1. It is important not to heat indigo too high. 120' to 130' is considered ideal; I have seen in other recipes that call for a lower temperature; but this is just about as hot as the hand can handle to touch;
2. 1 coil of cane or reed or both; the two coils above were done out of the same Indigo dye pot;
3. 1/2 oz of Indigo dye - now I used a coffee grinder to reduce this to a power; more indigo if you want it darker;
4. 1/2 oz of Dharma Dyehouse Color Remover (Thiourea Dioxide); I used the Rit color remove for this particular batch; you add this last to your dye pot;
5. 1/2 oz of Soda Ash; and
6. 2 to 3 gallons of water - now I only used about 1 1/2 gallons of water, enough to make sure my material could be completely immersed in the dye pot. Your dye pot for this should be a light color as in stainless steel - I made the mistake of using a blue pot and found it was hard to determine when the mixture had reached a good yellow-green color without having to dip a small bowl into it to see what color it was; you need that yellow-green color to form before dipping you material into it.
1. Since Indigo naturally is an extremely hard material and comes in chunks, you need to reduce it down to a paste; You can soak it over night in a cup of hot water and then blend it in a blender with the water the next day or put the dry indigo in an electric coffee grinder which reduces it to a power; I preferred the later method since I use this to reduce other dye materials to a power as well and have found that this works really well. I use just a small grinder that you can pick up anywhere fine coffee things are located; with the power you then add hot water to make a paste; now Dharma calls for straining this mixture after cooking, however, I just added the paste to my dye pot; you will get residue if you don't strain it. Add this mixture to your dye pot;
2. In a separate dish I dissolved the Soda Ash and then added that to the dye pot; this is the easiest step;
3. Now you add the Color Remover (Dharma or Rit) and stir oh so gently - you don't want bubbles to form which mean oxygen has gotten into your dye mixture;
4. Now place it over heat til it reaches 120' to 130'; mine began to steam at this point; the mixture is now starting to turn to a yellow or yellow-green; a very icky color, this is good since it means the mixture has no oxygen in it;
5. Now let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes; the mixture should now be that yellow-green murky color;
6. I had wet my cane and reed for about 1/2 hour before adding it to the dye pot; I also dipped the reed first and then the coil of cane; the cane coil being smaller in weight; I also left the ties on the coils in place while wetting and didn't remove them until I was ready to dip it into the dye mixture;
7. I then took the reed and dipped it sorta tilted to one side down into the dye mixture, I probably held it for maybe 5 or 10 seconds, this all done with the hands, so wear rubber gloves or your hands will come out a really nice indigo color as well; maybe a little longer and then took it out; when you first bring it out the color is that really sick yellow-green; I laid it in the sink, don't rinse it for at least a couple of minutes, you will need to rinse it if you don't strain the dye in the beginning since there will be some residue on it, if the reed goes clear to the bottom but wait before you do that, so the air can turn the color before hand;
8. Presto! right before your eyes, that yellow-green turns to this gorgeous blue! Amazing!
9. Just a couple of pointers here - you need to hold the reed and cane down into the dye mixture; they both have a tendency to float, so you will need to hold it down other wise any areas above the dye mixture will not dye; the process really takes a very short period of time;
10. If you would like to have the dye darker; you can re dip it until it reaches the desired darkness you want; with the reed I think you need to keep it in the dye mixture longer than I did if you want a nice rich indigo blue from it. I did the cane exactly the same way and for the same time however, it appears the cane came out somewhat darker than the reed. If the dye mixture color has turned blue again after doing the reed add additional Color Remover til it reaches that yellow-green murky color again. Always stir this mixture oh so gently so as not to form any bubbles;
11. I have heard and read that indigo is extremely tricky to dye with, however, I must say, I found it really easy and quick, so don't be afraid to give it a try!