|The indigo mixture and below indigo in the pounder|
We left the vat overnight and returned the next day to see what it had done. Amazingly the vat is clear/yellowish, not blue as you would expect. The smell was pungent. As the material is dipped into the vat it comes out green and turns blue when it hits the air through oxidization. It was amazing seeing the transformation before our very eyes. We dipped paper into the vat, removing the scum from the surface to make dye gods, a Japanese tradition to bring good luck to the success of the vat.
We also played with indigo as a pigment, braking the raw indigo down with a pestle and mortar and adding honey and gum arabic to make paint. We experimented with burnishing and used gold to paint over the indigo. This was a technique used in ancient manuscripts from Asia, the Middle East and Europe which we had seen in the Bodleian collections on the
first day of the workshop. We have a number of indigo
dyed textiles in the collections of the PRM including
beautifully shiny indigo textiles from Southwest China.
|All hands in the indigo vat, below, Japanese dye god|
Many thanks to the conservation department of the Bodleian Library for hosting the event and for letting us use their photographs from the workshop in this blog.