Tag Archives: dyeing

Sea Island Indigo – at Rebellion Farm


Heather Powers’s hands

For days Two and Three of the Sea Island Indigo workshop*, we convened at Rebellion Farm, about 20 minutes west of my airbnb host in West Ashley.  Donna Hardy was not kidding that she had grown us a field of indigo, and we began by harvesting.
IMG_0623 IMG_0626 IMG_0630The straight-leafed crop in the three pictures above is Golden Rice, for which Carolina is famous. Indigo, below.  IMG_0651 IMG_0652Right about the time I was taking this shot, fire ants were swarming all over my feet. They sting!! After a comic amount of swatting, I managed to get rid of them. Thankfully, only one managed to crawl above my knee.
IMG_0646We selectively harvested because some leaves were more ready than others.
IMG_0656Donna is also growing Sea Island cotton (above and below).  This variety has a longer staple and when woven, has the sheen and drape of silk.
IMG_0664I was lucky to be partnered for the day with fiber artist, Leigh aka Madame Magar (Charlestonmag.com article). After spending twenty years making hats, Leigh (below) is now designing funky, barely-constructed clothes and creating cloth-related installations.  I encourage you to follow the link and see what she’s up to.

Leigh, my buddy, tending the pot

Leigh tending the pot

Our gas flame was exposed to a little draft and kept going out.  For that reason, and perhaps  others, our batch was fussy, non-compliant.  This turned out to be OK because we it meant we got to see how the experts made adjustments.

IMG_0681IMG_0683 IMG_0704 IMG_0687Aeration method: pour liquid from bucket to bucket 100 times.  Some in the group went to 500!  After Leigh and I reached 200, we stood in line for the blender.

finally made myself an etui

finally made myself an etui

Notes: Shelley flings ‘garden snake’ off into the shrubs… black snake / smallish.

IMG_0709We got a pounding rain the first afternoon, which sounded incredible on the pole barn’s roof!IMG_0723 IMG_0725 IMG_0728 IMG_0741 IMG_0745 IMG_0749IMG_0777IMG_0798Tomorrow’s post will continue at the pole barn.  You can read a nice narrative about the weekend here (Heather Powers’s blog).

 *  *  *

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.

Sea Island Indigo and The Fool

four-quarters-moonWhen I found out about a three-day indigo forum in Charleston, South Carolina this coming September, I practically jumped out of my seat.  I didn’t even go to the impracticality of the opportunity given its price…  just reveled in the notion of a free and clear calendar.

How different to consider a pricey tuition than to anticipate the juggling of school and doctors’ appointments and meals and well, you know, parenting!
scrap-bundleCheck it out:  Sea Island Indigo Workshop.

Here is the revised and nearly complete “Fool”. I let the underlying blue paper serve as mountains, instead of the cut-out denim I had originally.  And I replaced the sad-eyed basset with the black and white mutt you see below.  I was happy to find this dog — it so nearly mimics the one depicted in the Rider deck. The Rider deck will be my prime source, by the way.
In terms of synchronicity — I was cutting out the suitcase, wondering whether I would find a good rose (something I considered essential for the card), when I flipped over the page and found the one you see there!

All that remains is to add title and number and make color xerox at proper size. And maybe revise the sun rays. What do you think? Too hokey? Inconsistent with the rest?



dunking, dingy, houses and blues


This is the vertical Middle Passage quilt, after adding some cloth and rubber band resists to lower edge and dunking into indigo vat.
Our bathroom receives late afternoon sun – from the weekend.
It was such a beautiful day here.  Since we abut an elementary school, all my activity out back this morning was accompanied by the sounds of children playing.
I was happy to spend some of such a glorious day outside with cloth, and raking, and taking a walk around Crystal Lake.

Under the catalpa tree out back

There is the dye station.  The pounded dirt and blue tarp over D’s mini-ramp make the whole scene look a little trashy.  Please do not notice the coffee mug and English muffin on the dye table – I know this is a bad practice!!!  But lately, almost every day in fact, I find myself feeling odd, and then remembering that I haven’t eaten anything and rustling up a quick bite, but without really taking a break, and sometimes STILL forgetting to eat (I wish this were true AFTER dinner, when I seem to want to eat all the way until bedtime).  So, yes, I need a little side table for food and drinks.  That’s my neighbor, Laura, who has graciously offered her time here and there and her talent as my intern.

So far the best thing we did together was to throw out four huge bags of fabric.  I craigslisted a Curb Alert, and after a few pickers, someone came and took it all away.  Didn’t get rained on, and if a passing dog decided to mark, it would have hit the plastic bags.

Speaking of dogs, this morning Jack marked a porcelain toilet that was on the curb and left a nice, tangy yellow pool in the discarded bowl!!  Made me laugh.  Made me tip the thing up to drain it out!

This flour sack (I’ve posted about it before) was my husband’s grandmother’s out in Wyoming, where they lived in the mining town of Rock Springs.  I have a lot more of this left that will NOT be dyed.
This was a piece of prepared-for-dye silk that I wish I had dunked one or two more times.  It has faded more since this picture.

one dunk

after two dunks

lacrosse balls inside of cotton

I was surprised to see that one of the chemicals in the dye vat stripped the T-shirt of its original yellow/green color (the thiourea dioxide perhaps – which I notice is packaged by Dharma Trading as a ‘color remover’).
Laura got to make something for herself, too.
The rope line is turning blue in places, not surprisingly.

This vat, by the way, is my first exercise in the Shibori Girl Studio, Indigo Dye Workshop.  I used pre-reduced indigo crystals in the “Quick Vat” recipe.  I have yet to read on rinsing or fixing processes, but am having lots of fun dunking cloth into the bucket.

One of the side benefits of this exercise, is that it gets me outside…
The very first day, back in the beginning of the month, while setting up the station, thunder rolled on in.  A much needed pounding rain materialized and I couldn’t help but feel like the indigo gods were moved by our conjuring!

cookin’ up a batch o’ color

Cooking up a batch of color, AND some yellow beets (beets being food AND color, of course).  We were careful, D. and I, to keep all food/dye implements separate, lest you blanch at the thought of my taking a sip of purple Ritz No. such-and-such.  And please rest assured that I will NOT be stirring Easter soup with a chop stick saturated with dye.

Yesterday I read about wrapping eggs in silk and boiling them in water and 1/4 cup of vinegar.  I had to try it.  The big surprise was that the loveliest of the bunch came from a dark, dun-colored necktie fabric (four of the five orange eggs pictured below).

The former blue silk blouse was basically a bust (ha!), but the checked taffeta came out cool.

The easiest tool at-hand for securing the silks turned out to be bread tabs.

The last step will be to rub them with a little canola oil, for some shine.  I used whole eggs, but next year (I say this now), perhaps I will blow some eggs in order to create some that will hold year-to-year (then I understand that you have to get a little clever about weighting them down in the pot so that they don’t float).

Those beets will be peeled tomorrow and dressed with a tangy vinaigrette… have I mentioned that I am a Salad Goddess?  There are so many things that I am not very good at, that I hope you don’t mind, dear reader, the occasional reminder of my Goddess status in this area!

I will also be making Potato Leek soup.  The leeks at Russo’s (local readers, I hear you swoon at the thought of Russo’s – and yes, I braved the crowded lots and aisles to go yesterday) were so unbelievable.  I swear they are nearly as long as I am tall!  I also will have watercress on the table for folks who want their soup with a little more peppery flavor.  It is turning out to be an Irish dinner – two legs of lamb will be the centerpiece.  Blanched asparagus, garlic parsley new potatoes and a salad with bitter greens, radicchio and endive will complete the fare.

Once I started dyeing, it got D. thinking.  He wanted to tie dye two shirts, so we hauled up some tubs, rubber bands, gloves, squirter tubes, and soda ash.

I tie dyed three little layette pieces that have been sitting in the basement, washed and ready to go.  They will be washed at least twice before being tagged for sale.

I have made some tiny cotton pants to go with.  They are aqua.