Indigo Dyeing

What is indigo? 

Indigo dye is an organic compound derived from indigo plants that is typically used to dye cotton to produce a destinctive blue color. The Indigofera tinctoria variety of Indigo is among the oldest dyes to be used for textile dyeing and printing and has a rich history. It was domesticated in India - which was the earliest major center for its production and processing. Many Asian countries, such as India, China, Japan and South East Asian nations have used indigo as a dye (particularly silk dye) for centuries. Indigo made its way to the Greeks and the Romans, where it was valued as a luxury product because blue dyes were once rare. Nearly all of the indigo dye nowadays is synthetic, especially the dyes used to produce blue jeans. Our team was lucky to have the opportunity to learn about and experience first hand the art of natural dyeing using organic sustainably-harvested indigo extracts with textile expert Kristine from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

indigo vat

The indigo that Kristine works with was grown in Laguanitas, which is located in Marin County. It was dried and then composted on a special floor in January of 2012. 

bag of indigo

Mixture of water and hardwood ash, known as lye is used as the base for the fermentation vat.

instructor mixing dye

The indigo is stirred every morning and night. The smell is unmistakable, similar to a mixture of cheese, latrine, and manure. 

instructor 2

Kristine shows us a jar of the indigo that will be used for our pieces.


indigo mother

indigo detail 2

The much sought after copper film has appeared on the surface - as have tiny little blue bubbles.


Kristine takes a jar from the large vat and combines into smaller buckets for our pieces to dip into.

dyeing process

 dyeing lesson

sample projects


 preparing fabric

 Kristine wraps sections of the cotton/linen fabric for a resist dyeing technique.


Lauren and Liz 

Now it's our turn to take fold our fabrics and take a dip into the indigo...

preparing fabric 3

Using various folds and objects such as clothespins and wood blocks, we create spaces difficult for the dye to reach.

Danielle and Eileen 2



Danielle and Eileen working on their pieces. 


 Melissa was a natural pro at dyeing and set a trend with her "block print" by using clothespins.


Shannen starting her cotton and linen blend piece.

Working in one minute increments, Lauren brings her piece up to expose the dye to air. Oxidation sets the indigo into the fabric. The more repetitions, the deeper the color.

 Angela with finished fabric

Angela with a finished piece.


 A Verb for Keeping Warm's Angora rabbit, Marceaux.

For more information about Kristine and A Verb for Keeping Warm please visit her site here.