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Mood Indigo, Part 2
April 25th, 2015MusingsMegan 0 Comments

“Indigo teaches me to be humble in life. There is something bigger and taller than me; I am nothing. How can so much beauty and hugeness come from that tiny leaf? It is like trying to understand God- you cannot in a lifetime understand everything of indigo. You cannot really put words to the emotion. I’m looking for my own shades inside these blues.”

Artist Aboubakar Fofana from Indigo; In Search of the Color that Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley

Indigo velvet 2

Indigo became an obsession. I’d lie in bed, where I seemed to be spending an increasing amount of time, and imagine  what I would dye next.  Scarves, bags, toddler berets, deeply-unflattering-tunics, bedding, table settings, an old chamois for car washing, a sweatshirt for my dog.  It all happened.

Phoebe in her indigo sweatshirt.

Phoebe in her indigo sweatshirt.

An indigo beret for my Fairy Godchild.

An indigo beret for my Fairy Godchild.

I was at once embarrassed by this weird little fixation I was experiencing, and also  grateful. I was sick, and very scared, and the indigo gave me something beautiful to think about.

It was one day, as I was leaning over the dye vat, with my hands submerged,  that I became aware that there was some kind of spirit attached to the indigo. It’s hard to explain, but I felt a definite presence, healing in nature that was connected to the dye. I also began dreaming about a female spirit, always in blue and white,  with stars in her hair, who seemed to be connected to indigo, too. After that I would always thank the spirit for her help and generosity.

Now that indigo had captured my heart, I wanted to know more about its history. I read and watched a great deal,  but the two standouts are Indigo; In Search of the Color that Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley, and the documentary “Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo” by Mary Lance. What both of these beautiful works really drove home to me  is that almost everyone who works with indigo extensively speaks of feeling the presence of spirit connected to the plant and dye. On four different continents,  every indigo artisan interviewed for Ms. Lance’s film spoke of making offerings, and/or saying prayers to the spirit connected to the dye. In Nigeria, the striking artist Nike Davies-Okundaye spoke of  a specific goddess connected to indigo, and that prayers were said to her every morning.

As I continued researching, I learned that  because it is fermented, indigo is considered alive. Consequently, it is thought to have healing properties,  and in many cultures  women who are having health issues are sent to work with it.  I became certain this was more than coincidence, this was a kind of divine guidance. I was supposed to work with indigo.

Post Alpaca Indigo

Autumn came and it became too cold for me to dye anymore for the year. The mass in my body did not get smaller and I had to have surgery to remove it.  Surgery went beautifully, but it turned out to be a bigger deal than expected and recovery was arduous. Months passed and I wondered if I’d ever feel good, or even human, again.

Carving the Indigo Ring.

Carving the Indigo Ring.

Spring finally arrived. I had a string of pain free days, and a hope returned that I feared was lost. I was finally physically able to sit at the bench to carve, and, most thankfully,  my mental focus had returned.
I wanted my first piece to be a celebration of indigo, and all that it had taught me in the last nine months. The piece that emerged is a ring I’ve carved with the indigo plant flanking three shades of blue topaz.
Indigo Ring 4
  I have never made a piece that means more to me than this one. It represents healing, synchronicity, enchantment, and a reminder that massive creative gifts are never planned.  They come in such unforeseen ways: often when we’re looking out the front window, they are sneaking in the back.
This past year was stressful, and frightening, but I’m still here. I look down at the shades of blue in this ring and am reminded that I have no idea what kind of inspiration and beauty tomorrow may bring.  That will always be more powerful than fear.
Besides, summer is coming. It will be hot enough again to work with indigo, and I have a lot of things to dye.
To read part 1 of this story, please click here.



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