I recently changed my email signature from “Writing, Editing, Research” to “Writing and other good stuff.” I still pay the bills with Writing, Editing and Research, but I’m having a blast with Other Good Stuff now, too.
Behind me here at Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis are pages of handmade paper dipped in indigo dye. Mary Hark does wonderful things with indigo and paper. She taught a really fun and not-as-messy-as-you’d-expect weeklong workshop in which we made many, many sheets of linen/abaca/hemp paper and then dipped most of it in indigo. I’m more familiar with indigo and textiles, like the beautiful Shibori techniques, from which tie-dyed T-shirts came. (Remember RIT dye?) It’s still around.
The strength and suppleness of the paper was a delight to behold. It was a leap of faith to dunk those gorgeous sheets into a stinky vat of dark, oily, bubbly sludge. But the results are incredibly beautiful — darkest navy to be sure, but overlaid with hues of green, pink, purple, sometimes even iridescent. Most of the papers I dipped are heavy enough to be book or journal covers, and I’m looking forward to binding them with small signatures of white and ivory, maybe pale green and lavender. After I gelatin-size them and hang them to dry again, lest that lovely blue rub off on the hands, clothing, etc. of gentle readers.
And here’s what happened when I wrapped and twisted an old linen dresser scarf from my great-grandmother, and dipped it in indigo. Other good stuff, indeed!