FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Getting your indigo vat to reduce

Every week, 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.

I purchased indigo, calcium hydroxide, & fructose from you to do some dyeing! We began the process of balancing the vat last night to dye today. I used a large mason jar (which I plan on slowly pouring into a larger bucket ) as to be able see the reduction process. The calcium seemed to harden on the bottom and adhere and we did our best to break it up but it’s still a bit hard in the bottom and while there is a flower and metallic coat- the vat isn’t reduced. I followed the instructions you sent & added a bit more fructose. Should I add more calcium hydroxide too? What do you recommend?

If the sediment at the bottom of the jar is hard, you need to stir very well to break it up and can even add some very hot water, being careful to not crack the jar. You may need to use a whisk or other tool to do this. Do this after you’ve added the rest of the solution to the bucket, and if you use very hot water to make your vat, the reaction happens faster. Then add the dissolved calcium hydroxide to the vat, stir very well and let the entire vat settle. Only after it settles, if there isn’t enough reducing agent should you add more fructose. The vat will look amber brown to greenish once it’s settled and balanced and ready to dip.

Helpful links:

-Michel Garcia’s 1-2-3 vat

-Indigo dyes

-Hints & Tips for Natural Dyers: How to Minimize Indigo Crocking

-FEEDBACK FRIDAY: Indigo Round-up