FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

Aquarelle dyes

Each week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Here are a handful from this week answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors:

Do you mix your liquid dyes together in the pot or always dye one first then overdye with the darker color?

The Aquarelle Liquid dyes may be combined in the dye pot, including mixing Saxon Blue with other liquids.  They may also be combined with the powdered dyes, too.  Expect some unexpected results!

Is there a reason the liquid fustic isn’t in with the other liquid dyes on your website? I found it worked well with the others.

Fustic is one of our older dyes and was our only liquid offering for many years. It has such a different tinctorial strength (it’s much stronger) that we’ve kept it with the powders as it performs more like a powder. That being said, you are correct that it does combine very well with all of the dyes, liquid and powdered.

How many times do I have to dip to get a super dark indigo with your indigo?

Dark indigo shades are a result of a number of factors:

  1.  What type of vat? A 1-2-3 vat using fructose produces medium to dark shades and is best after letting it ripen for a few days.  A 1-2-3 vat using henna has the added coloring power of the henna and also produces darker shades after ripening.  My preference is henna, but I’ve gotten some nice colors from the fructose vat as well.
  2. How much indigo? When we are dipping very dark shades in our production process, we will use at least 250 grams of indigo in a very large (30-gallon) vat.
  3. How long are you dipping? We dip from 5-10 minutes per dip in a dark vat, and dip as many times as needed to achieve a beautiful dark shade. In some cases, this is 6 dips or more. The pieces are fully oxidized before we re-dip.
  4. The vat must be balanced and stay balanced during the entire indigo session. Check the vat’s reduction prior to each dip as dipping in an unbalanced vat results in a lot of washout.