Friday, July 15, 2011

On a Perfect Summer Day

it's perfect enough weather for haying

an old zinc lime vat about to be refreshed

warming a portion of the vat liquid

reducing a new stock solution

the healthy flower on the top of our copperas vat

dough made for rice paste resist

transferring the cooked dough to the suribachi

finished rice paste

paste applied to a muslin sample using a stencil

Zoe up in the rafters where the resist samples are drying

dessert at lunch today

On a perfect summer day this week, Zoe and I worked on refreshing a couple of old indigo vats so we could finish our preparations for the Indigo Dye Intensive. Kate was also setting up a few esoteric fermentation indigo vats outdoors, one of which smelled REALLY interesting (the Saxon's Vat, I think it was - she left the fleece in it a little overlong and it had turned to pure funk).

They were haying the fields at the top of the hill when I arrived at the barn. It was hot and sunny at 9am. We started right in on a few-month-old zinc lime vat by skimming the crystalline calcium crust off the surface, and then removing a third of the vat liquid for reheating, while we made up and reduced a new stock solution. Then we added the stock to a re-warmed vat, stirred gently, and allowed it to sit overnight for slow reduction of the whole vat.

Meanwhile we checked the copperas vat, and it seemed as if it still had plenty of indigo in it, so we just gave it a thorough stirring and let it sit for the night, just to refresh the action of the chemicals in the vat. The flower still looked really shiny, foamy, and healthy, so we figured we were on the right track, and I had still been getting strong color from it on small piece good and skeins.

Then we turned our attention to making up a rice resist paste. First we sifted mochiko (sweet rice flour) and komon nuka (rice bran flour) together, and then Zoe slowly added water while I worked it thoroughly into the flours to make a paste the consistency of wet pastry dough. Then we put the dough in a small bowl with barely enough water to cover it and nuked it in the microwave until it was cooked through. The next step was to transfer the solid portion of the dough to a suribachi and to thoroughly grind it into a silky smooth paste, which when finished, we stored in a small bowl, covering the surface of the paste with plastic wrap like you would to keep a skin from forming on pudding.

Then we made a rough stencil out of cardboard and using a small squeegee, ran the paste through the stencil onto a cloth sample and hung it up to dry for a few days.

At lunch Zoe showed us how to make delicious Belgian/Danish yummies with crusty bread spread with fresh local ricotta, sprinkled with sacred evaporated cane juice, and topped with as many fresh red currants as you can pile onto the top of it. We ate a lot of that! And then went back in and played with indigo some more...

See you at the Indigo class. We are going to have some fun!

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