The Messy Beauty of Indigo

Indigo; the ancient plant based dye that has been around for centuries. It is one of the oldest known textile dyes, the oldest piece ever found was from 6000 years ago! Clearly, this stuff is good, otherwise it would have stopped being used instead of spreading all over the world. Both natural and synthetic indigo dye is used in textile manufacturing on just about every continent. 

Indigo is beautiful (there is no denying that) BUT it is messy! No matter how hard I try I will probably never be a "clean" dyer. I'll use gloves but somehow will still stain my hands. I'll wear an apron but still stain my clothes. I'm that person. So when I decided I wanted to try dyeing with indigo again, post art school, I had to figure out how to do it without completely destroying my house. In school, the area used for indigo has the floor completely covered in plastic and tools used only for indigo (easily recognizable because they are completely blue). Working out of my house usually doesn't limit me too much but I felt the limitations this time. Luckily I was offered the use of an old bathroom that isn't really used much anymore and on deck to be renovated. Thank goodness! I tried to be fairly neat but there was blue EVERYWHERE! It looked like a smurf murder scene. I'm not kidding. Think of the goriest movie you have ever scene and then instead of red subtitute blue. That's what I was dealing with. 

Fortunately it was nothing a bit of scrubbing couldn't handle. There was a bit of staining but 98% of it I was able to wash away. The process was totally worth it because the silk scarves turned out beautifully! Here are a few pictures I took of them:

If you get an opportunity to work with indigo, ideally in a dye studio, you should definitely take it. But you have been warned!

The bigger the macrame, the bigger the blisters!

A little over a year ago I was asked to create a large scale macrame piece to be displayed in a store front window. Of course I said yes! Before this piece, I had mainly done friendship bracelet type macrame and small rope pieces here and there. Nothing like what I just agreed to! Not only was the finished size going to be much larger than anything I had previously done but the rope itself was much bigger. There was definitely a learning curve! When rope gets thicker it becomes harder to make nice tight knots. You need to use a lot more strength than you do with twine. I worked in segments of about 4-5 hours, non stop. Many podcasts were listened to and many blistered formed. Something else you don't really think about is the math involved. You need to make sure you have enough length while trying not to waste too much. Sounds simple enough right? The thing that really makes this whole process a challenge is that different knots take up more length than others. At the end, some pieces were the perfect length and other pieces had meters of excess. Once you do a project once it becomes easier to calculate the rope lengths you will need but the first one is always trial and error (for me anyway).

 So many bundles!

So many bundles!

I would come into the shop once they closed and work for hours while listening to podcasts. So many podcasts! Working on a large scale like this is definitely a learning curve for not only your mind but your body as well. I would have randomly sore muscles in my arms the next day! 

 Night one

Night one

 Finished piece from outside   

Finished piece from outside

 

 A photo taken by the store from the inside

A photo taken by the store from the inside

Creating this window display was so fun and a nice challenge. I have a few large driftwood pieces that I'm wanting to make into wall hangings one of these days. Maybe I'll get the chance to create more window displays, who knows!