On my lovely weekend to Pigeon Lake Provincial Park, I had the great fortune to participate in an Indigo Dye and Shibori workshop. Blaine Lunsford, the mastermind behind Prairie Honey Creative, was the alchemist behind this session. I felt as if I was a part of something larger than myself. It was a unique experience that I am not sure how to put into words. But I will try…
Blaine was on site all day and offered a morning session and an afternoon session. I joined the afternoon group of women. It was a group of 10 coming together to create these beautiful and unique rayon shawls. Every person in this group came with intentions to learn, share and support each other in these creations.
We were given the history of indigo and taught about the healing benefits of this ‘Blue Gold’. It is considered a valuable commodity and has been used for centuries. Knowledge of this craft is passed down through the generations and is still used today in many parts of the world. I had read about indigo dying in the Book of Negroes and thought it was only an African craft, what I learned that day was, indigo is found all over the world from Japan and India to Africa and South America. I felt grateful to be a part of this experience that thousands of women used before me.
We began with learning about the vats of dye. The more foam and froth was apparently a good thing. It meant the dye was active and ready to be used on the natural fibres. The smell reminded me of a time and memory I couldn’t place, yet I knew I had smelled it before.
The women of the group were handed a white shawl and we were instructed to think about how were would use materials to resist the dye. Blaine had everything from marbles and buttons, to clothespins and popsicle sticks. String and clamps were abundant in glass jars found all over the room. I knew instinctively how I was going to create my cloth.
I first set an intention for my cloth to be healing for me. Then I folded my shawl and pleated in an accordian fashion. I staggered clothes pins to create a smocked appearance all over the cloth.
I was so focused and knew exactly what my plan was, other women explored other mediums and took more time tying and twisting their fabric. Once I was done I joined some other women closer to the vats and we just started sharing stories of our different experiences. Once everyone had completed the first step, Blaine explained the dipping technique.
We were instructed to dip our cloth and leave it in the vat for 10 minutes. Then we would squeeze the excess dye out of the cloth. There were rocks to weigh the cloths down and keep them from floating. Six cloths went into the vat at one time.
Blaine never dipped on our behalf. She allowed us to have the experience. I suspect it had to do with our energy and intent that we placed on the process. I added an extra step that we didn’t talk about. This past spring I became a Reiki practitioner. I channelled Reiki energy into the dipping process to magnify the energy and healing properties of my shawl.
We let the shawls sit in the indigo dye and when it was time to pull them out, the first dips were green.
This was completely unexpected by everyone except our knowledgeable alchemist. She explained we needed to rub the garment to allow for oxygen to enter the fabric. The more we rubbed, the bluer the fabric became.
Here are the three stages of oxygenating the fabric.
It only took minutes for the fabric to go from green to blue. It felt as if it was a living breathing process.
We repeated this process two more times. Dipping, squeezing and rubbing.
While we waited for the dips and drains, the women began to share more and more personal things. One lady explained how her family escaped the war in Central America and how here nephew was murdered in the process. Another woman talked about the loss of her son and how painful it was. Another spoke of her estrangement from her daughter and the stories went on and on. It was a time of healing and sympathy. We all came together to honour each other’s loss and supported each other in healing. It was an incredibly moving experience.
By the last dip, we were all excited to see the wraps unfold. We were told not to expect that we could control the designs. We were to expect to receive the design we needed. As mine unfolded, it looked like tiny fireflies to me. Others looked like hearts or smiles or hugs. All beautiful and all incredibly special.
As I waved it through the air it became bluer.
By Sunday night it was a deep indigo blue and I wore it all night. It felt like a warm hug. I have an unexpected attachment to it and plan to wear it often.
The group went out into the sunlight and we held up our shawls for all to see.
The experience was as powerful as the end product. Blaine does this workshops all over the place, but she will also come to you if you want to organize a private dying session. If you do that, invite me – I really want to experience this again. Tell her I sent you.
You can find her on Instagram @prairiehoneycreative
Thank you, Blaine, for the transformative experience.