Stamping with Indigo
  • I have some great old Indian printing blocks that I'd like to use with indigo. Is there a way to thicken the indigo for printing? Any other recommendations? Thanks.
  • Are you printing fabric that's going to be washed, or paper?

    If you're coloring fabric, you may find out there's a reason why traditional indigo patterns are made with tied resist (shibori) or batik, not by stamping the indigo. Indigo is a vat dye, which means that the way you get it to stay in the fabric is by chemically reducing it to the soluble yellow form, soaking the fabric in it, and then chemically oxidizing it back to the insoluble blue form while the particles of dye are inside the fiber. If you thicken an indigo dye solution and stamp it on fabric, even if you use a mordant, it will not be fixed permanently, and therefore it should never be washed. For washable results, it would be easier to stamp fabric with an indigo color of fabric paint.

    It is possible to reduce indigo for printing, of course, but it's a more advanced technique, not suitable for beginners.

    Paula