Friday, February 27, 2009


My recent trip to Oaxaca luckily coincided with a tee-shirt dyeing workshop at the Textile Museum there. Seventeen participants of all ages and languages (spanish and english at least) joined in with teacher Eric Chavez to learn about dyeing with natural indigo, extracted from the anil plant.After a brief, bilingual (thank you Eric) media presentation about indigo, the process and the options for resist dyeing, we set to work tyeing up our shirts with either stitching, rubberbands, or marbles.

After tyeing, we tied a string onto our bundle and gently set them into the garbage can that was half full of indigo dye.
We let them sit in the dye bath for about 5 minutes, then pulled them out to set and hang while the oxygen set the dye to working.

When they first came out of the dye bath, the shirts were a sea green color, but slowly the beautiful blue emerged. We let them hang in the open air for about 15 minutes. (Perfect for viewing some of the beautiful exhibits there.)
Eric explained that the deep indigo color is achieved by multiple dippings, even up to 20! As our time was limited in the workshop, we only had time for two. To set the color, we untied the bundles and put the shirt into a bath of vinegar solution, then hung to dry.
This young participant (the youngest I think) created a great shirt with marbles and rubber bands. And this young woman (who was a part of a group of young volunteers abroad) stitched a lovely diagonal resist line into her shirt.

Thank you, Eric, for an informative and fun introduction to the natural dye process.

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