Saturday, July 2, 2016

Living to Dye -- Part 1, Enough Pie, the Mobile Vat Shack, and Community Dye Days

In May and June, Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild meetings focused on natural dyeing.

First, Cathryn Davis Zommer from Enough Pie shared their big project -- the mobile indigo vat shack and Community Dye Days. Then Michaela McIntosh had us dyeing fabric and yarn with another natural dye -- cochineal.

Enough Pie is interesting in and of itself. It is a non-profit organization located in Charleston's Upper Peninsula area that is doing all kinds of interesting things to engage the neighborhood and create a stronger sense of community. Arts are one of their main vehicles to this end.

The sociological term for what they are doing is "creative placemaking" and that means to leverage partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors to strategically shape the physical and social character of a place around arts and cultural activities. The place can be a neighborhood, a town, a city, or a region. Certainly we know "Charleston Proper" to be a place known for its thriving arts culture.
PFAG member Arianne King Comer is one of several local experts on indigo and dyeing recruited by Enough Pie to help members of the public learn about indigo's rich history, how it related to our "place" -- the Lowcountry -- and to experience the dye process at Community Dye Days at the mobile Vat Shack.
Enough Pie's idea is that the arts belong in every neighborhood and the arts should be accessible to every sociological strata. Their name means there is enough pie to go around for everyone. They endeavor to cut a larger slice (of the cultural arts pie) for residents, artists, creative entrepreneurs and diverse, local businesses.

Enough Pie looks for ways to "animate public and private spaces, rejuvenate structures and streetscapes, improve local business viability and public safety, and bring diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired." (taken from Enough Pie's website, taken from an executive paper on Creative Placemaking)

Earlier in the year, Enough Pie sponsored a "Yarn Bomb" of a tower at their neighborhood's community center. This meant bringing knitters and want-to-be knitters together on Monday nights for weeks to knit the strips and patches for the "bomb". We all know what a great way to build community that is!

Their latest project is the mobile Vat Shack -- a specially designed mobile unit -- equipped with heating units and vats and sinks and racks for drying -- all to celebrate and share the history and process of something so indigenous to Charleston and the Lowcountry -- dyeing with indigo.

Inside the Vat Shack
 The Vat Shack will travel to schools and youth clubs and events. Affectionately named "Den Mamas" (like our own Arianne King Comer), who have knowledge of dyeing and of indigo, will be there to teach and guide, and give the children a hands-on experience with the process.

On the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month until early November, there will be Community Dye Days -- a chance for everyone to get involved. On these days the Vat Shack will be stationed at Joseph Floyd Manor Park at 2106 Mount Pleasant St., Charleston, SC  29403. A small, square piece of fabric will be provided to each person to dip in the dye bath at no charge. There is also an invitation to bring something you would like to dye -- it must be 100% natural fabric -- cotton, silk, linen -- (not wool). For each garment there is a $10 fee to replenish the indigo vats. So get your skeins of yarn ready!

Enough Pie is an organization we will want to watch and support!

No comments: