The magic of Indigo Blue - The king of dyes - Evening Lectures - University of Derby

The magic of Indigo Blue - The king of dyes


Date: Wednesday 19 March

Venue: Silk Mill, Derby

Speaker: Dr Kate Wells

The blue dye Indigo extracted from indigo bearing plants has been one of the world’s most highly valued dyestuffs for almost five thousand years and was used in the production of every blue textile in the world before the 20th century.

Since the end of the World War II, the popularity of blue denim as a fashion fabric has taken indigo known as the ‘king of dyes’ into the 21st century.

The market has been dominated by synthetic indigo since its discovery in the early 1900s, but today there is growing interest worldwide in reviving the use of the natural dyestuff on ecological grounds. Today natural indigo dyed fabrics are produced in Europe, USA, Africa, India, China, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand.

Indigo, both natural occurring from plants or the synthetic equivalent, is a challenging dye because it is not soluble in water. To be dissolved, it must undergo a chemical change (reduction). Reduction converts indigo into ‘white indigo’ (leuco-indigo). When a submerged fabric is removed from the dye-bath, the white indigo quickly combines with oxygen in the air and reverts to the insoluble, intensely coloured indigo.

This is a fun workshop in which participants will have the opportunity to experiment with different ‘Shibori’ (Tie-Dye) techniques to create unique patterning effects once dyed in an indigo vat and untied or unclamped. Different patterning techniques will be demonstrated and participants will have the opportunity to witness the ‘magic’ of Indigo dyeing first hand by clamping or tying cotton fabric and dipping the results into a synthetic indigo vat before witnessing the colour change and patterns that can be produced.

This workshop is just a taster to the vast design potential that Indigo can provide and forms an introduction to the beautiful patterning created by Japanese Shibori Resist Patterning Techniques. There will be a collection of indigo fabrics from across the world and video footage of its use in Mali and Japan.

Dr Kate Wells is author of the international book 'Fabric Dyeing & Printing'. Considered an expert in the fields of coloration and textile print design and technology, she has lectured and exhibited her work internationally.

In 2010 she was awarded the prestigious Society of Dyers and Colourists ‘Silver Medal’ for prolonged valuable contributions to education in the area of colouration and currently holds the position of trustee the Board of the Society of Dyers and Colourists.

With over thirty years’ experience as a lecturer and technical instructor at some of the most prestigious design colleges and universities in the United Kingdom including the Royal College of Art, her extensive knowledge of textile design, its technology, production and manufacture has led to employment as a technical consultant for many International fashion and textile designers and judge for various international textile design competitions.

Dr Wells is currently employed as a Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Derby. As an active researcher specialising in Shibori processes, Kate believes in ‘Slow Textiles’ and ‘Digital Craft’ researching into sustainable and ethical production methods combined with natural dyes and organic, sustainable and recycled sourcing.

This event is now fully booked.

2015 Upcoming events

Women In Engineering, 24th February, 6-9pm
STEMpunk Extravaganza, 17th March, 5-9pm