Perhaps one of the most important challenges for those of us who work dyeing textiles is finding the perfect indigo recipe. There are many formulas, some that because of the ingredients they contain are short-lived and others, which only have to be fed with certain ingredients, are long-lasting.
Indigo seems to have a life of its own and you have to constantly take care of it, monitor its pH, excess oxygen and, stir it at least once a day. As you will see it is fragile and delicate.
When I was training in Fujino, Japan with Bryan Whitehead in his house in the mountains, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how he prepared his indigo in a pair of vessels of 130 liters each.
Bryan shared with us his infallible indigo recipe, as well as many other secrets to achieving the ideal indigo. His recipe basically consists of 3 ingredients: water, lime and indigo crystals. Hydrosulfite to remove oxygen after several uses of indigo.
Although it seems very simple, it contains more than 30 years of experience and observation where the color, smell and even sound that the indigo emits inside the vessel play a very important role.