Tuesday, May 31, 2011

back to the blue

i had basically put my zinc-lime vat on hold completely, since i was having too much trouble keeping it warm enough.  i never thought that it would be the end of may before we actually felt some sustained warmth here in toronto, but that has been the (grey, dreary, rainy) case.  

and now, finally and suddenly we have seemed to have skipped spring and headed right into the heat of summer.  i took this opportunity to revamp my vat, and also to move it to my third floor studio, which is suddenly hot as an oven.  after just one day there is already a flower forming on the top of the vat, so i'm pretty hopeful that the heat is going to be just what my fussy blue friend has been wanting all along.

inspired by this post by eva, i've also started a small fermentation indigo vat, which uses wheat bran, ground madder and soda ash as the reducing agents.  i had one of these types of vats going years ago when i was in art school, but it didn't survive my move back across the country.

for some reason my instinct is to create giant vats of indigo, perhaps a leftover from when i was dyeing large skeins of wool for weaving. but i liked how eva's vat was so small - it makes it somehow seem more manageable, so i've followed suit and done just a small jar which can sit happily on my desk.


i used cheryl kolander's recipe from aurora silk, and just scaled the ingredients down proportionally.  it's the same recipe i used last time i did a natural fermentation vat, and while i did have success, i found that it took my vat more like six weeks to be ready to dye, rather than the one that she lists.  but it only requires a little stir every day so it's pretty low maintenance. i was sure to use a vessel with a lid that seals, since i learned last time that this can be a bit of a stinky venture.


  1. I want to make my own little blue vat, but I think I would use woad in mine. Curious to see what comes out of yours!

  2. it is such a finicky little small vat baby in our climate where in the wink of an eye the temperature can change by 10 to 15 degrees C
    At least that is what I am finding so far with my woad and indigo mini fermentation vats:)