Watching indigo silk flutter in the fading sunlight over the Moroccan desert evokes a certain sense of pride and awe, acknowledging the creative power of your own two hands.
I’m sure you’ve seen it—those pops of brilliant blue splashed across clothing, home textiles, and picnic blankets.
But what makes indigo so captivating?
Indigo has been used as a natural dye for thousands of years. An extract from the shrub Indigofera tinctoria, it is found throughout tropical regions across the world and is a predominant color amongst the backdrop of Morocco.
There are various methods for preparing your own indigo dye, and great online resources like dharmatrading.com can help you get started. They have indigo kits and also pre-reduced indigo crystals that you mix with soda ash and Thiourea Dioxide.
And you can create indigo tie-dye magic, too.
2 wooden triangle cut-outs (or any two matching wooden shapes)
1 PVC pole or plastic plumbing pipe
1 wood clamp
How to Tie: Triangle Pattern Poncho
Fold in half, lengthwise right through the middle. Accordion the fabric.
Start folding into a triangle shape from one end. Press flat and tight.
Carefully turn and place wooden shape on each side. Clamp. Make sure clamp isn’t touching fabric.
How to Tie: Wrap Texture Scarf
Fold in half lengthwise.
Wrap around PVC pole or plastic plumping pipe.
Scrunch fabric together to create rippled effect.
Wrap and criss cross with twine.
How to Dye
There are various methods of dying. Some recommend wetting the fabric after tying, but we decided to wet the fabric first for a slightly different effect.
Dip wrapped garment into indigo dye. Gently massage the fabric right underneath the surface of the dye bath, make sure you don’t add too much oxygen (no slushing around).
Set garment in a dry area to let it oxidize for about 20–30 minutes. It will change from neon yellow to indigo blue.
Untie garment and hang to dry completely before washing it with commercial detergent.
Once dry, use a tiny amount of commercial grade detergent (or Inkowash) and wash in the machine. This will remove excess dye and set the color in the fabric.
Care for Your Indigo
Indigo has a mind of its own, and it will change over time just like a pair of jeans. Best practice is to wash your item in water that isn’t too hot with similar colors and very little detergent. Hang dry to preserve the color longer.
All photos by Sasha Juliard
Nicole Lindstrom is a travel writer based in New York City. She is the creator and editor of the online travel guide GLDMNE and co-author of Wanderlust, A Modern Yogi’s Guide To Discovering Your Best Self.
Sasha Juliard is a freelance photographer and web designer. He started How To Work Remotely in 2015 and is a contributor to several online publications.