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Fresh-Leaf Indigo Clamp Resist

John Marshall

I’m always on the look out for new weaves, dyes, and dye techniques to add to my collection. I was happy to stumble upon this garment and recognize it as having been dyed with fresh-leaf indigo. It is clamp-resist dyeing on a very nice quality Japanese silk jacquard (rinzu).

Full front view of a michiyuki dyed with fresh-leaf tadeai indigo on silk

using clamp resist (itajime).

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich134.png

It’s always fun to try to figure out exactly how something was accomplished. Below is my guess as to what the block for clamp resist must have looked like based on the pattern we see.

Detail of the michiyuki above

(the fan shapes are part of the jacquard pattern in the weave).

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich139-1.png

The thin, baby-blue lines indicate the fold lines of the design. The red image indicates the shape of the block required to achieve this repetitious pattern.

If the silk is folded along the baby-blue lines indicated above, we wind up with a layered rectangle as seen below. The fabric is sandwiched between two blocks and clamped. Only the exposed areas of silk will receive a saturation of color – although because of the length of time required to soak the fiber in a fresh-leaf vat, some dye will wick under the clamped areas giving the beautifully variegated look see in the finished piece.  What fun!

Folded and clamped yardage.

In the left detail, we can see a distinctly white line. This resisted area can’t be accounted for with the method I suggested above. I wonder what would work?

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich153.png

The block from the earlier attempt cut into two new blocks.

The yellow area indicates a slightly larger piece of plywood used to help hold the blocks in place and to help distribute pressure when the clamps are applied.

I’ll start by fitting the two blocks together and placing them as I did above. An additional piece of plywood or plexiglass will help to distribute the pressure of the clamps and hold the blocks in place. Once the exposed areas are dunked several times in the indigo, I removed the clamps and, while being careful not to disturb the border block, removed the center block.

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich167.png

Updated version: start with the border block, front and back, in position.

This is my streamlined solution: I start with two red border blocks, one on top, one on bottom. I place a solid plywood form on top and bottom and clamp in place (I would use several more than just two C-clamps in this case). Dye the outer, exposed edges.

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich151.png

Of course, I could be wrong…

The red circle indicates a distinctly white (resisted) line.

The red line traces the general path of the white, resisted area.

If I draw a border in from the edge of the block used in the earlier attempt to mimic the dye pattern, and then using a scroll saw to separate this border from the center section, I will wind up with two distinct blocks with which to clamp my fabric, red for the perimeter and black for the center, allowing me to work in stages.

The center block removed and the border block re-clamped with a new layer of plywood sporting holes.

The red border block needs to remain in position to ensure the white area of the design continues to be resisted. I’ve prepared a new sheet of plywood, this time with holes to allow the dye to flow into the moat created by the outer red rim.

Hmmm...I wonder if I actually need the center black block after all?

INDIGOfreshLeafClampMich171.png

The solid plywood form swapped out for the perforated form.

Next remove the clamps and swap out the solid plywood form for that with the holes. Dunk several more times, and you’re all set!

 

I’ll let you know once I’ve had a chance to actually try out my theory – but if you get to it first let me know your results!

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