Event Recap: Indigo Dip-Dye Workshop

Sold out, then smoked out, then off, then back on! Producing our June event was a minor odyssey thanks to the Scherpa fire, but after a short delay we successfully made it happen this past weekend. AIGA SB descended on Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta to learn about the magic of indigo from instructor Joya Rose Groves, whose contagious enthusiasm for the dip-dye process inspired us all to get the blues in the best way. Joya’s indigo dip-dye workshops are rare—she stays busy as a hand-lettering artist and illustrator, and her most recent previous indigo workshop was two years ago—so this event was a unique and special treat.

Upon arrival, each attendee received a personalized package of two pristine white pillowcases to dye, bound with twine and sporting a hand-lettered name tag. Our session began with a brief survey of indigo’s long history, from ancient Egypt to modern denim. Joya then explained the process, a variant of shibori (tie-dye): we could fold, pinch, or bunch the cloth—using rubber bands and/or scraps of plastic wrap—to create patterns before dip-dyeing. Indigo solution is very wet and very permanent, so we all donned rubber gloves before plunging our pillowcases in a tub of water, then dipping (and often submerging) the cloth in a nearby vat of indigo.


One peculiar aspect of the process was that a piece of material’s length of time in the vat would made no difference in hue or saturation—but dipping, then hang-drying, then dipping again would do the trick. Cloth emerged from the vat a rich green color, which soon changed via oxidation to deep blue when exposed to the air. Participants showed their creativity immediately, and Joya encouraged us to try dipping other material as well. Soon the clothesline stretching between two trees curved under the weight of indigo pillowcases, shirts, pants, yarn, and even a pair of shoes drip-drying in the breeze.

Thanks to Joya Rose Groves for sharing her talent and enthusiasm with us on a lovely Saturday afternoon. Thanks also to Jesse Groves for keeping us entertained with made-to-order cocktails and classic vinyl spinning on his portable record player. Last but certainly not least, thanks to our attendees for joining us, and especially for their patience and understanding during the postponement-relocation-rescheduling dance. We had a grand time and we hope you did too.

Rock Star Gig Rating: On a scale of “zero” to “insane,” this one was a fun family concert in the park—sharing the green grass and languid twilight with party games, birthday songs and wedding receptions.

Photography by Keir DuBois and Joya Rose Groves.

By Keir DuBois
Published June 28, 2016
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