last week, my mom came into town and we embarked on a fun summer project: indigo dyeing! as i mentioned in my last post, my mom was an elementary school art teacher (among other things) for a long stretch of my childhood, and one of the benefits was that our summers were filled with arts and crafts projects. she would test out new projects on us, or give us the leftovers from previous classes. as a kid, i had a pretty large repertoire of crafty skills including fiber and basket weaving, paper making, crochet, rug hooking, cross-stitch, sewing, etc. so you’d better bet that it was a nostalgic event for us to set up shop with adam watching closely nearby.
it all started a couple of months ago, when i started hitting up the local thrift stores on the hunt for new pieces to fit into my wardrobe. i needed new clothes in easy, washable fabrics that would be practical enough to wear while taking care of adam. i didn’t want to spend too much money because i was experimenting with new styles, and i was still losing the baby weight. not exactly the time to be investing in super expensive pieces. and going to thrift stores turned out to be a pretty fun little outing for me with the baby in tow. i would wear him in a carrier and bounce him to sleep while i scoured the racks.
but old habits die hard. before i knew it, i was deep in the throes of my thrifting addiction. i almost immediately began unearthing all sorts of pretty silks, cottons, linens. themes started to emerge, i started finding multiples, i could even divide my spoils into different colorways. and as usual, a lot of it wasn’t quite my size or wasn’t exactly what i was looking for, but i just couldn’t stop myself from picking them up. i told my mom that i probably already had enough pieces for a small vintage collection, and that perhaps it was time to open up my shop again (more on that later).
my mom, of course, is my enabler. she’s the woman who taught me about the joys of thrifting. telling her this information was all she needed to start her own thrifting frenzy. they clearly have some amazing thrift stores out in arizona, because after a month or so, she’d amassed a collection of her own. and, of course, it was her suggestion that we try indigo dyeing some of the stuff she’d found in odd colors like grass green or saturated pink. stuff that i wouldn’t have considered, but that would be pretty cute in a nice, deep shade of my favorite color.
so we pulled together our masses of thrifted goodies and embarked on our dyeing experiment. i mostly wanted to over-dye some lighter denim pieces, and to play around with how the dye would turn out on an array of different colored fabrics. but once we had all the dye in a tub, i figured i might as well try a few shibori techniques as well. i didn’t share any pictures, but my mom also had some fun dyeing vintage linens, doilies, and hand towels.
i won’t dare try to outline the directions for how to do all of this, mostly because you can easily google plenty of really detailed instructions on the subject. so instead, here are some photos of the process (which we did over the course of three days in the sweltering heat) along with some of our results. now that i’ve tried it out and seen how it all works, i’m already itching to try new techniques. i really want to try my hand at marbling next time!