Dyeing with Australian Indigo

I’ve been wanting to try dyeing with Australian indigo (Indigofera australis) for a long time. I’ve got a small bush growing but it is still too young for harvesting. So I was very excited when some friends offered me clippings from their huge plant.

There are a few tutorials online specifically for Australian indigo, at Turkey Red Journal and Tinker Maker. But I really wanted to keep it natural and avoid using Sodium Hydrosulphite. I kept researching and came across a method for Japanese indigo which uses cold processing of fresh leaves. Although Japanese indigo (Persicaria yinctorium) is not related to Australian indigo, both plants contain indican which is the precursor to indigo.

I used cotton prepared with a soy milk binder, and followed the instructions on The Dogwood Dyer’s blog. This involved whizzing up fresh leaves in a blender with cold water and straining the green liquid out. I folded and tied some small cotton samples and soaked them in the dye. After the first soak the cotton has turned this vivid green:

Dyeing with Indigofera Australis

The next day I did many rounds of short dips and each time the cotton got darker and more blue.

 

Naturally dyed with australian indigo

This is the darkest that the triangle got, plus some lighter, greener samples and an Indigofera australis leaf. Isn’t it magic that these leaves can produce such a dark blue?!

Naturally dyed with Indigofera Australis

This was my first time trying shibori. It was so exciting to unwrap my little triangle and discover the beautiful patterns that folding and tying had made on this top.

Shibori with Australian indigo

And here are a few other shibori samples, tied with rubber bands and soaked for different lengths of time.

Australian Indigo shibori dyeing samples

I really enjoyed beginning to explore the many hues that Australian Indigo can produce. Now to find and grow more plants!

Shibori dyeing with Indigofera Australis