The foundation of any good Shibori project is the bucket of indigo dye. When we visited Kaari Meng in her uber-inspirational shop, French General, she taught us how to prepare the perfect indigo dye vat.
Indigo dyeing starts with assembling the right supplies. Here are the products and quantities Kaari recommends for one three-gallon bucket of dye:
Drop cloth or protective covering
1 large bucket or dye vat
A stirring stick
5 Tablespoons of indigo
4 Tablespoons of thiox (aka Thiourea dioxide)
5 Tablespoons of soda ash
3 gallons warm water
Any tools you use in your dye vat should only be used in your dye vat (don’t go and grab your wooden spoons from the kitchen). Dyeing is a messy process and you’ll want to make sure your skin, your clothes, and your work surface are covered and protected.
The process for making the indigo dye vat is simple, but specific. Be sure to follow Kaari’s steps exactly in order to create the crucial bloom and end up with a perfectly developed concoction:
1. Add indigo, thiox, soda ash to bucket of warm water
2. Stir in one direction so the elements dissolve evenly
3. Reverse direction until bloom forms
4. Allow to stand for one hour