I recently facilitated an Indigo vat workshop at the SEFAA center in Atlanta. The focus was on learning about quick-reduction alternatives. (Fn 1).  Naturally, we were dyeing with indigo as well.  In the workshop we used a simple paste resist, along with traditional Japanese “mechanical” resist techniques, to make marks on our cloth.  I, for one, came home feeling inspired by the spirit of exploration and experimentation shown by the participants.  Lots of interesting results! 

For artists/craftspeople/designers creating in the modern/post-modern reality, Indigo and its related processes offer elements of a studio “meta” practice which can provide a means of merging our deep archaic (pre-rational) and more recent, modern/postmodern (rational) sensibilities.  Taking the time to witness the transformation of Indigo, from a pigment (its leuco “clear” state) to a dye accessible to fiber (its blue state), monitoring a vat on a daily basis and keeping it active – these can be conscious, intentional acts which begin to imbue the simple Indigo dyeing experience with deeper meaning.  It does seems to me that to incorporate Indigo into our textile and fiber practice –  to dye, spin, weave, stitch, print, paint, wear, utilize, admire –  is to infuse our creative cycles with its essence and be invited to surrender to the larger Mystery, if only temporarily.  And that is a very good thing. (Fn 2)

Footnotes:

1. For the uninitiated, indigo manifests its blue color through an oxidative/reductive chemical process which is pretty cool and makes it distinct from other dyestuffs (except those derived from plants closely related to it). I am not a chemist although I am learning. 

2.  I hasten to add that there are many profound and elevated wisdom/spiritual traditions existing around the world – if you follow one of these paths, pursuing any creative process is an adjunct practice with deep historic and cross-cultural roots.

I am happy to announce the second installment of my natural dye series at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. This time, we will look at two ways of achieving blue using natural Indigo pigment, one “chemical” and one “organic.”  The synthetic pre-reduced indigo alternative will also be considered. This is a two-day workshop.  We’ll build the vats on Day 1 and prepare samples for immersion, including pieces printed with a simple paste resist.  Day 2 will be dedicated to using the vats, comparing and contrasting results.  Saturday, February 8th through Sunday, February 9th. Both Sessions: 1-5 pm. For details visit: SEFAA Center/Indigo

It has been a full month since my last post. Teaching/facilitating technique through one-on-one, small and large group gatherings has become a more regular feature of my weekly activity list. Among other things, Indigo has figured prominently in this work. As noted elsewhere, I have also increasingly incorporated other natural dyes into my creative practice and will be facilitating another workshop this July at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. See the sidebar for the link.

I have had three opportunities to share the indigo experience this year so far. One I mentioned in my last post. The two most recent were quite contrasting experiences: In one case, I worked with pre-reduced indigo serving 80+ participants during a “Family Fun Day” at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta; in the other, I facilitated a gathering of two at my home studio, where we worked with resist paste and an organic indigo vat. Both events were inspiring, energizing and life-affirming. Here are some images:

From the Carlos Museum/Indigo on the Quad:

From the Organic Indigo Vat workshop: