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Mood Indigo, Part 1
April 13th, 2015MusingsMegan 2 Comments

I visited Guadalajara for the second time in  Autumn 2013 during the Day of the Dead celebrations,  and discovered a city overflowing with beautiful imagery: lush trees with roots so large the sidewalks buckled, Spanish colonial architecture, Moorish star windows, hummingbirds, yellow- orange cempasuchil marigolds, Art Nouveau ornamentation and a particular shade of blue called azul del rey, or “king’s blue”. If you haven’t seen it, imagine that cobalt and indigo had a child, and then shined a spotlight on their creation. A blue both deep and bright, with an extra “something” that felt celestial.

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I had first come to Guadalajara earlier that year,  and became enchanted with the traditional shawl-like wrap called a rebozo, purchasing  two. Realizing that I now had effectively started a collection, I began visualizing  my “dream rebozo”.  It would be azul del rey with long, hand-knotted fringe that featured a black diamond pattern.
On the last day before I returned to the U.S., I went to the big market, San Juan de Dios, and visited the booth of two sisters I met during the earlier trip. I was so taken with these women: their spirit, and the way they carried themselves,  reminded me intensely of my grandmother, Lura. They also happened to have some of the most glorious rebozos to be found.
Through a friend translating, he explained what I was looking for and they brought out a stack of textiles. A rainbow of patterns and textures, all beautiful, but none in the exact shade of blue or with the black diamond pattern. After I turned down a turquoise version the sisters had insisted I try on, they shook their heads in disappointment, but then remembered  one hidden stack they hadn’t searched.
  Suddenly there it was: the azul del rey rebozo of my dreams with the black diamond pattern. It had been waiting for me, and it was better than I imagined.
Beloved Azul del Rey Rebozo

Beloved Azul del Rey Rebozo

On this same trip I came to be the inheritor of a small package of indigofera seeds, that I had no clue what to do with.  Back in New York, looking at my now beloved blue rebozo and the package of seeds, wheels began turning in my brain. What if I were to grow the indigo? Maybe I could even use it as dye, and achieve a blue as gorgeous as azul del rey.
 I started researching the cultivation of indigo plants, but my dream was quickly dashed when I realized they need heat and I live too far north. Though the seeds would remain in their package, all this research really piqued my interest:   I had to give indigo dyeing a try.
Jewelry is always my first priority, however, so over the next few months, when I’d find myself fantasizing about indigo , the taskmaster in my brain would shove it to the side and shout, “LATER!”.
But then life intervened.
Unbeknownst to me,  I had been walking around with a very large mass in my body that ruptured one summer morning. Weeks of intense pain followed, and I wasn’t able to sit at my bench and work anymore. I retreated to my parents house, and just prayed.
I  did need a creative outlet,  though, and more than anything, something to distract me from what was happening in my body. It was then that I remembered the indigo.
 I waited until an ungodly hot and humid day in mid-July and dyed an assortment of fibers and fabrics using many different traditional binding techniques to achieve patterns. My energy was low, and my expectations were, too. I was really just doing this for the experience.
What emerged from the indigo vat was so much more than I dreamed of.   Pulling the fabrics from the dye was witnessing magic: bright green and acid yellow that turned into blue before my eyes!  All different shades of blue emerged, from pale, delicate sky to deep midnight with a slight copper cast. I was hoping to create a color that mimicked azul del rey, and came very close in the silk velvet.
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 A love affair was born that afternoon. Indigo became something that, spiritually, would sustain me for the months to come. and provide a kind of intense inspiration I hadn’t felt in years.
To see more of the indigo pieces that emerged, please click here.
For part 2 of this tale, please click here.

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'2 Responses to “Mood Indigo, Part 1”'
  1. Raven says:

    What an amazing story! I’d say from a shamanic point if view
    that the Indigo plant has chosen to be your ally!

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