Thursday, April 03, 2008

Indigo Recipe

I must say, I really didn't know quite what to expect trying this particular dye on reed and cane. This is my first attempt at using this particular dye as well. However, I was very unexpectedly surprised by the results. This is how I did it. This Recipe came with the Dharma Trading Company Indigo that I ordered from them, it's also on the web. One variation I did, because I had forgotten to order the Dharma Dyehouse Color Remover (Thiourea Dioxide), however, I had found another recipe in a book where the recipe called for Sodium Hydrosulfite, don't ask me, that's just what was in the recipe and when I looked at the Rit Color Remover, that was what was in it, plus Sodium Carbonate Anhydrous - I have no clue on the chemistry involved but decided to use it while waiting for my Dharma Color Remover. (Cane photo on top and Reed on the bottom)

The Recipe:

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.

Further instructions:

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!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Red Sandalwood

This is Pterocarpus Santalinus by technical name. I use it here because in some books it's called Sanders Wood or Sandal Wood. This photo is too dark. The pink color is the *wrong* side of the cane, the pink/yellow color is the *right* side of the cane.

I used the recipe for this wood similar to the Brazil Wood recipe, except I presoaked the cane in the Tin solution before putting it in the dye pot - the color after this should be a lemon yellow and although some of the cane did indeed reach a lemon yellow in color it was not consistent, so I may not have used enough. The recipe I was using called for 1 1/2 oz of Tin in the solution. I also didn't use enough of the Sandal Wood in the dye pot, so the original color of this cane was a pale salmon/yellow color. I also added some Soda Ash to the dye pot and some alum, with no change in the color resulting.

It was very pretty but not quite dark enough and too much yellow in it. So I re dyed it after seeing how well the Brazil Wood had turned out. So this cane started out pretreated with a multitude of things but the second dyeing did enhance the color significantly. It is now a richer salmon color with the yellow being subdued.

Tin or red spirits, it is sometimes called, is a main mordant for getting a red color out of natural dyes. Sometimes used with Cream of Tartar.

Some recipes call for using alcohol to soak the Sandal Wood in to unlock the red dye it contains, suggesting that this is the only method in which you can obtain the red dye.

This dye stuff takes a long time for dyeing as well.

Second Recipe:

1. 2 gals of water (my cane was no longer in a nice flat coil, so to compensate for the bunchier coil, I used 2 gals of water but normally you can use 1 gal of water);
2. Add one cup of table salt;
3. Add water softener if you have hard water;
4. Add 4 oz Sandal wood (this usually comes in a power form rather than wood chips, although both are available in some places);
5. Bring the dye pot to a boil;
6. Add the coil of cane;
7. Let is simmer for about 40 minutes or longer;
8. Take the cane out of the dye pot and add 1 tablespoon of Tin (you can always add more if necessary - the recipe suggested 1 1/2 ounces);
9. Let it simmer for another 2 or more hours.

Some recipes call for adding a pre mordant of tannin; other recipes also use Alum which also gives a really nice salmon color; and some suggest using copper as a modifier for claret-browns; and Iron modifier will make it much darker in color.

Brazil Wood

If you're looking for a really great red for cane give Brazil wood a try.

Recipe for Brazil Wood on Cane:

1. Soak 4 oz of Brazil Wood pieces in about 1 to 1 1/2 gals. of water over night; then boil it for an additional hour the next day;
2. Add 1 cup of table salt or salt of your preference;
3. Add a touch of water softener if you have hard water;
4. Add 1 lb of cane and let it simmer for about 1/2 hour;
5. Take the cane out and pour in Tin mordant to the mixture (I took 1 tbs of Tin and dissolved it in a small bowl before pouring it into the dye pot)
6. Now re add your cane to the mixture;
7. The cane will almost immediately begin to turn a deep red - let it remain in the dye pot for another 15 minutes or until you have reached your desired color - I left mine in for an additional 20 minutes.

This dye works remarkably well on cane but you won't see the red until you add the Tin to the dye pot.