I fell in love with the magic of indigo a few years ago. My first vat was a total unguided experiment that somehow miraculously worked out. I made it with fallen pears from my Grandpa's orchard and I treasure and wear all the weird pieces that came out of it. Every year since I have made a organic pear vat at the end of the season. Using waste fruit to make magic shades of blue tickles my heart every time. You can use anything from the waste from jam production to the forgotten bananas at the supermarket.
Here is a simple guide to experiment with:
Makes a 15 - 20 liter vat
50g Powdered Indigo
30g Lime (Calyx)
1kg Overripe fruit
*Bananas, Pears, and figs work really well.
Mash your fruit of choice up in a saucepan with a little water, boil for a few minutes.
Fill a large vat 3/4 full of hot tap water.
Filter the juices from your boiled fruit into the vat. Keep the mash to use if you want to restart or adjust your vat later.
Hydrate your indigo by placing in a jar with wooden beads or dry peas and shaking for a few minutes. Then add to the vat.
Add in the Calyx.
Stir the vat tenderly a few times without whipping any air in, let sit for a few minutes then stir again, repeating 3 or 4 times. The vat will form a bronzy surface with some blue bubbles. The bubbles should be dark blue and the vat should be a yellowish green.
Heat the vat till it reaches 50° c or so, then turn off the heat.
Start to dye your fabric!
Dip for 15-30 minutes, rinse in cool water allowing the dye to oxidize. It will turn from a yellowy green to blue. For dark shades, repeat this dipping and oxidizing process several times.
We are slowly building our stock of natural dyes, and are so happy to now have natural indigo and Calyx available at HOLD.