Indigo Extract
Follow the same steps as in Method 1 to create the fresh leaf indigo extract by massaging the leaves with salt.
Step 2: Apply Heat
Heat the fresh leaf indigo extract in a separate container to approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). Add the pre-treated fibers and let them sit in the heated indigo extract.
Step 3: Oxidize and Wash
Remove the fibers from the heated extract after 10-15 minutes. The color may appear initially as a reddish-orange tone. Oxidize the fibers by exposing them to air, then wash and dry them.
Method 3: Fructose Vat
Step 1: Create the Fructose Vat
Combine fresh leaf indigo extract, fructose, and calcium hydroxide (pickling lime) following recommended proportions in a container. Stir the mixture gently.
Step 2: Apply Heat
Heat the mixture to approximately 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius).
Step 3: Dye the Fiber
Immerse the pre-treated fibers in the fructose vat and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
Step 4: Oxidize and Wash
Remove the fibers from the vat and aerate them in the air to trigger oxidation. Then, wash and dry the dyed fibers.
Indigo dyeing is a journey of exploration and experimentation. Each method offers unique results, and you can modify and adjust them to suit your preferences and the materials you have at hand. Remember that natural dyeing is an art, and embracing surprises and learning from each experience is part of the joy. Happy dyeing!