Fermentation Indigo Vat

We here at Sewing Seeds have been busy tending to the maturing plants including raised beds full of Japanese Indigo. We thought a useful educational addition to the garden would also be an experimental fermentation indigo dye vat.

Indigo, unlike most other natural dyes does not require a mordant in order to adhere to fiber or fabric. The magic of indigo does however require a unique process in which all oxygen must be removed from the vat. To do this naturally without the use of chemicals, fermentation can aid in removing all oxygen.

Here is a photo narrative of our process of building the vat.5 gallon bucket strategically placed in a sunny and hot area of the garden. The vat should stay warm, but not over 100 degrees fahrenheit or so…indigo powder, soda ash, madder root powder (a special enzyme found on madder root is instrumental in creating the fermentation), and wheat bran as organic food/fuel for the ferment…after pre-mixing the insoluble indigo powder as thoroughly as possible, all ingredients are added to our vat of water…and mixed well with a carefully chosen stir stick

The vat is now sealed as air tight as possible and left to ferment for a few weeks. We will keep you updated in the coming months on how the vat progresses and what we are able to dye.

To learn more about indigo dyeing we highly recommend the film “Blue Alchemy”  as well as Jenny Balfour-Paul’s excellent book “Indigo: From Mummies to Blue Jeans”.

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