There is a thing that happens when you decide to shift your hobby into your business. Suddenly what you do for pure enjoyment has an agenda attached to it. It can feel kind of good at first, like you are a real grown up artist, but after a while that “agenda” feeling starts to drag you down. It’s like a tiny gnome hanging out on your shoulder all day with questions about “the value of your time” and judgements along the lines of “shouldn’t you be taking more pictures?”. It turns everything into work. What I have discovered is that every once in a while I need to do something completely different to shake that little gnome off my shoulder and then I can come back to this work I’m so passionate about with a renewed calm. Indigo dyeing, I have discovered, is one of my favorite ways to get back to that glorious feeling of just simply making something. Indigo and creativity go hand-in-hand (that and block printing…something about surface design, I suppose).
Indigo dyeing is kind of the opposite of garment sewing and also a lot like it. Unlike garment sewing, the results are unexpected and the process has to embrace that uncertainty. Indigo is a living plant and when I’m dipping fabric into a big vat of it it feels so crazy and weird and messy and fantastic. I’m totally focused and immersed but not worrying about being exact. At the same time, it has the same rush of creation that comes from sewing clothing and the gorgeous thrill of seeing results emerge.
Of course, indigo dyeing creates fabric and what is better than that? I’ve had so much fun to turning mine into tea towels and plant holders. I haven’t used any of it to make clothing yet, though. Kind of want to keep those two things separate at this point. :).