I had the blues but in the BEST way! The Sea Island Blues! Two weeks ago I went down to Ossabaw Island with Donna Hard to help with a 2 day Indigo retreat out on this magical Island.
I have wanted to go to Ossabaw since I was in school at SCAD and I finally got the opportunity for which I am so grateful for. You can’t just go out there for any old reason, you practically have to be invited to go…or chance upon the beach by way of boat but while I was on this island and never saw the beach or really even the ocean because it’s wild and there are no paved roads. There was so much to see though that I really didn’t miss it but maybe another trip, another day…
It is a remarkably beautiful place, kind of frozen in time but not exactly. Cut off from the mainland and protected through partnerships between the State of GA and the Ossabaw Foundation. I highly recommend checking out their website and reading up on it. I predict that you will be hearing more about this special place in years to come. It’s already quite well know in “these parts” for the wild Ossabaw Hogs, which I did not encounter on the island during my sunrise walks, thank god! But I did come by them this past weekend, more on that to come…there’s a thread to be woven here so please be patient while I continue to weave.
Upon this Island you may stumble upon oyster shell middens, graceful water birds such as egrets and heron’s, deer, wild indigo, loggerhead sea turtles, Indigo eating feral donkey’s-who can’t stay out of the action, ancient pottery shards, racoons, Tabby Ruins, Slave houses, a once active pottery kiln-part of the former Genesis Project, more Spanish moss than I’ve ever seen in one place and a resident sharp shooter for those Wild Ossabaw hogs. But since I had the blues we got down to mixing blue…Indigo blue which has roots on this island that was at one point an Indigo Plantation. Once we had some vats prepared the workshop participants arrived and learned all about the Island and using natural Indigo as a sustainable solution for making textiles more beautiful.
This workshop was open to all levels of experience and they came, learned and created some exceptional pieces. Some of the folks who came knew a thing or two about fibers and natural dye and others were totally new to the experience, like the donkey’s who didn’t so much care about the indigo or textiles and were mostly looking for handouts of other sorts.
I’m pretty sure everyone had a lot of fun too, despite about a million love bugs pestering us while we worked. We had several of the resident DNR folks join in the fun, Indigo can be addictive and there are several on Ossabaw who’ve been bitten:) not by the love bug but by the blue bug.
We had a very special visit from Mrs. West who is now 101 and loves this island so much she lives here still, with a caretaker or two. She didn’t feel the same when she arrived at age 10 and welcomed the island by spitting on it. She came to love this land though and had the vision to donate the island as a Heritage preserve. Mrs. West wanted us to help her dye a bit of her hair or perhaps one of her dog’s tails, instead we convinced her an Ossabaw tee shirt would be a safer and more long lasting choice.
Ossabaw is a very special place for many reasons and for Donna, that reason is all about the Indigo. The Indigo led her here and will hopefully continue to lead her and many others here to learn about the art of natural dyeing with this remarkable plant that yields it’s beautiful array of blues…the ocean and the sky are ever present when you witness a piece of cloth that’s been dyed with the artful hands of a skilled indigo dyer.
Here’s the happy group of workshop participants from Saturday’s workshop sharing some of their beautiful creations…Now you can understand why I had the Blues! In part two I’ll share last weekend’s blues…not just 1 day of dyeing but a whole long weekend retreat with two master natural dyers.