The Sea Island Indigo Workshop weekend* began on Thursday, September 18 at the Charleston Museum with a rag-quilting workshop and storytelling by Sharon Cooper-Murray, aka ‘the Gullah Lady‘. Sharon is a compelling performer and interesting historian, as well as a fiber artist and writer in her own right.
Here’s a 25 second example of a Gullah tale that she told at Boone Hall Plantation recently. If you hunt around YouTube you can find lots more! Charlestonmag.com posted an interview with her here. The Gullah story that we heard was vivid, complete with foot stomping and arm gestures. Translation needed — I could tell that some urgent message needed conveying, but not exactly what (turns out the hens used to rise first in the morning, not the roosters, and the story told why).
Rag quilting is a no-sew method of quilting making. Strips of fabric are poked into a loose weave base and tied on top. We used burlap for the base and a nail for an implement. Earlier makers used feed sacks or possibly, the loose weave fabric used to construct slave garments, osnaburg (also called ‘Negro Cloth’). It is a resourceful means of cloth making — requiring no needles, thread, or large scraps.
Sharon brings a work-in-progress along with her, to which we were all invited to insert a strip.
Here is Sharon — as herself — constructing one of her Indigo Babies for the dye vat. She sells these at fairs locally.
This method would be a terrific way to use up fabrics that are not needle-friendly.
Next up: visit to Avery Research Center, then two days of indigo dyeing in a pole barn!
Sea Island Indigo Workshop took place September 18-21, 2014 in Charleston, SC. A field of indigo was grown for us by Donna Hardy, on Rebellion Farm, in Ravenel, SC. Fiber artist Kathy Hattori, of Botanical Workshops, flew in from Seattle to co-lead the two days of hands-on indigo dyeing. My participation in the workshop was funded by a kickstarter campaign.