Tag Archives: indigo suffruticosa

End of Season Indigo Chores

25 Oct

We have frost in our Hill Country weather forecast this weekend. With my recent back surgery I can’t go into physical overdrive but with my husband’s help I can pull in both indigo species seeds for drying and trim some Indigo Suffruticosa leaves to dry.

The Japanese Indigo seeds below are set out to dry before separating from blooms. There is another leaf bed to harvest but I am saving those for a John Marshall study group project. Hopefully, the freeze is just a forecast not a reality.

Above are the banana shaped Indigo Suffrucitosa seed pods. See the black seeds peeking at you?

And finally the leaf stripping station. Truly high tech, I strip the leaves off the stems. Easier now rather than later. The fresh leaves will be weighed and after drying I’ll weigh the yield. Like that back brace? It will be my friend for the next 90 days while my bone grafts heal. Oh goodie.

This batch will go into my leaf drying mesh bag and left out for a couple of days. By then the bugs will decamp and I can transfer the batches to rubber tubs for long term drying indoors.

These tubs show dried batches from earlier this year. All are Indigo Suffrucitosa except the lower right hand which is Japanese Indigo.

In the end the process is easy to fit into my lifestream and I can focus on growing the indigos, dry them and run dye pots later. Its all about focus at the proper time. I’ve been collecting quantity stats to see what amount of color I can expect each season. The indigo left on my plants today will probably be my freeze dry stash for the year. We trimmed the plants for the winds so here’s hoping for a dry hard freeze when old man winter does hit.

Here is a photo from last year’s freeze dry experiment. It worked! 100 grams yielded this color on 340 grams of silk. Granted it is not a dark blue but I am testing the process for my Indigo Suffruticosa that works for dried Japanese Indigo. It worked well enough that next time I am cranking up the dry leaf quantity to see how blue I can go with dried indigo, more words on that in another blog entry. And of course, these skeins will go in to get darker.

In the larger scheme of dye life it is about what colors you can grow, the easiest process to use what one harvests and how to get darker colors and fitting it into your daily rhythm. We do it because we can. Enjoy your harvest.

Volunteer Indigo

25 Aug

Out inspecting the indigo status in my gardens. Marveling at the huge volunteer Indigo Suffrucitosa outside my dye patio that has defied the deer. I think I better trim it before Harvey's wind & rains arrive.

Indigo & Indigo

18 Aug

With overcast skies and lower temps (mid-80’s) it was time to tackle the garden and trim down the indigos. I had been down from some surgery and after a month recovery I actually have some energy to tackle the garden and try to catch up. Both the Japanese Indigo and the Indigo Suffruticosa have been playing nicely together in the prime bed.  The Suff can be a bully and shade out the JI. If my alternate indigo bed works out on the west side of the house my prime bed will go back to Japanese Indigo. In the meantime there is trimming to do. Here’s the start…


The cage is to keep the raccoons from digging for grubs around my Japanese Indigo.  I ended up with eight bundles of JI to dry.  These leaves will dry over the next week as our temps jump back up and be stored for more dried leaf dye experiments.

I used the shorter cuttings and trimmings to do some blender indigo. I couldn’t bear to let any indigo leaf go to waste!


I keep the JI leaves in iced water until I could get to them.  I then trimmed out my Indigo Suffrucitosa to put another batch into a soak.


That trimming  yielded about 1700 grams of leaves.  They’ve been tucked in a tall pot, given water and sat aside to soak a couple of days to free up the indigo from the leaves….rot it out!

There was another IS batch prepped this week and proved itself an indigo pot.  I added slaked lime and some solar ground madder root I had on hand to help reduce the pot, looking back at yesterday I tested some napkins and the pot proved ready to work.   Here’s yesterday’s results from Indigo Suffrucitosa reduced with rotten madder root with a ph kick of slaked lime.


Today I dipped a linen shirt I found in a Santa Fe thrift shop, it came out a great dark blue after two five minute dips and a hour oxidation between the dips.


Turning my attention back to the iced Japanese Indigo I popped it thru the blender and filtered it to keep the mashed leaves out of my dye bath.  I had an indigo shirt which had faded with washing so I wanted to freshen the color.  It will show as green but will shift to indigo blue slowly. It is another white shirt I picked up at a thrift store that needed a new life.


Finally, earlier this year I believe I posted my silk skeins that turned a mystery purple/lavender.  I popped those in the blender indigo to overdue the lavender to shift to the more traditional indigo blue.  Here’s the before & after!


These skeins might go into the IS pot with some other skeins from last year. Layering the blues makes them so rich! Or I might stop with this blue. It depends on how they level out after washing.

So….from my Indigo Suffrucitosa on the left I get the deep blue and on the right I get my Japanese Indigo green. It will slowly shift to the indigo blue we know. All of my materials are oxidizing now to strengthen the indigo bond and I will neutralize all with vinegar bath tomorrow so the slaked lime high ph will not weaken the goods.  A good day clearing the garden and catching up on some dyeing!

August Indigo in the Texas Hill Country

29 Aug

Walking a 3 legged cat gives one plenty of garden inspection time.
1.  The raccoons have been digging in the madder & japanese indigo beds. Where’s my live trap?! But who can blame them digging up the irrigation lines for water.

2. The Japanese Indigo is coming into bloom and the Indigo Suffricotosa planted among the JI is coming along. Will be interesting next year to see if they can coexist in the summer heat.

3. The indigo suffruticosais also coming into bloom and seed.  Last year’s plants yield great color and this year’s small plants yielded color also.  I will say these plants got way bigger than expected but my husband has given them a pass because the hummingbirds use them as a frequent garden perch.

  

4. Finally the color, I had friends over to do Japanese Indigo blender dye scarves and had plenty dyebath left over. I had a mordanted silk skein on hand and left it in the dye bath. A beautiful mint green resulted, not sure my camera registers the color well. It is deep mint green.

And the indigo suffruticosa yield this color in 2 dips after a thio extraction. The skein on the right was a leftover larger skein which I put in to exhaust the extracted bath. It will go back into the next indigo bath to darken it. I did many other skeins. I’ll update my leaf to substrate ratio for this bath when I am near my notes. One of the things to remember when you are leaf dyeing over the growing seasons is that your skein might revisit baths over the growing sesson in order to build color layers.

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