Thursday, September 15, 2011

Full Moon Indigo Dyeing

  For at least a month, maybe two, I've been holding the idea of Full Moon Indigo resist dyeing. Somehow indigo and the moon feel it in the colours of the night, turning cloth from moon white to evening sky blue? The lunar relationship to water and tides, and the necessity of water for our dyeing?  I'm not sure...ideas to meditate upon while using an assortment of clamps and resists to embed beautiful moon shapes, naturally, into our cloth. These textiles will all be used in felt making projects later....and for now, enjoyed hanging in my studio!  
 And on the Full Moon of September 12, I gathered my cloths, my clamps and resists, and prepared my indigo vat, and set about indigo dyeing in the moonlight! Indigo dyeing is always such a magical never fails to fill me with awe! In the picture above you can see the cloth coming out green from the dye vat, and turning blue above as the cloth is exposed top the air! Magic!

A simple fold and clamped length of cotton batiste, freshly out of the dye bath and stretched out, wet to oxidize. Beautifully simple, both in process and finished cloth.
All the indigo dyed pieces spread out under the moonlight. I left them there all night...
The full moon rose over the trees, and shone down on me as I dyed..It was so peaceful...left me thinking about the sun and the moon and their qualities...sun dyeing and moon dyeing and why they would be different...and what a textile piece might look like when you brought them together...would it look different from an anyday/everyday dyed work?
The first clamp experiment, rinsed, dried, and habotai...
Indigo full moon on wool prefelt...clamp resist dyed. I dyed about 2 metres of this prefelt using the clamps and moons cut out from foam meat trays...
...and full moons on silk habotai...this silk piece was laid on top of the prefelt, then both were folded, clamped and dyed. I quite like how some of the indigo migrated under the resist to create the little lines of blue on the moons' surface...

The cotton batiste...I loved dyeing cotton with plant dyes. it's usually a more involved process...not so with indigo...but the feel of the cotton after ironing...mmmmmm.....
My favourite piece from the session...this was the last piece I did, so I was starting to figure it out a little! Metal resists, super tight clamping, clamps on the resists rather than on the outside layer of fabric, long immersions in the indigo vat...I'll cut this piece in two along the length...Unless I keep wearing it as a scarf, as I did to the Salt Spring Studio Tour meeting last night!

Indigo moon flowers...I love the rust marks left by the clamps in the middle section...

Indigo moons, with folding patterns...calling out for stitches...I find it interesting how the lighter blue areas are each so different, like different characters...arms folded upwards, arms outstretched...a bear face, or fox? Mythic....I'd love to make one with thirteen moons...and see what "unfolds"!
When the indigo vat is going...who can resist...a little organic merino fingering weight yarn, indigo dipped...
And last of all..6metres of cotton cheesecloth for nuno felting...lots of ideas for this piece of cloth. I didn't get around the clamping it..getting too late and dark, so it is just tonally dyed. I may just hang it from the ceiling for a while and enjoy it's ethereal qualities!
  I learnt so much from experimenting with the process... I had known for a while I wanted to do this, but I hadn't done any preparation for this full moon. I need more resists and clamps ready and available for next time, and a little studying on the clamping process. I might try some in the meantime using acid dyes, to try out some different techniques with fast setting dyes.
 Dyeing with indigo in the moonlight had such a meditative quality, so quiet and if the moon required me to remained focused and centered...paying attention..not getting distracted with other tasks, or dyeing simply for production...And I could only dye so it was getting darker and darker as I worked, having this limitation on the exercise was also clarifying...
 A lovely evening...and now lovely textiles hanging in my studio as inspiration!

Warm wishes,


  1. Fiona ! wished I was there with you ! Never done an indigo vat, but wanting to: YES !
    That little piece with the moons and the figures : sooo great. The moon really had her influence on it I'm sure. And that cheese cloth gorgeous ..... (well to be honest ALL of it is great)

  2. Beuatifull, beautifull!

  3. Thank you all!
    Els- it would be so great to be able to do this together! Maybe someday you will come to BC?!
    Actually- you know...just looking at your avatar pic- this picture really inspired me to do some moon work also...thought you should know! I'm loving this global exchange of ideas! I've invited some local textile artists to join me for next months full moon's so much nicer to do things with other people!

  4. Ooo Fiona ... now I'm really jealous ! ;-)

  5. p.s. can you send me an e-mail ?

  6. Oh whow!!!Thank you for that magic fullmoon-post!!!

  7. Fiona sounds like a lot of fun and sucg fantastic results. I am so new to the world of dyeing and at the moment mainly experimenting with food colouring and wool and silk. Easiest for now with little people.
    The Indigo process is facinating - and I love that cheesecloth