How to Create an Iron Vat for Beginners
Even before I began working with natural indigo, I had always been an admirer of those deep indigo textile pieces. Today, I am going to share with you my favorite Natural Indigo Vat, that I feel is friendly to beginning indigo artists or even those of you who wish to explore Shibori patterns in an afternoon. First, a little background on how I came to use the Indigo Iron Vat.
As you may remember, I hosted my first ever Shibori workshop event mostly for friends. My friend Amelia and I, had discussed sharing our knowledge and skills to learn something like an art-form or craft in an afternoon. With my background and experience in art education, the idea of hosting a workshop, came to me organically. For the first class, I used a beginner's Indigo kitavailable by Jacquard. I often keep this kit as a back-up for parties or events, although I have shifted to using a completely natural kit with no synthetic reduction agents (they can be quite smelly, so be sure to work in a well ventilated space or outdoors, if you prefer this first kit!- my kit includes a few additional shapes and uses and all natural recipe- read on down for all the details!)
Next, I attended a block-printing workshop out in the high-desert, and to my surprise that day we dipped our textiles into a fructose vat, which I write about here. I set out working with the Fructose Vat for many months. I found it ideal for one time use over the course of an afternoon, I had more challenges when sealing off the vat to prevent oxidation or rebalancing the vat. Now, I enjoy working with the Ferrous Vat a.k.a. Iron Vat for long-term use! To my surprise one of my five gallon vats, has been fermenting an creating beautiful blues for quite a few months and I simply store it in the shade in my garden. Occasionally, I mix up additional stock to add more pigment to the vat.
Over the past few years, I have experimented with a variety of textile and surfaces for natural dyes. Indigo is my dye of choice, although I often experiment with botanical prints on fabric too. If you are a natural dyer, artist or simply someone looking to explore textiles in a more sustainable way, then I am going to share my favorite blank textiles for natural dyeing.
As you will see, all of my selections for this round-up are either cotton, linen or silk, which are all natural fibers.
Napkins and Paper Products
Tea Towels and Scarves
Tea towels are another awesome way to get started working with indigo and Shibori techniques. They make amazing accessories for your kitchen. If you wish to go larger or create a personal accessory, then I recommend a scarf!
Pocketsquares, T-shirts and Totes
If you are looking for additional items to dye that might make a great gift, then I highly recommend the items listed below. Pocket-squares make the perfect gift for a man, who likes to accessorize. Kid's t-shirts are a great birthday gift or baby shower gift, while tote-bags are reusable and always come in handy.
A Natural Artisanal Throw Pillow Collection
Today, I am excited to share a round-up of my favorite pillows from my capsule home collection that launched this Spring! First, a little bit about how this collection came to be. As many of you know, I am a painter and I have worked styling interiors. I love to design products and I wanted to extend that love of product design and painting to pillows. Over the years, I have had many pillows made for my clients. So, designing my own collection, came naturally and unfolded on a recent trip to India and Japan.
One thing that is unique about my capsule collection is that it uses natural indigo dye. After working with natural and botanical dyes in my home studio, I sought out textiles that had been dyed using natural color. This collection is inspired by California living and being near the ocean. Reminiscent of both sea and sky. These pillows are meant to be a piece of art for your home. Energetic benefits of indigo include, a profound calming feeling of total relaxation. Also known as the deep blue color associated with the 6th chakra in the body, or the third-eye. Engaging with this plant and it's magical dye activates your awareness and inner reflection.
Indigo comes from the ancient plant, indigofera tinctoria, used for over 5000 years to dye fibers and clothing. Some of the pillowcases are hand-dyed, while others feature batik, crewel and Shibori techniques. All textiles are sourced from handmade artisans or dyed by me in my studio.
Top Row from Left
Sustainable Natural FIbers
The majority of the collection features natural cotton linen fabric, wool or silk. Our Sky Blue Lumbar pillow below is woven in wool from a regional geometric Kyoto motif. It measures 12" x 24" and was created from a unique roll of kimono width fabric, meaning that it was designed in a traditional fashion featuring a famous geometric motif.
At the moment, I am exploring natural indigo on wild peace silk in a new 18" Expansion Kumo Shibori piece. These are a beautiful color, and made from a beautiful yet pricier silk in which the silk moths are not harmed in the process. This type of challenge is what motivates and inspires me to design something that is ethically made and eco-friendly.
While, I stuck with mostly indigo blues. I couldn't resist this dhabu mud-resist batik fabric created in North India. I love the organic results of the dhabu technique along with the sandy texture and inspired me to create this Sand Batik Pillow in Spots, which is easy to mix and match within a space.
You can view the whole capsule pillow collection in my textiles shop. If you are located near the Bay area, I will be at Renegade Craft at Fort Mason, July 14th and 15th in San Francisco, I and would love to meet you in person!
HI, I'M HILARY.
A Day in the Life, is where I share inspiration for a handmade lifestyle from natural dye methods, textile techniques, and the best of California design. I love dreaming up products for a sustainable artful home. I offer creative workshops to inspire you to live your best life by connecting you to your creativity and others. I hope to meet you in person at one of my workshops for creative people like you!
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