Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Blue, Blue, Indigo

Indigo (indigofera tinctoria) was a huge cash crop for South Carolina between 1740 and 1790 actually changing the economics of the whole state. This was replaced with cotton. Remains of the plantings of Indigo can still be found in my area which make finding this plant and working with it an interesting project. It seems that indigo (dye) is present in all parts of the plant - leaves, stem and root. The processing is very unique and difficult but not unlike making paper from plants. I was wondering if anyone had ever tried this ?

my cloth drying on a saw palmetto plant

I attended a workshop at The Coastal Discovery Center in the Honey Horn Plantation Preserve of Hilton Head given by Karen Hall of Clemson University. What fun.... there were at least 25 crafts persons attending, most dressed in some form of indigo! (blue jeans)... We all made a decorated cloth and hung it to dry while taking a walk to Honey Horn's indigo garden. A very unimpressive plant... looks like a big weed! So now I'm on the lookout for this growing wild but bought seeds at the gift shop just in case.

other designs (most tie dyed)

indigo dyeing under live oaks, hanging Spanish moss and palmetto palms

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