FEEDBACK FRIDAY: Indigo Flower Pigment & Stripping Color

This week on FEEDBACK FRIDAY: Painting using the indigo flower pigment and how to strip color from a naturally dyed fiber

Every week for FEEDBACK FRIDAY, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors. This week, painting using the indigo flower pigment and how to strip color from a naturally dyed fiber

When you write “the oxidized indigo flower” is a great base to make paint, what do you mean? Can only the flower created on the top be mixed with a medium? Or the vat/dye bath? Or just unused indigo pigment?

We receive a lot of questions about how to make indigo paint or ink. Now we aren’t experts but it is our experience that if you take the indigo powder (unused indigo pigment) and mix it with a medium (guar gum, gum arabic, etc.) the results are a somewhat gritty, somber blue gray. I believe it is because the indigo has never been reduced and then oxidized, so its true color is not revealed.  If you carefully remove the indigo flower, which is indigo that has been reduced and then oxidized and mix it with a medium, then the color is a richer blue. This method is how blue highlights and details are added to Japanese kimono fabric.

Can you strip natural dye off a garment once you put it on?

It is possible to remove color, but most of the methods are pretty aggressive. Sodium hydrosulfite will remove a lot of the color, but can damage silk and wool as it uses boiling alkaline water. You can try seeing if the color will discharge using citric acid.  If you use any of these techniques, it’s best to re-mordant.