Ferrous Sulfate Indigo Vat

I FINALLY got around to making an indigo vat that uses powdered indigo. I did not use the indigo that I had grown, however I did finally finish sorting those leaves and have about 30-40 gallons of leaves to ferment this spring...stay tuned for that process.

This indigo vat was prepared for some holiday gifts. I opted for the Ferrous Sulfate (iron) vat because I was dyeing cotton and needed something fast and reliable. I researched Michael Garcia's 1-2-3 fructose vat and it seems that many people have successfully achieved darker shades with his recipe, but I would need to keep the cotton submerged for 10-15 minutes or dip the piece more than I wanted to. 1-2-3 Indigo Vat Recipe and Tips: http://www.driftlabtextileco.com/blog/2015/9/23/go-go-indigo

The Ferrous Sulfate Vat is super easy. Added indigo a jar with marbles and water...shake shake shake...add ferrous sulfate...shake x3....add calcium hydroxide...share x 4. Add slurry to 120 degree water in a 5-gallon pail. Give a good stir and let sit for an hour, checking every now and then.
I like Graham Keegan's recipe and explanation for this type of vat: http://www.grahamkeegan.com/indigo-vat-basics/



I got some nice bubbles on top, but no flower. Also, my liquid turned copper, not the famous mountain dew green. However, I figured I'd try and see if this vat would impart color anyway, and it did! It worked perfectly, didn't give a deep deep blue like I had received with this recipe during a course at Textile Art Center, but that could be because of the different indigo powders.

So I went ahead and gave all my items two dips. Some were tied with some simple shibori techniques, some had plates and clips, and a couple had some batik.


Everything came out great! After a deep wash with dish soap, the blue lightened to a nice hue that would have been darker with more dips. Towards the end of my dipping I noticed the indigo pigment was getting exhausted so I now know how evening I can dye a selection of weighed cotton with this recipe. I'll feed this vat next week and see what else I can get out of it. Might try some silk (I know it isn't really meant for protein fabrics), swatches, and cotton yardage.


For the batik I used a ½ beeswax ½ paraffin wax blend. I chipped it off and put it in a ketchup container, melted it in a pot of boiling water and squirted it on to the fabric. It was an awful experience, I need to buy some better supplies for next time. When I removed the wax I boiled the fabrics and left the wax float to the top. I then ran ice cubes across the top to collect the wax so I could remove the fabric faster.

Next on the docket for research is batik technique.

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