The Art & Science of Scouring Cellulose Fabric For Indigo Dyeing
The first step in creating “Indigo Cloth 2 Dye 4” is the scouring process. This step is often overlooked or rushed through but when using plant-based natural indigo materials, X marks the stop where the magic begins! It doesn’t matter when you’re using synthetic indigo products because the chemicals help the pigment to attach to the fibers. When pure natural indigo plants, powders, chunks, or balls are used the scouring process becomes a way to create different values of blues.
I discovered this process when dyeing organic 100% cotton mull fabric in the Spring of 2018. Filled with the excitement of dyeing cloth for my first Indigenous Fashion Week in Toronto, I remembered Grand Mere teaching to capture the color of the “Carolina Blue” sky on fabric. In the freshness of Spring, the sky becomes cloudless and is “Carolina Blue” Down East in North Carolina. I love it! And, since I also graduated from Carolina it’s a double treat! With purpose, I let the starch in the fabric act as a resist. Cotton mull is sheer with an open weave, so I didn’t have much doubt in the outcome. Viola! I captured “Carolina Blue Skies” on cotton mull fabric. I used family Algonquin/Gullah resist design patterns.
Another observation on my process of creating “Indigo Cloth 2 Dye 4” is the wisdom to keep my head covered. That’s one of the old ways that contemporary women no longer practice. But, it’s an important practice that many Algonquin kohkums still observe. It’s a life lesson I learned from my grandmothers’. For me, it enables me to keep the essence of who I am as a woman deep inside the vessel of my body.
It’s the feeling of being where the rubber meets the road at this moment in time. It’s when it’s just me and Jesus traveling at warp speed. If you want to travel fast, travel solo. It’s lonely but you get to know yourself. The values that you hold dear, test you for authenticity. Until a woman knows and loves herself, can she ever hope to successfully love a man. Women are the backbone of a community. If we can overcome our differences and work together as a team, we can help heal the brokenness all around us.