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Caroline Harper, dyer + designer + teacher


   < Indigo is experiencing a renaissance. These plants are calling on us to work with them as growers, dye makers, natural dyers and textile artists, to bring their magical blue hues back into our world. Natural indigo is an antidote to the world of fast fashion, synthetic fabrics, chemical dyes, and the devastating impacts of the global textile industry on workers and the environment. It is refreshing to grow indigo plants, produce natural indigo dye from those plants, dye natural fabric with that indigo, and share those products with appreciative and passionate customers. It is a unique pleasure to work with those who participate in a natural dyeing workshop or even an indigo harvest followed by a dyeing workshop with a fresh vat. I have no doubt that this plant and its magical shades of blue have a restorative effect on people's lives.

   Becoming a textile artist working with indigo has been a natural journey along my soul path. Growing up in Nantes, France, I became aware of our long history with natural dyes, specifically the blue dyes of woad or pastel as we call it, once centered in the Toulouse area of the southwest. I received my degree in fine arts from the University of South Carolina in the 1990's and embarked on a career as a graphic designer. I found my way to this universally revered color during a personal blue period. When my mother passed away, I felt I'd lost my moorings. My sense of loss was even greater because I had been working in unfulfilling jobs and knew I couldn't continue that way. I found myself searching. I remember clearly the day that indigo opened my eyes to new possibilities in my work. One day I met a sweet, smart woman who said she had noticed the photographs I had taken for a new restaurant. She said she liked my creative energy. She invited me to work with her to develop an online marketing strategy for her gallery. It was here that I was surrounded by hand crafted goods made by artisans from around the world, including Shibori pieces dyed with natural indigo. 

   Through my research I learned of a master dyer in Japan who led intensive workshops at his silk and indigo farm in the mountains outside of Tokyo. Somehow I felt if I could meet him and experience these traditions I would figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Upon my return I immediately began working with indigo and natural fabrics to develop a line of products. I also began teaching indigo dyeing workshops and harvesting indigo to make a fresh vat from the plants. Perhaps most importantly, my husband and I have partnered with farmers/friends to begin growing Guatemalan indigo and making dye powder, Blue Gold Indigo, on a farm near Kingstree, South Carolina, an area which was known for the quality of its indigo in the 1700's.

   I encourage everyone with a passion for being part of the indigo renaissance to join me. Explore my website, sign up for the newsletter (chidesignindigo/connect), help spread the word, and share your ideas. Come visit CHI design indigo studio here in Columbia, South Carolina and join me for a workshop. Long live indigo! >


Upcoming Workshops


| Indigo + shibori cotton workshop |
March & April 2018

> You will learn the basics of indigo dyeing & creating patterns using the ancient art of SHIBORI. You will learn how to set up your own non-fermented indigo vat and explore various SHIBORI techniques of binding, clamping, and
tying to create beautiful textile patterns. After some fun exploration, you will incorporate what you have learned into four final cotton dinner napkins. <


Follow my creative adventure on Instagram @chiDesignIndigo Click a picture bellow to view posts on instagram.

| indigo + arashi silk workshop |
April & May 2018

> You will learn the basics of indigo dyeing & create one pattern (Arashi) using the ancient art of SHIBORI. You will learn how to set up your own non-fermented indigo vat and explore ARASHI, a binding technique around a pole, to create a beautiful striation (linear) pattern on a lovely light habotai silk scarf. >

| Hands On farm-to-fabric indigo workshop |
september & October 2018

***Starting at the farm harvesting the indigo and ending with a cotton dyed dish towel*** This workshop will delight you with a hand on the plant, a hand at making the dye from scratch (a 2 hour process) and a hand at creating patterns on cotton and dipping in the lovely "blue of the heaven". Lunch & presentation are included in this 5-hour workshop. >