We talk a lot about the history of indigo when we teach indigo dyeing, but I don't always get to say much about my own history with it. If you've known me awhile, you've probably already heard it all (and even "been there, done that" along with me!), so bear with me just a bit as I recap.
After teaching several different knitting classes there, I was asked by the Charleston Museum to consider teaching a class on natural dyes. My reply was "Sure, but can we just do indigo?" I liked the focus of having the one dye to play with, plus it's a dyestuff that can be used without the necessity of hot water to set the color. In a word, it was going to be simple, and I am a big fan of simple. It also had such a prominent spot in the history of Charleston, that I really just had to do it. History buffs are weird like that.
My first workshop was in April 2013 and it was a little scary (having never actually taught dyeing before) and a lot of fun. We had a really diverse group that first time--a hat maker who has been featured in Martha Stewart, a couple of folks who had dyed with indigo before, and I think that was the class that also included a high school student whose teacher had suggested she take the workshop to supplement a school project.
In the fall of last year I was privileged to attend, along with Museum staff members, a morning of indigo dyeing taught by a truly interesting individual, who knew more about indigo dyeing than anyone I'd ever met. My "indigo morning" helped solidify in me a love for the art of this dyestuff.
Since that first class, I've taught many more, both at the Museum and in my own home (including another school student who was doing a project that included Eliza Lucas Pinckney! I'm so proud of the teachers who are assigning these topics!!). My most recent event was held at the Museum's Dill Sanctuary, which was probably the prettiest spot I've ever seen to teach or learn anything!
Over the last two years of research, experimentation, practice and teaching, I have come to realize the uniqueness of this natural dye and its importance in the history of this world, this area, and my own life as well. The dyeing, the people, the magic of it all--these things have made a difference in my journey and I am so excited at the prospect of getting to introduce indigo to more of you this October. If you're interested, check out the info at the Museum's calendar and sign up soon because space is limited and, more importantly, I really don't want you to miss it!