Class Highlight: Art of Indigo Dye

Did you know naturally occurring blue is extremely rare? I know you’re probably thinking the sky is blue, water is blue, but nope… blue eyes aren’t actually blue either. Even though 40% of people consider blue their favorite color, most of the blues we admire around us are just physics playing tricks on us. If you don’t believe me, check out this lecture that Art Historian, James Fox, gave at Minneapolis Institute of Art. (It’s phenomenal and well worth watching!)

So with blue being so naturally rare, when indigo was synthesized it became highly sought after. (You can guess how royal blue got its name.) It changed art, fashion, language, culture and our entire view of the world. Following its history is fascinating.

We call indigo the unicorn of natural dye, for so many reasons. Here’s four of them:

• It can be naturally harvested from plants that you can grow in your backyard! (During MN summers, of course!)
• When you ferment a vat of indigo, or remove the oxygen, an iridescent/metallic scum rises to the top. I don’t know why someone named it scum because it’s really beautiful. The vat naturally creates this scum to keep the oxygen out. Nature is pretty cool!
• As it oxidizes, it changes color in front of your eyes. It makes for an excellent science lesson!
• It’s one of the only dyes that’s instantaneous. Dip it in, pull it out, and VOILA, it’s blue.

Those are just a few of the million reasons why it’s so cool. If you don’t now agree that it’s the magical unicorn of dye, you’re probably as rare as the color itself!

At Parcel Arts, we have a HUGE appreciation for indigo dye, the art form of working with it and sharing its magic with others. In our Art of Indigo Dye class instructed by Dye Master, Ceci Lewis, we discuss the history, science, and contemporary applications of the dye. Ceci will give an in-depth demonstration on how to mix a vat of synthetic indigo and how to create different resists on cloth. Then students can fold, wrap, and dip two bandanas of their own to take home.

Check out images from our class in action below! For more information, or to book a class, contact us now!

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